Writing Prompt: Day 206

206.jpgDay 206 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about the impact a character left behind.

Shannon: She believed in me, and I guess I didn’t realize how valuable her faith in me was until I discovered she was the first one to set me on this path. If she hadn’t been in my life, I wonder if the same things would still matter so much to me these days. Would I have the same dreams, or would I have given up long ago? They were a few simple words on her end, but they meant the world to me, and I just hope she knew.

Erin: “Why do I feel like I can’t do anything right in this position?”

The new girl looked at me with such concern. “Because you’re Jade and not Tanner.”

“Excuse me,” she leaned on my cubical wall.

“Your boss had the biggest man crush on Tanner,” I chuckled as I pressed sort on my spreadsheet. “Even if you were ten times better than him, your boss doesn’t want to see it.”

“So, you are saying I’m doomed,” I questioned with a raised brow.

“No, you’re like fifty billion times better then Tanner. Your amazingness is going to slap him across the face one of these days and he’ll come to his senses,” and I believed that whole heartedly and she would prove me right.

Even when your character is gone they are not fully gone.

One thought on “Writing Prompt: Day 206

  1. The shadow on the wall caught my eye as I shuffled on uncertain feet down the hallway, feeling the phantom footprints on the floor. With a short gasp, I stopped and leaned against the tangerine door opposite the dark splotches and sniffled, determined not to cry. In our youth, we had painted each other’s’ shadows on the cracking drywall as a sort of experimental form of art; though we’d meant to repaint the hallway immediately, no one had, so they now served as a ghastly reminder of the past and what I’d lost. As I gripped my stomache firmly, wrapping the fuzzy shawl I had on as tightly as I could around myself, I felt another wave of anxious sorrow grip me with icy claws of iron.
    Squeezing my eyes tightly against the once-cheerful memories that flooded back, I took in a few stuttering breaths before carefully felling my way past the paintings. When the light shifted from gloomy grey shafts that filtered under doorframes and flowery window coverings to dazzlingly-bright daylight streaming through cracked windows, I opened my eyes on the main part of the apartment. Tears were mingling with days-old mascara and lipstick that I hadn’t had the will to wipe away. Gripped tightly in my fingers was the handkerchief she used during our mother’s funeral, and I couldn’t recall a time I’d put it down. Really, I couldn’t recall much of anything since she left.
    I crossed to the kitchen, a tiny scrape of a space with linoleum tiles the colour of rancid puke and appliances that predated indoor plumbing, to get myself a glass of ice water to calm my stomache. Sitting on the rolling butcher-block island was a vase full of lilies, her favorite, that were beginning to wilt and fade without her gentle touch. As I brought a glass down, the sunlight hit it just right and cast a kaleidoscope of rainbowed colours across the floor of the living area.
    Letting the embossed glass slip from my fingers, I barely heard the gentle tinkling of it shattering in my complete and utter shock. There, with her straight-legged dress pants and ruffled pastel shirt, was my twin sister, sitting in the armchair reading through a book she probably knew by heart. She glanced up at me with her light, crystalline eyes and childlike features fixed with a placid expression of mild interest. As I leaned back against the counter, one hand pressed to my lips to keep from screaming, I attempted to steady my heartrate with little success.
    After a few moments of being caught in the strange gaze, I took a few stumbling steps forward, continuing to grip the countertop as though I would fall right through the floor otherwise. With every footstep I took, my sister came into better focus; first, her indigo-framed glasses refracted the sunlight into my eyes, then her pale pink fingernails twitched minutely as she turned the page of her book, and finally, her simple faux-diamond earrings came into perfect clarity. I was at the end of the counter before I knew what was going on, struggling to stay on my feet in the presence of my sister.
    “Anna?” I exhaled, feeling the life leaving me along with the breath and fighting hard to capture it again. The woman’s pale face looked up from the book again, this time her fingers snapped the pages closed and placed the text on the table behind her with a dusty thud.
    Tilting her head to the side as she always did when addressing someone in psychological distress, she spoke calmly, “Yeah, Val, it’s me.” With a fluttering, swift motion, she was on her feet, towering a couple inches above me in her high-heeled shoes that she swore won her the attention of her current boyfriend. As a horrible new wave of guilt and longing washed over me at the thought of her boyfriend, whose name I’d never committed to memory, I stumbled backward onto the glass shards.
    With the terrible pain came the clarity to see the empty room for what it really was, and I smiled a little in spite of myself. Willing myself to look down, I lifted my foot and carefully extracted the splinters with a paper towel amidst newly glistening tears of grief, relief and agony. It took a few minutes to wash the blood away and bandage my foot, but when all was said and done, I felt mildly better than I had before.
