Rolling in the Deep – Speakeasy #161

Ominous clouds...(since I can't locate any ominous shadows!)
Ominous clouds…(since I can’t locate any ominous shadows!)

Paulina struggled to untangle herself from the satin sheet. Perspiration beaded along her hairline as she gulped air and flailed her limbs.

Her neighbor freed her legs and she tumbled from the bed, landing in a heap on the floor. “Did you have another nightmare?”

After several minutes, her labored breathing slowed enough for her to talk. “It wasn’t a dream. Robbie was here.

“That’s impossible.” He stretched across the bed and rubbed her shoulder as she huddled on the ground. “Didn’t you say she died of anaphylaxis years ago?”

“She was my best friend.  It was my fault,” she whispered. Whether awake or asleep, guilt always managed to worm its way into her psyche.

“You had no way of knowing the gravy contained nuts. No one could’ve guessed.”

“I need to go for a run.” Paulina scrambled to her feet and headed to the closet, her bare feet slapping on the hardwood floor. Her nightie dropped to her ankles and she pulled a sports bra over her head.

“Why don’t you come back to bed and try a different workout?”

She glanced over her shoulder. Though tempted by his teasing smile, she held firm. “I’m suffocating. I need fresh air.”

“I’ll wait right here.”

She pulled on jogging shorts and grabbed her running shoes and socks. “Maybe you should go home.” She kissed his forehead. “See ya.”

*****

After fifteen minutes, Paulina slowed to a stroll. She fought to catch her breath. Is this how Robbie felt?

“Yes.”

Paulina stopped and looked over her shoulder for the source of the voice. The only people around congregated near a group of children playing soccer. No one paid her any mind. She shook her head and continued to a park bench to rest.

Once seated, she leaned over and dropped her head between her knees. Her heart thudded against her breastbone with such ferocity, she half-expected the bone to crack. She tried to soothe her panic, but once again, her thoughts drifted to Robbie. Did her heart feel like it would explode?

“It hurt worse than knowing your best friend betrayed you.”

Paulina’s eyes widened.

“You pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow.”

“R-R-Robbie?” Paulina’s stomach churned and nausea crept upward. “It can’t be.” The clouds shifted, casting an ominous shadow on the ground. A prickling sensation inched up her left arm.

“I’ve waited six years, six months and six days. The man-beast promised the time would come. I’d begun to doubt and thought I’d been betrayed again, but indeed, he planted the seed of guilt and fed it until it flourished.”

“I-I couldn’t go through with our plan.  It didn’t feel right.”

“We almost had it all. We could’ve had it all.

“Robbie, I’m sorry.  I feared you’d go through with it anyway, so I added crushed cashews to the gravy.  It was an impulsive move that I regret.” Paulina covered her face with her hands to hide her tears. “I miss you so much!”

“Me too.”

The sun shone through the clouds again. Paulina felt her guilt ease into a peace she hadn’t felt in years. She rested her back on the bench, lightheaded- almost giddy. She felt a pinch on her arm, followed by an intense burning sensation coursing through her veins. Her throat tightened and panic rose.

“I forgive you, but I made a deal that can’t be undone.”

Paulina tried to form words.

“Her lips are blue!” A shrill voice shouted. “Call 9-1-1!”

She felt breath slide down her throat and compressions on her chest. The sun’s brightness became more intense. For an amount of time she couldn’t gauge, she basked in the radiating heat. Then, she heard a man’s voice announce, “time of death: 8:53 AM; anaphylaxis.”

Is this how Robbie felt?

This time, she had no answer.

 ~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly prompt, which is to write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 644) (1) using “The clouds shifted, casting an ominous shadow on the ground.” anywhere in the piece, AND (2) making some kind of reference to the music prompt, which is Adele’s Rolling in the Deep.  Oh, and as an added challenge, it’s the last week of “family-free” writing, which means no family relationships.

The challenge is open to anyone, so if you’re curious, click the badge below to check out the guidelines and link your own story!

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52 thoughts on “Rolling in the Deep – Speakeasy #161

  1. BCIJo (aka Joanne Edith) May 13, 2014 / 3:25 AM

    Fascinating! I want more of the back story. I guess forgiveness came at a steep price. As usual, your writing blew me away, almost as much as your photo.

