What Moved Her — Three Minute Fiction

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. Because, “Base jumping has a death rate of one per every 2000; a venomous snake—Black Mamba, for example—one in 2 million bites; and each of us has a one in 3 million chance of being crushed by a piece of falling space debris while doing absolutely nothing.”
Or so said Claire’s counselor one Thursday afternoon, during her weekly online Agoraphobe Support group meeting, while leading a discussion of risk-averseness, which also included references to Bernie Madoff and unpasteurized dairy products. As Claire assessed events she deemed unrelated to her reality, open beside her was the referenced text: “Fears: Real and Imagined,” a book she approached with trepidation due to its confusing subtitle.”
As she was considering the imminence of death and the many forms in which it might come to her, a splash, followed by gasps entered Claire’s subconscious. It was the part of her that was least afraid according to Sigmund F. Johnson, the author of the aforementioned book of Fears, even though Claire sensed her subconscious was as frightened as the rest of her, probably more so for all the terrifying synaptical activity which never surfaced to her full awareness, but which she nevertheless knew was happening every time her chest ached.
The splashes had to be those of Dierdra, a self-described shut-in of vertical, rather than horizontal dimension, who brought her iPad into the bathroom—camera function disabled, thankfully—and took baths while in session, her fears, she claimed, reduced by the proximity of warm water.
Then, from somewhere through the closed window—nowhere near her aging laptop, which surely must be killing her with radioactive isotopes—came more splashes and a cry that sounded like, “Help.” Well, of course we all need help, Claire thought, for she was not one to muse. But then it sounded again and up from the fascia and nerves and sacs and spaces inside her, came a reaction even she could not have expected: What is the death rate for saving a life? Shocking to her, yes, that she was even contemplating a move so bold her group leader might try to stop her had her computer not needed a restart. But how to talk herself out of it—this idea; the Book of Fears had no answer and yet her heart was still, not clutching at the rest of her, nor demanding that she remain inside looking out.
Then, with the certainty of those who know death is coming—possibly from salmonella, possibly from something bigger than us all—Claire’s was a conviction she hadn’t felt since before she’d closed her door all those years ago when love went bad and bad got worse. Now, there was no reason to stay when the rewards of going were so great, so immediate.
It was the kid. He’d frightened her once, maybe more. His wildness, so disturbing as she watched him circle the pool on his scooter—terrifying object—yet now the vortex had pulled him in, alone and in need; his caregiver—what a silly term, like unreasonable fears—nowhere in sight. Her fear of watching his death was greater than her own to prevent it and with that, she not only closed the book, but tossed it aside, flung open the door and went through it.

3 thoughts on “What Moved Her — Three Minute Fiction”

  1. Wow! Left me wanting more, please. There are some beautifully written sentences in there. “Then, with the certainty of those who know death is coming__”. That’s a particular favorite of mine. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Liz. And you’re so welcome. Perhaps I will get to the Agoraphobic chronicles after the Muff chronicles and Sugar chronicles. In the meantime, I really appreciate your kind words.

  2. You have style, Anna, and continuity with your strong voice and compelling, quirky characters. Your writing always makes me respond, esp here with the “confusing subtitle.” Where are you submitting this?

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