Visions of Red

Her mother’s accusations sliced through her misery like a surgeon’s blade. She leaped down the last two steps of the staircase listening to the charges behind her, “You killed him! You killed him!”

There were no streamers wrapped around the rails of the banister, or balloons scattering when she whisked through the foyer. There was no evidence of wadded gift paper, bows, or ribbon. There weren’t sixteen candles with icing licked dry from the ends,  not even a Happy Birthday banner with her name, Krista, scrawled across its face.

She grabbed the keys from the entry table and tugged the vault heavy door open with both hands. Needles of chills stabbed through her thin cotton shorts and t-shirt when she flew out onto the porch of the brownstone and into the rain-washed San Franciscan evening.

Fear whistled through her veins as she stumbled onto the narrow brick path. Krista’s emotional state stung worse that her scrapped knees. With unforgiving determination, she sprung to her feet and whipped open the squeaky iron gate. The shrill of her mother’s persistent cries neared, “You killed him! You killed him!”

Sprinting around her father’s Corvette parked alongside the curb, Krista noticed the silhouette of a hooded person and canvas covered shopping cart under a dim lit lamp post across the street. It was the same man who had peered up through her third story window for as long as she could remember. He exuded an energy of comfort and solace, the only hint of love in her life.

But tonight, that energy had been washed away. The moment she had dropped the carving knife, leaving her father twisted on the second story landing, she knew her life was about to change. “Come back here you demon!” her mother screamed.

Krista brushed the wet strands of hair off her face and climbed into the car. Her mother stood in the glow of the doorway, screaming and waving gestures. The Corvette ignited into life. Before rocketing into the night, she took one last glance at the man under the lamp post and prayed for one last ray of hope.

She white knuckled the steering wheel, putting her weight on the gas pedal. Rubber spun through the water until gripping the asphalt and sling-shooting into action. Standing in the middle of the street through the rearview mirror, her mother’s fiery red hair and scorching words drowned in the faded distance. “You killed him! You killed…!”

The coffin-sized car whipped and weaved down the neighborhood street, nearly colliding with parked cars along the curb. She haggled with the steering wheel while searching for the elusive windshield wiper knob. The rapid movement of the speedometer diverted her attention. Forty…fifty…sixty.

Did I do it? How could I do something so evil? Had the abuse become more than I could handle? The event became a blur. Question after question haunted her. Out of nowhere she heard a voice. “Slow down.” She cranked her head to the passenger seat but saw no one. The disembodied voice warned again, “Slow down, Krista.”
Ridden with terror, she yelled. “Who’s there?! Who is that?!”

She brushed her spilled hair from her tearstained face and stared through the sheets of water distorting her vision through the windshield. The floorboard shuddered from the watery beating underneath the car. Water lapped the sides like wings of a mythical menacing creature cutting through the air.

Would tonight be the night her body joined her spirit that had died long ago? Where would she go, Heaven or home? She prayed for the ability to forgive, but it lay buried, dormant beneath hate and anger.

Attempting to focus, she perched her chin over the top of the steering wheel. Up ahead, an obscure red light grew larger as she neared. Larger and larger it grew. She glanced down at the speedometer. Seventy…Eighty.

I couldn’t possibly have killed my father, he loved me. He never hurt me. He was tender, his voice soothing, compassionate. The red light had become the size of a beach ball. She thrust the weight of her leg onto the brake pedal and sunk into the back of her seat. The three-hundred and seventy horse powered Corvette spun like an out of control twister in Kansas. Revolution after revolution, too many to count. A period of darkness, then the red traffic light. Over and over. Black. Red. Black. Red.

She turned the wheel as far as it would go, but the car proved relentless as it hydroplaned over the tsunami of water and into the intersection. There was nothing Krista could do when she heard the steady blast of the horn coming from an uncertain direction. The two beams of light cascading toward her added to the visual spectacle, making her nauseous.

