Story #2 in a series of short story collabs, written in March in honour of International Women’s Month. This story began when I wrote the first 100 words of a story and then sent it to two other women, asking them to pass it along after adding onto the beginning. The only rules to this collaborative project were that each entry should not exceed 100 words and that the story had to cross international border after each writer added her part.
The story leapt borders a few times, and each time it did it took a new direction.
You can read the first story, with a slightly different turn near the end, here. The next story in the series will follow later this week.
Thanks for reading, and thanks to the women who participated in this project.
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Michelle Elvy – Martha Williams – Claire King – Margot McCuaig
Speaking of flying. Dreaming, that is. The dreams are never the same of course: sometimes you float among cold choking clouds, other times it’s oily, hot and thick and you can’t tell if it’s liquid or gas suspending you above-ground. Sometimes you’re wrapped in whipped cream (never with strawberries, which you don’t understand because it’s your dream dammit and you love strawberries). Or you float through a watery world, where owls gurgle a greeting through kelp and tall poplars wave prettily while goldfish glup-glup by.
Awake, you peddle to market on Monday, wheels rattling over the kerb, road, cobbles… across the square through a haze of cinnamon, where grizzly old men clutch espressos at small, round tables and schoolchildren chatter through minty breath as they walk past market daffodils.
This morning, for the first time in months, the grey light is pierced by a hint of gold and the cold fails to bite your fingers. For a few minutes you pause by the church and look to the sky. Then you remember the time and lurch ahead, swaying madly from side to side.
When you arrive, breathless, the door’s already open.
In your scatter for the steps you lose your footing and fall forward. Your basket flies from your hands as they reach out to stop the crack of skull on slabs, but before your palms touch down your feet leave the ground. You spin up in a slow tumble, the contents of your basket meeting you on their way down.
For a moment you do not try to right yourself, but embrace the familiar feeling. You smell tea… and bath salts. That’s new. You hear a voice and open your eyes.
I’ve been waiting for you.
And yet the face can’t be familiar so you screw your eyes shut, the taut action wrinkling your nose and puckering your mouth in an unsightly fishy kiss that sinks you like a stone. Finally composed, you release your flickering lashes, a dragon fly flirting with possibilities beneath the well.
A hand stretches out and you grasp it, the warm touch as familiar as the sky that caresses your wings at nightfall. You float to your feet, your beating heart drowning the sound escaping from her lips. You know those lips. Have never forgotten their ebb of something and nothing.
Waiting for what you say, smiling.