Swinging Lamps

Swinging Lamps

For Quibblo Writing Contest no. 24 - voting and commenting is appreciated!

All Carter Campbell's ever wanted is to continue the family legacy, but in an abrupt turn of events, Carter's rose-colored life is brutally shattered by an accident... and everything changes.

Soon after, run-of-the-mill preschool teacher Abigail Price becomes torn between contrasting worlds. As the lines between her mind and heart blur, Abigail's view on life, death and love is turned upside down completely.

Chapter 3

Curry & Fish

Abby sat in front of the television, a plate balanced precariously between her chest and knees. Her fingers fumbled to get hold of a chunk of the whitefish on her plate, rubbing it through oil a few times before stuffing it into her mouth. The curry powder tingled on her tongue.

The front door slammed; the sound of a bag being dropped followed. "I'm home!" Frank called out. "What's that smell?"

"Fish and curry," Abby said loudly, tearing her gaze away from the program she was watching. "How was work?"

"It was... fine." Her partner gave her a distracted look while taking off his coat. "I didn't know you liked curry."

Abby returned her focus to her food, dabbing slowly at it. "I didn't."

Frank sighed loudly, throwing his coat over the couch. "Abigail—"

"I'm telling you, Frank. It's him, I know it is."

"Abigail, we talked about this. It's not scientifically possible."

"It hasn't been proven yet," she argued. "That means it's implausible, not impossible."

"Abby—"

"I'm not some random spiritual person!" she cried out. "If I didn't have reason to believe it was true, I wouldn't be telling you about it, Frank. I dream about tying knots I've never heard of every night, and sometimes all I want to do is watch car shows and grab a cool beer from the fridge. That's not me."

"There are many other explanations for these sort of things," Frank countered. "Your subconscious could have overheard the nurses talking about your donor."

"And what about my sudden affinity for fish food? How about you explain that, while you're at it?"

"There's a theory that the drugs—"

"Theory."

"Abigail," Frank said, exhausted, "I have been working all day and I still have papers to grade. Please."

Much like one of her six-year-old pupils, Abigail made a childish noise of irritation and fixed her attention on the fishing show. They were hauling in a wildly struggling marlin, a big one at that. One of the tourists on the boat whooped in excitement - Abby couldn't help but roll her eyes at the bright orange life jacket he was wearing. The ocean was not rough, though it was windy enough to be marred by white horses. Plus, they weren't all that far removed from the shore. The chances of anyone falling overboard were slim to none. They would have to climb over the steel railing and then jump into the dark water.

Frank sat down next to her, taking his shoes off with a grunt. The flower-patterned couch sagged slightly under his weight. "Are you eating with your hands?"

"Hmm."

He patted the arm of the loveseat, clearing his throat as he threw a glance around the rather dank room. The walls, which had an awful design of what used to be pink roses imprinted on them, were clearly in need of fixing. Frank would have hired someone to do it, but the insurance didn't cover all of Abigail's medical expenses and tutoring had never made him a rich man, nor did his partner's job as a preschool art teacher earn big bucks. "How was your work today, honey?"

Abby relaxed slightly, a light appearing in her eyes. "It was good. I had to call Layla's parents because she got sick in the middle of class, but Peter made me a wonderful drawing. He is the best of his class already."

"Peter, huh?"

"He's a smart kid, but his father wants him to continue the family business. You'd think that things have changed now that it's the twenty-first century, but people are as narrow-minded as they were decades ago."

"My father, brother and I share the same career," Frank pointed out. "It's not always so bad to have a family business. It can actually be—"

"Really great," Abby finished. On TV, the giant marlin was flopping on the deck, fear obvious in its eyes. The tail, whose edges appeared almost as sharp as the long black beak, thumped the white floor repeatedly - she was torn between pitying the creature and wanting to reel it in herself. "I know. He loved fishing with his uncle."

Frank rubbed his temples, his forehead wrinkling in frustration at the return of the subject. "Is there any curry left?"

"In the kitchen," she replied, taking the time to lick her yellowed fingers before adding, "on the stove."

Abigail glanced at Frank as he stood up and walked over to the kitchen with that waddle of his, the one she had loved so much during college. He was always trying to take care of her - even when there was nothing to be done, like when the doctor had told them that he did not know the cause of the disease of her heart muscles - idiopathic cardiomyopathy, were the words he had used to describe it - and that she would be put on the waiting list for a heart transplant. She still remembered the fury that had been etched onto Frank's face the first week. He couldn't believe that they had to wait, as if it was just another appointment for the dentist. A few days later, his entire demeanor had done a 180: he went from a raging storm to the peace that commonly came after it, often not saying a word during dinner. She should have found it discomfiting after the lengthy discussions they'd had before, but it had actually been oddly soothing. Sometimes words did not need to be spoken.

After the operation, however, all of their interactions seemed forced. They had not been intimate in a long while, mostly because both of them were too tired and irritable. Sometimes Frank slept on the sofa after they'd been in a fight - usually over the cellular memory theory Abigail so firmly believed in - and she would cry herself to sleep upstairs. On worse days, the cause of their argument was parenthood: Abby wanted a child, Frank pointed out that they could not afford it. The sensibility that had created their relationship might very well cause its downfall; there were times that Abigail thought she smelled perfume on Frank, that she examined the creases in his blouse a little too thoroughly.

Her donor (Abigail had taken to calling him D) had always been very serious about dating. She was certain he had been clumsy in his ways of wooing - probably forgetting to open a door for his date or accidentally making an unflattering comment - but in a well-intended manner. Perhaps, by strangers, he was considered a bit too blunt and awkward to be successful in a long-lasting relationship.

Though Abby would never admit it to Frank, a lot of it was wishful thinking. She wasn't even sure D had been a boy, or that he had been kind, for that matter. All her dreams showed were those damned knots and the ocean; always the ocean, a different color in every single dream. D had loved that life so much.

Abigail's hand slid towards her heart, closing her eyes as she felt its reassuring thumping under her fingers. He was so strong - so strong that even now, she wondered if her mind truly was her own. Sometimes, after taking a steamy shower, she caught herself staring in the mirror and exploring her own body with wonder. And only a week ago, during work, she had almost visited the men's lavatory. Habits that had never been hers seemed normal now, and when she was alone, Abigail could feel a yearning deep inside, as if a piece of her was missing. Funny, what a single organ could do to you.

Oh, if only it was funny.

*

Glossary of Nautical Terms

F:

Foul

1. Having freedom of motion interfered with by collision or entanglement; entangled; the opposite of clear. For instance, a rope is foul when it does not run straight or smoothly, and an anchor is foul when it is caught on an obstruction.

2. A breach of racing rules.

3. An area of water treacherous to navigation due to many shallow obstructions such as reefs, sandbars, or many rocks, etc.

4. Foul the range: To block another vessel from firing her guns at a target.

*



Hello, faithful and kind readers! Thank you all so much for reading this - my writing has been like a pair of knotted headphones as of late. It's almost impossible to make any sense out of it! If you have any tips, please let me know and please, if you haven't rated, please give this story a rating you think it deserves, whether that's a 1 or a 5. Again, thank you all so much. This girl owes you one!

-Bree.

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