The Boardwalk.

It’s Wednesday, mid-week, and the sun refuses to cut the chill in the air. But, that’s okay, because the day fits Wednesday’s word.

sorrel. noun: a light reddish-brown color.
(from Wordsmith.org, Today’s word)

Wordsmith chooses their word of the day based on a theme every week. This week’s theme is Autumn colors. There’s more to the definition of sorrel. But, I’m sticking with the color, as colors often match a mood.

File this under Flash Fiction.
It’s difficult to explain how this story surfaced – something about colors in nature leads to healing. For someone who’s a cynic most of the time, that sounds awfully dramatic. Still, that’s where sorrel took me today.

***

For a long time – after the incident, the accident, the misunderstanding – my body misbehaved.

It twitched and recoiled and my hair fell out.

I stopped listening to the radio. It was easier, that way, to avoid the certain pitch that sent my brain into a momentary spasm, the same way it cringed the first time I heard that pitch. It was the night of the incident, when the second verse switched to the chorus of that song blaring in the background. Or, was it the pitch of the scream that burst from my mind to my mouth but was stopped short by the palm of a hand?

For months after, my eyes bounced from the ground to the horizon and back to the ground. I watched my feet as they moved along the sidewalk, until I caught sight of a rusty grate along the curb. The rust of the grate brought back an image of brown hidden beneath peeling paint on a radiator against the bedroom wall. My eyes darted away from the grate and up to the top of the street. When the sun came out from behind a building, my eyes stung. I blinked, and all I saw was the bedroom. I looked down again in search of my shoes.

I found clumps of hair on my pillow each morning. In the shower, the drain clogged up faster than usual. I wondered, how much more will I lose? My reflection in the mirror resembled a worn painting: frozen in time, the colors faded, a lack of definition. I stared at my wispy hair and my weak reflection and thought in time I might disappear.

But, it was color that brought me back into focus. My sandwich sat, unwrapped but untouched, on a picnic table where ate lunch one day. The leaves rustled and disturbed my cushion of quiet. I turned toward the sound and saw a sign that said “Boardwalk.” I folded my sandwich back up in the plastic wrap and put it in my coat pocket. I followed the boardwalk through swampland and marshland, past cattails as tall as me. An opening in the weeds showed a bright green layer of algae atop a small body of water. I circled the shore to the other side. I sat down near the green under a canopy of trees. I closed my eyes and breathed in the cool, damp air of Fall. The leaves blew together, rose to a crescendo, and again beckoned me to look.

At the edges, the leaves were brown and dry. But further in, close to the lifeblood of the tree, there was gold and red and even green.

***

I admit, this Wednesday’s word isn’t my favorite. I like the word, but the story needs work. Click the Wordsmith link above yourself, read the definitions of sorrel, and see if the word inspires a better story worthy of your own blog post. If so, shoot me the link in a comment. I’d love to read it.

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5 responses to “The Boardwalk.

  1. AspiringArtists

    And what if a mood is just black and white?

  2. Good story, Christi. I like the way you hint at the incident, reveal it’s devastation, then give us hope at the end.

  3. Good story, gripping. I agree with Linda. Although I’m left longing to know about the incident. Perhaps a sequel?

  4. Thanks for your comments, Linda and Cathryn.

    In such a short piece, I debated how much to reveal. And, in some ways that was purposeful. Often, that type of experience sits in a person’s mind under a cloud of denial or dismissal, or maybe just in pieces. That was part of what I wanted to convey as well.

    And, Cathryn and I briefly touched on the concept of flash fiction (a discussion over at shewrites.com). Can it be done in a flash? Or do writers of flash fiction spend just as much time re-writing (or even more time) as they do on short stories?

    In a rewrite, or a sequel, I would like to explore the feel of the story as more details unfold.

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