Gritty Details

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday's Storyteller: "If you stare at the ceiling for long enough, it looks like it's moving."

by Belinda Roddie

If you stare at the ceiling for long enough, it looks like it's moving. Like a cracked, white ocean, undulating without moonlight. Pulsing without an actual pulse.

I remember sailing across a white ocean once. My skiff took me to four countries, and everyone spoke the same language, but never a language that I understood. Their tribes collected stones and pocketed seashells to use as currency, and their councils ruled that I was inferior to them. I was not a god, they decreed, but a fragment of a civilization that had fallen due to buffoons and warmongers. I listened to their judgment and decided to accept it.

Their punishment was to live with the guilt. Sometimes, that's worse than prison or execution.

I've been lying on this same bed in the same room for seventeen days. I haven't slept. I haven't eaten. The last thing I drank was a bad margarita at a joint where my ex-girlfriend worked as a bartender. She told me that if she wasn't already on thin ice with her manager, then she would have spat in my drink. I replied that she may as well do it; maybe it'd give the disaster of a cocktail for flavor. Maybe a kick of weed breath and the tang of bad decisions. I expected her to slap me then. She didn't.

No one likes the consequences of one's actions to take physical form anymore. Just emotional.

How I'm still alive, I don't know. How I'm still breathing regularly, I don't know. I'm not hungry or thirsty, and I'm not tired. I expected the hallucinations twelve days ago; they never came. No morbid tattoos of past faces to mock me. No lightning bolts of color striking wobbling half-eaten bodies dead as they attempt to scream back to life. No distorted imagery of nightmarish beasts or body horror to leave me dangling over my mattress, drooling from the corners of my paralyzed mouth.

But the ceiling is moving. It has become the white ocean.

And I feel like sailing upon it again.

This week's prompt was provided by Arden Roddie.

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