Red Writing Hood: The Fourth Floor

This week’s prompt was cribbed from Dante:

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter

Quite fitting to my mood. I hit a funk yesterday afternoon and I’m not sure I’ve crawled out of it yet. (I may need to go write some purely-for-me brain candy and see if that helps.)

Here’s what bubbled up after thinking about the prompt.


Elevator Doors via Flickr


The Fourth Floor

Jack’s searching the faux flecked marble of the elevator floor. Looking for patterns. Or constellations.

He thinks he’s just found Orion when the lurch of his stomach alerts him to the elevator’s stop. The “4” above the doors flickers at him and blinks out.

Andrew, who’s been standing silent and stoic at his side up until now, shifts closer and takes his hand, grip cooler than usual, fingers damp.

The doors seem to take an abnormally long time to slide open. When they do finally split apart, Jack thinks the movement should really be accompanied by a long, low hiss. Or the serrated sing of metal. Maybe with a little somber music in the background.

But they move with the hush of well oiled mechanisms and open on a foyer that’s painted a pale cream and filled with the light of the midsummer sun.

Andrew tugs him from the elevator and Jack tilts his face toward the high ceiling and finds blue sky above him, divided by black metal beams arching like pieces of nouveau art from the top of each wall. The panes of glass set in the beams are so clear and clean, they may as well be an illusion.

There is part of him that had expected this floor to have no windows, to be full of dim light and dark wood paneling.

The darkest thing in the foyer is the directory sign on the wall in front of them.
Andrew’s staring at him, ghost of a smile on his mouth. “You were expecting something more funerary.”
Jack frowns but lets his protest die on his tongue. Instead, he raises their joined hands and places a kiss on Andrew’s knuckles.
Andrew smiles. It’s wide and bright and puts the sun to shame.  “I have a good feeling,” he says—same words he’d said to Jack 12 years ago, on the night they’d met—and he tugs Jack’s hand, “Let’s get me to my consult,” checks the directory on the wall and heads in the direction of surgical oncology. 
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13 thoughts on “Red Writing Hood: The Fourth Floor

  1. Great piece! You have an excellent ability to show and not tell! Your

    For example: “The doors seem to take an abnormally long time to slide
    open. When they do finally split apart, Jack thinks the movement should really
    be accompanied by a long, low hiss. Or the serrated sing of metal. Maybe with a
    little somber music in the background.”  This paragraph really brings home the sadness and lack of hope of your character, without you ever calling attention to the fact!

    This too: “Andrew, who’s been standing silent and stoic at his side up until now, shifts
    closer and takes his hand, grip cooler than usual, fingers damp.” – again, it shows what Andrew is feeling (nervous but brave), without telling. I think I would even take out the word “stoic” – you show his stoicism, no need for the adjective.

    Small editorial note: no apostrophe should be used when you mean “let's” as “allows” or “permits”…. ie.e. “Jack frowns but lets his protest die on his tongue.”

    🙂

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  2. I must say I had that same feeling as Jack, something was wrong, in the pit of my stomach. You've left the reader with so many questions…I really want to know what happenes to Andrew

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  3. Thank you for catching that wayward apostrophe. 🙂 I don't know where he came from.

    “I think I would even take out the word “stoic” – you show his stoicism, no need for the adjective.”

    Hm… Reading it again, I think I agree.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I appreciate it.

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  4. You set the scene so well, and I'm impressed by how well the characters are fleshed out in so few words.  I really felt like I got to know them and the basic dynamic of their relationship in a short time.

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  5. I agree with the other comments. You did a fine job of establishing their relationship in so few words. You also did a fine job of allowing me to feel his despair so the bubble of hope provided by the lightness of the doctor's office swelled up in me too.

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  6. The sense of foreboding at the beginning of this is just palpable, and I like the contrast with the sunny hallway outside the elevator.  The connection between them is clear, and the image of them facing the uncertain future together is really lovely.  I'm rooting for Andrew already, though it's clear Jack isn't hopeful about what will happen.

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  7. I love contrasts and the use of setting to help reflect mood. I think that usage can verge on cliche pretty easily, though, so I have to watch myself that I don't do it too much/too often.

    Thanks for the comment.

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