Fiction Speculative

TW: drug use, self-harm, language

All she knew how to do was run. So she ran. But this time she ran towards the truth, not from it. She ran fast, and she ran hard. Her hair blocked out the sun, causing those behind her to wither and die. Her hands directed the winds, generating a blast of destruction. Her feet trampled the earth, shattering the surface into a million pieces, shards flying behind her as she quickened her pace.

She was almost there. She saw that blanket of blue infinity. She kept running. She was so close. As she lunged towards her savior, her body landed hard on hot, fine grains of pure crystal. She crawled desperately, using her arms to propel her forward. Reaching, her fingertips felt the icy water. She heard the waves and rocks clashing with each other in that never-ending battle. She continued to crawl forward. She was now almost immersed. She continued forward and plunged herself into the unknown-yet known-territory.

Silence hit her so suddenly she felt frozen in time. She opened her eyes. She was under water. She looked up. She could barely see the light shining through the surface. She started to swim upwards. How long she swam, she did not know. Minutes, hours, years- these were merely words without distinction. 

She stopped swimming. The surface appeared no closer than when she started. Had she been swimming in place? How was she not dead by now? 

She realized she hadn’t taken a breath this whole time. She hadn’t needed to breathe. Her body wasn’t convulsing, attempting to pull oxygen out of this liquid peace. 

She attempted to swim upwards again, but realized she was anchored to an unseen base. She looked down; a thick metal chain was attached to her shackled waist. No wonder she didn’t go anywhere. How was she to be freed from this burdensome tether?

She thought she heard faint whispering. A current of energy travelled up her spine; she felt her hair stand up on its end. She wasn’t afraid, just paralyzed with anticipation. She has felt this before. She thought she could make out the words now. What did they say?

The voice materialized, enveloping her in its mystery. She heard it clearly. It was so close. Was it in her head? 

It beckoned her to relinquish her control. Surrender, you can be free.

Without a moment’s hesitation, she emptied her soul. She confessed the darkest secrets of her being. She confessed things she didn’t know were there, hidden deep within the basements of her heart. In an explosion of words, cries, lamentations, she released all that she was holding on to. The shackle lightened with each word, until finally, it snapped open and she began to float upward.

As she was rising towards the surface, she felt herself filling with this living water. It filled every crack of her mind, and every break in her spirit. She entered this place fractured and full of holes. Now, she was complete; she was perfect. 

 She could hear low singing in the distance. As delicate as a soft wind, it lightly caressed her body as she continued her upwards journey. It got closer; she could feel it. This hushed chorus sent her higher. She was almost to the top now. The light shone on her face, warming and renewing her mind. She pierced the surface. 

Silence. She looked around. She was surrounded by blue on all sides. She squinted her eyes and looked behind her in the distance. She saw what looked like a small island. Straining her eyes she looked closer. What was that? For a moment, she thought she saw a small reflection of light. 

That was where she needed to go. She closed her eyes and concentrated on that small patch of land. Swimming would take days to get there. 

She opened her eyes. She was no longer floating in that strange, blissful water. She looked down. She could see the clumps of sand that form when water infiltrates their perfect order. The warmth of this sturdy foundation traveled up her body. She looked up. That was what she saw. There was a large hill. On top of that hill, glimmers of light teased her with each movement. That was where she needed to go. 

She began her ascent. She didn't look around. She knew what she needed to do. She barely felt the strain in her calves as her steps became increasingly faster. She was almost at a slow jog. She continued this pace for some time- but seeing she was making little progress-she began to run. 

She couldn’t run the last bit of her climb. She had to use both hands and legs to keep her balance as she pulled herself over the precipice. She was now at the top. 

She regained her balance and stood upright. A large mirror stood directly in front of her. That was what she saw. She looked directly at the reflection. A young brown-eyed girl was staring back at her. Her messy locks framed her sweet,yet sad, face. That can’t be her, she wasn’t a little girl anymore. 

She looked away from the mirror and looked down at her body. She was a woman. She saw her full hips and the curve of her breasts. She was not a little girl anymore. She looked back at the reflection. The little girl met her gaze. She raised her right hand; the little girl did the same. She put her hand on the glass. A smaller version of her own hand met it. What was this?

