26 comments

Drama Coming of Age Suspense

This story contains sensitive content

Once when I was a child, I spent an entire afternoon in the kitchen doing nothing, but feeling warm. I watched people come and go out the back door. Every time they would open it, a cool gust of wind would blow through, and I’d feel this relief. This subterranean relief. I think that might have been the first time in my entire life I’d felt that sensation. That something was wrong and then something was right. I didn’t even know the word for it. I’d open my mouth to try and name it, and the door would close again. Back to the heat. Back to the oppression. Back to not knowing why I was the way I was.

Finally, I just kept opening the door myself and shutting it—over and over again, inviting all that cool air inside. I don’t remember when I saw it exactly, but sometime during all that opening and shutting, I spotted a pond in the distance. 

Just a little pond, nothing too grand, but I was curious about it.  You see, I’d never noticed it until that very day. I suppose when you’re a child, everything’s new. Everything’s a…discovery. I set out from the house and walked all the way to the pond, which seemed to be much further away than it had originally appeared to my young eyes. The mind tricks itself sometimes, doesn’t it? It does a wave of the hand and distance grows or people vanish. My father would puff out smoke into dragons and I swore they’d come flying at me as I screamed.

Stop all that screaming! What’s wrong with you, girl?

When I finally did arrive at the pond, I remember stripping down to my undergarments, because the heat was bubbling up on me like scorpion bites. I took the new dress my mother had bought me earlier that week, and I laid it down gently on the grass so as not to stain it. I dangled my right foot gingerly in the water. 

My goodness, it was so cool. 

So cool and so alleviating after the afternoon of torridity I’d endured. Without any hesitation, I flung my body into that pond. As soon as I did, I realized it was much deeper than I had previously supposed. I sank almost instantly and I kept sinking. It hadn’t occurred to me that I wasn’t a very strong swimmer.  Occasionally as a child those little technicalities slip by you. I felt like Alice descending into Wonderland. By that point, I was certain this was it, that I was going to drown. Then, I felt a hand on my shoulder.  It was pulling me--yanking at me almost--up and out of the water.  If you could feel a flash of light, that would be the best way to describe it. It was a flash. I saw it even more than I felt it.

Suddenly there I was on the grass again. The calid grass, scorched by the sun, right next to where I had removed my clothing. Except now I was no longer a girl, but a young woman.  Why, I was nearly nineteen or twenty. I looked up and the hand that had grabbed me belonged to a man. A man of what appeared to be thirty or thirty-five. I was lying there on the ground and he was standing above me with the sun coming around him to blind me like a saint.

He had on brown pants with the cuffs rolled up, gray suspenders, and a white shirt that—even though the day was boiling—didn’t have a drop of sweat on it. His hair was jet black and a lock of it hung down over his forehead, over his eyes, almost to his nose. I remember him having the deepest brown eyes—eyes that reached out and pulled you back into them. Before I knew it, there were hands and arms, clumsy limbs, gangly fumbling, mumbled protestations, and then surrender. Dandelion surrender. When it was all over, he got dressed, and I lay there, laughing to myself. 

What an odd thing, I thought, What an odd thing to have happen.

Then my body started to shrink back to its original form—that of a child without much to show for herself besides a few splinters in her foot and scuffed red shoes. As I felt myself growing smaller and smaller, I cast my eyes over to the water in the pond, and I remember more flashes of things I wanted and things I didn’t want.

I felt the urge to go back into the water. Back into the never-ending fear. A fear of drowning. A fear of the thing I knew. That I could name. Drowning had a word. It had letters. I could say it. What was this other? What was this uncertainty? Who was the woman of nineteen? What was relief? All I had were questions without question marks. I never got to the end of them. If you can’t get to the end of a question, how will you ever receive the answer?

Perhaps if I were small enough, I told myself, I could just become the water. Turn into a few more drops for the pond. Nothing more.

So that’s what I did. 

I rolled myself right into the water, and the brown-eyed gentleman didn’t even notice, or at least, if he did, he didn’t say anything or try to stop me. Once again, I sank—down, down, down—like Alice and her pretty blue dress. And just as I felt the dark of the pond grab the last of my breath, I closed my eyes, and when I opened them, I was back in the kitchen. Laid out in front of the back door with people stepping right on over me like I wasn’t even there. My dress was stuck to my body from all the perspiring I’d been doing, but other than that, I was seemingly unchanged by my little fantasy. I remember being so unsettled by the dream.  After all, I was just a child. I couldn’t have been more than fourteen. But even now, it feels like I shouldn’t remember certain parts of it as vividly as I do. The cold of the surface, the depth and the heaviness, but most of all, those eyes.

Those brown, brown eyes…

October 07, 2022 18:41

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26 comments

Madison Taylor
12:11 Oct 21, 2022

Wow! This one knocked the wind out of me. So many layers, and it will definitely stick with me all day. Plus, the writing was captivating. Love it!

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Kevin Broccoli
16:20 Oct 21, 2022

Thank you so much, Madison!

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Sue Hunter
19:42 Oct 20, 2022

This story almost unsettled me more than any horror story I've read or scary show I've watched, and yet I'm not sure why. I read your comment to another person and was hit by what you said: "I think she's talking about the way people who are ill-equipped to grow up handle grown-up experiences". I don't know, maybe it just reminded me of a lot of kids younger than myself having to handle more responsibilities than I ever had to at their age. I don't know if this is what you meant to convey, but its what I got out of it :) A very interesting a...

