What If? 79 – It’s All In Your Head

Time to get back on the horse. Break’s over.

Avoid the obvious cliches (“heart jumped”) when describing strong emotional reactions, find new ways to describe physical sensations, new images.

Exercise: write 3 paragraphs: fear, anger, pleasure, avoiding cliches and the usual emotional indicators.

Was it a sound that woke her? Probably, though it could be just the end of a nasty dream, all tangled in webs or stabbed in the belly button, thesewere things that might have caused the pounding heart, the dry mouth, the buzzing in the ears. The urgency to hold still; not even to breathe, lestsome intruder nearby sense she had awakeded and would now need to slaughter her to remain undiscovered. She concentrated: slowly in, slowlyout, pay no attention to the lungs screaming for more air, they are reacting to adrenaline and if the mind can find a safe place, it will pass. But agulp is necessary, tongue thick with old saliva as the glands shut down. Maybe I can just move a little, it will be like I am rolling over in my sleep, she believes so in the intruder she tailors her actions to him. The tremors are too much, though, and cramps force her legs to straighten, her feet to flatten, and she knows she has failed and deserves to die.

“I know what I’m doing.”
Not much of an offense, just an offhand statement. And looking back on it, I realized he might’ve meant no harm, just that he was trained and I wasn’t and that’s why he could set up the machine and I couldn’t. But at the time, I heard my brother’s voice sneering at me, my joystick impotent against his (he had five years on me, after all): “I know what I’m doing!” followed by a gleeful cackle. I went from pleasant housewife to deranged maniac in a matter of seconds. That feeling, the curling heat in my chest, the clench of fists, the grit of teeth, and then the words, oh, what words, the poor kid (and he was a kid) never knew what hit him as I unloaded my inner eight-year-old’s helplessness, shame, incompetence, on him, and saw the look on his face change from bored just-doing-my-job to almost – almost – fear, that almost my one regret, that even though he was on my territory, even though he was wrong and I was the customer and I was, to any observer, out of my mind, I still could not have that much of an effect. That’s when the pressure started, like my body was containing a multi-megaton explosion, and when action was unstoppable. I think someone will understand that, won’t they?

She didn’t want to touch the chicken – cold, wet, sticky, salmonellous- but it was required for baking that it be slathered with butter. And what a surprise. Once she got her hands dirty, she knew they would get no dirtier so she might as well slather the hell out of it, get that butter tinged with garlic and onion and lime and salt all the way into those nooks and crannies, under the skin, over the skin, inside outside around up down, and the butter melted with the heat of her hand and the surface of the skin warmed, and she slid her hands over slippery surface and glided back and forth, feeling plump flesh curve into her palms and pushed her flavored fatty fingers between skin and meat and knew this, this would be one helluva chicken, juicy, tender, a little sweet, a little salty, not the kind of chicken they mean when they talk about what strange meat tastes like (Oh, armadillo? Tastes just like chicken!) but a pullet of moist flavor and gluttinous taste, nourishment for soul and stomach, a chicken a man would remember the next day, the next week, whenever he drove by her street or walked past her office, for years to come.
(hmmm… I don’t think this is exactly what they had in mind, but who cares)

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