All of a sudden, images began to form behind the girl. She saw a young woman imprisoned by drug addiction, her red eyes looked away as the nurse cradled the baby she just gave birth to. She saw the same woman crying in the bathroom as the judge ruled in favor of a closed adoption. She saw the relief on the faces of the couple who desperately wanted the little girl. 

She looked back at the little girl. She did not meet her gaze. What was she doing? “STOP!” She screamed at the girl. She was carving the word ABANDONED into her arm with a knife. “STOP, PLEASE STOP! THAT’S A LIE!” She pounded on the glass. The little girl continued her task. She desperately tried to get her attention. She violently shook, kicked and hit the mirror. None of it worked. The images disappeared suddenly and new ones began to form. 

She looked at the girl; a small amount of blood trickled down her arm. She looked in the background and saw the girl’s life. She saw the girl struggling to find her place in the world. She saw the girl lie to her parents about who she was with and where she was. She looked back at the little girl. She saw the freshly carved LIAR on her other arm. “THAT ISN’T WHO YOU ARE!” The little girl looked back with a sad smile. 

She looked away from the girl again. Now she saw a beautiful young woman leaving a bar. She was with a group of friends who took turns snorting coke in the back seat of the cab. She wasn’t offered any because her friends knew she wouldn’t do it. She saw the young woman’s light dimming, shadowed by the darkness surrounding her. 

Now, the young woman was driving home. Her eyes wet from the realization of what she had done. She saw her heart slowly breaking. She had lost something she could never get back. 

The little girl carved the word WHORE on the inside of her thigh. 

The young woman got older. She watched the endless cycle of heartbreaks and bad decisions; its effects permeating the woman’s future. Over time, cynicism and bitterness snuffed out any hope of joy.

HATRED, JEALOUSY, DISTRUST, SHAME all appeared on the small child’s body in red, dripping letters. 

“STOP IT, PLEASE STOP!” She couldn’t stand it any longer. She slumped against the mirror and cried. In between choked sobs she repeated, “That is not you anymore, you have been forgiven!” She met the girl’s eyes, “YOU HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN!” 

The words vanished from the girl's body. The images behind her disappeared and the girl looked back and smiled. She looked back at the girl. All of a sudden she felt two small hands push her with such force, she fell backwards. 

She awoke looking at a blue-grey sky. She was face up, sprawled out on a sandy floor. She sat up and looked around. The Santa Monica Pier was to her left. She could hear the excited screams and laughs of teenagers on the ferris wheel. She stood up and walked towards the parking lot. What a strange dream. Although, it didn’t feel like a dream.

She looked back. In that space where the ocean met the sky, she thought she saw a small glimmer of light. For a moment, a sense of hope brightened her features. She turned around and began her journey home.

October 22, 2021 00:07

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


02:23 Oct 26, 2021

You definitely have a knack for imagery. Your first paragraph was a very strong opener and the rest of the story did not disappoint. I love stories of redemption and forgiveness, great job.


Jessie Hartness
02:41 Oct 26, 2021

Thank you so much! I actually wrote the first paragraph and then the rest of the story kind of took off. That’s usually how it works with my writing; and it often goes in very interesting and strange directions.😂


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
M. B. Portnoy
22:32 Oct 27, 2021

Wow! what imagery. My only criticism is that I didn't really get where your plot was going, but on the other hand, a story doesn't need a heavy plot. You didn't just take the prompt, you were inspired by it and I respect your talent. I could also see that you're a person who has a knack for descriptive imagery, but there weren't really any conversations here. not every story needs that, and yours doesn't, but for better writing, I would recommend you mix and match. I used to not be able to write good dialogue, and I still struggle with it so...


Jessie Hartness
21:32 Oct 28, 2021

Thank you for taking the time to read my story! This story was definitely one of those that were written more for me than for anything else, so I definitely understand if there is some confusion regarding the plot. It was one of those personal stories that just seemed to write itself. You are absolutely right about the dialogue. It is something I'm working on, but is definitely is something I need to get better at. As for the ending, I understand what you mean about it being cliche. I actually was trying to symbolize the character "waking u...


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.