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Kevin Broccoli
21:50 Oct 20, 2022

Thank you so much, Sue. I also felt very unsettled writing it. I think it's interesting that, on paper at least (or digital paper), I'm not sure anything bad actually does happen to her. It's possible nothing happened at all. It became an exercise in tension.

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Sue Hunter
23:42 Oct 20, 2022

Well it certainly worked!

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Danika J
20:03 Oct 15, 2022

This was a fun read! As many others seemed to, I loved the comparison to Alice falling into Wonderland when she first sank in the pond. When she came out of the pond many years older, I expected this story to go in a direction where with every transition, we would see a different phase of her life, & I expected an undercurrent between-the-lines story to be revealed with each shift. That said, the ending caught me off-guard, but it was beautiful! I found myself very curious about the man who pulled her from the pond, and then did nothing to ...

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Kevin Broccoli
16:44 Oct 17, 2022

Thank you, Danika.

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Riel Rosehill
07:50 Oct 15, 2022

Oh, love a bit of Alice in Wonderland in a story! And we're prompt twins this week Kevin! 😃 This story is just the right amount of trippy and dreamy, and I loved your descriptions and metaphors in here. For some reason I thought she was younger though, so the picture changed in my mind when at the end it's revealed she was about fourteen at the time - until then I imagined a small child, not a teen! Oh well! Goes with the dream-like surprises of the story - and the ending... When the man appeared I loved how you described his eyes. At the e...

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Kevin Broccoli
18:45 Oct 15, 2022

So this was one where I felt like I was transcribing more than I was creating. As best I can tell, she does start the story out as a child, but something about the experience either sends her forward in time or her grasp on time itself is very loose. I don't think she's a time traveler, to be clear, but I think she moves through memory in a very interesting way that collapses periods of time together. What was interesting (and to borrow another word from a comment on here "disturbing") working on it was that I think she's talking about the w...

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Marty B
03:49 Oct 15, 2022

I was disturbed by your story, and the loss of innocence, symbolized by slipping into the pool. My favorite line was 'If you can’t get to the end of a question, how will you ever receive the answer?'

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Kevin Broccoli
04:58 Oct 15, 2022

Thank you, Marty.

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17:00 Oct 10, 2022

A beautiful dream. The opening paragraph is fantastic. Interesting how this story mixed childhood with a vision of coming of age and romance, kept me interested to the end and I'm still trying to work out what it all means.

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Kevin Broccoli
18:00 Oct 10, 2022

Thank you so much, Scott.

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Rebecca Miles
06:39 Oct 09, 2022

This one is right up my street! I had a hunch early on with the odd repetitive heat and cool of the door opening and closing that we were in a liminal world about to tip into allegory. I love the less is more; your confidence in leaving enough up to the reader's wonder. Pools of water are just such great symbols; I still remember loving the land between the worlds in The Magician's Nephew for those inviting and mind boggling pools that can lead you into countless other worlds. That was such a great metaphor for the chances life offers; your ...

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Kevin Broccoli
06:17 Oct 12, 2022

Thank you so much, Rebecca!

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Anne Marie Miles
03:03 Oct 09, 2022

Quite an intriguing read! Surreal in a definite Alice in Wonderland way. It is such a great example of childhood imagination and childhood memories. I still have memories like this where it's hard to tell if it really happened or if it was just a imaginative daze. This opening line is fantastic: "Once when I was a child, I spent an entire afternoon in the kitchen doing nothing..." Ain't that a wonderful childhood.

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Kevin Broccoli
04:16 Oct 09, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Lily Finch
19:28 Oct 07, 2022

Thank you, Kevin. This story is fantastic! The subject is scary for a child, but I liked how you rolled it out and then turned it around. I thought the little girl was an excellent character. Well done with the descriptions too. Well done. The plot was good. LF6

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Kevin Broccoli
00:04 Oct 08, 2022

Thank you, Lily.

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Lily Finch
00:21 Oct 08, 2022

:) LF6

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Amanda Lieser
18:18 Oct 23, 2022

Hi Kevin! Oh this piece was incredible. I absolutely identified with your main character. I completely understand how desperate she was to grow up. My favorite line of this piece was: Once again, I sank—down, down, down—like Alice and her pretty blue dress. nice job!

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Kevin Broccoli
18:36 Oct 23, 2022

Thank you so much, Amanda. Seems like it really resonated with some people, which is fantastic.

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Delbert Griffith
20:44 Oct 13, 2022

Great story, Kevin. You can certainly write well!

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Kevin Broccoli
21:27 Oct 13, 2022

Thank you very much.

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Del Garrett
23:19 Oct 19, 2022

Fairly well written from a visual aspect, but I don't see the conflict and resolution. No dialogue or interchange between characters leads to no action in the story. Vocabulary is good, and I like the Alice reference, but it's all about feelings and not following a story format. I'd recommend reading The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler.

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Kevin Broccoli
16:25 Oct 20, 2022

Sir, if you think conflict can only be represented through dialogue, then I think you're the one who needs to read a few books on writing.

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