~ torn ~

2 Jan

quillI have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published.
My pencils outlast their erasers.
~ Vladimir Nabokov

Perhaps the only thing sometimes more difficult than beginning a creative project, is knowing when to stop. James Agee wrote and rewrote A Death In The Family, his entire life. Every author has works that persistently nag and tug at the sleeve for more attention, like children that refuse to leave home, even though judging from outward appearances they seem to be fully grown.

Torn is one such project for me.

I set out to write something “different”. An interior narrative that reflected the exterior world of the story. An inside/out perspective where reality becomes subjective. I found it confounding in many ways, and still do. It is the one piece that I have written that remains somehow unfinished in my mind.

I thought what better forum to rewrite and analyze the story at least one more time, than right here in the pages of echolakeroad.net, and invite my readers to comment on the work.

So, here is Torn, presented in installments, some very short, some much longer, each one an independent slice of the interlocking whole story.

*****

TORN

The inquiry into a dream…
Is another dream.
Lord Halifax

Julia sat up in bed.
Shivering.
Heart pounding.
She slowly raised her knees.
Leaned forward.
Grasped her ankles.
Whispered her mantra.

“It’s only a dream…only a dream…only a dream…”

She gained some composure.
Glanced over at Ron.
Sleeping like a baby.
Snoring like a bovine.
Blissfully unaware of her torment.

Julia didn’t need to check her clock radio to know it was 3AM. That was part of the drill. Wake up from nightmares in a cold sweat. Convince herself she wasn’t going insane. Roll over and grab a few hours of restless sleep until sunrise. But tonight, a tiny inconvenience put a kink in the routine. Julia really had to pee.

She carefully pushed the covers away.
Slid her legs out over the side of the bed.
Sat up.
Ron shifted. Mumbled something unintelligible.
Julia held fast until he sank back into oblivion.
If Ron awoke he’d start his psychiatrist thing.

Let’s discuss the dream, while it’s fresh in your mind.

To hell with that. She preferred not to discuss the dream ever again.

Julia slowly stood her weight off the bed.
Let the mattress settle incrementally.
Ron remained a motionless heap.
She padded across the too-cool hardwood floor.
Scratched a mental note; Keep slippers handy, winter approacheth.

At the threshold of the darkened bathroom, Julia groped for the light switch. Adjusted the dimmer all the way down then flicked it on. She slowly entered the room and kept her gaze fixed on the mirror opposite the doorway.
Examined her reflection.
Slipped a dangling tress back behind one ear.
Smiled. Just a little.
Whispered again.

“Only a dream…”

Julia noiselessly raised the toilet. Dropped her PJs. Nestled onto the porcelain throne.
During the warm release, she closed her eyes. Tried to get back on the road to dreamland.
Finished.
Stood and pulled up her pants.
Cinched the drawstring.
Silently closed the commode.

She opened the sink to a whispering stream. Washed her hands.
Closely faced the mirror in the dim light.
Curled her upper lip down over her teeth and decided today would be the day for a lip bleaching.
She bent over. Dabbed warm water onto her face.
Shut off the faucet and blindly reached for a towel.

Julia stood up.
Gently patted her face dry. Slid the towel away and opened her eyes.
The image staring back from the mirror was her face. But not her reflection.
Her face wrapped in a mask of fear.
Eyes shocked wide. Mouth agape.

Julia stumbled backward.
Collided with the small wooden table behind her. Makeup and toiletries clattered onto the floor.
Ron called groggy from the bedroom.

“Julia…is that you?”

Julia’s heart pounded. Chest tightened.

“Julia. Come back to bed.”

The scream hatched in her stomach. Like a newborn snake breaking from an egg.
It swelled. Writhed. Slithered up her throat.
Julia swallowed hard. Gagged it back down.
Jammed a fist to her mouth. Clenched a knuckle with her teeth.
Deep inside her the baby serpent became a howling dervish.
Pushed.
Whirled.
Pushed.
Whirled.
Her temples throbbed.
She bit down on her knuckle.
Blood seeped across her tongue.
Ron’s feet hit the floor.

“Julia…godammit…why the hell do you have to get up every night?”

Trapped between two demons.
Nowhere to run.
Only one way out.

Surrender.

Julia tore her hand away from mouth.

And screamed.
And screamed.
And screamed.
And screamed.
And screamed.

*****

 

©2016 jefitzgerald

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One Response to “~ torn ~”

  1. Teresa Blackburn January 3, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

    I must ponder this after reading and then read again. Torn is a bit unsettling which is not a bad thing…lots of visual imagery.

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