This week on the Story Dam writing community, we were tasked with the following (or an alternative):
Dam Burst: You are given a unique opportunity to go back and talk to a much younger you. What would you tell them about an old flame? And better yet—why? (We’re not trying to screw up your holiday. Please feel free to be completely fictional with this story.)
You can see the full prompt write-up here.
Here’s my take on the prompt. It does get slightly graphic toward the end. You’ve been warned. As always, constructive criticism is welcomed and encouraged.
Neyah saw him everywhere she went. She imagined that the trinkets in store displays were given to her as gifts. She kept a scrapbook of wedding pictures from newspapers. She even wrote vows. She could recite them from memory, but still ran her fingers across the words as she recited them.
The night of their prom, almost 25 years ago, he insisted she have sex with him, but she still wasn’t ready. He was furious about it. She tried to stop him from leaving the motel after he punched a hole in the dingy, yellowing drywall, but he wouldn’t listen to her professions of love.
She never saw him again after graduation. For six years, she did everything to please him, short of his passionate requests. She let him get to “second base” a couple of times, but it made her nervous when his actions would become frantic after doing so.
She entered the small, dimly lit store on Royal Street in the French Quarter. The air in the shop sent chills up her back.
“You shoor you wan dis?”
“Excuse me?” Neyah replied.
As short, weathered woman waddled around the corner of the bookshelf in front of Neyah.
“You hear me chile. Are you shoor you wan to do dis?”
“Do what, exactly?”
“I alrey see it, chile. You wan go back. Back and tell yoself.”
Neyah fidgeted uncomfortably.
“Notting good can happen from dis. Jus go on home.”
“Please!” Neyah pleaded with her. “I have to try. Can you do it or not?”
“Not me. You. I do notting. Go back behine dat curtin. You on you own from dere.”
The old woman padded away to the back of the store shaking her head and mumbling. Neyah stepped behind the curtain. In front of her was a large, antique, birdbath statue. The space smelled heavily of lavender. Ground ginger lined the cement bowl containing emerald tinted water.
She read the instructions on the mirror. After placing her hands under the water on the bottom of the bowl, then leaned down and submerged her face along with them.
When she could no longer breathe, she quickly lifted herself from the water. She found herself standing in her old bathroom.
“Is someone there?” The voice sounded very familiar. A teenage Neyah rounded the corner into the bathroom. “Who are you? What are you doing…” her voice raised.
“Neyah, it’s ok, calm down. Look, I can’t explain this. I don’t have enough time.”
“Who are you?” The younger Neyah asked again.
“I’m you, just a few decades older. Look, this Friday is your prom. Jackson is going to try and force sex on you.”
“I’m not ready for that. He knows, he’ll be ok.” The teen said, defiantly.
“No, he won’t. He’s going to leave you this time.”
Tears welled up in the teen’s eyes.
“Neyah, I know you’re scared. Just go through with it. Give him what he wants, or you will lead a lonely, sad life.” The grown Neyah started to lose consciousness. “Please, Neyah, just go through with…”
When Neyah awoke, she was no longer in the Hoodoo shop. She coughed, sending a wave of pain through her ribs. Her face hurt. She had a sickening, metallic taste in her mouth.
When she heard his voice, she flinched uncontrollably.
“Don’t you EVER sass me again like that, you hear me?!” Jackson screamed at her.
He kicked her in her stomach once more, then stormed out of the room, slamming the door.
Hot tears stung Neyah’s eyes. She wished she had heeded the old woman’s warning.