The Fall

Prompt: Translate

woman-bath

The worst part was the ride back across the river in that little wooden punt. The stream was high and jostled them, and the rush of adrenalin that had earlier blocked out the pain had subsided, leaving her to feel the intense pain in her foot, and in her right elbow, where she had landed so hard, and in her upper rib cage, which had borne the impact on the massive tree root as she landed. The scrapes on her hands and legs she didn’t yet feel.

Paul was concerned and apologetic, though why he kept saying he was sorry was a mystery to Catherine. She had fallen under her own steam, if not intentionally. Colin wondered where the nearest doctor might reside, he rambled on and on about it. Emily took her left hand and squeezed it encouragingly. That hurt, and Catherine winced. Everything hurt.

Back at the Soulis house, Mme Soulis greeted the three healthy hikers and the one battered one with her usual aplomb, as if it was to be expected that one of them should pitch down the dry waterfall. Colin wanted a doctor but she ignored him and summoned old Soulis, who gave her a rather personal, and painful examination right there in the front foyer; twisting her ankles and arms, poking her abdomen and asking questions in French that Catherine could not understand.

“I think he asked if you have a headache?” Paul said, from his position beside her chair, a large carved piece of furniture more like a throne, and completely out of place in the hallway. He put his arm around her shoulder as he bent over to ask.

Dammit, she did have a headache, she hadn’t noticed until he asked. Dammit. Colin took it upon himself to feel her scalp for bumps, and found none.

“I want drugs,” Catherine said.

“Nothing is broken,” Paul said, “He says you are fine.”

“What?” said Catherine, who felt for the first time the sting of a scratch on her cheek.

“It is probably a sprain, that left ankle,” Paul continued.

“A sprain can be worse than a break,” Colin said unhelpfully.

“And maybe a nasty bruise on the elbow,” Paul said, wincing in empathy.

“We need some stretchy bandages for the ankle,” Emily said, and Mme Soulis, whom they hadn’t notice had left the foyer, suddenly reappeared as if on cue with a roll of beige stretchy tape. She also had a bottle that suspiciously looked like Iodine, which Catherine, remembering it from her childhood, planned to resist.

Mme Soulis spoke, and Paul did his best to translate. “Your condition is not serious, and you do not need a hospital, but your own doctor when you get home. Something like that.”

“It feels serious,” Catherine said sulkily, her eyes welling with tears. “Ow, I might have broken a rib!”

“Can you breathe?” Paul asked, on old Soulis’ behalf.

“Um, yes.”

“No broken ribs then,” said Paul morosely, as if it would have better if she was right even if it meant broken ribs.

Mme Soulis disappeared again and returned with a cup of hot herbal tea. Catherine sipped while old Soulis wrapped the tape expertly around her left foot, under the watchful eye of Paul and Emily, who had done many an impromptu ankle taping. Someone handed her a kleenex to blot her tears. Then old Soulis took the nefarious little bottle from Mme Soulis’ hand, and dabbed it on a square of folded gauze.

“I’ll do that,” said Colin. And as he dabbed, painlessly, at her legs, arms and cheek, Catherine sipped the last of her tea, suddenly drowsy, aching, spent. “You’ll be ok, baby,” said someone. Colin?

Later, she slept. The soft, cool dry sheets of their bed felt heavenly against her aches; she didn’t think she had ever felt so comfortable, the fall notwithstanding. She awoke when she heard the door close tentatively. On the bedside table was another cup of tea, and a large ceramic basin, steam rising from warm water, a pale yellow sponge floating on its surface. She didn’t have the energy to give herself a sponge bath. Where was Colin? She tried awkwardly to heave herself up into a semi-sitting position, and saw she was naked and pulled a white sheet up around her chin. Not before noticing one large rib bruise and two small purple smudges on her right breast. Ouch.

Catherine took the cup of tea in her hands and sipped—it was obviously medicinal in some way, some crazy magic Soulis way, and the closest thing to drugs she was likely to get here— and stared out the window at the clearing around the house, and the forest beyond, edging closer. It was grey, and she had no idea of the time and no idea where her watch was. It must be late— dinner time? Was Colin with Emily and Paul, enjoying a gourmet dinner while she suffered with a basin of water and a cup of indeterminate tea?

