Thursday, 26 January 2017
Prompt 26: Fleeing The Barbed Wire Arms Of False Love
26. Fear: What scares you a little? What do you feel when scared? How do you react?
I'm writing this after a writers' workshop. There's homework! Today's homework is to work up a story outline into a short story as soon as possible with a view to later turning it into a novel after building a world from the ground up. Or the sky down, depending how it goes. That's quite a lot of homework to come out of one morning. Especially as there's another workshop tomorrow that will lead to new ideas unrelated to this morning's. Yesterday I also signed up for five extra workshops over the next four months that I am only allowed to be at because I'm part of a marginalised community. Several of them as it turns out.
Today I don't know what to write. And that scares me a little. It's Empty Page Syndrome, where the blankness stares back at you and in your mind you hear it jeer and tell you you're useless and that you won't ever have anything worthwhile to type or put on paper. The empty page lies. So I'm just going to write. Starting ... now.
She called out to me from the mist.
"Clare, I know you're there. I'll find you."
I was lost. More lost than I'd ever been. When I fled into the marsh the way had been clear, visibility perfect and I thought I would be able to cross without too much trouble. Follow the high paths. Jump across grassy humps as they rose from the water. I convinced myself I wouldn't have to wade or get wet. I could do it. And over the marsh, safety. Maybe. Any hope was better than none. Any place was better than the one I was running from. And the marsh looked so inviting too. Forget all the rumours, forget the nightmares people talked of. It didn't look so bad from the hill as I ran and rolled, heart pounding, fearing that she would discover too soon that I'd gone, that she would find me and drag me back, punish me, and not allow me the little freedoms I'd worked so hard to gain.
Maybe half way across the marsh - although I had no way to tell with any certainty - the mists suddenly rolled in. The clammy, claggy air reacted somehow with the water and by the great God I swear I've never had the displeasure of smelling anything worse. I had to take off my top and wrap it round my nose and mouth but even then it was almost intolerable. And in the mist I lost all sense of direction. Couldn't tell at all. I could have been headed right back the way I came and I wouldn't know until I reached the hill again and spied her mansion at the top. It was only a matter of time until the mist cleared again but I had to keep going. Fifty-fifty chance. Freedom or her mansion. One hundred-zero chance. She would discover my escape and follow me into the marsh. I couldn't stop. Ran faster. Faster. And, jumping to the next hump of grass, I fell. Broke my ankle. Fuck it. Hobbled through the stinking waters as best I could until I reached a path again and dragged myself onto it, pushing hard with my good leg.
I lay there. Had to rest. No matter the consequences. Adrenaline had kept me going. No time to think. No time to worry. Now I stopped and a creeping dread fell on me. My ankle screamed obscenities at me and I shivered from the cold. My stomach began to knot and thoughts began to race, accusations against myself, wild imaginings born of the nightmare stories I'd heard. And there was the very real spectre of her. She would be looking for me by now.
"Oh Clare, damn you for attempting this so soon. There would have been another chance and you might have been more prepared. You foolish girl, and there probably isn't anything better out there, at least she fed you and now you'll have lost her trust. You've made it worse Clare and now you'll never get away. Idiot. Stupid bloody idiot."
I knew I had to stand, no matter the pain, keep limping, oh crap Clare get up get up get up get up you can't stay there need to move get your ass in gear get your feet pounding the ground get on get on no don't cry you pathetic excuse for a girl get up or you don't deserve anything good. Get Up! NOW! Why are you still sitting there? You can do it yes you can move move move or she'll find you.
Still I sat there. Paralysed by the torrent of thoughts, by a fear that seemed to steal all volition, all physical ability. Just couldn't do it. No point waiting for the mist to clear is there you silly Clare because then she'll spot you and drag you back and lock you in that room and it won't just be for six months this time. It'll be forever. Never let you out.
If it hadn't been for that voice I would have stayed there unable to win the mental battle. That voice did it.
"Clare, I know you're there. I'll find you."
Adrenaline pumping at a thousand percent overload. I got to my feet. It hurt so badly. Putting weight on my left foot was like being stabbed with the Dagger of Lamboi but I refused to admit to the wounding. What was a broken ankle compared to the hope of freedom? I hobbled. Limped. And, refusing the pain, I walked along that path.
"You can't escape Clare. Let's go back. You know I love you."
I ran from the voice. Forgetting pain. Forgetting disorientation. That voice told me where I should run. Away. That was all. Away was safety. Towards was back into her barbed wire arms.
That's enough. I'm tired. Not satisfied with the writing.
I don't know who Clare is. She's not me, the name is coincidence. I don't know who the woman with the mansion is either. When she first spoke I had no clue that she wasn't going to be a benevolent helper to a lost person. I don't know how Clare came to be in the mansion, who else lives there, or who the story tellers were. I don't know how long Clare was there, what she had to do in order to gain enough freedom to risk an escape attempt, or what the interior looks like.
In my head the exterior is similar to a mansion some friends lived in when I was growing up. That mansion wasn't on a hill though. I loved visiting them. They had clubbed together with several other families to buy a place that was quite a wreck, each family living in one part of the building. To begin with the visits were superb because we had freedom to run wherever we liked in the whole mansion. After a time new walls were created and such freedom was impossible although by climbing into a tunnel in the cellars it was just possible to squeeze right through the building. We loved our visits. We loved the walks in the grounds and the forest beyond. We loved playing in the ballroom and climbing to the top of the highest tower. Everything was so much more exciting than living in a terraced house on a modern housing estate.
I have many questions about the above scene. I assume that Clare escapes. I assume too that there is some sort of revenge or justice in her future. My questions are unlikely to be answered. I have a novel to write for my homework. This afternoon that seems a more pressing matter than fleeing those barbed wire arms.