So apparently I’ve been bitten with the “write anything and everything but things you need for your WIP” bug… I keep seeing amazing prompts from my fellow Ydubbers. So thank you for this one, Bella.
I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo in November and my brain apparently gets tired of outlining (weird I know) so I decided to do a little segment for a while with a short story that I’m wanting to write. Because why not.
This was too beautiful of a prompt not to pass up. Enjoy the unfolding story.
Adriane had settled quietly back into the normal ways of life. The horror and gross excitement in the fall of two years ago had worn off, leaving her once again just a face in the crowd. Grasping her cup of coffee, she sat at the small kitchen table in her apartment. Life wasn’t going to be as easy as she remembered. Adriane wanted to forget. With all her heart she hoped this. But she couldn’t forget. Flipping through her Bible, she came across 1 Kings 19:12. Adrian mouthed the words as she read.
“After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.”
A tear rolled down her cheek. Where was the whisper? It was after the fire. The fire was behind her. Alone in her apartment filled with nothing but space, not referring to the apartment but to her heart, the fire had evidently taken everything. Alright, God, she thought miserably. Where’s the whisper? It’d be appreciated…
Her mug was now empty, and she stood up to get ready for her day. Passing by a mirror, she cringed, noticing the clear scarring she had received from the fire. Spreading off her forehead and down across her right cheek, the scars seemed to mock her, that she was too slow. She would never have survived without help. It was a cruel miracle that she had survived September 11th.
It was like the fire had marked her. Biting back tears again, she walked to her bathroom and began to apply heavy concealer that she had begun using to try and hide the scars. The fire had affected her more than she’d like to ever admit.
She dropped her brush as she recognized the roaring sound of a plane passing over her apartment. Stretching out her shaking hands to grip the counter in front of her, she drew a shaking breath. Every passing plane now caused something to leap up. Every sound of the travels in the atmosphere sparked fear. Adriane knew that it would be an extremely long time before she ever could watch a plane trace the non-existent outline of the pale blueness above her without panic beginning to rise inside.
It felt like time stopped but as quickly as she had heard the roar, it was gone. Clammy hands picked up the makeup blending brush and continued with their work. Hesitantly, Adriane looked out her window. The sky was beautiful, but she had a hard time looking at it. She had loved it for years and years but considering the events that had occurred recently, she had taken to despising it.
To be sure, she thought before leaving the bathroom, the sky isn’t entirely everything I want it to be. Open arms to the great mystery of God’s grace. Planets unending and stars unlimited. Everything picturesque. Lies. It’s just one vast covering of blue. I hate blue.
Shaking hands pulled a faded yellow sweatshirt over her head. She had promised herself that she would go out today. As much as she hated it, she knew she had to push herself to walk outside and interact with humans. It wasn’t something she enjoyed, being a socially awkward introvert who’d rather hide away from both the world and her problems, but, being mature enough to see past it, Adrian pushed herself into the uncomfortable in hopes of recovery.
Adriane grabbed her backpack, shoved her phone in her pocket, and walked down the apartment building stairs. It was funny seeing the water stains in the little corridor between the parking lot and the stairs. To her, they looked like tears from ages ago, leaving behind a message of woe. Shivering a little, she ignored the stains and walked into the sunshine.
In all honesty, it was a beautiful day. The sky was a beautiful shade of deep blue, the clouds were each beautifully formed and floating aimlessly across the sky, and the trees swayed eagerly and sang over the beautiful people passing beneath them. Even so, Adriane Carmichael was afraid to look up. She’d rather look down at the plants and growing things below her. She tried to relax her shoulders and just focus on the little crack in the sidewalk. If you looked hard enough as you walked along, you could see the small but perfect existence of the plants thriving there.
Reaching the little park in the middle of the city, she sat down against a large elm tree. She dug through her backpack for a moment until she found and produced a small journal and a pen. It had been a habit of hers to write down what she saw, just to help her connect with the society around her. No matter how much she hated it, many people had recommended it and if she wanted to get more comfortable with her surroundings, she’d have to listen.
“4/26/03 — it’s another day of people watching.”
She wrote the line then stared at it for a while. A wave of fear and sleepiness washed over her. Maybe if she did a little more people watching and then took a nap under the tree. As long as she didn’t stay there into the night, she’d be fine.
“making deals with myself, haha better uphold your bargain. there’s a pretty lady over there, she looks like a sweet librarian. I’m sure she’d be pleasant to talk to. don’t try it today, but she seems like the person who could carry conversation nicely.”
Adriane paused. Scanning the bustling street again, she went back to writing.
“there are so many plants around me today. it’s a great thing.”
Dropping her pen, she leaned her head back and sighed. If only life could be simple again.
She must have fallen asleep for, in a second, she was standing in an office she knew well. It wasn’t entirely dreamlike, but she noticed that she couldn’t speak. Everyone passed her, asking questions and making friendly remarks, but Adriane couldn’t reply. Panic began to rise as she realized where she was. It was the office that caught on fire. The one the plane ran into. Adriane knew what was coming.
Her mind was calculating down the time. She knew she only had so much time before the impact, but she knew she could try to get others to safety. Then Adriane remembered. She couldn’t speak. After minutes of frantic gestures and screaming in her head, she heard the roar of the plane.
If she wasn’t panicking enough, Adriane began to panic even more now. She had lived this before but now she was being forced to live it again. Instinct kicking in, she began running away from the window.
There was a deafening crash and Adriane saw flames overtake her as she felt something hit her body.
She awoke with a start and a small scream, panting.
“Excuse me, are you okay?”
Adriane looked toward the voice. It belonged to a young man, probably in his early twenties. He looked genuinely concerned for her well being and the thought of that brought an embarrassed blush to her cheeks. She hated having people worry about her.
“I’m fine,” she replied shortly, but still obviously not.
“You were talking in your sleep…” he stated slowly. “And you woke up panting. I don’t think you’re okay.”
“Thank you for your concern, but I swear, I’m fine.”
Suddenly the man’s forehead crunched together. Hesitantly, he moved his hand to Adriane’s face and brushed aside her hair that she often shook down in front of her scars.
“Are these scars?”
“Why do you hide them?”
Flinching at both the man’s touch and his question, Adriane scooted back a little. Why should he care about this?
“Why does it matter to you, sir?”
“Call me Jacob. And it matters because it looks relatively new. When did you get these scars?”
Adriane took a shaking breath.
“I was in 9/11.”
The man’s eyebrows raised slightly.
“What are the odds… So was I.”