Friday, 6 May 2011

Flash Fiction Blogfest

This is for the flash fiction contest over at Surrounded by Books and is a slight departure for me, in that I don't really make any jokes. I hope you enjoy it anyway:

The first time Jessica discovered the hole in the wall of her parents’ basement, she was ten. She stared into it, ignoring the cobwebs and the mouldering plaster, because it never occurred to her that a crack like that might not be the doorway to another world. She wasn’t surprised to see fields beyond it, and creatures wheeling in the sky that she didn’t know the name for.

By the time she was twelve, Jessica had watched travellers pass, and seasons change. She had claimed that small patch of basement as her own, and her parents couldn’t understand why she cried when they put their new washing machine in front of their home’s most unsightly patch of wall.

By the time she was sixteen, Jessica had decided that things she thought she saw as a kid didn’t count, and that boys were more interesting in any case. She knew, with the certainty of someone who wasn’t sure that she could live with the alternative, that cracks in walls didn’t lead anywhere. She once went down to the basement, just to prove it to herself, but she couldn’t move the washing machine on her own.

Jessica was twenty when her parents died, away at college when her dad was just a little too drunk to keep from pulling out in front of a truck. She let herself cry for a day, then drove down with her roommate Amy, who was there partly because she’d heard that was what you did for friends, and partly because she couldn’t think of anything to write for her final term paper anyway.

On the first day, they looked around, and Jessica tried not to cry too much as they cleared away things that wouldn’t be needed again. On the second, Jessica found herself making decisions, fielding sympathy, and talking to people she didn’t really know, but who seemed as determined as she was to grieve.

On the third day, she went back to the basement, ostensibly to wash the few clothes she’d brought. But washing clothes didn’t involve moving the machine. It didn’t involve crouching down and tracing a familiar line in the wall. It certainly didn’t involve hesitating, just momentarily, before putting her eye to it.

Afterwards, they said that she ran off, dropped out, and probably ended up as dead as her poor parents. Amy’s story, that she’d gone to get towels, and that Jessica was gone by the time she came back, told them that much. Of course, it wasn’t the truth, but what could Amy do? Tell people that she’d seen Jessica half in and half out of some split in the wall too narrow to fit a finger through? Tell them that she’d slipped through completely?

She went back to college instead, where they said not to worry about the term paper. Not after her friend had disappeared. Amy did it anyway, remembering the most important point about that moment.

For the first time in days, Jessica had been smiling.

12 comments:

Kittie Howard said...

OMG! This is amazing! I love how the crack in the wall assumed a personality of its own! Great job!

I'm dropping in from the fest and am your latest follower.

J.C. Martin said...

What a touching ending. I liked it. Wish I had my own hole in the wall leading to a different world!

Summer Ross said...

I really like how the set up of this story went, you kept well moving forward but keeping the reader's attention with the hole- the only suggestion I would make is the switching from points of view makes this harder for the reader to feel something for the characters. But otherwise I'm curious about the other side- the one she slipped into. Great job!

Cher Green said...

very interesting story. Thanks for sharing. Good luck in the contest.

Cherie Reich said...

Thank you for entering! I'll announce the finalists on Monday on my blog, and I'll drop back by here and give you a comment on your entry then as well.

Christine said...

Cool little story. Even with how short it was, it drew me in. I had to find out what would happen with this crack in the wall!

Janel said...

I'm impressed with the length of time you were able to cover in a flash. Would love to know more about the world in the crack.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Oh I loved this! What a great piece. Loved every bit of it.

Rebecca Dupree said...

Love it! My fav so far. :)

Lisa Potts said...

This is a great flash piece. Love how you made me care about your MC in such a short piece.

Cherie Reich said...

Stu, this feels like a larger story here. I loved the last line with her smiling. She could be happy with entering the crack in the basement. I want more.

storytreasury said...

This is a really good story. Very touching. Reminds me of some of the stories I used to read as a kid. It feels like there could be more.