In Fiction, Writing on May 4, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Standing in that room was like standing inside a giant collapsing lung.  The plastic sheets billowed in from the wooden frame, suffused with pink, organic light, rounded like alveoli by the gusts of a heavy wind.  The sheets cracked like tiny bones fracturing in the pressure of deep water.  Outside, the sea sifted into the pebbles along the shore and sucked at the spaces between the rocks, drowning breaths, though far away and out of sight.

He hadn’t seen the body himself but the coroner’s report had been conclusive, and now – well, now the renovations seemed unnecessary.


This story is my response Madison Woods Friday Fictioneers prompt (the picture, from her blog, is the prompt). Check out the other stories (including Madison’s) and submit your own on the comments page!

Between this one and last week’s, I really think I need to take a more positive approach to the next prompt. Feedback and other stories welcome below!

  1. Very nice, pulled me right in with your intrigue. Here is mine enjoy

    • Thanks! Yours really drew me in too – there’s a sinister undercurrent, and it makes me wonder what the mystery child’s idea of “play” is. Great job.

  2. Good stuff – I wasn’t entirely sure about the medical imagery at first but in retrospect it works well in the context of the whole piece. Only thing I might suggest doing differently is the single sentence with the bone analogy; it doesn’t quite fit, I think it’s because “the pressure of deep water” seems awkwardly phrased. At the same time, I can’t think of a good way to rework it.

    • Thanks! And I appreciate the thoughtful comment. I see what you mean, and can definitely see room for reworking a bit of the structure in that first paragraph.

  3. Incredibly graphic descriptions here, I could almost feel myself struggling for breath here. Nice one.

    • Thanks Sandra – I think a lot of us went a metaphorical/double meaning route with this week’s prompt. Your idea of ‘papering over’ the imperfections in a family struck me as particularly apt. Nice!

  4. Loved the lung analogies, the descriptors were wonderfully vivid. Impressive work.

    Here’s mine:

  5. That first paragraph is full of fantastic descriptive work, well done.

    Mine is nearly 200 words this week:

  6. I wonder if the house was ever more than a metaphor for his body.

    Well done.

    Here’s mine:

  7. Did he kill her? Seems he’s breathing a sigh of relief that the body was found but no tell-tale signs of murder. He’s probably smiling smugly that he no longer has to finish the work. I’d like to know more of this backstory–I bet it’s a good thriller.


    • Thanks for the comment! I actually hadn’t thought that, though that would be a dark turn. I was going more for a mood of paralysis, hopelessness – that the future doesn’t really hold much of worth (you know, a real spirit lifter).

  8. I feel bad for him it seems like his future is lost to him with her loss. The sentence may be helped if you add a similar noise. I saw what you were going for though
    Were you trying to infer her drowning and being pregnant? Try under the pressure instead of in.Just a suggestion. I think the imagery was perfect.

    • I was trying actually for the idea that the loss was a child (tiny bones being the only hint though), And yeah, I’ve been playing with under/in so I hear where you’re coming from on that!

  9. Well, the imagery is cracking, and for me provides a sort of warped filter over what the character is feeling. We know it’s bad but like a slow, slow camera reveal we don’t know until the last second how bad.

  10. This certainly calls for some back story, I’d say. Nice twist on the picture.


    • Thanks Susan – I like to hold some things back, ha – but hopefully it’s not too oblique? I’m going for intrigue, not confusion.

  11. We have been having a run of obliqueness in our stories today, but yours seemed pretty fleshed out – and your descriptions were breath taking. Not too oblique, but I had to rewrite mine to make it less cryptic. Very good offering.

  12. Interesting. I’m very intrigued by this piece. As a nurse, I enjoyed the analogy you used. Good stuff.

    My linky:

    • Thanks – I’m glad things come across as at least vaguely medically accurate ha. I really enjoyed yours – it was just very emotionally solid.

  13. Dear Pinion,

    I loved the imagery and the slow, almost dreamlike way the story unfolded. Also loved the sounds of the sea you wove into the piece. Well done.



  14. I love your discriptive imagery. Is there medicine in your background? Great story.

    • Thanks sheila — no medicine in my background, but in my family so I’ve heard a bit I suppose. I appreciate the comment!

  15. “…like tiny bones fracturing in the pressure of deep water” and “…now the renovations seemed unnecessary.” two great lines in a beautiful piece well done!

  16. I liked the description of the outside better than the pictured setting. I loved the metaphor, but I had a hard time relating the pictured setting with what you were trying to paint in our minds.

    Did you just present a number of metaphors into the description in hope it would tie together? I had to read it through a few times. Then I read the last paragraph again and supposed the description was maybe related. Was it supposed to tie together?

    There probably a rearrangement of the text that can clarify that if so. If not, I like those descriptive sentences on their own, but together and with the picture… I didn’t quite add them up.

    • Hi and thanks for the comment!
      The metaphor is supposed to all be one metaphor — the collapsing lungs, the bones cracked in deep water, the ‘drowning breaths’ — they all tie to the final paragraph and the fact that someone has drowned. His interpretation of the space is colored by what he’s actually thinking about, which we don’t find out until the last paragraph.

  17. Definitely a very graphic and gritty feel to this piece. I like it! 😀

  18. Ah, ‘the coroners report had been conclusive’, was it homicide, suicide, natural death… I just want to know more!
    I loved the illusion of the ocean.
    mine is here:

  19. I like the juxtaposition of the imagery and similes at the beginning, with the the matter-of-fact statement at the end. Nice!

  20. I like your use of body imagery, particularly the part about the “collapsed lung”.

  21. The last line was completely unexpected – a wonderful story!

  22. I loved the metaphors and want to know more about the person standing in the room. Was it a carpenter, friend, loved one?

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