Reply To: Exercise 4

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Without realizing it, I wrote this story using the process described in lesson 4. Steven King refers to his subconscious as “the boys in the basement.” Mine has decided she is “the spinsters.” (She delights in puns.) This was originally a very late submission for exercise 2 and slipped in unnoticed. So here it is again in its final edited version.

The worst headache ever. Bar none. She was afraid to open her eyes, much less sit up and risk the dreaded bed spins. She must have really tied one on last night. “Tied one on.” Daddy used to say that when he wobbled as he walked in after midnight. She hadn’t heard that expression in years—Not since Daddy died.

⁃ Funny how many terms there were for being drunk. Let’s see:blasted, blitzed, blotto, bombed, crocked, drunken, fried, hammered—that one fit what was going on in her head now—high; Impaired, inebriated, intoxicated—all too mild for how she felt; juiced, loaded, pickled, pie-eyed, plastered, smashed, soused, squiffy—squiffy?—sounds too much like fun. This headache was no fun; stewed, stiff, stinking. Stinking? had she vomited? It had been years since a hangover had brought that on, but…She rolled her thick, clumsy tongue around. No sour taste. Thanksgod.

⁃ Her clothes? Were they scattered all over the floor? A dead giveaway. Struggling she managed to sit up. She slitted her eyes open just enough to glance around the room. Dim light. No sign of clothes tossed crumpled on the floor, draped over the chair, or piled on the dresser.

⁃ Everything on the top of the dresser opposite the foot of her bed was neatly arranged. It all lined up marching like silver and glass soldiers across the dresser scarf she had embroidered when she was six: The silver framed photo, her comb and brush set, three bottles of scent, and the unopened box of rose scented bath powder. A gift, years ago. From whom?

⁃ Someone must have sneaked into the room, dusting and straightening. Lining things up neatly had never been her style. Her mother said she had been a disrupter from the moment of her conception. Leaving disorder and discord in her wake. Maybe this dreadful hangover was the lesson her mother had told her she would learn some day. Feeling like shit, gave her the answer to the “Sunday Morning” question. The going up was NOT “worth the coming down.” She slid back down and closed her eyes.

⁃ Waking again, the room seemed darker to her. Must be time to get up. Past time. But a weight was sitting her chest, pressing her down. Something was wrong. Not right. She could wiggle her toes, but barely. Fingers: better. She ran through scales with both hands playing the bedspread like a piano.

⁃ Everything was too still, too quiet. Like one of those places where they take you when you “lose control.” That was it. She must have been drugged and brought here. Where? Those were her own things, weren’t they? On the dresser? But clever captors could have brought them from her own room or copied her own things to fool her, to keep her calm her until they did whatever they intended to do to her. Maybe if she made a fuss they would realize she was not going to remain quiet and they would give up and let her go.

⁃ Her scream came out a strangled peep. She closed her lips, gritted her teeth, and tried to lift her hands to wipe the tears coursing from the sides of her eyes down her temples. Stop crying! Hard enough to breath in here without stopping up her nose. What good would calling out or crying do? THEY, who ever THEY were, would not help her. Her mother or her father or someone else had obviously made good their threats. They had had her “put away for her own good.”THEY were not likely to let her go as long as THEY were being paid to keep her here.

⁃ It wasn’t fair, she hadn’t done anything wrong. Maybe had one or two too many, or ok admit it, more than one or two, but that was no reason to put her away. She was not going stand for it. OK, she was not going stand. Period. But she would not just lie still and take it either. They thought she was a trouble maker. She would show them what trouble was. Using all her strength, she managed to sit up. Squeezing her eyes shut, she drew a deep breath and opened her mouth. This time a satisfying scream came out. Certainly that would bring someone.

⁃ Sure enough, when she opened her eyes, Mother was there, looking at her from the foot of the bed. Staring. Silent. Only her eyes spoke, commanding, “Come along now.”

⁃ “No! you can’t do this. I’m not ready! NO! NOT Now!!”

⁃ Mother didn’t answer, just stood there slowly shaking her head in her familiar wordless “what are we to do with you?”

⁃ She wanted to wheedle, to repeat the mantra  they had drilled into her soul, “I promise, I’ll be a good girl, I’m sorry.” But she couldn’t form the words. Silly anyway. She hadn’t been a girl, good or bad, for how many years? But, struggle was clearly useless, exhausting.

⁃ She slipped back under the covers and closed her eyes. If Mother was still there, at least she didn’t have to look at her. She could just keep her eyes closed eyes and rest. Rest at until Mother went away. With the headache gone it was not so bad lying here in bed, thoughts drifting as the room grew darker and darker. Not bad at all.


⁃ The door opened and two white clad figures walked in, leaving the door open. One walked swiftly to the bed, the other paused by the dresser. “Should we cover this mirror?,” the one by the dresser said, picking up the photo in its silver frame.
“Yes, blessed be the true Judge, she’s gone now.”
⁃ “Too bad we couldn’t have covered it before. It agitated her. I heard her screaming at it once in a while.”
⁃ “They cover the mirrors after someone dies. Seeing it covered while she was helpless after the stroke would might have frightened her. Bad luck, probably, as well.”
⁃ “Who’s this?”
⁃ “Her mother, I think. They were quite close. One of her children said their mother looked just like their grandmother when she was young. Of course she died years ago.”
⁃ Her face and the mirror covered, the two women left the room closing the door quietly behind them.


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