Passage From a Novel

Read on for a short fiction nugget, a passage from a novel I wrote which I stumbled across recently and thought might be a nice bit of description by itself.  Would it be a prose poem?  I don’t really know what a prose poem is (anyone who knows please comment and tell me?). 

Also check out my Day Zero Project tab at the top of the page if you haven’t already.  And information about having a free critique of a piece of your writing is here – other news – you can see my latest photographs here, and tomorrow another of my published stories is posted at Fiction 365, which is a great website which posts a new story every day! The story is called Neighbours and is part of a story about a Thai Bride who moved to Manchester to live with a less than savoury fella.  Oh and here’s my favourite photo taken in the last seven days, a building in Spinningfields in Manchester, a panorama of five shots stitched together using hugin software.

Fiction –

I remember standing outside a fire house with my mother – in New York during a summer vacation.  There was an alarm ringing.  I watched heavy men mill around their truck with practiced precision.  Their boots slapped the concrete floor of the garage fronting right onto the sun-hot blacktop.  Mom held my hand tight; she wouldn’t let me go any further.  I remember so clearly the soapy water swirling over the cracked paving.  They had been washing their engine before the alarm began.  Soapy, grimy streams which had become cloaked in city dust, swamped – skinned like cooled lava – to the gutter.  I dipped my shoe in and wiped a streak across the pale ground. 

‘Is there a fire?’ I asked my mom.                 

‘There must be somewhere.  They’ll put it out and make sure no one gets hurt,’ she replied.

The essence of the memory, the reoccurring dream, as I lie here in my hospital bed, decades having past – is how I felt with her then.  Immortal. 

To be perpetually roaming and forever adventuring with my mom.  Life had seemed so perfect and the world such a safe place full of hidden playgrounds and toyshops. 


I remember wanting to touch the fire truck – its dripping just-washed chrome – as it trundled out onto the sidewalk and smoothly joined the hum of the avenue.  But my mom’s grip was tight and warm.  The firemen’s faces seemed so focused, I remember feeling proud.  I was sure that wherever there was a fire it was doomed to be extinguished, its days were numbered.  I watched the vacuum left by them, the dark cavern.  Mom’s hand loosened.  I stepped towards the empty space, trespassing, smelling the oil and exhaust.  Then like a reprimand the siren on the engine wailed from further down the avenue near the intersection.  I jumped back.  I was six or seven maybe. 

A fire somewhere had been defeated by the rubber-coated, giants.  A fire crackling and popping.  Fire…overcoming, overwhelming – dripping from the ceiling in droplets of melted plastic like burning rain.  Its smoke like liquid – running and drenching.

I wake in the night, burning up, dreaming of fire, gasping for air.  I’m desperate for a drink and my skin is blistered and stinging from the radiation. I remember being a kid, I think about it a lot.  I think about my parents, I have time to think, sitting for hours hooked up to saline and chemo drugs.  I hate to remember how I thought I didn’t need them as I got older.  How I thought I was big enough, old enough and strong enough to do everything by myself.

I no longer want to do everything by myself.





One thought on “Passage From a Novel

  1. Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? I’m guessing you probably have. I hadn’t, but then I’m not a writer. I just read a cool post about the 50,000 words in 30 days challenge on another blog:

    There’s 11 weeks between now and when the challenge starts so Melanie is looking for fellow writers to attempt a warm up challenge to write 8 short stories between now and then. Interested?

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