tension - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
There is no sound in the house, yet everyone is moving, moving and not talking. Mom walks back and forth by the front window, always in easy reach of the phone. Dad is doing the jobs he has been meaning to do for months, somehow they are now pressing, urgent even. I sit, unable to read, foot tapping up and down like some dumb wind up toy. In the next five minutes the phone will ring...or it won't. If it rings then Mom, Dad, or both of them have lost their jobs. This is the fun way their employer dreamt up to let people know if they still had work or not. A phone call before 9:30am means you're out; otherwise you can make your way in. They've been at the factory all my life, how can they retrain now? What skills do they have? So I sit, Mom paces, Dad keeps busy...
We sit knee deep in silence. The faucet drips into the sink, each one reverberating around the room like a cymbal, yet no-one blinks or moves to stop it. Outside there is no traffic or bird song, by now it must be midnight- the time in which today becomes tomorrow. When it does the men will move, gather the arms and head out. No call by midnight means the deal was not ratified by the elders and we are at war again. It means that the fragile peace is over before it really had a chance to take root. It means a return to kissing your loved ones goodbye in the morning and meaning it, because who knew if they'd be back by nightfall, or back at all.
This morning every food was cardboard. No amount of chewing made it possible to swallow. My mouth is dryer than a sandbox in summer. If he doesn't call soon I'm going to be sick. He's called me after every mission since he was sent overseas, never saying anything special. He asks me to tell him about life back here, dull though it is. When I finish he sometimes asks me to say it all over again, but slower, like he's savouring the words. He can never hang up either, I have to be the one to do that. His mission was over yesterday and the only sound in the house is his damn grandfather clock, ticking away, marking the seconds. Each passing moment only leads to the next, taking me away from the allotted time for his call. The phone has rung five times since I started this vigil, every time it's a sales call or the bank offering me a new great rate. Every time my heart beats fit to burst at the shrill ring, only for the tears to fall when I hear the wrong voice.
The air is so brittle it could snap, and if it doesn't, I might. No-one speaks, what is there to say? Platitudes won't cut it right now. A week ago they were all anyone was saying, anything to ease the terrible burden of worry. But now he's coming down, either burning up at this moment or safe in the capsule, dead or alive, like that damn Schrödinger's cat. And don't tell me he's in both states. Don't. That's my husband in there, the father of my children, the love of my life and keeper of my heart - not a flea bag cat. In this suspended horror that we all will to end and to last an eternity at the same time, every eye is on the monitor. In seconds we will know, we will cheer the roof right off or pain will engulf us entirely. There is not a person in this room who doesn't love Kevin, though I am perhaps the only one that will require sedation if he's gone.
The water sits cooly in the glass before me, condensation beading the outside. I run my finger around it as if slicing the top off and watch the transparent "blood" drip to the pristine mirrored table below. In this white on white room of feminine perfection that my mother has created I want to paint the walls red, but I am forbidden to drop even a crumb lest I spoil her magazine cover replica of relaxation.
I can feel the fear in my chest waiting to take over. Perhaps it only wants to protect me but there really isn't any danger. It sits there like an angry ball propelling me towards an anxiety I just don't need. I switch the radio off and get out of the car. The air is sweet, the weather is fine, there are birds in the sky and I can hear water not far away. I should be on my way to work I know, but today I just want to smell the spring flowers and take my chances on seeing a deer. There's something about being outside that evaporates my fear, maybe the fresh air scent reminds me of fresh washed laundry, I'm not sure - but my body has already begun to relax.
Amelia let out a slow controlled breath and attempted to loosen her body movements. She was walking like a clockwork soldier and that was no way to be in this neighbourhood. She gave her shoulders a wiggle and lolled her head in a circle, let her stride slacken to a more casual pace. It was a decent effort, enough to fool the casual observer, but for the onlooker with a keen eye she was a walking advert for tension. Her eyes moved with the alertness that comes from heavy stress and her hands remained clenched by subconscious demand.