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A Thousand Points of Light

This has turned into a series of fiction. If you tend to skip days, and you’ve skipped the past couple, you might want to backtrack before reading this post. This story begins with the fictional post, Expecting the Unexpected. Click here to begin at the beginning. And, thank you. Of all the hundreds of thousands of existing options for entertaining blog reading, I am honored you stopped here and chose me.

Halos. Auras. Bright squigglies. They all fill her sight lines as she peels away from the life she flees and ridicule her drive toward the  existence she escaped. Oncoming headlights dance in mockery, a visual party on the windshield of the wreck of a truck. Her little brother sleeps with his head in her lap. It’s for him that she keeps the machine in the road, fighting the glare of the approaching beams two-by-two.

She rubs her eyes with the back of one hand. Is someone following her? Orbs flutter in the rearview mirror. Approach-and-drop-back, a pattern that continues for miles of mindless country road. Just when she feels the tentacles of terror encircle her lungs and squeeze the air, rueful paranoia takes their place. After all, if he were chasing her, he wouldn’t wait until she was practically back to the home place before overtaking them.

Her head hurts. She massages her temple and tries to recall the last time she really slept, the oblivion of the child passed out with his head on one of her legs. Did she ever know slumber so sweet?

Her mouth fills with the taste of metal as the ancient truck lurches. Light fills the cab and explodes like fireworks before her eyes. Was it a bump in the road, or did another vehicle just rear end her? She scrabbles for the mirror, but she can only see another series of fireworks, streaking reds and blues and oranges wherever she tries to focus. Desperate, she tries to see her hands. They look like grooved leather, scattered with spots and freckles. When did she get so old? A glimpse of her face in the mirror reveals a crone in place of the girl she was, her life sprawling before her.

Did she waste that life? Chain reactions in her brain obscure her memory. All she knows for certain, before the stroke scrubs her brain clean, is that she faced a crossroads that long-ago night, the night she left her first husband. It’s the reel that plays continuously as she loses her wits, slips into a world without feeling.

Her first chance to take an unexpected path is the one she’s lived her life regretting. It’s the snippet of searing regret that will play behind her eyelids in a thousand points of light.

For all time.

Denise at Adeeyoyo wrote an exquisite poem yesterday. It accompanies this series perfectly. Please follow this link to read her words.

38 Comments Post a comment
  1. I think we all want to live a life without regret, sadly, that is not the way life is. So, we make the best of bad situations, cope with difficulty and bad decisions taken and make the next step a better one. Learning to move on sooner rather than later is key to giving one a chance at happiness instead of regret.
    It’s never too late to make a better choice, do something good, help a friend move past regret.

    December 18, 2011
    • Unfortunately, I don’t think this character ever did that, Lou. But, she can be an example to the rest of us to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow our lives in positive directions.

      December 18, 2011
  2. I am embarrassed to admit that I am just a little confused. Quite the twist here. This seems to be written from the perspective of the main character when she is much older, recalling or perhaps dreaming about what took place that night. A melding of past and present. Or is past still present? Could the fireworks be a metaphor for the stroke? More coffee is clearly in order (for me, I mean). Good stuff!

    December 18, 2011
    • You’re not confused. In the second post of this series, At the Stroke of Guilt, one of the characters had a stroke. The rest of the week has been a story of that character, and this post closes the loop by bringing her back to the present. I don’t want to say too much more in a comment, because I want others to have their own emotions about this series. Ask all the questions you want at the party later today, though. I’ll be happy to answer them. 🙂

      December 18, 2011
  3. Ok….I missed that post – thought I had read them all. Let me go back then. Thanks.

    December 18, 2011
  4. Oh my goodness. I did read that post. What I did not do was make the connection that the Aunt is the person depicted in the succeeding posts. Dunce-cap-on-the-head-stick-me-in-the-corner time…..! Gosh, am I the only one that missed that?

    December 18, 2011
    • No. You’re not alone. If this were an actual novel, I would have to do a much better job of setting this all up. This series is really just the initial things characters say, and that usually doesn’t make sense to me until the second or third revision.

      December 18, 2011
  5. No Liz, you are not alone. I am sort of lost in all of this too. Maybe I am not supposed to get it; or maybe I just need to drink some more coffee and go back to the beginning, and read it all the way through a couple of times. Even if I do not follow the characters or the plot I still enjoy reading Andra’s writing. 🙂

    December 18, 2011
    • People take different things away from any attempt at writing. Some people really like this kind of story. Others prefer the more direct approach. There’s nothing wrong with either taste. I just get bored writing one way all the time. 🙂

      December 18, 2011
  6. Michael Carnell #

    Good stuff. The juxtaposition of youth to age,sleep vs restlessness, future vs past, looking forward vs looking back – all artfully done.

    Love the story too. It hits on so many levels.

    December 18, 2011
  7. Nope, Liz . . . you weren’t the ONLY one. I didn’t connect her to the “her in the stroke episode” either, but the messages I got from the entirety of the tale were quite clear and meaningful.

