The following story was written for the Furious Fiction contest for August 2019.
The guidelines were as follows:
'This month’s Furious Fiction continued to break records, with almost 1400 entries received across the weekend! The theme was a little different too, as we got all descriptive. The August criteria were:
Each story had to include, word for word, ALL of the following SIX descriptions:
COLD AND GREASY
SCRATCHED AND WEATHER-WORN
SWEET AND PUNGENT
One of these six descriptions had to appear in the first sentence of each story.'
By S. W. Stribling
The air was still, yet sweet and pungent. Why did I wake up so early? Why couldn’t I go back to sleep? The sun wasn’t even out yet.
The house shook as a plane flew over. Its engines gave a shrill, piercing sound that I rarely noticed during the normal midday city bustle.
I decided to take the dogs for a walk to taste the crisp fresh air before the sun came to heat it all up. It was supposed to be another hot one for the last day of this year’s canícula.
I could sense the brightness and warmth just beyond the horizon as we turned the corner to chase the rising sun. This sky must be the only pink and purple I liked. The clouds were gently floating like white ink-stained veils to hide the approaching day a little longer. It was amazing to think some version of this happened every day.
The puppies and I got back to the house and quietly entered so as not to wake up the missus. They went straight back to their respective beds and left me standing in an empty and quiet kitchen. The plates and glasses were unwashed on the cold and greasy countertop. They were stained with Alfredo sauce and remnants of last night’s fight. It felt so far away now. Why had it been such a big deal?
I saw the light kiss the floor just before my feet as it broke in through the window. I felt like a child again. Those times when I woke up too early and couldn’t go back to sleep. But that was the country. There, I didn’t hear planes and police sirens; I heard birds chirping and could watch the sun slowly rise from behind the cotton field out my backdoor.
Who was I in these moments? It was like a different version of myself. More scratched and weather-worn, but also more wonder-struck. Like an overnight slug, slow and vulnerable, crawling with patience before the human world woke up to crush me.
Yet, even knowing the coming doom, the world seemed like a nice place at this moment. It was an accident waking up this early, but I felt proud of doing it. Calm. I could take on the world. Everything was so clear and composed before me.
Maybe I should write a letter to my poor mother whom I never spoke to enough. Maybe I should do that budget I should have done two months ago. Maybe I should just make a nice breakfast for Iris and bring it to her in bed.
The air felt different, but so did the concept of time. Everything was slower, a hidden hour in the day. Hidden, but always there.
Every day was a chance to be the person I was right now, shiny, silver, and serene. Every day was a chance to let go of yesterday.
Every day is a new me to reconnect with my life.