This week’s word prompt: shell.

Please post your 200 words (no more!) by clicking the comments link at the bottom of this post, keeping in mind The Rules.  Next Sunday evening 7/7/13, last week’s winner Joe Cool will read the entries and select a winner.

[Click the comments link below to read entries and discussion.]


11 thoughts on “shell

  1. Gone. It was not an internally verbalized explicit thought, but a pervasive mood; a tough, stringy carapace that confined him.

    Mac&Cheese. Pushing through to the task at hand, he saw the row of carts. The free wipe dispenser condemned him with its stare. She always used them, he thought they were stupid. But now…would she “have wanted him to”? He resolved the dillemma by grabbing a basket (wondering why, if wipes were so important, there were never any free wipes inside by the stack of baskets?)

    Gone. Not “dead,” not anymore. That shock came and went with the phone call and the frantic hospital and the practiced speech of the doctor. “Unfortunately due to the extensive nature of her injuries we were not able to sustain her I’m sorry for your loss.” Now it was just gone.

    Mac&Cheese. He woke to the task at hand. He knew where the cheese was, he had seen it often enough when picking up milk. “But where’s the ‘mac’? Ah, ‘Pasta.'” He stood in the buzzing fluorescent light and the aisle stretched asymptotically in both directions. For all he knew, it kept going like the curve of the earth beyond the horizon, and closed its great circle in China. “China,” he almost chuckled, “they like noodles.” The bags of pasta went out of focus as he fell inside himself.

    Gone. He had heard of out-of-body experiences, but this was like being inside himself. Peeking out of the eye-holes of a him-shaped effigy. Or rather, remotely controlling a clone of himself, a drone clone (again he wished he could enjoy the humor), from some deep bunker far away; numbly pushing buttons and pulling levers without meaningful feedback from the outside world.

    Mac&Cheese. “Tyler wants Mac&Cheese. Who knew there were this many kinds of pasta? Here’s one that says ‘elbow macaroni’ — can that be right, so small like that? Or these ‘shells’ look bigger, and they’re on sale for $1.09. Elbows are $1.39. Down one salary, need to cut back. But maybe the shape is wrong, if I don’t make it right… Tyler’s a good kid. He doesn’t realize yet how much he misses is mom. How much he’s going to be messed up from only having one parent. Only me.”

    Gone. This was inane, standing here in the grocery store choosing noodles, when she is gone! He needed to do something, or at least he needed something he could do. But the only quest Tyler could offer was dinner.

    Mac&Cheese. He grabbed a bag, flopped it in the basket. Heading for the cheese, he walked past the bright blue and orange boxes that mutely called out, Kraft!

    1. I know it’s way too long. But I thought of it, I wrote it out, and I’m not sure I can cut it. Not in half. But now that it’s writ, I gotta stick it somewhere! I hope you enjoy it.

      1. Long but awesome. Wow. You teased out the conclusion right at the beginning but the follow through left nothing wanting. Fantastic.

        1. Thanks muchly. Reading again, it needs editing (repetition of “task at hand” and “inside himself” is accidental, not artful). But if I cut it by more than half, it would only be a shell of its former self…

      2. I love it! There is always that tension with the mundane, when death leaves its mark and messes with ….everything.

    2. if wipes were so important, there were never any free wipes inside by the stack of baskets?

      I was at the grocery store a few days ago, and I actually saw a guy wiping down the handles of a basket…

  2. Dad was furious when they asked if he wanted to remove the life support. One moment he was blank, staring, grey. The next he was railing at the medical staff.

    “How can you ask me to kill my own wife?” He roared, almost stifling the beeping of the monitors.

    They tried to explain that it wouldn’t be killing. Hiding behind their clipboards, they spouted facts and figures. Mother became a statistic. They called it mercy. Release.

    Dad threw their words back with added poison. A nurse fled to call security, perhaps worried he’d start to throw things too.

    He didn’t.

    The anger left as quickly as it came. Dad seemed to lose control of his muscles, sinking into the chair beside mother’s bed. His face slackened. One calloused hand scrubbed at his eyes to no avail. Tears traced the maze of folds the years had made of his cheeks.

    I couldn’t comfort him. He was clinging to my mother’s life. He wouldn’t see what the doctors had tried to explain. Her life was already gone. What remained was a husk. Only machines kept it from recognisable death.

    I knew. Mum was dead. In the bed was just a shell.

    1. Thx for this entry Lady, it’s interesting that you and I chose flipsides of the coin to examine; you saw ‘shell’ in death itself, and I looked at the survivor. That’s what’s so cool about Write200, seeing how everybody comes up with a perspective on a word that makes me think again.

  3. Before the Dark

    They gave me my uniform, a gun and a gas mask, and I thought, “This is reality.”
    They sent me to the trenches. None of warfare’s grandeur was here, just a cesspool filled with blood and garbage and some humans. I climbed in, and started crawling along like a terrified mole. “This is reality now,” I thought or perhaps said. Night or something like it had surrounded us, and a primitive horror came over us all. Men wearing almost no clothing ran along the trenches shrieking and waving their arms. Then there was a long whistle, followed by a whimper of silence. The shell burst overhead, a sparkle of fireworks. And that is when Unreality began.

    1. Now that’s a (perfectly reasonable) use of ‘shell’ that didn’t even occur to me — I couldn’t even figure out where you were going until the end! Good job!

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