Finish the story contest week 24 entry

in #fiction6 years ago (edited)

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This is my entry for the finish the story contest which you can find here:
https://steemit.com/finishthestory/@bananafish/finish-the-story-contest-week-24?sort=new#comments

If you are unfamiliar with how this contest works, someone writes the beginning of a story and invites other writers to finish it. It's a lot of fun so I recommend giving it a shot if you have the time!

The begininng of this weeks story was written by @calluna

Change blew in on the air that morning, whispering through a sleeping town. An eerie quiet rested along the main road, early commuters not yet disturbing the grey dawn. A wisp of waning moon, brushed pink with the gentle glow of the coming sun, hung low in the ombre sky.

A subtle shift rocked the heavy foliage of scattered trees, rippling between the houses. The cool silence of night still clung to the shadows. A lone ginger cat stalked between the sentinels of bins guarding the curbs. It paused, hair bristling along it’s back as it sensed a disturbance rushing past.

A lone mournful howl echoed in the streets, erupting into a sorrowful symphony as others took up the canine call.

Not a single harsh bark interrupted the lament that awoke the town that morning.

Back doors opened onto gardens, not quite the same. Concerned residents in an array of dressing gowns, coats and slippers, padded outside to find the same, inexplicable sight.

Theo hadn’t been home in months. He had told his mum he was getting clean. It was a lie. He hadn’t been clean in years.

The dark country road snaked before him, a twisting river of retreating night. She had insisted he came home for the wedding. Theo couldn’t stand her boyfriend, but his mum had half chewed his ear off over it, and he couldn’t deny, he owed her this.

He swore under his breath. The rising itch was dancing across his skin. The hard edge cutting inside him. He needed another hit. He had been driving since 1am, he loaded up before he set off, but the ragged scraping of the comedown was consuming.

He glanced at the road, he hadn’t passed another car in hours, and he knew these twisting roads.

One hand on the wheel, he fumbled through the bag on the passenger seat. He couldn’t face that c*nt sober, Aunt Hazel would help.

His skin flushed with the intense bliss coursing through his veins as he approached the sleeping streets.

Dawn was pushing towards the horizon, her soft pink glow catching the clipped moon.

Theo was speeding when he got to the town. He heard the hair-raising call of neighbourhood dogs, raising their cry as one.

Then he saw it. The change. He couldn’t look away. He didn’t see the tree.

The rapidly growing flowers that had distracted him twined their stems around the wheels of his car. The lilacs grew until they covered the entire town and completely encapsulated the wrecked remains of his vehicle. Theo heard a soft voice from the passenger seat.

“Hello Theo.” It was a voice he was familiar with but hadn’t heard in years.

“You aren’t real.” Even as he said it, he felt a familiar caress on his arm.

“I’m real enough.” Theo stiffened and she withdrew her hand. He almost looked over to where the voice was coming from but caught himself just in time. If he looked there were only three possible things he would see. More than likely, she wasn’t there at all and this was just the worst trip of his life. If she was there, she would either be a rotted corpse here to haunt him, or she would be the same beautiful young girl he’d left here alone to die. Whatever the truth was, he wasn’t sure he could bear it.

“What do you want from me?”

“I can’t sleep Theo. There’s a question banging around in my head and you haven't been here to answer it.” Theo was terrified she’d ask him why he never came back for her. Even when she died, he hadn’t been able to force himself to come back for her funeral.

“What is your question?”

“When I died you had lilacs sent to my grave. I loved them. I obsessed over them until they withered away completely. I need to know, did you love me Theo?” The breath caught in Theo’s chest. He hadn’t ever told her, but he’d always just assumed she knew. Their mothers were best friends so they’d practically grown up together. All that time, had she really thought he only thought of her as a friend?

“Yes, I did love you.” They sat in silence until a question of his own began to form in his mind. “If I had told you back then, would you have gone with me when I asked?” He waited in the still quiet for her answer.

“I don’t think so, no. I would have wanted to, but it wouldn’t have changed anything. My mother still would have needed me. I used to dream that everything was different. We had lots of fun adventures together in my daydreams.”

“I used to dream we were together too.” Dark spots clouded Theo’s vision, the impact was starting to take its toll. He found it was harder and harder to keep his eyes open.

“Stay awake Theo. You can’t run away this time, you told your mother you’d go to her wedding.”

“But what about you?”

“I’ll still be here. Time doesn’t matter as much to me any more.”

“I guess you’re right.”

“But eventually…”

“I’ll come back for you.”

“Promise?” Theo heard the sirens and saw the flashing lights through the corner of his eye. He finally turned his head towards his passenger seat but there was no one there. He addressed his answer to the lilacs that had grown all around him.

“I promise.”


Thank you so much for reading! It's been a while since I've been able to post anything... work and overtime and all that fun stuff. But I miss it a lot so I'm glad I finally had some time to sit down and write today <3

Image is free for personal and commercial use and you can find it here:
https://www.pexels.com/photo/purple-abstract-haze-blur-1946/

Sort:  

Delicate, poetic and melancholic. But I preferred your previous one. This is good, that was unique (that epic dialogue about free will.. still remember it).

Thank you! It’s really cool to hear you’re still thinking about that one a couple weeks later 😄

I read them with a lot of attention and remember all the best ones.

Not only is this evocative and well-written, but lilacs are my favorite flower. Basically this story wins for me on all counts.

Thank you! I remembered reading that lilacs were worn by widows because some people use them to symbolize lost love and that kinda sealed the deal on my flower choice for this story.

Welcome back! A poetic story of... redemption? I hope so!

Thank you! Yeah something about @calluna's characters always has me rooting for them so I wanted some redemption in there for him for sure.

Ooo a very strong emotional finish, the reality and metaphorical nature of the lilacs, associated with spiritualism and seeming so ethereal themselves. In the picture you paint, it doesn't seem to matter if she is really there as a ghost, or the product of a drug addled mind, which makes for a hair raisingly beautiful ending.

Beautifully rendered imagery of the lilacs. It has bittersweet undertones to the story and very well written,

For a conclusion, it's open-ended, but pleasurably so.

The story reminds me of a Florence and the Machine song which features two lovers whose passion is so strong, they continue to love each other as ghosts. I can't remember the name of the song now.

It also reminds me of the ghosts in Thornton Wilder's play "Our Town," who live on in graveyards, but in a distanced ethereal way, such that the real world seems a dream to them.

Either way, very nice. You know it's a good story if you don't want it to end. :)

Thank you! I’ll have to look into that song and play, they both sound like something I’d enjoy 😄

I like how the experiences they’ve had (including her death!) since they last saw each other have helped them to realize what they mean to each other. His promise at the end is the perfect finish... you can feel that he means it. Great read!

Two amazing parts and they came together so well. I am glad youve just been busy and didnt give up! Always enjoy reading what you come up with!

Thanks @bitfiend, glad you enjoyed it 😄

This is a nice ~500-word story, resteem'd it.

Cool, thank you 😄

That is a well realized story.... and in so few words. The lilacs are a great image...Whitman came to mind. The connection worked very well.

Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it 😄

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