Sunday, September 4, 2011

Committed in a Dream

"The heart-wrenching groans of a man suffering pain forced Carin on her feet. Her heart was pounding in her chest, like a wild animal captured in a cage too small for its size. As if in a daze she walked down the hallway. In the doorway of the living room she shrunk with shock. It was her father who lay stretched out on the couch, his face twisted with pain. A presbyter, Mr. Williams who lived across the street, dressed in an old-fashioned swallow-tailed coat, was pouring boiling water on her father's chest, rubbing it in with his bare hands.
“What are you doing to my father?” Carin screamed, but the presbyter ignored her. She knew he was Death in person, trying to kill her father. Instinctively she looked for a weapon she could use to scare him away. Her eyes fell on the black marble paperweight on the coffee table. It was a piece of art, the emblem of her father's family. It was heavy. She had no doubts; she could and would kill Mr. Williams with one blow in order to save her father's life. 
“Don’t come closer, Carin!” her father groaned when he saw her move.
“But Dad, he is hurting you! Look at your chess – all red and writhe,” she cried.  
“Stay away!” her father gasped, “On my way to heaven I have to travel through hell. This is a ritual that will keep the flames from burning me.”  
“No-o!” Carin screamed before she brought the paperweight down on Mr. Williams' head. 

Carin was sitting upright on her bed with her hand on her racing heart. She had one of those weird dreams. She was eleven when she had the first one, or at least the first one she was able to recognize as a prevision. The night her grandfather died. She saw him dying from a heart attack while he was actually miles away from her. 

Now, at the age of thirty-three, she had the umpteenth dream of this nature. He black marble paperweight, engraved with the family's emblem, was not on her coffee table, but twenty miles away on the coffee table in her parent’s living room.

She subdued the urge to call her mother.  

Finding comfort in hot, black coffee, she looked through the window of her living room at Mr. and Mrs. Williams' house across the road. It was only a dark shade in the darkness of the night, as the lights in the street were for some reason out and the moon was nowhere in sight. She could not remember when she had last seen the elderly couple; she had been too busy to pay any attention to her neighbours' comings and goings. The last time she looked, Mr. Williams had been sitting most of the day on the veranda, like a corpse waiting to be buried. 

At six o'clock  while the sun rose on the horizon, Carin was in her studio upstairs, sketching the scene she had seen in her dream, when the sirens of an ambulance forced her to the window. She was not surprised to see the vehicle coming to a standstill in front of Mr. and Mrs. Williams' house. She waited until the ambulance left before she crossed the street to support Mrs. Williams. 

“Mrs. Williams, I am so sorry. Can I make you a cup of tea, or coffee?" The poor woman stood abandoned on the veranda with her favourite poodle in her arms.

“Yes, I am dying for a cup of tea,” she said, wiping tears off her cheeks with the back of her hand.
Sitting at the kitchen table, compulsively stroking the poodle on her lap, Mrs. Williams gave an account of her husband’s last activities. “He woke up at about three, complaining about headache and a feeling of not being in his own body. He said he needed fresh air. When I woke up again... God, I can't believe I have fallen asleep while knowing he was not well! I found him in the lounge... on the floor...." She was crying like a child. 
"And now for the bad news about my father," Carin thought while she returned to her house, cold with anxiety and a feeling of guilt. Was she perhaps the one who had ended Mr. Williams' life? 

As Carin entered her house, her telephone started to ring. 
Her mother’s voice on the other side of the line was soft and calm, as always. “Carin, I have good and bad news. Dad is in hospital. Apparently a blood clot went through his heart during the night, but he survived.... our man of steel."

"Mom, you have no idea how relieved I am. I'll be there in half an hour."

"Don't you want to hear the bad news?" 

"What?" Carin asked perplexed. What could be bad news? Her father to be an invalid for the rest of his life? 

“Remember that black marble emblem of a paperweight you gave Dad for his birthday?"


"Well, it's broken now, and don't ask me how you father has managed to break it." 