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 8:09 AM

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story, Joanne! This was my umpteenth attempt at a story this week (seriously, I lost count of the scrapped ideas.) Thanks so much for reading. I see you’ve posted a response to the prompt – I’m hoping to catch up on reading tonight (after my son’s final soccer game!)

  2. tnkerr May 13, 2014 / 4:18 AM

    Ominous, indeed. I was on the edge of my seat. Thanks for putting this one out there.

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 8:10 AM

      Wow, thanks, Tnkerr! I’m glad it held your interest.

  3. atrm61 May 13, 2014 / 5:24 AM

    Ooh,how intriguing!Wonder what their plan was and why Paulina changed it at the last moment? Guilt is a heavy burden to bear and I think Paulina paid more than her share-poor girl!Now,the man-beast needs a look see 😉 A great tale as always Janna-I haven’t even started thinking 😛

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 8:12 AM

      I purposely left the details of the their failed plan sketchy because I felt it wasn’t needed for the story (and readers could probably imagine a better scenario than I could!) I originally imagined it was a embezzlement/robbery scheme and Paulina fell in love with the target, but that would’ve obliterated the word count! I’m sure you’ll think of something, Atreyee… you always do 🙂

      • atrm61 May 14, 2014 / 1:05 AM

        Yes,the open end made me wonder and I am sure each of us will have their own version-possibly your’s and mine will be darker? ;-)I am going to try my hand after lunch-I can see a glimmer 😛

        • jannatwrites May 15, 2014 / 8:53 AM

          Could be darker indeed, Atreyee 🙂

        • atrm61 May 19, 2014 / 7:48 AM

          😀

  4. Kathy Combs (@Kathy29156) May 13, 2014 / 5:49 AM

    WOW!! This was a bit freaky but so good!! In this case her guilt consumed her…and killed her. Wild! ♥

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 8:15 AM

      You nailed what I had in mind, Kathy! This was my literal depiction of how guilt can kill us. (Robbie’s deal with the devil kind of helped Paulina’s demise along, though…) Thanks so much for taking time to read my story (and all of them, really!)

  5. clarbojahn May 13, 2014 / 6:59 AM

    Awesome! so good! I was at the edge of my seat afraid to breathe. 🙂

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 8:15 AM

      Haha, it’s funny how writing about restricted breathing seems to manifest that feeling in us 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed reading the story, Clar!

  6. Debbie May 13, 2014 / 7:23 AM

    Spectacular, Janna! I was spellbound with this one. The pacing is especially good!

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 8:17 AM

      Thanks, Debbie! I was unsure about this one (stayed up until 2am writing it since I fell behind and can’t seem to recover from the household projects last weekend.) I’m relieved that it seems to ‘work’ when fresh eyes read it.

  7. suzicate May 13, 2014 / 8:24 AM

    My response as usual to your prompt writes, “WOW”.

  8. Suzanne May 13, 2014 / 8:58 AM

    This is so good and so frightening. Anaphylaxis is terrifying. Love the way you hit the ground running (pardon the pun) and don’t let up until the end. Great take on the prompts! 🙂

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 11:20 AM

      I agree – just thinking about it makes me struggle to breathe, Suzanne! Thanks so much for reading and for your comment 🙂

  9. nrhatch May 13, 2014 / 9:09 AM

    Interesting take on the theme, as always, but you lost me with:

    “I-I couldn’t go through with our plan. It didn’t feel right.”
    “We almost had it all. We could’ve had it all.”

    What plan? And why did it require her poisoning Robbie?

    • nrhatch May 13, 2014 / 11:13 AM

      I did LOVE the ending ~ feeling the breath slide down her throat, the chest compressions, the sun’s brightness, the radiating heat, and hearing the time of death call.

      • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 11:24 AM

        Thanks, Nancy – good to know it didn’t completely lose you after the ‘sticking’ point 🙂

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 11:23 AM

      Thanks for reading and sharing your comment, Nancy. I made a couple changes in the text to clarify she did it because she feared Robbie would go through with the plan (even though Paulina chickened out) and that she regretted the impulse decision. As for what the plan was, I left that intentionally vague. Mostly because I felt it would press the word count too much to add that into the fold.

  10. M. L. Sexton May 13, 2014 / 9:28 AM

    Wow…karma’s a bitch…literally.

