Friday, December 18, 2015

Fiction Friday - Flashes or Fighting Destiny

Going through some of my files recently I realized that I had two very similar storylines going on at the same time. Apparently I updated the story (or redid it based on the same fragment of original writing) at some point, but now I can't decide which version I like better.

This is the first chapter of "Fighting Destiny", and I've linked to the previous blog post with "Flashes" as well. Read both, then vote for your favorite!

Chapter One

The trees were in full bloom in Whitney’s neighborhood, proving the subdivision’s name, White Blossom, to be incredibly apt. Although some might think the name a bit prosaic, the tree lined streets covered in April’s snowfall of flower petals touched Whitney’s heart and lifted her mood. She leaned gently into each turn, enjoying every minute of her short drive, and then pulled a little too quickly into her steep driveway. She never used the cavernous and often spooky garage, so she hopped out of the car, locked the doors, and fiddled with her overwhelmed keychain for several minutes.
            Enjoying the last few minutes of daylight, she waved at a young girl riding her bike down the street and races up the porch steps and into the house. “Fred, I’m home!” The small gray cat raced down the stairs to greet her, sliding a little on the wood floors of the foyer. She snuggled with Fred, gave him some food, and headed to her bedroom to change.
            As she threw on sweatpants and a t-shirt, she listened to the messages on the machine.
            “Whitney? This is Jess. Can you talk for a minute? I have some news. Give me a call when you get in. I might be at work, but you know the number.”
            Whitney smiled and pressed the delete button. She talked to Jess practically every night anyway, tonight wouldn’t be any different. She flopped onto the downy bed to write in her journal for a minute.
Dear Diary,
            Me again, and it’s only been three days since I last wrote! Today was such a beautiful spring day, I almost called in sick to work. It’s not like they can’t find another clerk for the flower shop, but today was a busy day and I wanted to see who else would be inspired by the wild flowers all around. It amazes me what people pay money for when it’s blooming right outside their front doors!
            Speaking of blooming, I bet it’s finally good news for Jess. She’s finally met her dream man, I can feel it in my bones. If I only I had such certain prospects of my own. It seems like no matter how much I believe in myself and my dreams, I never really found a dream man.
Take Patrick for instance, owner of the boutique next to the flower shop. I fancied myself interested in him for some time and what do I find out. He’s happily in love with another MAN! What was I expecting though? He does run a high-end clothing shop!
            The house is too big tonight. I thought it was a great idea that the other bedrooms were all upstairs with my bedroom on the first floor, but every time a breeze blows through the rafters I think I have ghosts living in my guest bedrooms! Sometimes, I just wish I could fill this house up with real people, even if I didn’t like them at all!

            Whitney put down her pen and picked up the phone to call Jess. Something was definitely up with her best friend and she wanted to know what it was.
            A perky voice picked up the line. “Tee Thyme, How can I help you?”
            “Is Jessica available?”
            “I think she’s in the kitchen right now, may I ask who’s calling?”
            “This is Whitney.”
            “Oh, let me go grab her. I’ll be right back.”
            Whitney waited patiently for a few seconds, listening to the restaurant noise. Apparently it was a busy night, and “hold” meant the phone was placed down on the desk, without thought to the noise around. Fortunately Whitney loved listening and imagining the fun and conversations. The pleasant buzz sounded positive, even if she couldn’t make out most of what was being said.
            “Jess, it’s me.”
            “Hey Whitney. What’s up? I can’t take the phone in the office right now; all of the other lines are busy.”
            “You said you wanted me to call you back right away, even at work.”
            “Yes, I did, but you know very well that this is our busiest time of the night. The 7:00 rush is here.”
            “I know, it sounds like a pretty healthy crowd there. I just couldn’t wait any longer, I want to know what’s up with you. It sounded like some big news on the message you left me.”
            “Well,” Whitney heard some noise in the background as Jessica cupped her hand over the phone. “You remember Roger, right? The assistant manager? He asked me out last night!”
            “Wait a second. I had a feeling that you were finally interested in somebody new, but how would that ever work out? Don’t you basically work opposite schedules to cover the restaurant? How would you ever have time to spend together?”
            Jessica paused and took a deep breath. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what I really want to do and what my passions are. I think, well, I might take a break from managing the restaurant just to straighten my head a little bit and figure out what I want to do with my life.”
            Silence. Whitney looked at her own reflection in the mirror as she held the phone to her ear. Her best friend, willing to give up her career for a man she’d only just become interested in. Was this bravery or stupidity? “Jessica, you know that I will support you no matter what you choose. We’ve known each other since middle school and I’ve never known you to make a decision you would regret,” Whitney paused and took a deep breath. “I know you have to get back to work, so I’ll let you go. Let’s get together somewhere this weekend and talk some more then.”
            Jessica thought Whitney’s tone of voice might sound a little uncertain, but she quickly agreed. She needed to circulate tables and answer some customer complaints. “Alright, how about meeting at the park if the weather’s nice?”
            “Sounds good. You know I love you. Have a great night.”
            Whitney hung up the phone and hugged herself gently as she thought about her friend. Jessica was everything Whitney wasn’t. She was strong, confident, spoke her mind, and knew what she wanted from life. On the outside, Whitney supposed that she herself had some of those qualities, but inside she felt like a stranger to the people around her.
            Whitney picked up one of her oldest journals and opened it up to the first page. She sat back down on top of her bed and rested her free hand against the warmth of her small cat.

