Caroline

For the Writing Adventure Group topic: Broken as well as the #fridayflash group.

Caroline

Caroline’s world wavered as though exposed to intense heat. Events paused in excruciating echoes of plans undone and severed schedules. The fragmentation had begun with the sound of a car’s horn blaring in a panicky plea for fate to, just this once, pass by.  She heard her own heart hammer and instinctively raised a hand, an order from a non-existent traffic cop who might prevent the oncoming collision.

A woman screamed. Or did she? Caroline knew this situation called for a high-pitched human alarm to announce to the world that life had gone awry. As though the wail had called for time to resume its duty, seconds passed, but slowly, as though this event called for a methodical record. She wondered, idly, if there would be a crime scene report. She also considered her sister’s plane, wondering if she had to be interviewed by the police, would Alicia be angry, assuming Caroline had simply not shown up? No. Caroline was the diligent one. Perhaps she would ask the officer if she could step inside for a moment, to leave a message with information desk, knowing that Alicia would be summoned to a white courtesy phone to be told by a soothing feminine voice that her party had been delayed.

As the car, horn still sounding, approached in day-long seconds, Caroline had time to consider the heat of the day, to notice that her foot had slipped and left a black mark on her camel coloured shoe where it had scraped the asphalt. Could she let it slide along the hot, black surface and somehow let the oncoming disaster roll over her, with no more inconvenience than a singe of smoky exhaust? Her back bent in a way she had not moved since her childhood tumbling classes some thirty years before, gracefully arching as she pointed behind her with outstretched hand.

If only she hadn’t looked up, perhaps she could have cartwheeled away from catastrophe. It was the damned horn that forced her eyes to the oncoming blue Pinto. She wondered, as it thundered closer, if it got good mileage.

Something snapped loudly with the impact of the battering bumper, and she flew toe over tired brow, tumbling back into the timeline, until people rushed and whirred and shrieked. Caroline apologised for the fuss. “I’m all right”, she said, but no sound came out.

The sun shone in pale streaks, and glared into her eyes as she stared up from the burning blacktop. She only had thirty minutes before Alicia arrived. She must not delay. Her pantsuit would have stains; marred and marked beyond the hope of even the most conscientious dry-cleaners. A pity she had so recently paid seventy-five dollars and ninety-nine cents for it. Were people fooled by the ninety-nine?

She turned her head to one side, and saw bubbles rising from blistered tar freshly laid. “Get up,” she muttered. Her eyelids clenched closed, blocking out the scenes of some rushing toward her, and others cowering away. “Get up. Now.” She inhaled deeply, and surprisingly, easily. She stood and stretched, dusting off the cream-colored trousers and arranging that which had been in disarray. The terminal loomed in front of her.

With a glance back to the oncoming crowd, she raised a timid finger, trying to pause time that had already been warped enough. “I’ll be right back,” she said to no one in particular. “I’ve got to meet my sister. Just dashing to the desk.” No one looked at her. They all focused on the ground in front of the car. Its airbag had exploded into a protective pillow. The horn had stopped. If this was television, she thought, it would still be sounding.

No one looked at her, that is, except for one young woman, with hair dangling around her face in long curls that shone. Caroline stared at the woman, who leaned against a young maple, crunching on a bright red apple. Something about her said “wayward” in ways no words could adequately describe. It wasn’t her clothes, which were worn, but not shabby, nor her lack of make-up or slightly freckled nose. No, the sense of mischief shone in her eyes. “How extraordinary,” Caroline said and turned toward the terminal. Two steps away, she glanced over her shoulder. The girl waved with the same hand that held an apple core. Uncertainty led Caroline to raise her hand, but not quite move the fingers. Her frown furrowed for only a moment, and then looking back to the hulking construction separating her from her sister, she rushed on. Promises of quick return forgotten, she simply strode past the cars, which slowed so their occupants could crane curious necks at the commotion Caroline left behind.

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17 comments

  1. Fantastic! I’ve been in a couple of car accidents (thankfully nothing too serious) and you captured perfectly the way times slows down and how you think strange, incongruous things at times like those. Welcome to #FridayFlash BTW!

  2. Some well-honed phrasing in this one, India. A couple that stood out: “approached in day-long seconds” and “she flew toe over tired brow, tumbling back into the timeline.” I fully expect to look back and find her body remains lying on the asphalt. You scoundrel, to not tell us.

  3. Good piece, India. So glad to see you join the ranks of the #fridayflash. I’m convinced poor Caroline is dead, and only hope the fact the woman is crunching on a bright red apple doesn’t mean even worse things are in store for her.

    Kind of ironic that we both have Caroline characters this week.
    ~jon

  4. I loved how you played with time in this one. Also, the descriptions were fantastic. Good story!

  5. Very descriptive piece India. The slowing of time and odd thoughts gave the story a great deal of realism.

    Well done

  6. Well done India, it was a very visceral piece and captured me immediately. Thanks for sharing your writing and for this piece about the ill-fated Caroline.

    Ciao Bella,

    Ardee-ann

    [ Follow me on Twitter:

  7. Like Kate, I thought the language in this piece was particularly strong. You do an excellent job creating a surreal setting to portray Alicia wavering between states of consciousness. Excellent work.

  8. I meant Caroline, sorry!

  9. I loved this! You know I had to read this a few times to get the full sense of the otherwordliness that Caroline was experiencing. this really should be read slowly to savour each word and imagery!

    Wonderful! I could feel the heat and the confusion and the madness – I loved that woman eating the apple. Spooky.

    Well done you!!!
    Thanks for sharing!
    x

  10. What a great debut. Having been in a car acident myself, the slow motion movements and thinking obscure and irrational things is only too true and you described things excellently. Welcome to #fridayflash

  11. Oh my, this was lovely. Breathtakingly lovely. Language so lush I could taste it. And as someone already said, you captured so well what happens in car accidents.

    -Kemari

  12. I have been in a crazy car accident before, but I believe I fared better than your Caroline. You description is perfect. This is great piece.

    ~2

  13. What a wonderful piece to debut with, welcome to #fridayflash!
    Your description was amazing, closing my eyes I could imagine it all…

  14. Nice flash. I particularly like the ending with the wayward woman chewing on an apple, it builds a sense of foreboding for me. Welcome to Friday flash.

  15. What great descriptions! I was able to see everything through your eyes!

  16. Excellent. Loved the details, the little thoughts like gas milage and ninty-nine cents. It’s the little details that matter.

  17. Like the timestop eeriness. Troubling and entertaining. Thanks.

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