Welcome to the first installment of Fiction Friday.
The following is a short piece I wrote in response to the prompt in the latest issue of Writer’s Digest which told to write a story about a woman given the ability to change one event in her past. ___________________________________________________________________
Carla Edmonds watched her sixteen-year-old self leave the ballet studio, pointe shoes slung over her shoulder, ballet skirt and other dance paraphernalia in the duffel she carried in her right hand. Her face, beneath the strawberry blonde bangs sweat-streaked into her eyes, was red with exertion, and with venom. She delved into the duffel, looking for her car keys. Her boyfriend was leaning casually against the car door, pocket protector shining in the afternoon sun. His smile faded quickly as he saw the look on her face.
“I hate ballet!” she yelled at her boyfriend. “I’m never dancing again! They hate me in there! No one takes me seriously!” He tried to soothe her, but was only able to stammer and stutter, frozen in her line of fire. She largely ignored his mouseish voice as she continued her tirade. “The teachers ridicule me in front of the class! I’m done. I’m through. “
“You’re sure?” the 49-year-old Carla heard her companion ask. She looked hard at the scene in front of her, regretting how she had treated Gabe that day, holding her pointe shoes in her hands, and wondering how her life would have turned out if this day had gone differently.
“I’m sure. Better to be famous, poor, and single than to be 49, divorced, and living a life of ‘What ifs?’.” Carla squared her shoulders and looked at the ballet studio again. The brownstone building had once been an embassy, but long-since fell into disrepair. Until Madame Pirelle and her husband bought the building and converted it into dance studios. She’d taken lessons there from the time she was three. “How do I do this?” The woman at her side was her fairy godmother, for lack of better phrasing, and had appeared in her living room early that evening. The proposition was too tempting to pass on. The opportunity to change one single event in her life had so many possibilities that couldn’t be denied.
“All you have to do is whisper your instructions into her ear. She’ll be able to do the rest. You’ll wake up tomorrow morning to start seeing the changes in your life.” Carla nodded and walked across the street to the car she used to drive. That thing broke down ages ago she scoffed to herself. Though whether she’d said it aloud wouldn’t have mattered. Watching as her younger self continued her tirade she looked for the opportunity to get close enough. It came when she fumbled over the keys to get the trunk open. Carla stepped up to the teenager’s side and leaned in close. It only took about twenty seconds to whisper what she wanted from her younger self. When she spoke her last words she could feel the tug as she was pulled back along the space-time continuum to where she belonged.
Her eyes fluttered open briefly but she couldn’t be sure where she was. Every limb felt heavy, as though strapped to an elephant’s back and trying to lift the elephant off the ground. Darkness enveloped her as she saw a tall blob of white come in her direction. She wasn’t aware of the sirens and beeping going off around her. Suddenly, she was conscious of everything that had happened to her. She thought at first that she must have been still trying to find a moment in her life to change. Looking for her “fairy godmother” she saw the source of the alarms. She lay in a hospital bed, tubes coming out of her body in places no one should ever be allowed to see. Her form looked young, much too young to be on life support. Someone had placed her pointe shoes on the window ledge beside her.
“Time of death, 8:45 AM,” she heard the doctor say as the nurses began to remove the invading tubes. She tried to say something, tell the doctor she was there and alive, but no sound came from her. Deflated, she stood in the room, waiting for someone to come claim her body for burial. No one came. She looked at the TV in the lobby and saw the news report.
“Ballerina Carla Edmonds died today in her hospital room. Edmonds had lain in a coma for eight months following a tragic accident during a production of Romeo and Juliet. She was 22. As per her wishes, she will be buried with her pointe shoes in a private service.”