Like the slow motion of her sixteen years, so was the impact of the two cars. Krista’s face dissolved into a contorted grimace with each sound of crunching and twisting metal. Her head jerked forward as she was catapulted from her seat. Like a rag doll, her body flew over the steering wheel, crashing through the windshield. Dime-sized shards of glass cut through her young tender skin as her body knifed through the torrential rain storm.

There were no flashes of memories racing through her mind. There was no bright light shining down to lift and carry her away. The only object she noticed was the red traffic light staring down at her as she soared through the air.

9 thoughts on “Visions of Red

  1. 10penguins says:

    Strong beginning, but I am confused about a few of things:
    – The hooded person with the canvas covered shopping cart who has been watching her is “comfort and solace, the only hint of love in her life.” How can that be?
    – She stabbed her father because of abuse, but then she says her father never hurt her.
    – I never thought of a Corvette as a “coffin-sized car.”
    – She is self-destructive and is not concerned about taking other people down with her. I have a hard time liking her.

    I like the language and the general flow of the story, but have no idea where it’s headed.

    • Rick Sherman says:

      Thanks for your input 10Penguins. I’ve noted your remarks for the rewrite and agree some revision is necessary. It’s nice to get a handle of what works and doesn’t work. I’ve already fixed the “coffin-sized car” to something more subtle. You make some good points to consider. Thanks again and I wish you luck on your story.

  2. cbowers911 says:

    I was captivated by the opening paragraph. Your opening is the best that I have read thus far including my own. I was able to connect and feel for the MC. I want to read more.

    Although it doesn’t feel like it would be, my only hope is that this is not just another story about an abused child whose parent didn’t care enough or did want to believe that abuse was occurring until it was too late.

  3. Rick Sherman says:

    haha…thanks for the compliment CB. No, it’s not a story about an abused child. The first chapter helps to set-up her character for the rest of the story. It helps to explain why she is the way she is and begins when she’s 29 years old. It’s a psychological suspense/thriller. I accidently put it in the wrong genre, but thanks for reading.

  4. Rick Sherman says:

    Thanks for your input 10Penguins. I’ve noted your remarks for the rewrite and agree some revision is necessary. It’s nice to get a handle of what works and doesn’t work. I’ve already fixed the “coffin-sized car” to something more subtle. You make some good points to consider. Thanks again and I wish you luck on your story.

  5. Julie Griffith says:

    The opening lines got my attention, and I like that there’s something exciting happening at the outset. One thing Ellen pointed out to me last year is you want to be careful to not make your protagonist sound too self-pitying. We can feel sorry for them, but it kind of backfires if they seem to feel sorry for themselves. I liked the action, and it’s easy to follow, but I feel like it needs to be polished up a bit. I got confused when she seemed to not remember if she killed her father, and talking about abuse in one part then saying he never hurt her later further confused me. The mysterious figure watching her is intriguing. You’ve set up several questions here and I would read on to find out the answers.

    • Rick Sherman says:

      Great points Julie, thanks for pointing them out. This workshop is great, it really allows us the opportunity to step back from our story and take a look at it from a different perspective with help from people like you. I don’t know about you or others, but I know exactly what I’m trying to say as if I’m in the story myself – just need to be able to communicate it properly for others…haha.

  6. chickinwhite says:

    Your voice rings strongly, and it is a very intriguing opening. But I have some issues with er flight out of her home. Though I assume you will clear it up later on, there are some logical gaps, as s.o. mentioned above:
    Abused or not abused? That is the question… 🙂
    On another note:
    “Did I do it? How could I do something so evil? Had the abuse become more than I could handle?” – this breaks the tension, for me. The sudden first person view almost pushed me out…
    But overall? Good style and intriguing writing! Go on!!

  7. Rick Sherman says:

    Chickinwhite.. thank you for reading. Yes, I’ll hit the points on my 2nd draft, thank you. I should make it clear it was her thoughts, not 1st person. Thanks for pointing that out.

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