The Fall of The Curtain - Flash

Sun, Feb 11 2018 09:06pm GMT 1
L.
L.
187 Posts
A little flash I've been working on. I'm happy to receive any kind of feedback on it.
Thanks!


The Fall of The Curtain

The front door flings open. I hurry through it, a swarm of feelings chasing me out of the house. I hasten the pace, hoping I can outrun them, lose them in a web of side-streets and intricate turns. When my feet can walk no more, they take me to a bar. I order a whiskey, ask the barman to leave out the bottle. I can drink now.

I woke up this morning and, for a few moments, everything was fine, every feeling as it should be. I shuffled past the bathroom, eyes still full of sleep. The door was wedged open — he knows I hate forgotten opened doors. I dropped a hand on the handle ready to close it. Inside, the ripped shower curtain slumped over the side of the bath, metallic rings scattered on the floor. I had gripped the handle my knuckles turning white as I remembered.

I had balanced on the edge of the tub, careful not to sit on the curtain. I stroked its shiny plastic, stitched all over it were the memories of yesterday, of the sharp, stabbing pain, my hand holding on, the weight of my leaning body pulling it from its hooks, the shrill in my voice, calling for Dan. Tears crashed on its surface with a tap, slow at first, then quicker.

The sheet of plastic with its flamingo patterned cold beneath my fingers. I had shivered at the memory of the cold gel on my stomach, the handle pressing on my belly, the ‘not breathing’, the distant echo of the nurse’s voice mumbling “I’m so sorry”.

I stare down at my drink, and the glass stays full, the expanse of emptiness inside is too vast to flood. How can someone the size of a peanut leave that big of a void?

I go home when the streetlights come on, beacons showing me the way home. His car is in the driveway. He’s somewhere inside, and I don’t want to go in. He means well, but I can’t take it. We will cup my hands in his, his eyes looking for mine. They will be filled with a quiet despair, mixed with a need to comfort me.

I open the front door a crack, the low thud of the fridge closing confirming he’s in the kitchen. I slip in unnoticed, making it halfway through the hallway before I stop. He’s forgotten to close the door again. The curtain’s gone. I couldn’t bear to look at it, and I hate him for taking it away. The evidence, the proof it really happened to me even for the briefest of time, has been discarded. Tears are back, pooling at the edge of my lids, I wipe them with the back of my hand.

“Sarah?”

The quiver in his voice unleashes the flood. He cups my face in his hands. His gaze slices through me, a reminder that I am to blame, that I lost the baby.

Tue, Feb 13 2018 08:38am GMT 2
Giselle
Giselle
3017 Posts
Hi L.
This is a gripping piece, very emotional.

Two things pulled me out -the first sentence, the front door flings open. I think it might be stronger if you have the protagonsit fling it open, as it stands the door is moving by itself. If the aim is to have her register the movement but not the fact that she pushed it, perhaps adress the issue differently,or combine it with the more emotional second sentence, ie I fling open the front door, a swarm of feeling...etc.

The second: in my experience a practicien doesn't see an embryo breath, they hear a heart beat.You might want to switch the ‘not breathing’, to 'not beating'.
Those are just technical aspects. Your emotional aspects are strong. I loved the "swarm of feelings".
Tue, Feb 13 2018 10:52am GMT 3
Tony
Tony
2761 Posts
Yes, just to confirm: babies don't start breathing until they are born.

You convey her swirling mixed-up feelings well and, at first, we have no idea what has happened. Ideally, we shouldn't know until that last devistating line, yet halfway through, with the gel and 'someone the size of a peanut' we do know. It would be worth revisiting this section to see if you can remain absoutely truthful yet without revealing what has actually happened. Something like: "The paddle pressing on my stomach; mumbled words - Nothing... and, So sorry... " Maybe no mention of the nurse. And I think I'd be tempted to save that great 'peanut' line until just before the very end.

I like how you don't 'tell' us, but 'show' us she has been in the pub all day - 'I go home when the street lights come on.'

A moving piece of flash fiction. Write on, L!

Cool
Tue, Feb 13 2018 12:10pm GMT 4
L.
L.
187 Posts
Thank you both for your feedback, it's really helpful and you have given me some good things to think about.

The 'not breathing' actually applies to the MC holding her breath and not the baby, so you've shown me that I need to make that part clearer!
Tue, Feb 13 2018 06:01pm GMT 5
TheWeyMan
TheWeyMan
45 Posts
I did think the same thing with the baby and I agree the big reveal at the end would make it stronger.

I really like the level of description and the poetry in it. It does not detract from the pace of the overall piece, short, snappy sentences that lead you into the next paragraph.

