Sometimes I will write a scene to set up a potential story to see if it has any merit as a short story or novel. I have lots of these. Many don’t make it beyond a few paragraphs, but some turn into a full blown work. A Fire Within (my current project) started as a scene like this. If I ultimately determine that I like the potential of a scene, I’ll outline the rest of the story and start to work on it. I enjoy writing these snippets because they give me more than just a few notes on the idea. They set the mood and give life to the voice I hope to project in the story. Take a gander below.
Blood gurgled from the large gash on the side of her neck as Ada lay on the kitchen floor. The crisp white tiles, interspersed with black ones, quickly gave way to the pool of blood that formed around her. Her hands, perched just below the wound as if they could staunch the flow, slowly receded and fell to her side sending a splash of blood drops onto the white cabinets that seemed to close in upon her. Her serrated breathing lapsed and hitched until her chest froze mid-breath. Her eyes stared widely at the ceiling above her, surprise and fear dilated her lifeless pupils.
A lone, recessed bulb above the sink was the only light on in the kitchen, but it shined directly on the spot where Ada lay. Her pale skin and light hair seemed whitewashed by the harsh light, a sharp contrast to the bright red pool that slowly enveloped her. A TV flickered silently in the dark living room next to the kitchen revealing the shadow of a figure that stood in the fringes of the bright light. The hooded figure stood stiffly erect facing Ada as if frozen by the violence of what had happened.
The blood flowed away from Ada slowly, the pool’s edge moving almost imperceptibly toward the demarcation line between the kitchen tile and the carpeted living room of her townhouse. A pair of tennis shoes, soiled from her muddy backyard, took a step back to avoid leaving a footprint in her blood. The figure stepped further into the darkness toward the back door and pulled the hoodie tighter to obscure any chance of being revealed. The face turned once more to Ada to confirm her demise before a gloved hand opened the door and disappeared into the rainy blackness of the night.
Ada, her life expended, lay in the glare of the spotlight comported to tell her story to anyone who could understand the subtle clues that led to this moment. Her worst fears were realized. She had died alone. She had screamed to no one when the knife punctured her neck and she grasped at the wound to plug it in vain. She had seen the whites of her killer’s eyes and pleaded with them in a watery voice. The last ragged moments of her life were filled with shock, not just from the mortal wound, but from the realization that her killer was someone she had loved, someone so close to her that only her skin could tell them apart.
In the distance a car engine revved to life and hurried away on the slippery street outside Ada’s home. The TV flickered one final moment and shut off after such a long time with no activity. Rain drops pelted the windows along the back of her house. The droplets swelled and dripped down the windows leaving a dreary smear that distorted the street light just a stone’s throw from her backyard. The organic smell of cut grass and mud permeated the dark space outside her patio door. The trauma had amplified the ordinary, but Ada didn’t know this. She was dead.