#BlogBattle is a weekly writing challenge organised by Rachael Ritchey. You can find more information about it here. It’s a fun battle, and a supportive group – a great place to hang out! The theme this week is ‘DISTANCE’
Just a quick note before I begin. For those who’ve been following along with my story a day, I’m taking a break from Missing, but the story will return tomorrow.
Barry looked down into Phoebe’s face and felt a wave of longing. It was sweet agony to see her again, even if it was merely a dream. He knew it to be a dream because the lucidity of it was unmistakable. He also knew because had had been sharing secret conversations with her for months.
For a man with an eidetic memory, he needed an outlet and, for Barry, that outlet was to dream. He didn’t understand it, and he no longer questioned it. His mind replayed and stored an endless stream of information so, when he slept, he was able to process and analyse his reaction to the day’s events. It was a coping strategy, the reason he could start afresh in the morning without being weighed down by the past.
Phoebe started appearing in his dreams the day she left. Now their conversations were a habit, a part of his conscience with which he could interact.
With a jolt of recognition, Barry felt the change to his psyche which signalled the onset of a different dream. He waited for Phoebe’s face to disappear, for the scene to change. Something he could never control. But the scene didn’t change, not completely.
He stared into Phoebe’s eyes and saw the shadow of pain and fear at the same moment his hands settled around her throat. Her face wavered when his mind balked at the concept of hurting her. Except he wasn’t the one hurting her. He was someone else now, and if his history was any indication, this was a premonition.
“No!” Barry threw himself from the dream, unable to watch as the thick, meaty hands of her attacker began to squeeze. In the vision, he had been the attacker, and the idea of it sent him into a blind panic.
He barely gave himself a minute to control the frantic beating of his heart before he was reaching for the phone and dialling. The long distance ring tone grated along frayed nerves.
Pick up. Pick up.
She normally answered on the fourth of fifth ring. He counted them in his head; his anxiety growing with each separate sound; seven, eight, nine.
Everything stilled inside him when he heard her voice. It took a moment to find his. “Yeah, it’s me.” He could understand her confusion, now that he was thinking clearly. In his panic he hadn’t considered the time, in fact, he hadn’t thought about the distance at all.
“What is it? Has something happened?”
“No, nothing happened. Can’t I get the urge to ring you without there being a national emergency?”
“Not when you sound like a cat on a hot tin roof.” There was a beat or two of silence. “And your urges don’t usually strike at three in the morning.”
“Who’s to say which urges strike at this hour?”
She laughed, a husky sound that belonged in the bedroom. “I walked right into that one. I’ve missed you, Irish.”
I missed you too.
“Yeah, it’s been a while.”
“Almost twelve months.”
The chuckle made him smile. “Come on, you know you want to say it.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“And I have the patience of a saint. Just do it…ball park figure.”
He snorted at that, relaxing into the game. “Forty-three weeks, fifteen hours, nine minutes and…twenty-two seconds.”
Phoebe chuckled. “Ah, but I’m in a different time zone-”
“Do you really want me to talk about time and relativity?”
“Honey, I could listen to that voice all day long, but I’m between jobs so you’re going to have to cut to the chase.” It disarmed him.
“I had a dream.”
“You’ll have to be more specific.” She lowered her voice. “Was I in this dream?”
Her face flashed into his mind, her bulging, startled eyes. “You could say that.”
“Then tell me.”
He did, though his throat wanted to swallow the words. When he was through, he had to ride the long and agonising silence that followed.
“I’m fine, Barry. I get why you called, but I’m okay.” More silence, silence he knew he was supposed to fill. “Listen to me. I’ll be home in two weeks and you can see for yourself.”
“You don’t understand, Phoebe. I have the image in my head, and it felt like me. For a second it felt like me.” He blew out a breath. “I know they weren’t my hands, but-”
“You think it’s a future event, and that someone wants to hurt me.” Her voice held no judgement.
“I don’t know. I joined the scene a little late and I jumped straight back out again.”
