Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Short story in progress

I want to take English 355 next semester, creative writing. To get in I need to submit 6-10 pages of original fiction to the teacher, soon. Assuming that he's asking for double-spaced papers, I've already got about 4 or 5 pages completed so far, with two short stories. I just wrote this while avoiding studying at club lib. I'm not sure how I feel about the tense or POV, any comments and/or criticisms are welcomed. Please, be harsh, I need to get into this class, and if it takes a massive rewrite of this story (or an entirely new concept all together) then so be it.

Sleep Driving

She’s blasted the music, consumed at least two bottles of water, opened the windows all the way, but her eyelids still have weights attached to them. The car swerves slightly into the left lane, and her body jerks forward a few inches. She reaches for the music dial and turns the volume up louder, attempting to sing along. No matter how hard she tries, it’s a losing battle. Seventeen more miles to the next rest stop. She’s not sure if she can make it that long.

She’s never able to sleep the night before traveling, be it by plane, bus, car, or train. There’s a certain anxiety attached to the idea of travel, what could potentially go wrong plagues her mind and keeps her puttering around the room to avoid letting her mind drift to those ideas. She stays awake until she’s tired enough to pass out as soon as head meets pillow. It’s a terrible system, but she’s afraid of sleeping through her alarm if she takes a sleeping pill.

Instead, she wakes up after what feels like mere moments later, slightly panicked and ready to ship out and leave. A stop at Dunkin Donuts for some sort of hot caffeinated beverage is a must. She has a bad feeling that they slipped her decaf today. Those bastards. Thanks to them there’s no heat coursing through her veins, keeping her body in motion, feeling raw with energy. Instead everything feels heavy, constantly sinking. Sinking into the seat, sinking into herself; her shoulders slumping forward, and her head bobbing back and forth, as if she was vigorously nodding to somebody in approval.

She winces as she slaps her left cheek, and just as quickly and harshly she slaps her right cheek. This alerts her body for all of thirty seconds, but even the sting from her palm seems washed out by the dreariness that is taking over her body. Just ten more miles, at the speed of seventy miles per hour means… she attempts to do the math, but her brain seems to be full of cotton balls at the moment. It’s less than ten minutes, she can at least deduce that much. She attempts to do the algebra in her head. Sixty and seventy both share a common denominator with four-hundred and twenty, which means… which means her brain is too fried to figure out this simple equation at the moment. With a sigh she checks the road for hiding police and speeds up another six miles per hour. The sooner she can pull over, the sooner she’ll be able to close her eyes.

Her heart speeds up as she sees somebody jump into the road out of nowhere. What the hell are they doing crossing the interstate?! As she swerves the car, narrowly missing the station wagon next to her, she blinks and the person is out of sight. No other cars seem to be getting out of the way, and the person was definitely not fast enough to cross the road already. If somebody had hit them there would somewhat of a ruckus going on behind her. It’s not possible that she was seeing things. That would mean she had some serious issues going on. Eight more miles.

The wheel is misaligned, so the car keeps brushing up against the grating on the left side. She supposes it’s doing its job, shaking the car to alert a sleepy driver that they’re falling off of the road. She wonders what would happen if she just surrenders. That’s the sleep talking, keep alert! an angry voice yells in her head. She glances at the stereo, only to see that she’s three songs further into the CD than she last remembers. Part of her is terrified at the possibility that she’s been sleeping for a little while.

As she finally approaches the exit, the car continues to swerve, despite her best efforts. Her head is playing the bobbing game again. One red light is all that holds her back from the McDonald’s parking lot up again. A car beeps behind her, and she realizes that her eyes were closed, and the light has turned green. She drives a few more yards and pulls into the lot. It seems to take an eternity to adjust the seat. One lowered, closes her eyes and can feel her body falling deeper and deeper, the warm arms of sleep engulfing her. One last frantic thought runs through her mind before all of her systems shut down. What if she never made it this far, and the car had careened into the cement guardrail the first time she knew her eyes had been closed longer than necessary?

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