Colin burst in to the room at that moment, flush faced and a glass of white wine in his hand. “Ah, you’re awake!” He sat in the desk chair that had been brought close to the foot of the bed. Catherine hadn’t noticed it there before. “I’ve been sitting here for ages, honest! Just went down for a glass of wine. It’s happy hour. Emily and Paul send their love.”

She could tell by the flush in his cheeks and they way he unintentionally mimicked their English accents, that this was not his first glass of wine of the evening. Colin was what she would call a cheap drunk. Drinking was not his thing.

“Madam Soulis is making a dinner tray for the two of us,” Colin said happily. “I think it’s chicken.”

“With wine? I wouldn’t mind some wine. A lot of wine.”

Colin stood and set the almost empty wine glass down on the desk. “Is the water still warm? Let me give you the sponge bath of your life.”

The water was still warm, and he bathed every part of her body with the soft yellow sponge, silky and soothing, kissing all the tender places. If it hadn’t hurt so much, it would have been the most erotic moment of her married life.

 


Irksome, Enraging, or Good and Day 7

Prompt: Irksome

irksome

The word “irksome” is itself irksome. It is fussy and strange. He irks, she irks. No.

I didn’t put it in the chart, but Scrivener, the writing program, is also irksome, because I can’t figure how to use it most efficiently. So NaNoWriMo Day 7 is irksome. Or maybe I am irksome.

I think I finally understand.

Bludgeon and Day 2

Prompt: Bludgeon

caveman-cartoon

Day 2 of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo and I am wondering if the victim of my novel is bludgeoned to death, or shot, or stabbed. I want a weapon to be found either at the scene, in the murderer’s possession, or planted to incriminate someone innocent. This is an important decision.

I would prefer a stick or rock, but why would a murderer take the weapon away from the scene? Stabbing is probably the best option.

Part of the fun of Nano is that you can either make detailed outlines of your novel, or you can be a “pantser” and just sit down every day and crank out 1600 more words advancing your plot. I’m usually a pantser and not a planner, but this year I’m trying a more organized approach.

It’s only Day 2— still time to sign up and join the challenge!

Copycat and Day 1

Prompt: Copycat

copycat

It is Day 1 of National Novel Writers Month! So I while I still hope to “write something every day” here at Fluffy Pool, I will also be attempting to write 1600 words per day and get my 50,000 word novel finished by November 30 at midnight.

For more information— and to sign up, it’s all free and there is a lot of fun support— visit nanowrimo.org.

Roman Summer

Prompt: Tourist
This is another excerpt from my Nanowrimo novel about twin sisters Isabella and Catrina.

sidewalk-cafe-piazza-navona-rome3

It was as if a spotlight suddenly shone on Bella. She brightened, straightened up in her chair and I knew Santino was approaching. I put my cigarette out in the ashtray on the table and brushed damp hair away from my forehead. This was the first time I was meeting him outside the environs of his workplace, the hotel bar. I was cool. I would be cool.

“Bella,” he said, in a fine deep voice, just like a man. He seemed a man to me, though he was not any taller than Bella, rather thin, and was so close-shaven that he looked like he was too young to have started a beard. He wore his dark, not entirely clean hair in a pony tail tied at the base of his neck. He leaned over and brushed her cheeks with his lips, European style, then turned to me.

I stood up and he took my shoulders, and we exchanged air kisses on each cheek. He smelled strongly of cologne, something very citrus, very forest, and made a tiny grunting sound when he kissed. I wondered if I had tobacco breath.

He sat in the wrought iron chair next to Bella, and I saw her seek out his hand. That was bold of her I, thought. I think she did it for my benefit, to prove she was brave and their relationship was powerful. He grinned at me. He had perfect, perfectly white teeth.

I had only seen him in the muted light of the mirrored bar, when Mama and Bella and I had our pre- or after-dinner glass of wine. I saw that Santino had downy hair on his arms that caught the light. He wore a short-sleeved white shirt, like the one he wore while bartending, minus the black vest, and a pair of rather tight jeans.

Bella had burgundy-coloured fingernails; we both did, having painted them that morning. We tended, naturally, to embrace the fact that we looked alike. We harboured the idea that we could substitute each other out, at any time (this was called The Game), and no one would necessarily be the wiser. I had a sudden longing to swap with Bella right now, to be the one sitting close to a man, holding hands in a cafe in Rome, his thumb rubbing my palm, his knee nudging mine. I longed for this even though I found him rather repulsive and fearsome… all the hair, the pores, what lay between his legs, so foreign.

