Another Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge. This is a quick draft I whipped up inspired by two of the sentences from the challenge. Enjoy. Or be haunted. Either way, I will consider it a success.
She had lived for seventeen days inside the stanza, reeling around the intermingling eroticism of line breaks, reveling in the ache of each point of punctuation. Coming up for air was optional. Instead, she breathed the rhythm of internal rhyme, melodies dancing inside an evocatively executed turn of phrase.
But a poetic pattern can retain inertia, too. When the voices from above awoke her from her subterranean reverie, she climbed out of the cool darkness of the Underworld and into the garish glitter of daylight. This world was boorish, alien, hostile. The body snatchers could take you from your own imaginings, impose theirs, like some sort of bland, jingoish brainwashing mimicking Matheson’s worst nightmares.
She tried to breathe and was met with only a carcinogenic smog, carefully landscaped and pruned hedges, the trees and bushes boxing her in. Even nature wasn’t natural; it was some honed and harnessed mimeograph of itself, a poor print copied when the toner was low.
Everything was prison. Every liberty outside of the lines was a lie. The only world that truly was had been ripped away, like a baby cut early from the home of the womb.
All that was left now was to fit in, to pretend the spirits tumbling in the gyre just beyond her reach were only a fantasy.
Get a job.
Find a “real” hobby.
Attract a boyfriend.
Buy a canary.
And pretend, for every day thereafter, that she wasn’t drowning in polluted sludge, that every breath wasn’t a breath closer to death and further from reality.
But then, the hope of subversion arose, a glimpse of color through the gray, prisms dancing just on the edges of perception like a promise for eternity. She could run crosswise in small ways…finding an avant-garde obsession that could help her imagine that she was descending back into the nether-regions, the wild revels where the moon shimmered across open water and birds flew so high she lost them among the stars.
Sneak behind authority’s back, flinging nine to five away with yesterday’s news, imagining the manager standing helpless, wringing his hands as she floated above the confines of Twitter and one-hundred-twenty characters…or fifteen inescapable archetypes.
Then the assurance that nothing was new insists its way into her subconscious like mildew, chewing away the worlds threatening to claw their way back up from the banks of the Styx. The penitentiary of history itself sits on her chest like an incubus. Why waste time when it only apes what Adam built in the first place?
This is how the criminal disappears after the inventor erodes. When the Dreamer ascends and is trapped in the waking world, the only opportunity to break free is to break the rules. And then breaking the rules seems like too high a price. That despised despotism, the demands of the doldrums, suddenly become precious. Stockholm, Munchausen…the tyranny of embracing the mundane.
What happened to the music of the spheres? All that is left is a pop refrain in 4/4 time, five notes, two lines, one octave, advertising lipstick and Lincolns. And this is acceptable. This is as it should be. Who has the drive to dig deeper? Who has the time for whims of inspiration?
Then she becomes, by inches, in bland bylines, a slave. The goddess, the mother of universes, forgets.
And all that lies ahead is dust.