What I Could See


For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Chaos Mandy challenged me with “crazy is how you perceive it” and I challenged Grace O’Malley with “delicious food is involved.”

Making her way down the post office steps, a woman gripped the railing. Her back and shoulders were hunched and bent forward. She was murmuring. Passersby paused just long enough to look her up and down and one or two seemed to consider offering an arm for her to lean on, but they did not, maybe for the fierceness of her grip or the flash in her eyes when she glanced up.

Down the block, a dancer stepped up to a booth on the street. He wore a thin shirt that hid nothing. Without touching, he ran his fingers through the air above the trinkets and finally looked shyly at the man behind the table. The man glared back, almost as if he might growl or shout. The dancer shifted and narrowed his eyes then, transforming a reticent, tired look into something hard, something that became gangster in the way that water freezes to ice. His hand crashed onto the table as he leaned forward.

Just then, a homeless man staggered past, clipping the dancer and swerving toward the brick wall past the table, where he stumbled on a few feet before crashing into the brick and slumping onto the ground against it. His eyes came up, unfocused, and his long fingers, splayed and flopped over his knees, were creased with dirt.

A girl sped along the sidewalk in front of him. Her backpack bounced. She smoothed her hair into a ponytail as she half-ran, exposing green fingernails through blond strands. Every time someone passed going the opposite direction, she grinned.

I came behind her. No one talked to me, no one waved or told me to have a good day. I met the eyes of the old woman at the post office. I noticed when the dancer stiffened and straightened. I smelled the homeless man. And while this girl smiled, I painted my face into a mask. No one noticed me, and I knew I could protect her from here. I was so powerful, so outside of them.

A voice ripped through me. It tore the scene away, the girl first, and I gasped for air.

“Charlie,” she said. “Charlie, I would like you to refocus on the present.”

Everything went black and then I recognized the voice and the walls of a room.

“Come back here, Charlie,” she said. “Find now.”

I felt the chair beneath me, the office air around me.

“That’s right,” she said.

I looked at my therapist and began to cry. She was gone.

looking inside


12 responses »

  1. I have social anxiety disorder and have been in extensive therapy. That lost, harried, worried feeling that never goes away ran throughout this. You nailed this.

    Good job with blocking and dialogue. I felt beside the characters.

    • Thank you, Lance. I wanted to approach the prompt from an unexpected perspective and while I’m not sure I accomplished it exactly, I definitely enjoyed letting the narrator carry me through the story.

      I’m really glad you found it intense and believable — means a lot.

  2. Awesome visuals Lime, I could have put my imagination on hold and let your writing do all the work! Great flow as well, I got so caught up in the descriptions that I had to read the ending twice to make sure I got it right.


  3. It felt as if I was reading the setting layout for a movie, each piece of the scene detailed so the actors know exactly what they are supposed ot be doing, where they should be. I was expecting your prompt to be something involving writing a script.

    This would make an interesting scene of a movie. Hits you in the gut at the end, great visual impact with the switch from imagination to reality

    • Wow! Thanks, Carrie. I did get some filmic imagery in my head as I was going along. Not sure why it did that for me. The prompt was interesting, I think, and I didn’t want to be too cliché in approaching it, but then I might have veered to far out. It’s hard to strike the right balance sometimes, I think.

      Thank you so much for reading and for the thoughtful comment.

  4. My reaction was so like Carrie’s. As I read, I though it flet like a screenplay, a movie scene. You conveyed emotion and inner-workings concisely and with flair.

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