Friday, April 17, 2009

[Fiction] Friday: Lea

[Fiction] Friday Challenge for April 17th, 2009:

Include this line somewhere in your story: “I’m never doing that again.”

The drums pounded in Lea’s head. An impatient finger jabbed at the elevator button as the rhythm began to build, from a quiet throb easily ignored to an insistent pounding. An hour earlier she’d washed down a handful of aspirin with the warm dregs of a bottle of mineral water in an attempt to quash the pain in the early stages.

How could I have missed the warning?

Lea understood now, staring defeated across the empty office space she had left it too late. The only light left on her floor was the single energy efficient bulb at elevator landing. Lightning flashed and Lea imagined the boom following closely behind – the plate glass windows absorbing the sound.

So focused on completing the evenings wires, tidying up all the lose ends Lea had failed to see the storm building out to the west until the final transaction was going through. A month without rain had made her blasé.

A month had passed since the impromptu visit with the healer at the psychic show. She’d wandered in passing the time between talks at an International Monetary Conference – treating herself to a walk through the freak show only to be compelled to actually speak with the woman in the simple white pants suit.

She’d pushed it all into the back of her mind. Committed the unsettling conversation to a mental strong box and piled it with the rest of them, where they could not touch her.

Lea jabbed unrelenting at the elevator button again, as the drumming in her head built.

Where the hell is the elevator?

According to the numbers above the doors the elevator hadn’t moved from the ground floor, despite her best efforts to rouse it from its slumber.

She lent her fevered forehead against the chill of the metal elevator door. Now was not the time to panic, even though she recognised the cold, winding its way through her bowel and up to her stomach. Screwing her eyes shut she hammered on the elevator door. She could risk a guard – after all it was Friday, she was leaving work late, as she always did and no one would consider asking difficult questions. All anyone ever asked her on a Friday was whether she’d join them for drinks at the Jade Buddha.

The answer was always no.

She had not come this far to choke, but as each second past and the drumming grew more insistent, pounding on the backs of her eye balls, the possibility grew. The cold had reached her stomach and was groping around the edges. The squeeze would not be far away.

It was her own damn fault for not pausing for a moment to stare out the tenth floor window and see the storm building. For fucks sake she’d paused long enough to force the Panadol down her throat.

Why the hell did I not look up - look out?

Looking down at the overnight bag at her feet, Lea seized it in a shaking hand, her lap top still strung across her shoulder. She couldn’t wait. Giving a final stab at the button she moved unsteadily towards the fire exit.

This was the first time she’d lost her balance. All the other episodes had been mild in comparison.

“Miss Lea.”

The voice seemed to come from impossibly far away. She turned and found a security guard striding across to her. It looked as though he moved through a fun house of crazy mirrors. Lea rubbed at her eyes. She needed to be able to see straight.

“I’m not feeling so well,” and the guard caught her as she swayed on her feet. “I’m having trouble with the door.”

“Your security tag Miss Lea.”

The security tag!

The guard swiped his tag and the numbers began to light up above the elevator door.

“Are you joining the rest of them down at the Jade Buddha?”

“No.” Lea didn’t even recognise her voice.

“Probably best to go home. My wife and kids have had what you’re coming down with. Make sure you take yourself off to bed love, warm chicken soup and lots of water.”

Lea was certain that the guard’s wife and kids did not have what she had.

The doors slid open and inside the elevator, away from the prying eyes of the guard, Lea slumped against the wall, dropping the over night bag. Her episodes had never been this bad. In the past there had been a disconcerting disconnection from reality – as if viewing the world through a telescope, or on a TV screen – other times the resistance that comes with moving through water. A sickening feeling of deja vu. And there was always the drumming, pummelling her brain into submission. Then the rain would start to fall.

This time the drums were louder, and the rhythm had shape and cadence. It was as though the drums were singing to her, beckoning her forth.

It was irrational. She knew it and the healer – she would have to have known too. She could not really believe the drivel she imparted to the unsuspecting. Lea didn’t believe in clairvoyants and their sisters.

I'm never doing that again - putting faith were none deserved to be.