    Until I saw the teacup resting beside the stove, I was downright content; after that, even the residual throbbing from the glass wasn’t enough to keep Anne from appearing. She sat on the counter beside the cup, caressing the bumpy, chipped vessel in a mournful way that made the pit in my stomache tighten painfully. Without thinking, I snatched the cup from her deathly-pale fingers and held it against my chest, lip quivering violently as I attempted to speak. There was a moment where I stood mouthing silently to the chipped clay mug as the world spun like the day I found out.
    “Hey, Val,” she spoke softly, wrapping her icy hands around mine and breathing wind against my hair, “I don’t blame you. It wasn’t your fault.” I looked up into the pale crystal-chip eyes and was lost in their fragmented depths.
    Images of us playing the park as mere children pass through them as we grew and solidified our friendship through the years. Having tea, and later coffee, on our parent’s terrace in the city with the sunset gleaming before us and chatting about everything from school subjects to how we were fitting in at school; those were the years we were separated in classes with Anne taking those advance placement classes and more sciences than I could count. As I watched through her eyes, we began to drift apart, but still managed to keep up appearances on occasion to remember each other.
    Shutting her out, I turned and stared into the blazing sun, willing it to burn the last years of our relationship from my mind and scatter the dust on the wind. She reached her hand out to touch my shoulder, sending a shiver down my spine, and I had to face her, and the rest of this horrid, dull world, with no one but myself to blame. With an unpleasant sniffle, I cried out into the empty apartment, “It was all me, though. I was the one who made those stupid deals all for a bit of cash, and it was me who told them where you lived because I didn’t have anything to give them!” Anger flooded through me like white-hot fire had replaced my cold blood and I whisked around to look my sister in the eye again. “I thought they’d just rob you, which is the most ridiculous thing I could expect; it would have been better than what they did, but it still would have been horrible. I am a, I am just, I’m-” I stuttered, the rage having ebbed again, replaced by the aching chasm threatening to eat away at the bit of my soul I had left.
    But, this strange woman standing before me smiled down with pearly teeth and crinkles around her mouth. “No,” she answered in a flowing voice that felt like a summer breeze on my cheeks, “I was the one who should have been here for you when I knew you were in trouble. The day we said goodbye to mom, I should have said or done something, anything, to help you. But I didn’t.” With a shuddering turn, she strode to the bay window and looked out at the bustling city below us; people going about their daily lives, not knowing that half a dozen floors up was a woman grieving the recent loss of her sister so badly that she was standing in the same room she’d died.
    It was in the moment, as the sunlight streaked across the ugly carpeting that I saw the stain for the first time, really saw it for what it was. Set into the grey, or perhaps it was beige, carpet was a sickly brown mark that was sprawling out from the fireplace where she was daintily perched. Glassy-eyed and with that mischievous smile she used to wear permanently when we were little, was Anne, acting out her real-life death scene because I couldn’t quite hold the image in my head.
    Hanging above her head were the awards and plaques she’d received over the years, with the trophies and standing awards on the mantelpiece below as though she were some smarty-pants. I brushed the shattered glass of her law certificate with numb fingertips as the hallucination stuck her tongue out at odd angles, searching for just the right pose to lighten the mood. Though she was in my head, I couldn’t manage to turn her off; the hole my sister left was too jagged and dire to fill with comedy or pain, but I could try, I suppose.
    “Anne,” I asked, watching her features frost over with her naturally placid expression, “why is it that I cannot get you out of my head? I mean, we were only in the same room a handful of times in the last few years, and those were mostly to sign papers after mom.” It had been killing me, not understanding why her death hit me so hard, even if I knew the reason somewhere hidden so deep in my soul that I would need a permit to excavate it.
    Chuckling darkly, as only someone who was already dead could, she rested a hand on my shoulder again and whispered like a winter breeze, “Because you feel so guilty about it that the impact on your soul might never disappear. You may learn to ignore me some day, but you will never get rid of the stains my blood has put on your soul.” As the chill worked its way through my lungs and bloodstream, I felt the guilty settled hollowly in the pit of my stomache, rattling around whenever I took a breath. I stared into Anne’s crystal irises and realized why there were cracks in the surface; I shattered her soul, and now I would always carry the shards with me to reflect the light of the world in some twisted gloom.

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