Protected

My voice trembled over the phone. “Adam, I need you.”

“Woah, woah, Ellie, what’s wrong?”

I stared out the window and choked on a few gasps. Terror locked my voice in my throat, and I clutched my hand to my chest.

“I’m coming, baby, I’m coming. I’ll be there as soon as I can!” His statement grew distant as it ended.

I fought for control of my anxiety-laden voice. “Wait!” I spoke before he hung up the phone. “Please, stay on the line.”

“I’m right here, I’m in the car now. Just hold on.” Pauses followed each phrase as he fumbled with his words and thought of anything he could say to calm me. “Here, I’ll put you on speaker.” Another pause and a click as he switched over. “How’s that? Can you hear me?”

I fought to breathe in and forced myself to speak. “Yes, it sounds a bit distant, but I can hear you.” I couldn’t keep my words steady, and each tumbled out terror filled.

“I’m on my way. As soon as I…can get the car started.”

I heard faint shutters of his car’s engine before it died. Adam tried to force it, but the engine coughed and choked before giving up.

“Damn it!” His voice crept closer and I heard a click as his phone switched speaker off. “Ellie, I think it’s the battery, it’s dead.”

My heart seized in a new wave of horror and I groaned at the intense stabbing pain. “Adam.” I gasped out his name.

“Listen, I’m coming, okay? Just try to breathe. I know it hurts, baby, but you can do it.”

I forced my mouth shut and tried to inhale a deep breath through my nose. My lungs filled halfway before they refused anymore air and I choked the breath out of my mouth. Tears spilled over in a bout of pain.

“I can’t Adam, I can’t breathe!” It came out a desperate cry as if he could somehow command my lungs and heart to act like they should.

“It’s gonna be okay. Just lay back and close your eyes.” His voice grew fatigued, but he forced it to steady after a moment’s pause.

I laid back on the couch and curled up in a blanket before I squeezed my eyes shut. “Now what?”

“Now, just imagine us together in our own home. Our first Christmas as a family. You, me, and our little girl curled up in a nest of blankets in front of the fireplace.”

I pictured that future. Our daughter huddled in my lap as I talked her through a nightmare. Adam’s arms hung around us both as I whispered to her. I rubbed her back and her green eyes finally closed. Her breathing evened out and she slept in the protected circle of our arms.

“Do you really think that far ahead?” My voice strengthened as the image continued.

“Yes, I do.” His words came out in a faint croak and a longer silence followed.

A new fear swelled in my heart with each strike of lightning, each wave of pelting rain. “Adam, are you okay?”

“Don’t worry. I’m almost there. I’m coming as fast I can. Try to imagine something else.”

I forced my mind to create a new image of us.

I gripped his hand as we swam from the shore to a secret grotto. We dove under the aquamarine waves and swam forward to the entrance. We resurfaced in the shallow pool on the inside. We climbed out and watched the moon and stars through the eye of the grotto. Our safe haven.

“Ellie, can you hear me?”

“Do you remember Safe Haven?”

A pause followed before he answered, “I remember the picture of it. That’s the cave you always wanted to find. You pictured us there?”

“Yes, you pictured our first Christmas as a family and I pictured our honeymoon.”

“Fair enough.” The phrase came out breathless and fatigued. “Is something wrong?”

“Don’t worry, almost there.” He almost choked on the last words before he gasped and coughed.

My chest tightened and my heart pounded, gurgling fear fueled blood in my ears. “Adam?” My voice rose and trembled.

I pressed the phone closer, straining to hear anything but the silence on the other end. I gasped when I heard a knock on the door. I sprang to my feet and rushed to it, fumbling with the lock. I flung the door open to see Adam drenched and dripping in the doorway, clutching his phone in his hand. I dropped mine and pulled him inside, wrapping my arms around his soaked body.

“You said your car was dead.” Realization struck and stole my breath. “You-you ran?”

“You needed me. I wasn’t gonna let a crappy car and some rain stop me.”

I clutched him closer, listening to his pounding heart finally slow down. I trembled as he stood sopping just inside the house.

“Hey, hey listen.” He took my chin in his hand and brought my eyes up to meet his. “I’m here now, don’t worry about me.”

“I can’t believe you. Stay there.” I turned and walked down to the hall closet. I came back with a couple towels and a flannel shirt and jeans. “Go change before you catch your death by pneumonia, and I’ll take care of the puddle you left.”

He grinned and took the clothes, heading to the bathroom while I mopped up the floor. He came out a couple minutes later, finishing the last few buttons to the flannel. He scooped up the mass of soaked clothing, and I took it along with the towels and put them in the wash. I came back to the living room, finding him on the couch and two glasses of cocoa on the coffee table.

“I hope you don’t mind.”

“Of course not, you need to warm up.” I sat down and took one mug and handed him the other.

He gulped about half before setting back down. My knotted stomach decided for me, so I set the glass down without drinking. He took me into his arms and laid back. I nestled closer and rested my head on his chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart while I tried to get mine to do the same. Adam rubbed my back and anchored me down with one arm around my waist.

After a moment, he spoke up. “No matter what happens, I’ll do anything to protect you. You never have to be alone and afraid. I love you too much for that.”

“I love you too. I just want you to be careful. You don’t have to push yourself so hard for me.”

He pressed his lips to the top of my head. “I always will.”

I looked up to his emerald eyes and pressed my lips to his. “Stubborn. What will our future daughter think?”

