I’ve been noodling with a little scene for a few days now, inspired by a line from a song I heard on the radio. Then yesterday I realized that it’s tangentially related to my august sibling’s writing challenge. That challenge is about writing kick-ass paragraphs that provide the details to make your point. This little bit is more atmospheric and so (I claim) doesn’t work as well in the mighty-paragraph format, but the principle is still valid.

The girl opened her eyes, and tried to remember the moment before. She couldn’t. It was as if she hadn’t existed. But she must have.

Heavy. With an effort she lifted her head, then let if fall back; even lying still she could feel the pressure of the mattress beneath her. She flexed her shoulders, paused in confusion. She flexed again, pulling her shoulder blades together. Her skin moved against the coarse fabric beneath her. That didn’t seem right.

She struggled to focus her eyes, searching for anything familiar. She was in a structure of some sort, the smell sharp in her nose. Her bed was made of silvery-gray metal, the linens white and stiff. A curtain surrounded her bed, suspended from a track on the cieling. Outside the curtain she heard someone breathing, liquid and bubbly. A human, sick. This must be a hospital.

She, too was breathing.

Of course she was. If you don’t breathe you die. How could it be any other way?

She sat up, pushing with her arms agaist the pull of the Earth, still flexing her shoulder blades as if that would make a difference.

From outside the curtain came a clatter and footsteps. “Knock, knock,” a cheerful woman said, then a dark-skined arm pushed the curtain aside. The nurse wore loose green clothing. Her teeth shone white. “You’re awake,” she said.

“Yes.” Awake. She had been asleep before. She pulled air into her lungs.

The nurse stepped closer, put her warm hand on top of the girl’s cool one, where it lay on the sheet. “I’ll tell the doctor.”

“Something’s wrong,” the girl said.

The nurse’s smile grew even larger, her head tilted slightly, her sculpted eyebrows perfect arches over her soft dark eyes. “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll take care of you.”

“Thank you.” There was a window at the end of the room; outside the girl could see a parking lot bordered by trees. People walked across the pavement, cars trolled for spaces. She didn’t know how to drive. They all knew how to drive, every one of them, but not her. And she couldn’t tell them why. She was different. No one would understand. Better to not say anything.

Above all the sky arched blue, punctuated by drifting clouds. She was sure she’d never seen the clouds before, not like this, pulled by her own weight against the surface of the planet, looking up – always looking up.

A tear escaped from her eye and tracked down her cheek, pulled by cruel gravity.

But what else could it do?


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