I’m a bit preoccupied at the moment rereading my manuscript in an attempt to fall back in love with it – a la yesterday’s post – so I haven’t gotten a flash fiction post prepared. Instead, I thought I’d share a little scene from the story I’m trying to rekindle a relationship with. It’s way out of context, but I though it would make a nice little teaser. Enjoy!
It was clear that Tori was having difficultly forcing her brain to work properly, so Jared led her up to the next available teller. When she made no movement to take over the transaction, he began rummaging through her purse, pulled out the leaflets of papers and forms, and slid them across the counter. “Sorry,” he told the teller. “She’s, uh, having a really rough time. Please just tell me if there’s anything you need her to do or sign.”
Tori vaguely registered that the teller replied, but she was distracted, straining her ears to hear something else,something strange. It was a very faint sound, but she could swear that she was hearing some kind of a rumbling, and it was getting louder with each passing second. Not again, she thought. Please, no more. I don’t think I can take any more. Her gaze flicked back and for through the bank, from patrons to employees to the line at the ATM in the corner of the room, searching for even the tiniest hint that someone else was hearing the mounting din that sounded to her like rolling thunder. There was none. Everyone else in the building was going about business as usual, completely oblivious to the noise that was growing louder and louder and louder.
A hand fell on her shoulder. She jumped and whirled around to see Jared and the bank teller looking at her expectantly. Jared repeated the question, but Tori couldn’t make out his quiet voice over the noise, which was now reaching painfully loud levels. She placed her hands over her ears and took a step back. “I can’t hear you!” she shouted. She could barely hear her own voice, but Jared jumped in surprise and suddenly everyone in the room was turning to look at her.
She wanted to cry and scream. “Can’t you all hear that?” she moaned. People began to whisper to one another and a security guard stepped forward with a frown on his face. He looked at Tori and his lips moved, but she couldn’t understand a word.
She couldn’t stand it anymore. With her hands on her ears she turned to run from the building, and as she did so she felt something very warm touch the skin above her breasts. She looked down to find that the crystal pendant had slipped beneath the neck of her shirt and felt unnaturally hot against her bare skin. When she tore her eyes away from its shimmery glow it was to find herself standing in the middle of a large meadow with a stampede of horses – their footfalls like thunder – heading directly for her.
Tori shrieked at the top of her lungs and threw herself to the ground. And then, just like that, the sound of the stampede ceased, and she was instead surrounded by concerned murmurs. A man’s voice asked whether he should call 911, and a woman’s hissed for her children to step back. Tori peeked her head up from the floor and found Jared staring down at her, his eyes wide. Her face felt cold, like all the blood had been drained from it. After what seemed like a very long moment of hesitation Jared rushed forward to help her up, but she scrambled to her feet and held out her hands as though to say, “Don’t touch me.”
“Um… Should I call 911?” the same voice – another teller – repeated.
Jared shook his head, though it didn’t seem that he was so sure himself. “No, no,” he stuttered. “It’s okay. I’ll take her home.” He reached back to snatch Tori’s paperwork from the teller’s desk. He reached out a hand toward Tori and tried his very best to give her a reassuring smile. Tentative, unsure of anything anymore, Tori reached out and let him wrap his fingers around hers. As he did she saw another vision of his face, surrounded by shaggy hair and marred with a scar down his left cheek. She silently squeezed her eyes shut to banish the image.
“Are you sure she’s okay,” someone – the security guard, perhaps – asked. “She looks like she’s in pain.”
“She’s been through a lot recently,” Jared replied, squeezing Tori’s hand. “I promise that I’ll take her to the hospital if it seems necessary.” Then he began to lead Tori away from the whispers and murmurs of the bank patrons. She kept her eyes firmly closed until she was safely sitting in the passenger-side seat of her car. She opened them just long enough to fish her keys out of her purse and toss them to Jared, then closed them again for the entire drive home. By the time Jared had gotten her out of the car and to the living room couch she was so exhausted that she drifted immediately into fitful sleep.