  11. pattisj May 13, 2014 / 12:54 PM

    As usual, you met the challenge in style. I’m curious as to what the deal was. What a tangled web you weave–with satin sheets!

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 11:36 PM

      Haha, I’ll leave the deal details to your imagination, Patty!

      • pattisj May 14, 2014 / 8:57 PM

        Oh, if you insist! 😉

  12. Tessa May 13, 2014 / 6:17 PM

    Sure made me wonder about the lead in to this story. Great story!

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 11:37 PM

      I’m sure there’s quite a history that led up to this ‘beginning’ 🙂 Thanks for reading, Tessa!

  13. Michael May 13, 2014 / 6:53 PM

    Remind me not to murder anyone with cashews. What a way to go.

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 11:38 PM

      Hey, at least she used expensive nuts (nothing but the best…)

  14. GodGirl May 13, 2014 / 7:21 PM

    I see what you mean about the guilt consuming! Great, tense, edge-of-your-seat story!

  15. diannegray May 13, 2014 / 8:04 PM

    This is very intriguing, Janna. I loved the way it was written and the spookiness! 😀

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 11:39 PM

      Thanks, Dianne! It’s another off-the-wall one for me this week 🙂

  16. Eric Alagan May 13, 2014 / 8:35 PM

    Those last two lines – you built it up so very well, Janna 🙂

    Guilt can be all consuming.

    Peace,
    Eric

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 11:39 PM

      It sure can, Eric. Glad you stopped by to read it. Congrats on your Kindle book release 🙂

  17. Carol Ann Hoel May 14, 2014 / 11:01 AM

    Your originality never ceases to amaze me, Janna. Condemnation kills, and death reigns in this story in a chilling way. Also, there is usually an interesting twist to your stories. This one, also. Blessings to you…

    • jannatwrites May 15, 2014 / 8:54 AM

      Thanks for reading, Carol Ann! Sometimes my stories are more straightforward than this, but I try to avoid the obvious 🙂

  18. Silverleaf May 14, 2014 / 6:38 PM

    Stunning and terrifying! When I was done, I had completely forgotten whose story this was. Your ability to do “different” each time is so impressive.

    • jannatwrites May 15, 2014 / 8:58 AM

      Thanks for reading, Silverleaf! I’m glad my stories seem different… it’s fun to try out different styles. (Sci-fi/fantasy is a weak link, so I’ve been stretching to explore those aspects recently. Romance is an even weaker link, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to conquer that one 🙂 )

  19. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) May 14, 2014 / 9:57 PM

    I really want to know what their plan was.. Collective suicide? Yes then I understand the betrayal, the murder.. And the going through with the plans,

    • jannatwrites May 15, 2014 / 8:59 AM

      It could be, Bjorn! Thanks for stopping by to read this one 🙂

  20. Sarah Ann May 15, 2014 / 4:56 AM

    What had they planned? Great description of the anaphylaxis – suitably uncomfortable. And great references to the man-beast and use of numbers. I want more.

    • jannatwrites May 15, 2014 / 9:03 AM

      I am so susceptible to suggesting that even writing about it makes it difficult for me to breathe, Sarah Ann! I’m glad you strung the references together… I didn’t want them to be too blatant or obvious.

  21. Leah Sakacs May 15, 2014 / 11:09 AM

    Quite an interesting tale. And the subtle hints from the prompt were well used. I do have to wonder what the plan was and why she killed her friend…I’m thinking double suicide.

    • jannatwrites May 15, 2014 / 8:17 PM

      Thanks for reading, Leah! Here, the plan is whatever you want it to be 🙂

  22. agjorgenson May 15, 2014 / 7:51 PM

    Yikes! You have bone chllling spookiness down pat.

    • jannatwrites May 15, 2014 / 8:27 PM

      Hehe, thanks, Allen… that’s rather new for me, but I do enjoy it 🙂

  23. Sandra May 24, 2014 / 3:08 PM

    This was a bit scary to read with my son’s peanut allergy! But I loved how you interpreted the prompt of *Rolling in the Deep*!

    • jannatwrites May 26, 2014 / 7:21 PM

      Thanks, Sandra! That allergy would be terrifying. Thankfully, I haven’t encountered such allergies with my children.

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