About Me

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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Flash Fiction Exchange - Walking After Midnight

This year, each month Lisa and I are going to write stories based on a Patsy Cline song title. Both our mothers loved Patsy Cline - and so do Lisa and I. There are, I think, 127 song titles to choose from but we're starting with this one - picked by Lisa and one of my favourite Patsy Cline songs. We're hoping that the titles - and the stories - will convince some of you to try a little taste of Patsy!


Walking After Midnight

She couldn't stop.

Daniella knew it wasn't safe - she wasn't safe - but each night for the past six months she'd woken up just after midnight and returning to sleep had been impossible. She'd tried everything. Pills, alcohol, meditation, music, TV - none of them worked.

She fell asleep with her head on the keyboard after lunch, fought her way through the evenings trying to stay awake until at least eleven, but even when she did manage it, she still woke up as if the earth's spinning past midnight  was her alarm clock.

After a month, Daniella felt like a zombie.

She started walking. She began by stepping out onto her oh-so-familiar street and sprinting around the block, figuring nothing would happen in her neighborhood. But it wasn't enough. She came home, went to bed and stared at the ceiling until the sun came up.

She mapped out a longer yet still safe route - around her block, over to Main Street and down to the police station, then reversed it to get home. That took about an hour at a brisk pace. Still not enough to allow her to sleep. And though she seemed to be able to get an hour or two of sleep during the day, it wasn't enough to last her through the sleepless nights.

The only time she felt good was walking. So she walked more. After a few weeks she felt safe on her extended route and made it longer. She did the route twice, then three times, then got bored with it. She added a few blocks in at each end and did that. Another few weeks and she was bored again.

Now she walked from midnight until six every morning, quartering the town. She felt great and she looked great - she'd lost weight, she'd firmed up, her skin looked pearly and sleek. Her hair lightened to an almost platinum blonde and her nails grew more quickly than she could trim them. During those six hours, Daniella felt like a new woman. Ten years younger and a thousand times more attractive.

She started to enjoy herself and contemplated applying for jobs on the graveyard shift. She got as far as updating her resume and then stopped because if she got the job she'd have to stop walking. But because she felt better each day and the lack of sleep bothered her less and less, she kept her day job and the walking.

Daniella got accustomed to being stopped by cops. It didn't happen every night, but near enough, and as the months moved past, she started telling them the things she'd noticed in her transit of the town. The lights on when they should have been off. The loud music. The sobbing. The shadowy figures lurking in parking lots. Pretty soon the cops started looking for her because she saw things they didn't.

Three times she received rewards for information leading to an arrest. After the third time, Don Sutton, the cop she saw most often, asked her to drop by to meet the Chief. "I'll pick you up at noon," he said. "Lunch, just you and me," he said and she nodded. Walking had made her more clear-headed and far more open to possibiliities. Don Sutton was a possibility she relished.

The Chief wanted to put her on the payroll. Daniella thought about it. What did she have to lose?

She was addicted to the night and she was becoming addicted to Don Sutton, who was on permanent graveyard. She had nothing to lose and everything to gain so she said yes to the Chief, yes to Don Sutton, and yes to walking.

But only after midnight.

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