In. Out. In.

This prompt continues with Mav’s Story. If you’re new and would like to read it in chronological order, read the previous parts HERE before you read this. It can also be read as a stand alone. It picks up shortly after “The Shot“.

* * *

I watched him.

In. Out. In. Out. The steady cadence of his breathing sang to me as he slept on his back, arms and legs splayed in every direction, leaving me only a tiny slice of open space.

In. Out. In. Out.

The bandage rose and fell, taunting me. Reminding of what was almost lost.

In. Out. In. Out.

The light creeping beneath the curtains highlighted bruising I’d missed in the dark. Black. Blue. A sickly green. Pockets of it battered everywhere, marring a muscled body that put to shame the one I’d once known.

God, he was beautiful.

How many times had he strolled into class late and escaped penalty with a simple smile?

How many dirty looks shot my way because he dated the school slut?

How often had his gorgeous body sparked doubts on his reasons for choosing me?

How many people had been sucked into his spell with a pleading look and jumped to his bidding?

How many sycophants clung to him hoping to be popular by association?

How many women had surrendered to his heated look?

How many times would I fall for him all over again?

In. Out. In. Out.

Scars. Bandage. Bruises.

His body a canvas of physical harm. Old. New.

Yet he’d carried me on his shoulders, in his arms.

And last night he –

I flushed with the memory.

He’d done things his injuries should have prevented.

I resisted touching the angry skin again, afraid of causing more pain.

In. Out.

Had his beauty ever saved his life?

Was it why I agreed to stay?

I looked away, breaking the spell, and eased off the bed.

Every muscle in my body protested as my empty stomach demanded food.

Clothes, then food.

It took me ten minutes to find the laundry room, hidden in the unfinished basement next to a workshop. By then I’d seen most of the house, discovering it was a traditional 1920’s bungalow. I padded to the kitchen, finally dressed, praying John had some food in the refrigerator.

Uncle Jack greeted me, right where I’d left him.

I closed my eyes, fighting the urge to drink.

“I had my first drink at twelve. Just to see if my dad would notice. He didn’t.”

I’d been the awkward ugly duckling, taunted by others who sensed my weakness. But no one dared bully me now.

“It didn’t become a habit until I was sixteen, when I learned it could numb pain and fear.”

The vodka disguised in Gatorade, always ready in my locker. Yet my liquor cabinet at my apartment was empty.

“It gave me courage to do things. Sex. Break the rules. Not to cower in a closet or the girl’s bathroom at the hint of thunder.”

God, I needed courage right now.

I licked my lips, imagining the taste. I opened my eyes and reached for the bottle.

“I stopped once… for a while.”

I stared at the bottle in my hand as memories of last night flashed.

Against the tiled wall, my legs wrapped around his waist, just like our first time in the alleyway.

Forearms braced against the shower wall while he teased me from behind.

The bed as I begged for more.

One thing missing.


I did the math, the answer blindingly clear, and walked over to the sink. My hand shook as the contents of the bottle swirled down the drain, the pull to welcome its familiar burn diminished.

Not much. But enough.

For now.

A Red Dress Club writing prompt


Physical beauty.

It can open doors – and can also shut them.

Write a scene in which a physically beautiful character is somehow impacted by that trait. If you are doing non-fiction, you can write about yourself or someone you know.

* * *

As always, concrit is welcomed and wanted.

Even if it’s just a favorite or least favorite line.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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20 Responses to In. Out. In.

  1. TheKirCorner says:

    oh that was wonderful Kelly.

    I love how you wove his physical traits into the emotional ones. This is one of your best. I am so engrossed in this story, I really like it.

  2. Carrie says:

    Clearly they have quite the history. I’m confused as to how much time has actually passed since they met up in the alley. The end makes me think she thinks she is pregnant. With John’s baby?

    An interesting turn of events…I wonder if the old boyfriend will turn up anytime soon. Surely he wonders where Mav is?

    • Well their recent meet up in the alley took place about 12-14 hrs prior. She left the restaurant an hour before closing and now it’s the next morning.

      Their first encounter in the alley, on their first date, was more like 9 years ago.

      And yes, there is a mess awaiting her with the new day. A big one.

  3. Ack. Babies! O.o That’s sort of… inconvenient. 😉

    This was amazing.. I know I haven’t commented much lately, but I most definitely have been keeping up on this story! LOVE!

    My favorite line was right at the beginning: The steady cadence of his breathing sang to me as he slept on his back

  4. NC Narrator says:

    I always like Mav’s stories! She’s got so much interesting trouble, can’t wait to see what pops up (or out) next!

  5. Galit Breen says:

    Love, Kelly! Truly, love! The language, the pace- all sexy, evocative and for sure leave me needing to know what happens next! Poor Mav, huh?

    I love the turn at “I flush with the memory”- perfectly telling.

  6. lori says:

    I really liked the way you do passion, and I also like your phrasing. Great read! I look forward to reading more 🙂

  7. Erin says:

    I can’t decide if I want her to be pregnant or not! But I can’t wait to find out! =)

  8. I have to be honest that I haven’t read any of the other parts of this story, but this passage is really well done. I like your style. So much that I really do want to go back and read the rest now!

  9. Vinobaby says:

    Wonderful pacing. Now I have to go and read the previous parts of the story to catch up. You hooked me.

  10. Oh my goodness…. I’m all flustered and … wow ! 🙂
    I love how you give peeks of here and there, without getting into all the details.. it leaves me wanting to keep reading. Love it!

  11. Jennifer says:

    What I loved most about this is that she was equally as enamored with him, even as battered and bruised as he was, or maybe partly because of that, as she was with the alcohol. And I loved that her memories of the role that booze has played for her was literally entangled with the memories of the previous night. I also loved the honesty as she was pouring the booze down the drain, “My hand shook as the contents of the bottle swirled down the drain, the pull to welcome its familiar burn diminished. Not much. But enough. For now.” As if she might drink any second. Her life is mined with so much danger that I image Mav as quite the pistol!

  12. Christine says:

    I was so captivated by the opening scene. Her desire for him is so palpable. And interesting, given his fragile state. I’m sensing a distance between them. And I’m sensing she can’t believe she’s with someone so physically attractive. I feel like she’s watching him so closely because she thinks he could evaporate at any moment.

  13. Lilu says:

    This was just… enchanting… I’m in a trance here. Very beautifully written. Well done =) And as other people have said, I now need to go read more of this.. haha

  14. angela says:

    There’s always a push and pull in this story, which is what really draws me in. Past and present. Beauty and pain. It’s going to be interesting to see if she ends up pregnant or drinking (hopefully not both).

  15. Really loved reading Mav. She is a very interesting and strong character. Will we hear from John soon? I’m dying to know what he thinks has happened to Mav!!

  16. Mandyland says:

    Oh I loved this! Truly, completely loved.

  17. Renee says:

    I love the repetition. In, out.
    Watching her mind wander. And so interesting, the description of male beauty

  18. CDG says:

    This one had a very lulling, hypnotic quality. So much has happened inside their insulated coccoon that I wonder how it will all look by the light of day.

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