Enjoy the depths of our Saturday fiction series here.
by LINDA EDDINGS
She began the story with a coda, thinking that when it was over she could put the coda wherever it was you placed such things, right before the end.
The idea for the story was a woman housesitting for her boss, a certain Mr. Williams. In the tale's opening minutes a strange man came to Mr. Williams' home, but the woman opened the door anyway. The man offered her fish he had recently caught from a river. She accepted and cooked them. Before she could thank him something had frightened him away.
It was later revealed, in this version of her story, that the thing that frightened the fisherman away was the woman herself later on in the story, perched on the roof of the house. She had subsequently traveled back in time to protect herself.
This had, upon her departure from the Starbucks near the mall, felt like a stroke of genius. When she reappraised it the next morning on her way to work the twist was verifiably the stupidest thing in the world.
Next the housesitter received a phone call from Mr. Williams that shortly followed the cooking of the fish. He asked his employee to find an ancient helmet in the upstairs closet. On her way there, the housesitter became lost. She mused on the metaphorical development of saving your own self from danger. Was it possible to hint at this in a more subtle way?
In the bathroom at work, getting up from the toilet, her iPhone dropped into the bowl. She tried to put it in a bag of rice but, hours later, it would not turn on. She wondered what she had done to deserve this and decided on nothing. Making this happen to the housesitter of her imagination was an easy step, and she found that the woman suffered more easily, surprising herself as quickly as her author.
Her dream the next night involved being returned to her high school. The corridors whipped around the classrooms like cars racing around a track. She arrived late for the next class, and everyone had a copy of The Great Gatsby. The classrooms swept about her like a train on rails, and now when she looked out into the hallway the world there was a cold and frosty London. Each member of the class told her to get a handful of pebbles. She did, and a blonde man loaded them into a handgun. He shot a man in a top hat approaching from the street, and she woke up.
Mr. Williams transitioned from being a slightly effete, if well-intentioned superior to a man stressed by forces beyond his control.
While working out that morning, she saw the running of the bulls on the news. Those absconding showed a requisite amount of fear and in some cases, exhilaration. The bulls, to her mind, were absolutely terrified. The housesitter found the helmet, somewhere deep in a closet preserved from the onset of the years. The headgear allowed her to see things as they truly were.
Linda Eddings is a writer living in Brooklyn. You can find an archive of her work on This Recording here.
"Twirled With Slight Fingers" - Sam Willis (mp3)
"Weird Science" - Sam Willis (mp3)