I wanted to be the one to stand up with him, blow a kiss to my sister still in her wrought iron chair, with her coffee on the yellow tablecloth, and steal away with Santino to his parents’ house, where he lived, and where he brought Bella after his parents returned to their jobs after the long break for lunch. I would be there instead of Bella, lying on the couch with him watching Italian television, lazily wrapped around each other. I would hear him whisper in my ear about how beautiful I was, how much he wanted me, how I made him crazy. I would feel all the flushes, all the tingles, my flesh would move by itself when he touched it. I would feel his fingers on my scalp, as he buried his face in my hair, whispering now, and his had running down my shoulder, down my arm, and around my waist.

He often whispered in Italian, and Bella had no idea what he said. “He could be saying, oh, you are such a boiled egg,” Bella said. “I’ll secretly learn Italian and see what he is really saying.”

“How could you love someone that calls you an egg?”

“He has other good qualities,” Bella told me.

We were about to turn sixteen, and I had only been kissed in the basement of Jimmy Russell’s basement, when I was eleven , and there was no love. Jimmy was fifteen and I suspect he wanted to practice his kissing skills for more worthy prey.

I didn’t know what it felt like to get down and dirty. I wanted to know. I hatched a tiny little plan.

First, I ran it by Bella, sort of.

“Wouldn’t it be funny,” I said to her that night as we dipped kleenex into nail polish remover and made the burgundy polish disappear. “If we played The Game with Santino?”

Bella burst out laughing and, unfortunately, she didn’t take me seriously.

Daniel

Prompt: Disappointment

daughter and new brother

Probably my very earliest memory was around the time Daniel was born.

I was nearly two years old, and I remember lying in my bed— it must have been a crib— in the dark at night, staring at this little stranger who occupied another crib, a new one, just opposite me. I stared hard, and in my memory this stranger stared back. Two babies, staring it out. I remember hating this baby out of some kind of primeval fear and malice, and wishing it was gone. But no matter how much I stared malevolently at this lump of baby, he didn’t disappear.

He had brown eyes, like mine, but blond hair, which went every which way, no matter how Mama cut it. He had a head full of cowlicks. It was soft to the touch, like a kitten’s fur, but as soon as the water dried from combing it, the tufts of hair would stand up again, like vampires climbing out of coffins. So Mama kept it short, which didn’t really help, since he always looked like possums had chewed on his head while he slept.

Even as a baby he  was reckless. If he wanted to investigate a chicken or a tree or a blazing fire, he might cast my mother a cursory glance as if to say, “Here I go, are you paying attention?” and off he went on his uncanny fast crawl. I don’t know how many times I saw Mama swoop him up by his feet! —at the very last moment before the injury or explosion or fall into the abyss. Even thought I despised this baby and wished him harm, in my tiny calculating mind I thought that drawing my mother’s attention to his reckless and naughty baby behaviour might get him into serious trouble or maybe even cause my mother to realize her great error in bringing him home. So I alerted her when he strayed toward a bee’s nest or a sharp bit of glass or a growling dog. I would do nothing to intervene myself, but just alert Mama to his transgressions. In this way I inadvertently saved his hide countless times.

Mostly though, I watched him breastfeed, my eyes drilling into him with intense loathing, or watched my parents coo and giggle with him, this interloper, this boy! I was forced to conjure up bad dreams in the night, to get my parents’ attention, or by reacting theatrically  to a scrape or scratch— howling endless distressing shrieks at the sight of a drop of blood.

If he sensed my animosity, he did not show it. He always seemed quite pleased to see me. If he baulked while being fed, up in his special little chair that used to be mine— it was pink, in fact— if he baulked while Mama brought the spoon of goop to his mouth, all I had to do was make the slightest funny face, the most insignificant rise of an eyebrow or the start of a tongue poking out of my lips, and he would open his fool mouth and laugh with delight. That very soft laugh that he had, that sounded like a little fairy cough.

But he couldn’t fool me with that toothless grin and the cough of the elves. I wished him dead, even though I did not know what death was. I didn’t care. I wanted my world back.