"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)


Distant Stars

You'd think I'd be used to it by now, like a farmer gets used to the scent of manure.  But I wasn't.  The smell of tonight's dinner decomposing and being digested, oozing from human pores, mixed with the leftover stench of rancid grease and burned oil.  Pork chops.  My mom made pork chops.  For some reason, pork smells so much nastier than chicken or beef or even fish, really.  At least fish is digested quicker, and the stink doesn't linger so long.

To make things worse, it was a hot and muggy night, and I could smell them sweating in their sleep, the bacteria spreading and dancing in the moistness.  The odors mixed together so unpleasantly I started to gag.

I threw off the covers, deciding sleep was useless like this.  I peeked over at Lily to make sure she didn't stir.  Of course she didn't.  She slept like a forbidden temple every night.  Nothing disturbed her.  I didn't bother changing my clothes or putting on shoes; my pajama pants fit me loosely, letting air circulate, and my tank top invited cooling, too.  I tiptoed to the window and opened it slowly, quietly.  I stepped out onto the roof as lithe as a lynx, walked down the slanted tiles, and agilely leaped to the sturdy oak tree like I had so many nights already this summer.  I shimmied down and felt my feet touch wet dewy grass.

I walked, much further than my parents would have been comfortable with, but I knew where I wanted to go.  Where I needed to be right then.  Nobody passed me as I traveled, and it dawned on me that I hadn't bothered to check the time.  No matter.  I'd head home when the sky turned from charcoal black to dusty gray.  They'd never miss me.

I could smell fresh grass now, and I knew I was getting closer.  My feet picked up the pace intuitively, until I rounded the corner and stepped into the vacant filled.  Blades of wild grass reached up to my thighs.  People were far from here, and animals didn't come by frequently.  I breathed in deeply, feeling the dread seep from my body, feeling my muscles relax and my shoulders slump.

I moved towards the middle of the field and chose a spot that felt like even ground beneath my feet.  My hands worked instinctively, weaving the grass back and forth until I'd made a soft, comfortable bed.  I laid down and gazed up at the sky.

It looked beautiful tonight.  So far from town, the city lights were unable to dim the stars brilliance.  And yet, I couldn't help but feel that I was looking at the mixed up pieces of a jig-saw puzzle, that the patterns were off somehow.  And in spite of my logical brain, as I stared at the moon, I couldn't help but search the skies for the other two that I knew were missing.

I heard the haunting song of a barn owl, and it nearly made me cry.  Not because of the loneliness it carried, no, I was OK with being alone.  It was because it was such a foreign sound, something I knew I would never hear back where I came from.  Or rather, where I was supposed to have gone.

Fifteen years.  Fifteen years I'd been building a wall around my heart, keeping the homesickness at bay.  It wasn't like I'd be going anywhere soon.  I allowed on -- just one -- small tear to glide down my face.  Then, with a deep breath, I closed my eyes to the foreign sky and rested.


This week's prompt:
Use this lyric from Shore Leave to flavor your story: “Hong Kong drizzle on Cuban heels.”

This week's  prompt was about being so far away from home, and it fit very well with my current work in progress.  So, I developed a story using my main character.  I hope you enjoyed it.

As always, to play along, visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday here.


Susan G. Haws said...

A lot of good sensory description.

LR said...

Nice job, Shelli. I like the rural setting you created.

Laura Rachel Fox said...

The description of the rural setting is wonderful. I can see and feel everything.

The lonely/longing tone is haunting.

The description of the pork chops in the first paragraph is perfect. Made my stomach turn.

Anonymous said...

That was really beautiful. Made me want to go lay in grass and look at the stars. Its always so important to know what feeds our soul and how to find it as your MC seems to have done.

Shelli said...

Thank you, Susan and LR!

Laura, thanks. I'm glad that feeling of longing came through.

Thank you, Francis. Is it a coincidence, do you think, that looking at stars feeds my soul, too?

Renee said...

All my senses came alive in this was so easy for me to visualize it all and even experience it....Wow! You are so good at this, Shelli...

Shelli said...

Thank you so much, Renee, I always appreciate your encouragement!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Aw that's beautifully written. This line, "And in spite of my logical brain, as I stared at the moon, I couldn't help but search the skies for the other two that I knew were missing", really stood out for me. I don't know why, it just really says so much in so few words.

Stacey said...

Beautiful imagery, and you captured your MC's emotions really well.

John Pender said...

Well I was planning on eating pork chops tomorrow night. Thanks a lot, Shelli. :)
Loved your use of description in this one. I believe you've outdone yourself a little on this one.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful (as always). Made me homesick for a place I've never even been. So yeah...very engaging! You had me walking into the field and I could almost smell the grass. Mmmm. Makes me want to go outside barefoot now...if not for the ants. lol. Great job!

Shelli said...

Icy -- Thanks! You've got a good eye; I would say that is one of the key phrases to understanding my MC.

Thank you, Stacey!

John -- Hm, I have a feeling it didn't deter you for long. ;)

Carrie -- Thanks so much, I'm glad it worked. You're wonderful!

Anonymous said...

That's a great piece that's left me wanting more. I hope you bring this character out again, I'd love to learn more about the story.

Shelli said...

Newt -- Oh, I'm so glad you feel that way, because she's the MC in my current work in progress. Hopefully you'll get to see a lot more of her! Thanks!