To Whom It May Concern:,
My name is Whitney Wright. I am named after my great-grandfather. I am an American mixture of Irish, German and Scottish heritage. The Irish is mainly on my mother’s side. Many of her ancestor’s through the years were reported to have certain psychic powers. I suppose, if I believe in that sort of thing, those abilities could be connected to my problems. I am writing this down in the hope that someone can explain it all someday.
            I’ve heard of photographic memories and telepathic people, but I think I have more of a video-graphic memory. The images that flow through my head are almost like a historical-fiction action movie. I feel like I receive glimpses into the life of some other character from the distant reaches of the past. I have decided to try to write down these experiences and hopefully figure out what they are and why they occur.
            I think my visions occur more often after some traumatic or emotional experience. The flashes might be related to what they call “feminine intuition”, only much more realistic.
            I may have experienced these visions as a child, but they started getting bad last year. It was my sophomore year of college and I lived in a somewhat run-down apartment building right on the edge of campus. Rent was less than the dorms, when split with three roommates, and I enjoyed the semi-privacy afforded by separate bedrooms.
            It was a Friday night, and although a nearby apartment had a party that night, the apartment manager had called the cops and things had quieted down by midnight. At about two in the morning, I woke up, smelling smoke and hearing a faint alarm. The smoke woke me quickly and I wrapped a blanket around my head to block the smoke and ran to my roommate’s rooms, banging on doors as I went.
            After waking everyone up, we made our way out to exterior balcony and stairs and down to the parking lot. Everyone seemed safe, but as I ran, huddled under the shelter of my makeshift hood, I flashed for the first time.

A young woman, with dark brown hair and golden eyes was racing down a
hillside in the forest. She turned to look over her shoulder, and stumbled
over the rocks and tree roots. She pulled her shawl more tightly over her head
 as if she could block out the danger that was swiftly approaching as the
hoof beats grew closer and closer.
Whitney closed her eyes briefly and could still bring up the images from that first experience. At the time she had wondered if her roommates had slipped drugs into her coffee cup or the smoke had damaged her synapses. But the images were so real. Even now, although she couldn’t bring up anything else from the vision, she could see a picture of that young woman’s face.
Her visions always centered on a female protagonist. It seemed as though each of these women were somehow burned into her mind. One of Whitney’s coworkers had theorized that each vision centered around a past life that Whitney had lived. Whitney had looked into reincarnation, but she didn’t feel like she had even been these women. She only saw glimpses as if from the outside, like watching someone else go through the event.
She flipped further into the journal. 

Dear Diary,
            I feel like I’m going to explode! I can never relax; I am always worrying about my problem and wondering what it is, and how I can control it. I think maybe adrenaline is causing the flashes?
            I have learned to try to keep my eyes wide open during tense or exciting situations. I found that I cannot flash unless I close my eyes. Of course it’s hard with the natural blink reflexes. Once my eyes are closed, it is almost impossible for me to stop the flash myself. Some interruption from the outside world has to occur.
Being home for the summer has been especially difficult. My brother, Joe, made me flash yesterday when he flicked a paper wad at me unexpectedly. I flashed for almost five minutes before he said something!
The woman I saw had a sharp white nurse’s uniform on. Her auburn hair was pulled back into a tight bun, with two long curls resting against her high cheekbones, sharpening her features. She was out in the middle of a field, knee deep in tall wavy grasses.
            After a few more seconds, the sound kicked in. I heard the sharp whine of a bomb. The bomb sounded loud, but was not close enough to turn her focus. She was gazing down toward what looked to be a trench, the grass was missing and fresh dirt littered the ground. The flash took me closer and I looked down into the trench. I saw two bodies, one American, and one looked like a German soldier to me. Both had several fatal bullet wounds, and still carried their weapons in their hands.
            The woman stepped down into the trench, clutching a medal or locket tightly in one fist. When she reached the German, she gently closed his eyes and adjusted the collar of his uniform. When she reached the American, she leaned her body across his chest, and I saw one tear drip down onto his uniform, the darkness of the tear stain blending in with the blood stains already covering most of the fabric.
            She pressed her hand to his head, then reached up to gently snip a lock of hair from his forehead. As she turned to leave the foxhole, the expression on her face changed from sadness to terror and fear. She had seen the enemy. She raised her hands slowly in surrender as a troop of young German recruits pointed their weapons at her.
            At that point, my brother finally got bored of watching me with my eyes closed and smacked me in the forehead with the car magazine he was reading. He is supposedly three years older than me, but the maturity level is just not there.
            I’ve never really told my family about my visions. I feel that these flashes are some intrinsic part of my soul. As if sharing them would somehow separate a piece of me from myself. So, most of my family and friends seem to think of me as a ditzy or flaky person sometimes. I feel like I’m being a wimp, especially when those closest to me think I have just been zoning out on them.
Whitney closed the well-worn journal. She had to open at the flower shop tomorrow, and she wanted to spend the early morning hours in her own flower garden. She stepped into the large bathroom, loving the feel of the cool marble on her bare feet. She washed her face, brushed her teeth and smiled at her reflection in the mirror. She felt almost old compared to the twenty year old who had written those early journal entries. She was a successful twenty-eight year old and made her own decisions.
She also wasn’t quite as lonely as when the journal had first started. She had two best friends who helped share her secret and her new discoveries. Fred lifted his head and blinked his sleepy eyes as she snuggled under the covers next to him. She might not have a dream man in the bed beside her, but she still had a warm body at least.

Fortunately, her flashes never occurred while she was actually asleep. She did dream, but they were typical dreams. Her dreams were a peaceful oasis of past and present memories, with a glimmer of the future. Tonight she dreamed that she and her closest friends were hanging out at the beach where she had spent many summers during childhood.


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