Every Wednesday, on Writing Under Pressure, you’ll find a post based on Today’s Word (from Wordsmith.org). Past essays, poems, or flash fiction pieces can be found under Wednesday’s Word on the sidebar to the right.
equipoise. noun. 1. A state of balance. 2. Something that serves as counterbalance.
Tonight, I read to my daughter from The Wind in the Willows. The first bit of chapter nine describes my mood for the day:
The Water Rat was restless, and he did not exactly know why. To all appearances the summer’s pomp was still at fullest height….”
Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason for restlessness. All I know is that it was a good thing it’s Wednesday, or I would have avoided writing all together. Now, to a little flash….
On the Edge
Libby took off her shoe and stretched her right leg out behind her. She hooked the top of her foot around a skinny birch tree then bent down and placed her left hand on a rock in front of her. Leading with her right arm, she lowered herself, slowly, towards the ring that teetered on the edge of a patch of moss. Libby had to hook the ring on the first attempt, or she’d lose it over the cliff.
It isn’t even my ring, she thought. Though, it could’ve been. It belonged to her roommate, Emily.
Libby’s left thigh bore most of her weight and began to burn. The toes on her right foot curled tighter. Yoga had gotten her into this mess, and now Yoga would hopefully get her out of it.
Libby was the first one to sign up for Yoga. In fact, Emily didn’t seem the least bit interested in the class until Libby came home and sighed as she fell onto the couch.
“There’s this guy,” she told Emily. “And, all I’m saying is dark curls and blue eyes that could take me down.”
Emily showed up for Yoga the very next week, her auburn hair swinging and her tan skin glistening. Jacob was just about to ask Libby for a drink at The Juicer, Libby was sure. But, as soon as Emily graced the workout room, Jacob’s eyes shifted from Libby to Emily. And, he never looked back.
At the edge of the cliff, Libby breathed through the stretch of her right leg, arm, index finger.
Jacob and Emily were engaged in a few months. They would have been married by now. But, Emily got cold feet. Typical. Emily always got whatever she wanted and never held it too long. She couldn’t even suck on hard candy for more than a minute before she tore into it and broke it to bits.
Even though she called off the wedding, she insisted on taking the honeymoon trip — a month traveling across Europe.
God, she was cruel.
She left the ring in a puddle of water by the bathroom sink, like she took it off to wash her hands and then just forgot about it.
Emily forgot about the ring and forgot about Jacob. But, Libby didn’t. As soon as Emily left town, Libby picked up the ring and buffed it on her t-shirt. She slipped it on her finger, forcing the ring past her knuckle, and wore it non-stop for the next three weeks. She wanted to know what it felt like, to be engaged. Or, maybe to be Emily.
Libby toes slipped and her right leg began to shake. She bent the tip of her finger and lowered it into the middle of the ring.
“Got it,” she gasped.
She held up her finger and let the ring slide to her knuckle. Using her foot as an anchor, she pulled herself back to center.
Along with the ring, Libby had been wearing Emily’s shoes lately. And, once she went to work in Emily’s favorite sundress. It wasn’t until Libby studied a box of auburn hair color at the drugstore that she came to her senses.
“Jesus. What’s wrong with me?”
That’s when she went home, threw all of Emily’s shoes back into Emily’s closet, put on her own worn out hiking boots, and took to the trail by the lake.
She had stopped next to the cliff to take in the scenery and take off the ring, since her hand had gotten swollen after half an hour in the heat. But the ring wouldn’t budge. She poured water from her bottle onto her finger and tried twisting the ring. Finally, she exhaled and pulled hard so that the ring jerked over her knuckle. She lost her grip on it and watched it flip three times and land on the bed of moss.
Now that she had it in her hand again, she was afraid to put it back on and afraid to carry it in her pocket. She held the ring in her open hand and watched it glisten in the sun.
Libby never used to be so jealous, but Emily had a way of rubbing everything in – even when she gave you a gift.
“I thought of you and bought this for you today,” she said once, as she handed Libby the book, He’s Just Not That Into You.
“Hey, I found this while I was out shopping,” she said another time as she held up a new swimsuit. “It’s so you!” And, it was cute, until Libby noticed the tag that said “belly minimizer.” Libby took total offense to that one.
She shook her head as she looked out over the cliff. Then, she started hearing things — Jacob’s voice calling out her name.
Then again, “Libby!”
She turned around to see Jacob walking towards her.
“Hey! I didn’t know you came out here,” he said breathless. His eyes shone.
Libby wrapped her fingers around Emily’s ring before he reached her.
“I love this spot,” he said, looking out over the cliff. “Such a great view.”
“Yes,” Libby said. She slid the ring into her back pocket.
When Jacob turned to her, Libby cupped a strand of hair and slid it back behind her ear, just as she had seen Emily do a thousand times when Jacob picked her up.
“Wow,” he said. “You look different.” She thought he blushed.
Libby smiled and put her hand in her back pocket. She grasped the ring again and held it tight until it cut into her palm.