“She’ll take after her mother.”

I smiled and kissed him again before I laid my head back on his chest, falling asleep to the beat of his heart in the protected circle of his arms. My safe haven.

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16 thoughts on “Protected

  1. DirtySciFiBuddha says:

    Hello, I’m looking this over to give recommendations. Hope you don’t mind! First question—are you putting underlying motifs/metaphor into this? Descriptions of that you focused on jumped out at me: Safe haven, the speaker phone, dying car, rain. Do these things have a thematic significance or do you just like them? I understand if it’s the latter; I have plenty of elements in my “too cool not to use” list that I stick into my stories, but I find that you can communicate with a reader on multiple levels—even if they don’t logically understand—through the use of metaphor and motif. i.e: I had one of my muscle-bound friends tell me he loved Life of Pi, but he couldn’t tell me why. Later I watched it and picked it down to the bones (that movie is DEEP) and came to understand that even if your reader doesn’t understand what is seemingly arbitrary, it is possible for them to read your piece and FEEL the interconnectedness of the elements. My second thing would be use of punctuation to determine rhythm. i.e: in the first few lines you write “I fought for control of anxiety laden voice.” Feels like it might be missing an “an” as in “an anxiety-laden voice,” also requiring a hyphen. Another tool I see may come in helpful is the “m-dash.” Hold down shift+opt+- (on a mac) and it will create a longer length dash used as a denoter, much like a hyphen. I think that may be conducive to the rhythm in some of your dictation: Description—subdescription. I also feel a bit more editing could go into the flow, “My terror locked my voice in my throat,” could flow better as “Terror locked my voice in my throat,” and even then, that could be refined to lyrically flow better. (Thesaurus.com has had many visits from me) There’s a few sentences like that but I think I understand you’re emphasis on spare wording that evoke through implication. Hemingway was a master at this and you might want to study his word construction, but I think in order to really do that—to have that simple, clean aesthetic—the insides of your story have to incredibly well constructed. Basically it all has to be held together really tight on a thematic level in order to evoke the emotion you want. Anyways, thanks for your in-depth commentary, and hope some of that helped! 🙂

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    • hailangeliccreation says:

      Thank you for such in depth analysis! I think the underlying thing here is Ellie, in her panic, feels everything is going wrong, and she is trapped with this anxiety and terror. She reaches out of to Adam, her loved one. She sees him as her protector, her safe haven, so when obstacles like the car, the rain, and the somewhat hindered communication, get in their way, it only makes matters worse.
      As far as tools go, I’m limited as I write on a kindle as opposed to a computer because it doesn’t work.
      As far as editing goes, my process is hindered by anxiety, which is why, in my process, I publish my first drafts. I put the raw text in an editor to take out small typos and mistakes, but as far as letting the work sit as it should, I overthink and overcriticize. If I gave myself time to do that I’d never publish all, so I figured this method would fight that. I realize it’s not ideal, but with limited resources, it’s what I do to make it work.
      Thank you so much again for the feedback! I’ll take a look at those sentences.

      Liked by 1 person

      • DirtySciFiBuddha says:

        Well it’s pretty good for a first draft! I was wondering if you were going to connect the rain with birth. Stories are rife with the connecting motif between water and birth/rebirth, and I use it in Echo Volume 2 near the end.

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      • hailangeliccreation says:

        It’s used as an obstacle in this part. It’s also used to humanize Adam in a sense as readers get into other parts of the story. We see, in this part, a man so devoted to his loved one that he’s willing to work against any force to reach her when she needs him. That underlying theme is developed more in Ellie’s reactions in the next parts.
        -Author S

        Liked by 1 person

  2. trulyunplugged says:

    Oh, my word…this was just so lovely and engaging and the dialogue drew me in…so impressive and I was intrigued, wondering what was to come next. I really enjoy your writing style…this was awesome 🙂

    Like

  3. dbreshears91 says:

    Sorry, it took me awhile to get to this, but I will make my way through them after work and tomorrow!
    This first chapter is very intriguing to me, and the imagery and emotion of character within are so great. It caught my attention, made me wonder, and attached me to the main character immediately. I feel exactly like this when I have panic attacks and I call my fiance, so the reality of it brings me in even further.

    Like

  4. Flash365 says:

    This is a really great introduction to whatever is coming next. You do a lot with the characters to make their relationship understandable in a very short amount of time. Nicely done. They seem worth coming back to. You use “terror” twice within the first couple paragraphs. I don’t know why that stood out to me but there a lot of different ways to express terror if you wanted to add some variety. It is just something I always try to be conscious of in my own work so it sticks out to me more.

    Like

  5. Intentergy says:

    You have done a nice job with characterization here. The relationship between the characters is well developed. It seemed to jump quickly though from her panic to going to the closet to get dry clothes. Consider additional description of her physical/mental change her. Safe haven had arrived. What internal causes did that create?

    Nicely done!

    Like

    • hailangeliccreation says:

      Thank you very much for the detailed feedback. What I was trying to go for with the change is her feeling of necessity to put her panic aside when she sees what Adam went through to get to her. I wanted to create the image that she had to maintain a sort of guise to keep Adam from worrying as much so he wouldn’t push himself to his limit for her. It’s sort of a preservation tactic.
      I understand what you mean about adding more description though, so thank you!
      I hope you enjoy the other chapters as well!
      -Author S

      Liked by 1 person

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