Today’s prompt is: Fiction! Start a short story! This is kind of a cheat, it’s cribbed from notes which are in turn cribbed from a character from a story I wrote almost ten years ago. But it’s the day before my birthday and I am kind of cheating a little.
The sign said:
First, the feet.
Well, Ellia thought, actually, not first the feet. Not first the feet at all, not in any meaningful adult sense, not as Ellia experienced it. For Ellia, the world was something she experienced first in her head- through her eyes and ears, an onslaught of it all coming at her at once, and then later in the privacy of her room, or in a car filled with people and Ellia pushed to the side, her face against the window, eyes tracking the landscape that moved past without talking, without making a single intelligible communication, Ellia would try to take all that noise and jarring pieces and make sense of it in her head.
It had been years ago- and only a few years into her adult hood when- (the precise moment involved standing in front of a mirror in the bathroom of a man who wasn’t her husband, completely naked, tracing the outline of her own body in the reflection, feeling a sense of unfamiliarity that was disorientating in it’s completeness)- it occurred to Ellia that there was this whole range of experiences she was missing, this whole literal body of knowing she was cut off from. Standing in the mirror, she had looked at her whiteish red skin, and the dark speckling places- over her collarbone, across the back of her neck- where this man who was not her husband had left his markings, the night before. Ellia investigated them, this miscolorings, and was unable to tell if what she felt was pleasure or shame, delight or grief. Sunlight from a young and hopeful sky filtered through the window, which was scummy from dirk, and half covered with an old quilt. Ellia was composing sentences in her head, jotting it down, this act, this transgression, and she could tell that the sentences had a beauty to them, a precision, and she could tell that someone would read them and catch their breath, stumbling on something that rang true for them; but she could not tell if these sentences were true for her. She had sat down on the bed then, listening to the man in the other room; he was fussy about his clothes, he cleared his throat repeatedly in the morning, and tried up some basic sentences. I love him. I hate him. He means nothing to me. He loves me. He hates me. The blanket below her gave her warmth and softness. Ellia felt it radiate up through her, a gentle holding of her nakedness, her total lack of dignity, and seized on it, sitting still, letting herself, marginally, sink into that warmth, that softness. She listened to the man in the other room finish his preparations, listened to him shout a brief goodbye, listened to the rattle of a chair as he grabbed his backpack from it and slung it over his shoulder, and listened to the shook of the door hitting the frame. Then she sat for a minute longer, tracing her finger over her thigh. The whole room seemed dirty to her, as if something inky-black had been smudged everywhere, and she knew that she wouldn’t be returning. All of these sentences, so pretty in my head, she thought to herself. All of these sentences, but all I know for sure is this blanket feels nice beneath my body, and I think I’m kind of a fucking mess.
That was years ago. She’d left that house that morning, committed to getting out of her own head.