    Andra, you may get “bored” sometimes, but I don’t think those of us who follow your postings will ever find that happening. The time I spend here is always time well spent and enjoyed.

    Have fun today!

    December 18, 2011
    • I don’t get bored with any of you. With writing the same way all the time, yes. Y’all are great to put up with my experiments.

      We had a great time. Wish you were here.

      December 18, 2011
  8. A stroke . . . of insight, perhaps.
    A flashback in time.

    Crossroads require us to choose . . . even if neither choice seems palatable.

    Enjoy your party today, Andra.

    December 18, 2011
    • I don’t know. There’s lots more to explore with this character, Nancy.

      We had fun. Good weather. Great food. Awesome people.

      December 18, 2011
  9. Thanks Karen and James, glad to know I was not the only one. Andra, I will definitely have some questions for you at the party….xo 🙂

    December 18, 2011
  10. Wow! What a twist! I didn’t see it coming, which I enjoy to no end. I love the swoops and and leaps of the story, but I tend to think that way myself. Now I feel a little bad about disliking the girl character so heartily…

    Question: When you write in book-length, do you find it difficult to transition smoothly from scene to scene, keeping the thread straight and easy for readers to follow? I’m trying to learn my way into writing my own novel, and I’ve got a short story writer’s “skills”. Any pointers?

    December 18, 2011
    • Glad it was a twist that worked, Elizabeth. I knew how this would end, but that’s really all I knew going in.

      I am an unstructured writer. No outline. No idea, when I am writing fiction, what the characters will do. On my novel, I was into the third draft before it started to feel like a book, and that was hard for me. I mean, it is hard to just write this stuff the characters are throwing out, even if it makes no sense. But, you can totally write a novel. Your writing is gorgeous.

      I would be happy to chat more about writing offline if you like. You have my email in your comment feed. I would enjoy it. 🙂

      December 18, 2011
  11. I did not see this coming. Love your descriptions peerhaps it’s just my own perceptions that I bring with me but I like her.

    December 18, 2011
  12. That conclusion is powerful. “For all time”. It’s like she has entered a permanent continuum where she’s either hit a bump in the road (lovely metaphor) or is being attacked and stalked. In either case, she’s trapped in that reality in a twilight zone forever, in which her brother feels he has reached adulthood, but she feels otherwise. She feels her life is wasted, and nobody is ever going to tell HER otherwise. Wow.

    December 18, 2011
    • Jessie, you explain this so much better than I could. I am glad you see all these things here. It is a joy to read a comment like this one. Thank you.

      December 18, 2011
  13. Your writing is excellent. Don’t stop writing ever!

    Tim

    December 18, 2011
    • Wow, Tim. Thank you. I will enjoy checking out your blog and your book.

      December 18, 2011
  14. I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award – the details are in my latest post. Hopefully there are many more who will appreciate you like I do!

    December 18, 2011
    • Thank you so much for nominating me!! I enjoyed checking out your very worthy Versatile Blogger Award Blog. Congratulations on your award!

      I will respond to these in my editorial calendar in the next week or two. Please come back and look for it, and of course, I will mention you as a nominator. Thank you again.

      December 18, 2011
  15. Andra, I think the complexity of your storytelling is really quite wonderful. This series is full of very unusual characters, with twists that require a little thinking on the part of the reader! I like that! You are very talented and I think “versatile blogger” is indeed an apt description. Keep it up! Debra

    December 19, 2011
    • Thanks, Debra. I hope I can do more with these characters. They’re interesting to me, too.

      December 19, 2011
  16. “Her first chance to take an unexpected path is the one she’s lived her life regretting. It’s the snippet of searing regret that will play behind her eyelids in a thousand points of light.”

    Marvellous (in the English sense).

    December 19, 2011
    • Thank you. It was great seeing you and your brood yesterday. And, thank you for the lovely pickles. Munch. Munch.

      December 19, 2011
  17. My brain did not recall the first story in the series so this was just kinda out of no-were in the link…thanks for reminding us that the first story in the series was the beginning of the circular journey of this tale.

    What fun we had at the bloggity party!

    December 19, 2011
    • This series did take some random turns, didn’t it?

      It was so much fun seeing you and Bill yesterday.

      December 19, 2011
      • Thank you for the past year’s worth of wonderful stories, insights, motivating, thought provoking, blog posts. We discuss them quite often ’round here.

        You are gifted, talented, and what’s even better–you’re using your talents and always seeking to grow! Knowing you makes us better.

        Happy Christmas!

        December 19, 2011
      • Cheryl, thank you for this message. In my darkest (and not-so-dark) moments, these mean a lot to me. I love you and Bill. xo

        December 19, 2011
  18. earlybird #

    I loved the way you used the effect of lights to bring her confusion into a conclusion here. Sharpt.

    December 19, 2011
    • I always find myself feeling a little confused after sitting in the dark watching fireworks or something similar. Maybe when I write the book, she will really see the light.

      December 19, 2011
  19. Wow! Just, wow!

    December 22, 2011

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