Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Vigil (15-minute-dash), by Faith E. Hough

(PROMPT: Describe the room you're in so as to elicit a certain emotion, other than that which you would normally associate with the room)

The coffin sat at one end of the room, and Jenny sat on the couch at the other end--as far away from the soldier's body as she could possibly get. Grandmother rocked in the chair by the fire, swaying the chair back and forth as she crocheted to stay awake, unaware that every crick, crack of the old wood sounded to Jenny like a last cry from the dead man's soul.

She tried to distract herself by poring over the titles of the books that lined two walls (though Grandmother would have had a fit had she known how irreverantly Jenny was spending her watch). How had she failed to notice before how many of the books had dreary titles? The Tough Winter; The Lost Prince; The Black Arrow; Le Mort d'Arthur. Even the harmless ones, like Charlotte's Web or The Wind in the Willows, seemed to taunt the girl and conjure images of spiders spinning webs from the coffin all the way over to her toes, while a cold, whistling wind fought its way through the cracks in the old window frame.

The wind was only half imagined. From the chimney swept in a draft that the flames licked at but could not warm--it sent goosebumps up Jenny's calves.

The fire was casting weird shadows across everything in the room; Grandmother's old model of Stonehenge looked like a graveyard, and Jenny could easily imagine that there was a vampire or werewolf lurking in the inky darkness behind the armchair.

The framed silhouettes on the wall looked like dark ghosts.

The cat was sleeping so silently on the hearth that she might have been dead.

Even the clock was dead. Its hands were frozen at eleven twenty-five...as if to remind Jenny that that was when it happened.

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