The little touches of dialogue are great too and I think you should keep them all apart from the previously mentioned 'not breathing,' part - it is the quotation marks that make it confusing, as if the nurse is telling the MC.
Wed, Feb 14 2018 09:52am GMT 6
L.
L.
187 Posts
Thanks for your feedback! Yes, I have reworked the reveal so it's now all at the end now. I have changed the 'not breathing' to holding my breath so there should be no more confusion.
Sat, Feb 17 2018 11:11am GMT 7
TheWeyMan
TheWeyMan
45 Posts
Sounds good. I'll look forward to reading the rewrite! :)
Wed, Feb 21 2018 01:42pm GMT 8
L.
L.
187 Posts
Sounds good. I'll look forward to reading the rewrite! :)

Here is the rewrite :)

I fling the front door open, hurrying through it to escape the swarm of feelings chasing me out of the house. I hasten the pace, hoping I can outrun them, lose them in a web of side-streets and intricate turns. When my feet can walk no more, they take me to a bar. I order a whiskey, ask the barman to leave out the bottle. I can drink, now.

I woke up this morning and for a few moments all was fine, every feeling as it should be. I had shuffled past the bathroom, eyes still full of sleep. The door was wedged open — an invitation for the heat to escape. My hand closes on the handle, ready to pull it shut. Inside, the ripped shower curtain slumped over the side of the bath, metallic rings scattered on the floor. I had gripped the doorknob, my knuckles turning white as the memories rushed back.

I balanced on the edge of the tub, careful not to sit on the curtain. I stroked the fabric, the memories of yesterday stitched all over its shiny plastic — the sharp, stabbing pain, the weight of my leaning body pulling it from its hooks, the shrill in my voice, calling for Dan. Tears crashed on its surface with a tap, slow at first, then quicker. Rows of one-eyed flamingos stared at me under the splatter of tears as I shivered at the memories of the cold gel, the paddle pressing on my skin, holding my breath until the mumbles of sympathy wrapped in a “I’m so sorry”.

I stare down at my drink, and the glass stays full, the expanse of emptiness inside too vast to flood.

I go home when the streetlights come on — beacons showing me the way. His car is in the driveway. He’s somewhere inside, and I don’t want to go in. He means well, but I can’t take it. We will cup my hands in his, his eyes looking for mine. They will be filled with a quiet despair mixed with a need to comfort me. His love will crush me.

I open the front door a crack, the low thud of the fridge closing and the hissing of a can, confirming he’s in the kitchen. I slip in unnoticed, making it halfway through the hallway before stopping. He’s forgotten to close the bathroom door again. The curtain’s gone. I couldn’t bear to look at it, now I hate him for taking it away. The evidence, it really happened to me, even for the briefest of time, has been discarded. Tears are back, pooling at the edge of my lids, the emptiness deepens — how can someone the size of a peanut leave that big of a void?

“Sarah?”

The quiver in his voice unleashes the flood. He cups my face in his hands. His gaze slices through me, a reminder that I am to blame, that I lost the baby.

Thu, Feb 22 2018 02:06pm GMT 9
Philippa
Philippa
1618 Posts
Like it a lot, L.

Couple of tiny thoughts. I wonder about taking out "His love would crush me" and the "hissing can". I think you capture the relevent info here (her ambivalence about her husband's compassion; the fact that he's home) more neatly / subtley without these phrases.

I also wondered whether there's a way to make the changing tenses less choppy? We go from present, to past, to past perfect etc. What would happen if you presented the narrative in chronological order? 1) Sitting on the side of the bath remembering, 2) running out of the door, 3) drinking in the bar, 4) returning home.

Just something to ponder. I think it's a very moving story, and I also love the peanut line. The piece explores such a truth of human relationships - how sometimes someone's love / compassion / forgiveness can feel worse than their rage / blame.
Thu, Feb 22 2018 10:20pm GMT 10
L.
L.
187 Posts
Thanks Philippa for your feedback.

Yes, I'm getting less and less fond of that hissing can so I think that's going to go.

I know what you mean about the tenses, and having it in chronological order makes sense to simplify all the changes, but then I would lose her reflecting at the bar, which basically shows that she cannot escape what she is running away from. As soon as she stops, she thinks about it again. I'm gonna have to do some more thinking and pondering about that one.
Thu, Feb 22 2018 10:21pm GMT 11
TheWeyMan
TheWeyMan
45 Posts
Hi L.

Definitely a lot better! I was going to say the same about the tenses, though I can't offer any advice on how to fix it, it does seem a bit choppy somehow.

The only other thing is that the gel and paddle still give the game away too early I think. Is there a way to say the same thing more ambiguously? Maybe just the paddle or even less like 'I felt it pressing into my skin as her words wrapped the mumblings of sympathy...

It's great, but I think the peanut could be stronger with less of a lead...
Fri, Feb 23 2018 10:59am GMT 12
John Alty
John Alty
8 Posts
Does this work, to sort out the changing tenses?

"When I woke this morning, for a few moments all was fine, every feeling as it should be: I shuffled past the bathroom, eyes still full of sleep. The door was wedged open — an invitation for the heat to escape. My hand closed on the handle, ready to pull it shut. Inside, the ripped shower curtain slumped over the side of the bath, metallic rings scattered on the floor. I gripped the doorknob, my knuckles turning white as the memories rushed back."

The paddle and gel thing was OK for me, but perhaps the implication is less obvious to me than others.

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