I started my NaNo challenge with a clear idea what I was going to attempt to write 50,000 words about, for the whole thing to change on November 1st. NaNo, in case you don’t know by now, is an online writing challenge undertaken in the month of November.
On the first day a mysterious woman appeared, recently moved into a bedsit – or what is now called a flatlet apparently, and it was only on day two that her name was revealed, Milla. It has become apparent that she is trying to build a new life… and yesterday, day four, she became involved with someone who might later become a friend.
This makes it sound as if I am reading a story, rather than writing one… well, sometimes it is almost like that! A surprise on every page, a new character, a new scene, a new difficulty!
The new character takes a tumble…
She set off back to the steps to leave the beach. An elderly man had crossed the road, pulled by his dog, maybe the old man and dog she had exchanged greetings with a couple of days ago.
It happened almost in slow motion – whether the pulled, eager to run on the beach, whether the man tottered or slipped on the sandy steps, whether he had some sort of seizure but he fell, lurching towards her and she sprang to try and catch him but he went sideways. The dog dragged him, and then the man’s hand released the lead and he went down, the side of his head hitting the stone with an audible ‘crack’!
Milla went down on her knees beside him, calling out something to him, something silly, inane, panicky are you alright? Are you ok? Don’t worry, I’m here!
He seemed to look at her, slightly surprised, and then his eyes rolled. Should she move him? He might have broken his neck he’d gone down at such an awful angle, he might have a terrible injury she would make worse.
She had her phone out and was on her feet, calling an ambulance; afterwards, thinking back, that bit was a blank, it was as if she could see herself from outside, standing there, shrugging off her coat to put over the prostrate body, looking around wildly for someone else.
She finished the call and crouched beside him, laying her coat over him. The steps were shallow, uneven, bits of rock piled one on another. They had been cemented once but the cement was crumbling and had disappeared, replaced by sand and grit. The stones were worn and slippy – had he slipped, had he tripped, had the dog pulled him off balance…
The dog… she looked round for the dog; it was down by the sea, barking at gulls and jumping about, playing with the waves.
She sat on the step, leaning so her face was near his. His arm was still outstretched where he had been holding the lead, and she took his hand, still warm, but thin and bony. His other arm was awkwardly beneath him. She daren’t even move his head to make him more comfortable, his neck was at such an awful angle.
Blood was trickling from his nose and mouth, but whether it was where he had hit his face or whether it was from inside his head…
“You’re going to be alright, the ambulance is coming, just hang on and you’ll be alright,” she said, trying to sound calm, but her voice choked and she swallowed a sob.
He’d been wearing a cap and she put it on the side of his head, afraid he would be cold despite her coat. He was still breathing, but it seemed to her his breath was becoming more shallow…
She was cold, but she didn’t feel it. Her heart was racing, her own breath coming in puffs; she tried to calm herself, tried to take control of herself as she had learned, and began to talk to him.
He was thin, but he didn’t look unhealthy, or he wouldn’t have done except for the terrible pallor. He was cleanly and properly shaved and she began to notice irrelevant details; his hair was neatly cut, the whiskers round his ears and nose snipped off, his eyebrows tamed. His hair was very white and soft and fluffy, his face was very white apart from age spots and a shadow of blue beneath his eyes.
She found a tissue and carefully dabbed at the blood…
And then she heard the siren.
© Lois Elsden 2017
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