“Okay, how about this. I promise I’ll be careful and stay away from men with suspicious looking hands.”
“It’s not funny.”
“No, it’s not, and I’m sorry it freaked you out. I know you, Irish and once you’ve analysed things you’ll figure it out.”
Barry nodded, though she couldn’t see him. “You’re right. I just needed to hear your voice, that’s all.”
“Then I’ll call when I get home and we’ll figure it out together. Get some sleep. I’m fine, I promise.”
He relaxed. “I’ll talk to you soon, Red.”
That made her laugh, as he’d known it would. He could hear the indecision in her voice. She wouldn’t go until he told her it was okay.
Barry stared at the ceiling when she disconnected, concentrating on the constellation above his head. It was another coping strategy, a distraction. He wasn’t ready to go back into the dream. Not yet.
Only three-hundred and thirty six hours to go. Give or take.
He smiled as he threw back the covers and jumped out of bed. It was time to find another distraction, because he certainly didn’t want to sleep.
Thanks for stopping by.
28 responses to “Closing the Distance #BlogBattle Writing Challenge”
I am now wondering if it were his own future actions he witnessed in the dream.
No…Barry would sooner hurt himself than his friends. It was just too close to home. Phoebe is right – once he’s had a little time he’ll find the answer 😉
will you continue it?
Eventually – I like the character. He fascinates me 😀
Very curious about what happened. 🙂
It only occurred to me when I read through it that I ended it poorly! I’m in seriel story mode and forgot this was supposed to be a one off. ‘D’oh!’ Sorry to leave you all hanging! 😀
Just means you have to write more at some point. 😀
Yeah, I guess that’s no hardship! Thanks, Charles 😀
what does a cat on a hot tin roof sound like and she we call the SPCA because can’t think of a good reason for having a cat on a hot tin roof… oh but I do know what a fiddler on the roof sounds like.
death by suspicious looking hands nice touch haha no pun intended and it would be quite deadly touch hahaha
ok one question, really, is the character really clairvoyant or just has bats in his head that and a really good memory, borderline stalker type memory at that
Bats in his head – ha! That’s funny 😀 He sometimes channels other people in his dreams – messages about a past or future event. They are rarely clear and few and far between. Thanks for the feedback – if he comes off as a stalker then I need to change it. That’s not who he is at all. It’s a joke between the characters because he generally hides his intelligence from others. Cat on a hot tin roof is an odd expression isn’t it? I guess they would be jumpy! 😀
The stalker quality is endearing actually especially since its between friends, yes 🙂
That’s ok then! 😀 Thanks
[…] Closing the Distance by Melissa Barker-Simpson […]
I can see this in a future iteration of man. Holograms, augmented reality–we’re getting close.
It’s a scary thought! 😀
As a revision thought, if you could make it clearer that he’s channeling the assailant and not the assailant himself, that would be clearer. Right now I’m not sure which way to go as a reader. Other than that–vivid story, well told.
Thanks, Cathleen. That’s really useful. I’ll make a note. Really glad you enjoyed it 😀
I wouldn’t want to sleep after that too!
Lol! Me either 😉
The familiarity you created between the two characters drew me in to the drama of the story. I am also curious what happens to Red!
Thank you. Next time I’ll try to give people a more satisfying conclusion 😉 I don’t know where my brain was at this week!
Well written, Melissa! I like the turmoil Irish goes through. I’m worried for Phoebe now, and it ends on a cliffhanger.
Thank you 🙂 I realised too late how I ended it, and didn’t mean to leave people hanging!
🙂 Really good story…I liked the characters…Irish is very fascinating!!
Thanks, Carrie Ann 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed it. I like Barry a lot.
cliffhanger or no, that was a great story! I was pleased to realize he wasn’t the perpetrator. I got worried there for a second during the dream change, but you cleared it up and I went, phew! haha
Thanks, Rachael 😀 I’m happy you liked it. No cliffhanger next time I promise!
I don’t mind the cliffhangers. 🙂