365 WP #4: Standstill

Today’s 365 Days of Writing Prompt: For a moment today, time stands still — but you can tweak one thing while it’s stopped. What do you do?


Remember when we were young? We used to break out Dad’s old comics, the ones so worn they were practically disintegrating. We combed through the pages crammed with superheros and sinister villains. You said if you could have any power in the world, you’d have wings. I laughed: wings aren’t powers, but you didn’t care. You wanted to be strong and beautiful, like a eagle, master of the sky. You wanted to fly away from here. I didn’t laugh. Where would you go?

I never did tell you the power I wanted, I guess because I never wanted one. I wasn’t like you, I had no gift for fantasy. My imagination didn’t run marathons at the slightest hint of adventure. You were the one full of dreams of something better. When you pilled everything you owned into the trunk of that beat up Cadillac, you said you didn’t know where you were going, but I did. You’d take off down the highway and drive as far as a tank of gas would take you, then you’d drive some more, not stopping until your eyes ached with exhaustion. You’d pull over at one of those hole-in-the-wall places I was always too afraid to venture into. You thrived in those places. The cook would fill your stomach with  a hearty meal. The patrons would fill your memory with lasting impressions. At night, curled up under a ratty blanket in some fleabag motel, you’d call me to spin yarns about the sights you’d seen, the people you’d met, the hope that maybe one day, I’d join you. Then in the morning, as sunlight peaked through the broken slats in the blinds, you’d sprout wings and fly away.

You always wanted to be a strong and beautiful eagle. As you pulled out of the drive way, prized possessions locked tight in the Cadillac trunk, I wanted to yell after that you were already strong. You were already beautiful. I screamed too late. By the time you looked up to wave at me, you only had enough time to frown at my terrified face. You didn’t see the truck whipping around the highway off-ramp. You always used to say it was a stupid place to park a trailer. Now you don’t say anything.

When they loaded you into that cold black bag and carried you into the ambulance, I finally wanted a superpower. If only I could have frozen time long enough to pull you out of harm’s way. I wouldn’t have screamed and clawed at the paramedics who couldn’t save you. I wouldn’t have been deafened by the policeman’s orders as he pulled me away from your body. I wouldn’t be frozen on the rotten steps of an empty trailer, staring at the graveyard of twisted metal spattered in the blood of my strong and beautiful eagle.

If I could’ve pulled you to freedom, the truck would’ve plowed through metal and worn vinyl but left human flesh and bone unscathed. I’d still be terrified, but you’d laugh it off and restart on your journey by foot.

I’d go with you this time.

Photo from National Geographic.

As I was writing this story, I realized I use birds in many of my stories. I wonder what that means…

Also, I learned how to put horizontal lines in my posts. How did I not know how to do that before?



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