writing challenge

March Writing Challenge Days 3 and 4: “The Choice” and “Fun House”

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I spent my time volunteering at auditions for the School of Music, eating cookie dough with my roommate, watching “Tangled” for the thousandth time, and attending two marvelously-prepared flute recitals. Alongside playing flute, reading, and writing, course.

Quick book update: I just finished Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick (3 out of 5 stars from me) and I’m onto Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo, which is so good thus far. I also just purchased two books — yes, real books, not eBooks — from Barnes and Noble today, which I plan on knocking out during the break! Ah, books 🙂

I didn’t post for Day 3 yesterday because 1) I fell asleep, and 2) I wanted to add a little more this morning. So I have for you all today a March Writing Challenge Double-Header! The first short story is about a kid who finds his father’s hunting rifle. The second short story is about a narrator who suffers from a mental illness who begins to dissociate in a carnival fun house*. (I’m not sure why the prompt given for Day 4 made me think of this idea for a story, but I see it as ironic and contradicting.)

Read Taylor’s posts for Day 3 and Day 4!

Prompt for March 4th, 2017: Introduce a gun in the first sentence. Its use isn’t as expected.

“The Choice” by Rachel Cernosek

In the back of the closet, behind a pile of unhung flannel shirts, encased safely in a leather holster, was Mr. Darcy’s hunting rifle. Sam Darcy looked over his shoulder one more time as a precaution before casting away the leather case and gaping at the beauty inside. The rifle was so glossy, he could see a reflection of his own bright eyes peering down at it. His narrow fingers slid across its smooth body, the narrow scope, the trigger. Somehow, something that was so forbidden was so incredibly intoxicating to behold, to touch, to hold.

The readily approaching crunch of gravel beneath tires jumped Sam out of his stupor. Mr. Darcy was home; Sam didn’t need proof to know his father’s breath would stink of fresh liquor, or that the man would not hesitate as he raised his angry fists at Sam. With a shudder and a jolt of panic, he scampered to zip the old shotgun back into its carrier and rush out the back door.

Just in time. Sam hid behind a bush in the backyard, panting as his father stormed the house, slurring his son’s name among profanities. It was the afternoon, and the cicadas were silenced by the sudden disturbance. Sam’s knuckles were white as he clutched the leather holster. He said a silent prayer as he waited, a prayer that his actions would not be a mistake. Mr. Darcy’s exclamations grew louder until he burst through the back door. “Sam, boy!” he yelled, drunk. “You better get yerself inside, wherever you are, or you won’t see the light of tomorrow!”

The time was now or never. Sam, crouched behind the bush, looked down again at the rifle he hugged to his chest, a holy grail of unfathomable danger and value.

 

At 11:30 that evening, the last train from Birmingham, Alabama to Boston, Massachusetts arrived at the station. Sam Darcy was the last to board. He slouched, encumbered by a pack of his life’s belongings. In his hands, he held not a hunting rifle, but instead a small white ticket, which he gave to the collector to punch before stepping aboard the coach.
He sat alone by the window as the train began its slow acceleration. The only world Sam had ever known, silver in the moonlight, passed him from the window. Without a plan, and without a care, he smiled, and knew he had made the right choice.

 

~ ~ ~

Prompt for March 5th, 2017: Song inspiration from Jazz Suite No. 2: 6. Waltz by Dmitri Shostakovich

*Disclaimer: This story is meant to shed light on the terrifying reality experienced by those who suffer from dissociation in an environment or social setting that does not support them in their struggles. It is not meant to insinuate anything about people with dissociative identity disorder or any other mental illness.

“Fun House” by Rachel Cernosek

I’m already not feeling good, but they insisted on dragging me to the carnival. It was only here for one day, they say, and it’ll be fun! I’m not so sure. I can see my breath in the evening air, along with the breaths of hundreds of other bodies at the carnival. Dense and crowded — not fun for the agoraphobic.

Lines are long. All I want is water, and sleep. We wait in line for a fun house. The clown statue above the letters on the building has glowing red eyes. I look again, and they’re not emitting red light, but rather reflecting it from the spinning carousel adjacent to the fun house. Still, it deters me, but not my friends, and they drag me inside once we get to the entrance.

Everything is dark, as I become acutely aware. Someone’s hand is gripping my wrist, but I don’t drag anyone behind me as we navigate, because I am in the back. The floor seems to be shifting to and fro beneath us — but wait, it actually is shifting. As we struggle to keep our balance, they are giggling, and my heart is pounding. From what little I can make out, the walls are grotesquely colorful and abstract. I begin to lose feeling in my outstretched arm. Someone asks me if I’m having fun, and I’m vaguely aware of my head nodding, my lips forming the word “yes.”

We emerge on a balcony high up, and the lights from the ferris wheel next door seem blinding. I’m afraid of heights, but right now I envy the people in the top cart of the wheel. Too soon, the line drags me onward, back inside the house, bathed in shadows.

The next room has neon lights and my eyes won’t focus. A conveyor belt floor beneath us sets the group off in another cacophony of laughter, and the girl in front of me loosens her grip on my wrist slightly, but doesn’t let go.

We approach a catwalk which runs through a long tunnel of lights. The tunnel is rotating clockwise. We stumble forward. It’s an illusion, I know it is, but I can’t seem to convince my body of this.

I don’t want to be here. This was a mistake. I don’t want to be here.

It’s so dark, but up ahead there is a strobe light. As we near it, time seems to slow. Between the intervals of lights from the strobe, it is pitch black. I bring my free hand in front of my face, but my mind does not register it as my own.

The group is moving so quickly. Their voices seem to be becoming more and more distant. I feel like my legs cannot keep up, and when I stare down at them, they aren’t my legs. But are they?

I glance up and see myself.

But that’s impossible?

No, it’s me. It’s definitely me.

And to the right, I see me, too.

They must be mirrors. I stretch out my hand to touch the mirror, but something happens, and I’m not so sure the reflection is me anymore. The person I am looking at to my right is frowning,  but I can’t feel my own face frowning. The person to my left is long and skinny. But behind me, the person has the head of an alien and short stubby legs. I’m still disoriented by the strobe, looking around. I see at least five “me’s.” But I don’t recognize any of them. My heart is pounding — it’s all I can hear in my ears.

Suddenly, I look down, and no one is encircling my wrist with their hand. I am hyperventilating, I must be, but I can’t hear it over the pounding of my heartbeat. The group is gone. I am alone, but I’m not. With every burst of light from the strobe, all I see is me, me, me, a body with panicked eyes. I move, but not on my own accord. I am numb to feeling, a passenger in my own body. I can’t feel it, but I run into a hard surface — did I run into a mirror, or did I run into a person, into me? Either way, I’m falling, but the strobes seem to be slowing more and more, and suddenly I’m flying to the top of the room, and all I see are a hundred people, dense and crowded together, but I can’t escape.

~ ~ ~

Thank you for reading! Don’t forget to check out my friend Taylor’s writing entry for this same prompt at her blog! If you would like emailed updates from my blog, please scroll to the top of this page (or go to my homepage) and press the “+Follow” button at the bottom right of your screen to enter your email address. Don’t forget about my bullet journal and hobbies Instagram account, also called turbulentrhapsodies, to see all of my creative and academic endeavors!

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