Home » Creative writing » Entanglement — Part Ten

Entanglement — Part Ten


Photo by Jim (jaytay) via Flickr

Previous installments of Entanglement can be found by clicking Home on the header menu and scrolling down. If you haven’t begun the series and would like to, here’s a shortcut to Part One.

The day before, as Aliss searched her mind (and a haunting movie) for clues to missing time, facts, and explanations for feelings she couldn’t make sense of, she had craved the surety of self-rule. Trembling on the floor now with uncomfortable, incomplete answers, she pieced together a different opinion of impending clarity, shocked at the ugliness in her that it seemed to reflect. “How could I forget Hugh?” she thought. “Why would I forget any of this?”

Aliss thought better of Miller’s unwitting misdirection, the sight of him, his questions, his small talk, every bit of the anchor she thought she’d seen in him that had threatened to slow her down, stop her, make her forget the things she wanted to decide for herself and decisions she believed she’d made. Being led around by an attraction to Miller seemed even more preferable now to wading through whatever revelation came next.

Guilt from these thoughts wrapped around her like a vise, allowing doubt to invade her core. Perhaps her mind wasn’t the best place to incubate plans for the future and devise a key to employ them. This darkness seeped in, familiar yet indistinct, reaching deep like an old struggle, particulars faded, constriction still strong. Comfortable at the edges, chilling inside — giving up control this way felt like a cunning trap. She wondered how it felt so awful and safe at the same time, then snatched the question back for fear of the answer.

As pieces of her life lurched back into view, she realized she hadn’t called or tried to see her mother, Carlene, in months. The shock of this made her headache worse, twisting her stomach at the same time. It was too important a thing to have forgotten, but she hadn’t dug out the reason why. Instead, another memory came, as if her new present could only be built with the tiniest threads of the past stretched one by one over the bones of the woman she’d been yesterday.


Carlene’s boyfriends had each sounded different when they fought with her. One’s voice grew higher as their arguments escalated, until he squeaked. One punctuated details of every complaint by emphasizing the ends of words, slamming his fist on tables or walls, stomping his feet on the floor. One kept his voice so low that Aliss only knew he was being mean when Carlene’s voice rose. “What did you say to me?” she might yell or, “You just don’t have a soul, do you?”

When Carlene and Randy fought, their voices were loud but so even that Aliss would get sleepy as she listened to them. Dozing off and on, late into one particular evening, she remembered how their venomous tones had become background to her dreams.

She was awake when they’d stopped and Carlene came to her room, as usual instead of theirs, after the fight. She slipped under the covers, back to her daughter, to lie along the edge of the girl’s bed, heavier than stone. Aliss patted her mother’s shoulder. “You’ll be okay, Mama,” she said.

Carlene’s voice was cold. “You should be asleep.”

Aliss withdrew her hand fast, staring at Carlene’s dark hair tumbled across the pillow and shining in the streetlight flooding through the window. Urgent plans to clean her room and make toast for Carlene’s breakfast took shape in Aliss’s mind, comforting her, the best fixes a little girl could come up with. When it was time to try again, she rolled on her side and rubbed Carlene’s back slow and steady. Without a word, Carlene softened, and Aliss fell asleep curled into the small of her mother’s back.


Aliss shuddered as another awful feeling crept over her and took hold.


10 thoughts on “Entanglement — Part Ten

  1. You got some interesting comments on the last post, but I’m not sure that I agree with them (about introducing magic sooner etc).

    These are quite short instalments and depending on how you want to present a finished version, it is reading fine to me so far. I don’t like everything all at once, it is nice to get into a story and feel you have some idea about characters, plot, issues, rather than having it all in your face too quickly.

    It’s only when it is finished that you can truly decide what worked and what didn’t. IMO.

    • Thank you so much for this comment. I was thinking about the impulse I have to tell everything when I write a story, yet when I read one or watch a movie, I love the element of suspense that carries me along and makes me breathe harder. (I only hate it when the reasons for everything aren’t ever made clear, as in the TV series, Lost.) I’ve been trying to let this story unfold in a logical, real-life sort of way and keep my impulse to spill the beans in check. Still, it’s good to hear when a reader feels more aggravation than suspense as the story moves along.

      I’m glad to hear that it’s reading fine to you so far. I hope it doesn’t run off the rails for you, but I definitely want to hear about it if it does. 🙂

      Thanks for reading it. 🙂

  2. Rough season has an excellent point about it only being clear at the end what worked and didn’t 🙂 I love the way the relationship with Miller is developing here, and of course now that magic HAS been introduced, I want to know how it’s going to play into these memories. I particularly like this line “She wondered how it felt so awful and safe at the same time, then snatched the question back for fear of the answer.” I did get a little lost in Aliss’s head as she was writhing in the agony of self understanding here. I couldn’t quite piece together what she remembered before the part where she hadn’t called Carlene. I was good after that realization triggered a specific childhood memory, but I couldn’t tell if she was struggling through a specific memory with Hugh, perhaps a good one to cause, “Why would she want to forget” to cross her mind. (Or is she still thinking about the childhood scene where she taught Hugh how to go between above)?

    In any case, I’m really enjoying this!

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying this despite the touches that feel too heavy-handed for you.

      In the beginning of this installment, I was trying not to talk about Aliss’s thoughts and feelings in an ‘explaining them to the reader’ way. I wanted each thought to be one that she was actually having. I’ve gotten feedback in the past about how much inserted pronouncements take a reader out of a story. (They do that to me, too, of course, but when one is writing, it’s easy to believe that sort of thing needs to be in there. 🙂 ) What I was trying to convey was Aliss’s thoughts on having just remembered knowing Hugh as a friend since childhood, and having already known on some subconscious level that he might not be trouble.

      If you had just realized for sure that you’d been suffering from amnesia and completely forgot a friend (and a shocking ability), wouldn’t you be creeped out and feeling guilt about the forgetting, and wondering if there’s a reason for the forgetting that you might not really want to know? Psychologically speaking, wouldn’t the weight of the reason still be there, just under the surface, causing some indistinct agony?

      As always, thanks for reading this, Jessie, and for feedback that helps me think.

  3. LadySparks,
    Your beautiful writing is appointed reading time for me. Because I want to give your writing as much attention as you put into it, I’ll be reading the entire series, from Part One, at an appointed time very soon. I look forward to commenting thoroughly then. Just want you to know that, my friend. 🙂

    • I understand how busy you’ve been lately, Ms. Empress. Plus I’ve noticed that friends with kids have a lot less time for themselves in the summer. It feels good to know you plan to read this story at all. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  4. All I can say is, I feel a strange mixture of fear and anticipation when I get an email that the next part is up. Your writing is magical for me, in the sense that it evokes tangents and thought processes related to what you articulate (even though this is fiction, there is something very real about it)
    In any case, I find that I read each installment once, and then again….to make sure I haven’t missed any nuances. And I love the feedback and your responses!

    • I’m grateful that this feels real to you, Munira. That’s the nicest thing anyone could say. It’s what I’m after here.

      And I’m glad you’ve found the comments interesting. For me they sometimes feel like riding a little roller coaster. 🙂

  5. Some pieces in the family jigsaw fitting in. What I get from this installment is that I see the refined use of your techniques you use in your micro-stories. That’s how it read it me – and I’m enjoying it.

    • Thanks, Al. I had to remind myself to use what I’ve learned as this story goes on. I’m glad you’re seeing that kind of progress and that you’re enjoying it. 🙂 Thanks for letting me know.

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