© Martie Coetser 2011

Credit to my mentor in English grammar, Maria Jordan

How to present your life experiences in the style of a Short Story


  1. This is turning into an interesting but scary story. To think that dreams we have can or can't come true. There is so much truth to people who have actually been a witness to events that actually did or would take place in their real world. I guess it's a classic case of some of us have ESP and others simply have a gut feeling about events. I look forward to reading more, this story is going somehwere:-)

  2. Thank you, Vincent! Your comments always put fresh heart into me.

  3. Hello Martie,
    How I longed to read this short story... at last! This is a very engaging and thrilling story. I hope you are going to continue because it has definitely something: HUGE POTENTIAL that I am looking forward to follow ^_^ Well done!

  4. Clairepeek, it is so nice to see you in here. Yes, this one could easily be the first chapter of a novel. But oh, at this stage of my life the hard work demanded by novels, looks like climbing Mount Everest. Thanks for dropping by. I’ll see you soon in the Hubs.

  5. You do not need to write a novel... a short story can be as long as 7500 words and yours has around 1060 words ;) so you still can develop without having to write a novel.

    For instance, the story I am writing has 3800 words so far which is the equivalent of 9 pages (1,5 lines space in 11pt font size)...

    Writing in parts helps tremendously and it is fun! You have the potential, I believe, so that is the reason why I am telling you this. Just think about it...

  6. clairepeek – Thank you for the inspiration! I’ll let it grow on me.

    Something technical: I find this blog inclined to stick, as if something is preventing fluent up and down scrolling. I experienced the same on someone’s else blog. Do you perhaps know why?

  7. I do believe that it has something to do with the Hubpages & Amazon widgets. They take a lot of time to load and therefore slowing down considerably your blog... or / and it might have something to do with the background picture, but it seems unlikely since it loads pretty fast... the pictures you use in your post could also slow down the loading of your page if they are too big.
    Hope this helps ^_^ let me know.

  8. Just a quick comment Martie from your new follower. Your page loaded very quickly for me. Yeah:-) Keep writing, I would love to see this story develop into something longer, you can do it. Take quill to hand.

  9. Vincent and Claire, you have planted an idea in my mind... and it is growing. Thanks a lot.

  10. I found your blog on Vincent's page. Happy to be a follower. I liked your story very much. Characters are interesting and narrative is engaging.

  11. Welcome in this corner of mine, Vinaya, and thank you very much for approving the characters and narrative.

  12. Dear Martie,
    I am having a bit of trouble posting a comment so hopefully three or four will not show This was such a great story. I can picture this being a great book. It truly has wings and will fly..It touches on those moments we all have encoutered full of mystery, leaving us scratching our heads..
    Loved it!

  13. Thanks, Sunnie! I wonder why it is sometimes so difficult to post a comment in Blogger? To develop this story into a novel will be a great challenge... I will surely consider it as soon as I have completed my current projects. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  14. Nice One.

    Blogs About Success , Motivational , Inspirational , Poems , Love , Life.

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  15. Hi Philosopher, thanks for commenting. I'm on my way to check out your blog.

  16. Amazing and I now lok forward to following you on here as well as HP.
    Takecare and enjoy your day.

    1. Eiddwen, I don't know how I missed your comment in here. Thanks for following. I am about ready to post another short story in here. I think I am already following you... on my way to check. Take care :)

  17. Martie, well I finally got around to read your short story. This was completely different from the Hubville saga,lol! I really love the way you write, keeping your reader hanging on to each word, unable to stop before you reach the last word. I really believe, you should write more of these short stories, because you have it in you. Hugs from me and Sweden!

    1. Hi Sanel, so good to see you in here. Yes, I would love to write more of these... as soon as I get rid of some of the too many balls in the air. Thank you so much for your comment and friendship :)

  18. Hi Riana, my liefste niggie. And you know this is true. This was my dream in Johannesburg while my father was having a coronary artery thrombosis in Olifantsfontein. The one he survived when he was 42. Weird! I've added some fiction - about the neighbor's wife - just to get the dream fitted in a suitable story. I also had a weird dream when he died 12 years later... And so on.... Weird!

    Riana, I have to bring all my short stories from HubPages to this site. One day, when I get the time.

    Dit was nou 'n lekker verrassing, jou liewe mens! BTW, hoe die-hel het jy hier uitgekom? As jy af stroll op my HubPages profile, sal jy baie ander meer interessante artikels sien.... :) Mooi bly en lekker see ruik, hoor?

  19. I like your writing stile with the dialog. Well done.

  20. Hi, Nadine!

    Good to see you in this forgotten blog of mine. Thank you so much for your encouraging comment :)