Lea had been caught off guard and sought answers where there could be none. Suspending logic. Mistrusting her rational calculation and understanding of the world.

Lea didn’t believe in past lives much less energetic patterns reincarnating looking for resolution. She was not caught in some psychic scratch – like a record needle getting caught on vinyl.

“A door once open can not be closed. It is up to you if you wish to cross the threshold.”

It was as though the woman with her braided hair, heavily highlight with grey and her intense green eyes was in the elevator - so clear was the voice.

She was tired, over worked. Stressed. Living every day on the brink of losing everything. She could feel the kiss of the gun muzzle on her space between her manicured eye brows.

“A door once open can not be closed. It is up to you if you wish to cross the threshold.”

No wonder she was hearing things, seeing things. She rubbed at the space between her eye brows, wishing the drumming would stop.

Lea ran her hands through her short hair and turned to look at her pale reflection in the mirrors. The image swum and for a moment her auburn hair was braided – like the healer’s, with white flowers threaded through it. Lea blinked, rubbing at her tried, dry eyes. She looked into her red rimmed eyes, dark circles encasing the lower part of her eye sockets. Her olive skin seemed to have a deathly pall shimmering just below the surface.

Dead woman walking.

But hadn’t she always been?

You grow up the way I did and you know life is cheap and death is even cheaper.

She stared closer at her forehead, at the red spot between her eye brows where she tapped unconsciously as waited for wires to finalise. Manoeuvring money in the ether – making illegal money, legal, but dirty money could never be clean.

The healer had said her third eye was closed – the space she nervously tapped with her pointer finger. She had lost her ability to tune into her intuition – her higher knowing. But Lea was more in tune to her intuition and her higher knowing than she had ever been. The nervous tendency was testament to that. You never forgot a gun pressed to your forehead.

But the door was closing, regardless of what the healer said – doors do close and new ones open. The end of this chapter of her life was so close. It didn’t need to rain. It was hard enough without struggling through another episode to get to the airport.

This time tomorrow I’ll be in the Caymens.

“Ground floor.” An impeccable English voice broke through her thoughts as the elevator doors slid open.

Author's Notes
This is the second part of a story written a few weeks ago The Stamford ... and there will be at least two more installments to come.

Please feel free to leave constructive criticism. I will be going back to tweak the oncoming weather and removing all the word repetitions :)


Annie Evett said...

So are you going to classify this as mythical chiclit?

I loved the way you built the tension through the images of the drumming - and of the storm brewing and building outside.

Good use - and importantly - not overuse - of flashbacks. Each tidbit tantalizing as it feeds us one morsel more, forcing our hunger to howl for more!

looking forward to reading more on these characters

Aden said...

You are really good at building great tension and keeping it there, steady and constant. I am totally sucked into this story and can't wait to see more of this.

Shelley said...

Your writing is good. Very descriptive and I could imagine, in my mind, the scene actually taking place. Good job.

M. D. Benoit said...

Really good job at building tension. At first I thought all she had was a hangover but you built up the hints in a systematic manner that made it mysterious and desperate at the same time. Good stuff.

My entry is at

Anonymous said...

Sweet use of flashbacks! I sometimes end up confusing everyone when I try flashback-ing. Eh, you get what I mean.

Happy Friday!

Beatriz Kim said...

I love your writing style! You don't give it away too quickly and the tension it builds is fantastic!

There is one little and sort of ironic typo that I very humbly present to you.

"I'm never doing that again - putting faith were (where) none deserved to be." (I think.)

The rest of it is clean. So this rather unlikely typo, on the very sentence we're looking for, is unexpected and a little ironic. ?No? (Spanish)

Obviously, this is just a draft and I expect you would have found the stubborn little guy (typo). I'm convinced that you're a wonderful writer, so I hope you are not offended by a much lesser writer. I just thought it was funny in an ironic sort of way;)

I can't wait to read more! I'm going to start following your blog! If you'd like a chance to give me constructive criticism, these are my blogs, where I'm sure I have made plenty of errors;)

I hope your Monday is inspirational and kind!