Malina and the Dock
Malina’s head felt as if it had been smashed in by a cinderblock. It hurt so much she was convinced that if her neck didn’t keep straining or spasming, her head would simply topple off her body. Her mouth was dry and gritty. She retched onto the floor but there was not enough food or liquid in her system for her to vomit. She only managed a sandy cough. It was stark black inside the trailer. She couldn’t see anything, didn’t know if it was day or night. Her legs ached and begged to move, to rise, but she was afraid to try to stand because she felt fairly certain she couldn’t. The grinding of machinery and wheels in the last hour had awoken her, letting her know that she wasn’t on the water any more. She’d made it across and she had no proof that she was dead. Felt like it. Would have been preferable. But she wasn’t.
Kneeling. That was the thing. Crawling. Try that first. Getting to her hands and knees, she felt moderately stable. But, a few strides later her arms stared to quiver. Another two paces and they collapsed under her. She didn’t know where she was in the tank, so she had to keep moving until she felt metal, which would eventually turn into the metal door. Turning, she sat down and inched her way ahead, using her heels to slide her along and her arms just to keep her from falling backward. It felt like hours. She counted forty-seven pulls until she felt her toes hit metal. Then she adjusted, putting her flank as close as she could to the metal plane. One corrugated segment at a time, she searched for the door. She was weeping with exhaustion.
When she opened her eyes again, she was still lying against the metal. Her face was flat and flush against the wall. She might have been passed out for thirty seconds or the better part of a day. She couldn’t remember where she had been or not been inside the box, so she started her forward scooting again, following her feet. Counting, she pushed forward seventy-two bumps and finally her hand brushed over the horizontal bar of the segmented door. Pulling herself to her knees she grasped the handle in both of her fists and pulled as hard as she could. The door creaked and leaned upward by an inch then flopped back into place. The tears wanted to come again, burning and itching her eyes but Malina disallowed it. With a wobble, she got to her feet, not taking her hands off the bar of the door. Throwing her weight up and back, she screamed as she lifted with everything she had. She laughed when the door slid open only a foot and a blaze of sunlight cut a path into the black trailer. She dropped flat to the ground and started to wiggle under the opening of the door to the other side. She had made it to the dock.
(Drowning Above Water is the new novel from Alyssa Herron. It is available now at Amazon.)
Drowning Above Water – Teckla – An excerpt
From thumb to pinky, his palm nearly spanned her entire back. His other dense, rough hand grabbed her shoulder, to prevent her from considering a movement she would never make. The girls, whatever their intentions on either side, let go of her hands. She couldn’t blame them. The instinct for self-preservation was too strong. She would have done the same. He slid his palm down the length of her spine; down until he held in his open hand the curve of her tail bone. She was so cold. Not all the girls were sweating from the heat. Some, like her, were sweating from the fever of their illnesses. The goose bumps that surfaced along her back he took, in his ego, as a signal of her pleasure. Never would he have considered it was a sign of the pending seizure that would distort her poor febrile body. Keeping his hand flat and weighty against her, he pulled closer and breathed, hot and moist on the back of her neck.
“Who are you?”
She could barely move, but managed to turn her head. She could not quite face him, but at least she was not pressed against the trailer wall.
“Don’t make me ask again, kurwa. Imie!” the Shepard said.
“My name is Teckla.”
(Drowning Above is the new novel from author Alyssa Herron. It lives here at Amazon.)
Teckla looked at her mother, in complete shock. She didn’t understand. And she tried. She tried to see past the trailer and the water. She tried to reason past the second gun shot that sounded behind them. She tried to understand why she was getting pushed into a floating coffin that wouldn’t be opened until she crossed an ocean. And one of the only things she could understand was that she’d probably be dead when they opened it.
“Your sister? Grizella?”
Beata grabbed her daughter again, crushing her against her chest. “I love you, baby. This will be better. I promise.” She kissed her daughter and then pushed her out of her arms. The man at the trailer door grabbed Teckla by the hand. Beyond him, in the trailer, she heard voices. A girl screaming. Crying. The man shoved Teckla by both of her shoulders, making her fall backwards into the trailer. As she hit the ground, he pulled the door down and locked it from the outside with a rusty hook.
From inside the metal box, pounding echoed.
This is an excerpt from my new novel Drowning Above Water. It is available now at Amazon.
Drowning Above Water is a story about our journeys-the courage it takes to start them, and what we might lose along the way. This is a excerpt from the novel, a picture of Malina’s journey.
Finally, she saw the door and she let her feet stop.
The doctor’s front door stood as it had years ago, but it was grey now. She couldn’t remember if it was grey when she had lived here as a girl, playing house. Or maybe it was white and the darkness and street lights were making their own color palette, mixing and creating colors to get the visual they wanted. But the grass was green. That was certain. Not blue. Not brown. Green. That’s where she knelt down. She had passed tired. She had passed sore and blistered. Every toe and the soles of her feet were sloughed and bleeding. There was nothing in her stomach. It had been hours since she’d eaten or drunk anything. Her stomach squeezed and kneaded in its own acids. She didn’t have the energy to throw up another time. She shook and spasmed on the ground. While she didn’t fall down, she didn’t remember lying down either. The only thing she knew was that the ground was cool and the blades of grass were both soft and bristling against her cheek as she buried her face in the ground. Then came the feeling of drenching wet in her nose as the rain poured down from the sky.
This is my introduction to two of the characters that took up space in my heart and mind for the last few years.
Malina and Petyr.
I’m sharing some short excerpts from my book along with a bit of these people’s lives. And with that, very likely, also shining a light on some of my own secrets.
Petyr and Malina quietly traveled across the yellow bridge to the east end of the city. The buildings turned from polished metal to rusted metal and from beautiful, established bricks and stone to crumbling buildings that were held together by their paste and inertia alone. Then they drove past streets and structures that had given up all together. Passing several lots that were empty except for garbage and broken shopping carts, they arrived at a multiple story building that seemed to have been erroneously lifted in from another side of town. Their car passed three gigantic luxury vehicles, tanks to protect their money-filled owners. They turned a corner and slowed into the side street behind the building. Dumpsters and dying cars rotted along the sides of the building. Petyr smoothly pulled his car into a tiny space between garbage bins. He got out and stepped around to the passenger’s side where he opened the door for Malina.
She stepped out, her matronly pumps and nude hose immediately drenched in the standing water in the alley. The tall brick building stretched above them. The rain dripped through the drainpipe down to them, splashing water one drop at a time into a puddle at their feet. He hovered over her, reached his arms around her waist, and lifted her out of the wetness. She looked at him with pity—though not only for him—and incredulity.
“Thank you,” Malina said.
Side by side and in quiet, they walked along the rough, stony edges of the building until they got to the dark metal door. She paused and tilted her eyes toward the reflective panel that was small and square and eye-level. It was a door no one would willingly want to enter. The kind of door that would no doubt creak and scream when opening and thud with claustrophobic finality on closing.
Petyr, of course, reached out in front of her to grab the handle.