Written during the Corona Virus Pandemic with the hope of bringing a smile to someone’s face – or at least provide a short distraction during these challenging times. Stories are created based on one-word prompts that were submitted by friends. Each friend is assigned a character name and I develop a short fictitious story that integrates and upholds the word.
Lucia Strong: Outbreak
Lucia could hear the rain pouring down, lulling her and drawing her in – tap dancing around her and transporting her. But to where? She could faintly hear Tony’s voice – his usual deep intonation replaced by only a whisper. “Remember the week we spent at the beach two summers ago.” Lucia could hear Tony saying. “And how the rain came out of nowhere. We were on the beach with not a soul in sight. When suddenly, the clouds rolled in, the wind kicked up, and the thunder clapped so hard it made us shudder. Do you remember Lucia?”
Lucia kept drifting, in and then out, here and then there – all the while unsure of what was happening. Tony’s voice sounded so distinct, so close to her. Yet Lucia couldn’t detach herself. She wanted to reach out, but her arms seemed too heavy to lift, like dead weight – paralyzed, but by what? She tried to speak, but when she opened her mouth, no words flowed. Lucia tossed and turned, fighting to understand.
“And then the sky opened up just as we made it onto the back deck, and took cover in the beach house. You joked about making us both cocktails – a dark and stormy – because it must be noon somewhere. And then you turned the music up, and we both danced and laughed, and laughed and danced. We even took the party out onto the deck in the middle of the storm. We were soaking wet but had not a care in the world. The rain pelted us, and the ocean waves ripe with inches of foam crashed against the shore. We could smell the salt water, and it revealed the beauty of an unexpected moment: utter happiness. Do you remember, Lucia?”
Tony’s words sounded so comforting, like he was holding her close, his warm, soft cheek next to hers, and unwinding the most beautiful stories of their lives.
So transcendently perfect. So –
“Lucia, Lucia, can you hear me? Come on, Lucia. Lucia, honey, can you hear me?” Tony’s voice now sounded intensely scared, and Lucia could feel him shaking her shoulders. His breathing more difficult, his fear so real.
Or was it?
Lucia tried to call Tony’s name, T-T-T. Her voice replaced with hoarseness she didn’t recognize. Lucia felt the words get stuck in the back of her throat: T-T-T. Lucia’s pulse racing, she tried again, but this time she could only say Tony’s name in her head, drifting in a chasm she couldn’t reach. Words fell silent on her dry, smooth lips. The same lips she longed for Tony to kiss, the same lips that loved to wear Renegade Red lipstick. And the same lips that loved to tell the love story of Lucia Strong and Tony Lozano.
Lucia felt an outbreak of panic as she tried to figure out how she was trapped between reality and dreams fading in and out, and then here, and there again. Her outbreak escalated with each second that passed, and she could feel her body tensing up as the echoes of her life passed in and out. Until, suddenly, the delicate whisper of Tony’s voice carried her back home, calming the anxiousness inside.
“Lucia, Lucia, my love. Are you awake?” Lucia opened her eyes to see Tony sitting beside her, stroking her forehead. “That was some dream, Lucia.”
Lucia smiled, soaked from the fever that had finally broken its hold on her, and whispered, “Yeah, it sure was. I love you, Tony Lozano.”
Words had never felt so good escaping Lucia’s lips.