Friday, February 6, 2009

The Great Hill of Passage (Fiction)

Hello all, I had promised this story yesterday and fell asleep before I remembered. ^_^ Sorry! But here it is.

It wasn’t that her life was terrible, it was more along the lines of being ridiculously horrible. The greatest bane of her existence was the question which would inevitably plague every human being during a trying time in their life.

The question of purpose, of greatness and whether it really mattered as to whether they ought to make a difference in the world with the limited time on their hands, referred to as life.

Tracy Sherton didn’t particularly care if she made a difference or not, her thoughts often wandered to the darker side of her existence where her thoughts chases themselves around in circles guaranteed to drive any mad person, completely insane.

“You shouldn’t wonder so much.” Her mother scolded, fussing around her only child as Tracy stuffed spoonfuls of soggy cornflakes in her mouth.

“I’m fine, Ma, quit it.” She tried to dodge the well-meaning pair of wrinkled fingers.

“You’re going to do just fine in this interview.” Her mother continued.

Tracy rolled her eyes. “Of course.” She slurped up the last cornflake and sprung from her chair with sudden energy. The bowl was hastily deposited in the sink and she paused long enough to run a bit of water inside to keep the leftover milk from crusting at the corners.

“You should drink the milk.” Her mother hovered anxiously behind her. “It would give you stronger bones. Leave that there dish be, I’ll get it.”

Tracy blinked. She’d been staring at the great foaming swirl as it blossomed from the milky remains of her breakfast. “Pity.” The word slipped from her lips.

“Tracy!” There was strength in the aged hands that savagely shook her to the present. “You hopeless child! You will be late. I can just see it!”

Tracy jerked away. I won’t. She thought stubbornly in her head, but the gears of her mind shifted from the lovely white swirls to focus on the interview at work. It would mean a promotion, certainly, a bigger paycheck, of course, and naturally it would be put to good use.

She brushed her teeth last and then reapplied her lipstick. Baby Girl Pink. She stuffed the plastic tube in her purse and dashed for the door.


Her body responded by jerking to a complete stop, inches away from the stained-glass door. “What?” Tracy pleaded.

“A kiss for luck.” Her mother’s pruned lips puckered up to bless her left cheek.

Tracy squeezed her eyes shut. “Thanks.” Tears threatened to wreck her carefully applied navy-eyeliner.

“Now you do your best and get that new job, okay?” A cackle accompanied the gap-toothed smile. “Go now. Do best.”

Tracy felt the tears freeze within her eyes and disappear in that split-second. “Sure thing, Ma.” She heard herself say. “Sure thing.”

She took the stairs two at a time and didn’t draw a full breath until she sat behind the wheel of her black BMW. The key in the ignition was the first taste she’d craved. She took a breath, savoring the new-car scent. She did miss the musky smell of her old, faithful Honda Civic, with fast-food containers tucked here and there. Her eyes closed, briefly, then opened again, as she backed slowly down the driveway.

The craving resurfaced as she entered the highway. Oh pure bliss! She lowered the windows, reveling in the beauty of having one’s hair blown about by unseen hands. “A convertible.” She murmured.

About half-way to work, her favorite part of the mindless drive crested the horizon. A sigh of pleasure escaped her lips. Tracy leaned a little harder on the gas pedal. The trees whizzed by, the silver railings raced by and of course, so did the cars, trucks and SUV’s with their insignificant little drivers.

The hill took forever to scale it seemed, a moment where time slowed enough so Tracy could breathe. But all too soon it ended and she found herself walking from the parking garage towards the corporate office building.

The interview went well. It lasted ten seconds.

“Morning, Tracy.” Her boss met her at the door of the conference room. “Can you do this?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good girl.” He handed over a key with a butterfly charm on the end. “There’s your new office. Settle in quick before we come to inspect.”

The door shut in her face.

Tracy blinked.

It took her a full minute to recover and then she retreated to her old office cubicle and cleaned out her desk. It seemed like hours before she unpacked in the new window office. Hours before her new supervisors came to inspect. Hours before she could muster the energy to call her mother.

The cellphone taunted her from its stationary position on the polished wood desk. She hit the speed dial with a trembling finger.

“Ma?” She half-whispered as the call went through, hoping it would never be answered. “Hi Ma, it’s Tracy. Yeah, I got it. Sure. Dinner. Thanks.” The phone was snapped shut and she cradled her head in her hands once more.

She’d done it. The only child. She’d been the daughter her mother hadn’t wanted. But now, she was cleared for a bit. She made something of herself. The corner office. And a bigger, fatter paycheck, it would buy her mother’s love for the next few years.

The day ended quicker than she’d expected and it was the craving within her, prompting her to run in three-inch heels to reach her precious car. The BMW glinted in the fading sunlight as she climbed inside and yanked off the cursed shoes.

She rummaged through the glove compartment and pulled out the flat pair of foam flip-flops. Her feet thanked her as she eased them on and then checked her mirrors, lights and wipers in succession.

The drive from the parking garage was a blur, until she reached the hill again. Traveling down was just as much of an experience as traveling up. Goosebumps sprouted along her arms and she closed the windows, now careful. A somber mood had touched the air and she thrived on it.

In the depths of her mind, the dark twists returned and for a frightening moment, she wondered what it would feel like to just tip the steering wheel a little too far in one direction. Her breath caught.

No, Tracy. She told herself. Mustn’t think like that. But the thought twisted through her mind as the speedometer increased, flying past seventy, seventy-five, eighty and beyond.

A second thought occurred. Death would be painful. It would be certain, of course, for this hill had no rails on it, and the valley looming below was sure to be filled with dangerous things. Naturally. Her thoughts jumbled together, but there was no time to sort them out, the end was coming quickly.

Tracy took a last breath, breathing in the rich leather scent. She crossed her toes and let her hand twitch the steering wheel to the right.

Copyright 2009 Sara Harricharan

Author's Note: This story sprang to mind after reading several rather depressing episdoes in literature class. I tried to create a character who had a seemingly perfect life, but was still trapped by the very things that made up her life. The ending is left open, for however you'd like to interpet it.