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Friday, November 21, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday: Exploration of Immortality


So this link I got from Lynn Viehl over at Paperback Writer had a random generator for fake French book titles and book covers. You can play with it here

I decided "Hey wouldn't it be fun to write stories based on them? Especially with the bad Google translations?"

For some reason the above photo reminded me of something you'd see at a community pool, which got me thinking of water.

The title translates as "Exploration of Immortality."
         
Exploration of Immortality
1,000 words

"And I'll send ya' ta' yer watery grave" was the last thing she'd ever heard.
         
That stupid Bobby Finnegan had said that they were playing pirates and ladies, even as he kissed her. She'd wanted to agree because he was a whole year older--a worldly seventeen--and he'd called her a wimp. She wasn't a wimp, not ever.
         
And as a lady he should tie her up with real rope, take her out on that crappy little paddle boat on the lake, and then tie her ropes to a big rock.
         
Jenna had struggled. And tried to scream.
         
He waved at Jenna with his big dumb lopsided grin, even when the water had filled her mouth and down her throat with a burning trail of fire.
         
The sloshing noises of the water in her lungs still bothered her, even as she stirred now from her dreaming. The water in her ears had long ago become a constant buzz, like the world was a big drum head to hum into, deep and constant.

Maybe one day she'd stop trying to get out of these dumb ropes, stop trying to climb out of the muddy, silty bottom of the lake. Maybe one day they'd dredge it and find her here. But no kids really played hookie here anymore.

Who knew how long it'd been.         

Sometimes when she was awake the fishes would give her their nibbly fishy kisses, their pucker mouths almost tickling at her distant toes in the mud. Sometimes if the hunger was too much, she'd snap them up in her teeth and chew on their slimy, bloody guts as they tried to slither out of her mouth. But she always ate what she caught. That's what Papa had taught her when they used to go fishing together.
         
Today she was awake.
         
She flexed her long fingers in front of her. Funny thing was, she'd grown since being down here. Her hands were lily white like all those flowers at her granpapa's funeral, and delicate like her Ma's. Out of eternal boredom she decided to gnaw on the thick ropes, but even after all this time--maybe years?--she'd barely made a dent in the thick fibers. Sometimes she gnawed on her own wrists, but that only left wispy bits of flesh hanging from her like some big hangnail. The fishes wouldn't leave her alone when she chewed on herself too much. For whatever reason she didn't bleed.

When Jenna blinked, she saw that the little tree roots had grown closer to her. So close now! The water seemed to scrape over her heavy eyelids and down over her pupil. The sand always got in her eye, especially when the fish decided to kick up some mud. Her hair no longer flew over her face, because so much gunk and old leaves weighed it down.

She glanced above her to see the light above her for the first time since she'd sunk. Maybe this was a drought year. Ma said sometimes the lake went dry. If she stretched…

She could make it.

Then she'd find Bobby. Punch his ugly freckly face. She'd tell everyone what he'd done to her. Even if she hadn't really died. Even if the still water made her float to the end of her tether, bobbing so softly that she wanted to sleep again.

Today, she'd escape.

She saw a large almond-shape above making a small wake in the placid water.

A boat.
         
She reached out to grasp the tree roots, bigger and sturdier now. Jenna hooked a finger around the slimy outside of one and bobbed closer. She strained her weak muscles, and it seemed as if grasping the root took all the time in the world. Maybe days. She'd have to lift herself and the rock tied to her out of the water.

When she pulled, the root snapped.

She reached for her hair and pulled out a twig. She reached as far as her tether would let her and she hooked it over yet another root. But that too snapped. Her face felt all hot the way it used to when she tried not to cry. Bubbles no longer escaped from her mouth; there was no air in her lungs to push out. Her rock was too heavy to move, like it'd always been.

But there. A sharp rock beneath the tree root she'd broken. Hidden all this time. With a smile of glee, Jenna reached for it. It fell beneath her numb fingers. And she began to saw.

 When the ropes parted, it felt strange to have her arms float apart from each other. Her legs too. Weakly, she pushed against the familiar silt over her lily white toes.

Jenna crested the barrier between her watery world and above. The light scorched her eyes. Water and mud flowed over her lips, dribbling.

The boat. It was almost on her.

She tried to wave.

A middle-aged man peered down at her, his oars half-lifted.

She vomited, trying to form words around a mouth that couldn't feel, with lungs that didn't pump. A gurgle-sound escaped her, like a busted hose with a hole in it.

Her fingers curled around one of the oars.

The man simply continued to stare at her, sitting there in his flannel shirt and fishing vest, and he slowly lifted his beer can to his lips to take a long pull.

She inhaled around the pond-slime in her nose and made her first word in years, "Hellllp."

Then he grinned.
         
The freckles were faded but still there.
         
"It's Davy Jones's locker for the likes o' you lass," he drawled.
         
The oar came up and crashed into her skull.
Nothing really hurt anymore. Bunching her muscles, the weight of the world bore down on her.

Jenna wasn't just going to punch him in the face.

She'd snap up his guts with her teeth, just like the little fishies.

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