#FridayFlash The Crossroads

This is taken from my WIP, currently being subjected to NaNoWriMo 

The crossroads is broad and wide, half way up a hill. Approaching it with the town at your back the road continuing to sweep upward to the brow beyond the lights. That way leads to the motorway, north to the capital, south to the land of above average sunshine, fruit farms and holiday homes. On the left and right are narrower lanes, known by colloquial names, tributaries snaking past red bricked and grey pebbledashed estates onto broader highways beyond. There are pedestrian lights at every corner to ensure safe passage. There is a bus stop where you can queue for buses to the town , or even the city.

Grace always presses the button to make the light go on and you have to wait. Mummy says it says WAIT and you can go when the green man goes beep beep beep. And you have to hold hands. And yesterday Daniel was naughty and he didnt hold hands and I did. I didnt go on the road by myself and the cars didnt squash me.

And remember, says Grace, remember when I broke my doll and you said Daddy could fix it with glue, you said, leave it up on the counter and he will fix it later, he has special glue. I said, but the leg keeps falling off and you said, just leave it there, he will be able to fix it when he gets home. But…’ she take a breath ‘he never fixed it, did he?’

Freya knows the sequence of the lights. Once the traffic on the main road takes pause, the side roads filter in one by one. First the ones on the far side, coming up the laneway, then the ones on this side spilling out from the housing estates with their kid-friendly green spaces. It is called the Killarney Road because the town was once peopled with well-to-do Victorians for whom Killarney was one of their cool must see before I die places.

So here on the fourway crossroads are echoes of the lakes of Killarney, stewing in their romantic, melancholic mists, reeds and rushes at their banks, midges rising, the black, slippery bark trunks of trees standing in water,. A grand house at the lake edge with 62 rooms and more than hundred chimneys and a castle that is more of a folly, an illusion on the shore.

Daniel and Sean always fight about pressing the button, so they both do it, Freya lifts up the buggy so Sean can reach. Sometimes Daniel squashes Seans finger under his. Someone has already pressed the button.

There is a moment you know when the traffic light turns amber, a moment turning and you will it to linger and your heart beats faster with the change approaching, you dont want to see red. When your foot rests comfortably on the pedal, when the momentum propels you forward, the human race against time.

Daniel is in front of her or behind, she can hear his footsteps tap, tapping, sense the density of the hair on his head, the fascination of his soft, downy nape, the solidity of his brown gaze, like gathered acorns. Acorns, stones, a whole beach here and down the coast in Greystones, scattered permanency, and here heaps of stones imported and laid down to keep the town weighted down, pinned to the shore, keep it from washing away.

Go! Says the mother because the man is green

And the chid inside, still safe, somersaults, through airless inner space.

There is a moment, suspended in forever, when nothing has happened

Freya’s consciousness is porous and Daniel is in the periphery. The handle of the buggy is under her fingertips, other thoughts from the past perfect or the present perfect continuous bleed through, Grace standing on the sofa flapping her arms, putting on dress-up wings and flapping again, genuine confusion in her face. Why am I not flying? She wonders.

Sometimes when the waves hit the shore they boom, and sea spray launches itself against the force of gravity. There is that sound when the tide trickles backwards through loose stones a kind of crunching gurgle, submerged castanets. Children squealing as they run backwards to avoid the tide or release sand grain ribbons on the wind. ‘Its not fair, the little girl says looking at Freya ‘its not fair, she’s flying.’ Freya flies for a long time, travelling backwards, astronaut cut adrift in zero gravity, in endless outer space, until she hits something block solid and stops, darkness falling over her.

 

 

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11 comments

  1. I’m so intrigued by Grace and Daniel. Lovely wip, and yes, I’d like to read the entire story when done. The last para really gorgeous ‘ submerged castanets’. I admit I don’t understand all that’s happening here, but I want to. Good luck with the Nano! Peace…

  2. The voice is cute, Alison. Will the whole novel be from the child’s perspective?

    The lack of quotation marks is disorienting to me. I’ve seen it often, but even being used to them they feel stilted.

    Good luck on the full novel!

  3. mmm, what a divine taster. Like having chocolate melting on the tongue and running along all the papillae tickling them open to reveal their hidden pearls. This augurs so well for the rest of the novel.

    marc

    1. Thanks for the comments so far, the lack of quotations was unintentional (hangs head) I was almost asleep when posting. The story is not going to be told from the kids view overall. Worth posting so thatI can see where the issues are. Keep critiquing!

  4. Love your submerged castanets and the wonderful details, like one child’s finger squashed under another’s – although as a mother, of course, I am now completely paralysed by this piece. Aagh, we were doing beep-beep yesterday… too terrifying. Good luck with NaNoWriMo.

  5. *Great gasp at the end* I definitely want to read more of this Alison. As always, your descriptions are astounding. Like Linda, I’m not exactly sure of what’s happening, but I want to know. The scene though is vivid, very easy to picture.

  6. Difficult to find the place at first, I think because there was no context. I had in mind a couple of gravel lanes with meadows all round in the first para 😉 That may be a difference in colloquialisms – for me a crossroads is rural, in the city it’s an intersection. Once I had the scene correct it was very vivid. I like the comparison with the child flying and the adult being tossed into the air, innocent hope vs. tragic accident. Looking forward to seeing more!

  7. Beautiful extract, Alison. Your descriptions are wonderful and so evocative – I love the way you conjure up where the roads lead off to from the crossroads and that they hold an essence of the lakes of Killarney, for example.

    Think the child’s view and voice are both excellent. It feels almost dreamlike until the final sequence when you realise what’s happening, and then see it as if it’s being played out in slow motion.

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