Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Prompt: The Spin Doctor, Part 1

I was too exhausted to move, even to cough any more. Every inch of my body hurt, and that was all I could think about. The thin cotton sheet under me scratched my skin. The straw in the mattress was lump and poked under my knee and against my back. The scratchy cheap wool blanket made me feel like I was burning under it, until I kicked it away, and then I started to shiver. The light hurt my eyes…Even I was tired of my whining. And feeling sick. If my choices were get better or die, I felt a lot closer to dying.

The rasp of the opening door screeched against my ears, and I threw my energy into turning my head to see. Mama’s skirt swept to the side, and a man in a long black jacket ducked his head coming into the room. Oh no! I wanted to back away. Not a doctor! No more leeches! I really was going to die. Wanted to, even!

Mama followed him and left the door open. I opened my mouth and tried to get a breath of fresh air flowing in behind her. The man said nothing as he sat down on the stool next to my bed and reached down into his bag. He straightened and held a handful of colored glass globes in his lap. My eyebrows twitched. No leeches?

I felt a flicker of curiosity, which took me a moment to recognize, because it involved thinking about something other than how awful I felt and how close I was to dying. My mouth opened a bit more, trying to get the air, and maybe to try to speak. Mama rushed forward, and the man spoke softly, freezing her in mid-step. “Madam, will you be so kind to pull back the curtain and open the window?”

She started to argue, but when he glanced up at her, she looked away and turned to the window, busying herself with the curtain tie and the old crank handle. I tried to move my head toward the new source of light and air, but I had no more energy left. I moaned. Her fingers froze on the sill.

“Now, let’s see, shall we?” the man said, holding up a globe in his fingers. It was sheer yellow, and the sun shone through, lighting it with gold. He twisted his fingers and held it on his palm as it spun, picking up speed. He waved his hand over my head and down the length of my body. When he reached my feet, he tilted his hand, and the spinning glass globe rolled off his fingertips and hung in the air over my right big toe, spinning even faster. My eyes widened, and I strained to tilt my neck and watch.

Dogs in house

Time writing
65 minutes

December word count


  1. Prompt: The Spin Doctor, Part 1

    The van pulled up in a crunch of gravel and dust. _The Spin Doctor_, it said on the side, in ornate curling letters surrounded by tiny galavanting carousel horses. Sandy wove through three-dimensional life-size ones and hopped to the ground. “Thank goodness you’re here,” he said with feeling, as a grey-haired man opened the driver’s door. The man wore overalls and an old-fashioned cap. “We open this afternoon, and it’s gone all wonky.” And they had advertised the heck out of the carousel, a major acquisition for their tiny village celebration. If they opened but didn’t let anyone on... Sandy didn’t want to think about the reception at next week’s council meeting, if so.

    “Wonky?” the man repeated. “Exactly what’s wrong?”

    “It’s easiest to show you,” Sandy said. He went to the control board, flicked the music to ‘on’, and flipped over the power lever. The carousel started just as it had when they’d previewed it – tinkling tune, horses rolling up and down slowly at first, and then settling into a steady rhythm. “I’m Sandy, by the way. It was my wife Jenny who phoned you.”

    “Bert,” the man said. He smiled, but kept his eyes on the carousel. “Figured you weren’t Jenny.”

    Sandy had seen the carousel’s antics over and over by now, so he watched Bert’s face instead. He could tell when it was starting by the slight catch in the tune. Ben’s face showed no notice at that, but three heart beats later went slack and ashen: a bit of a larger reaction than Sandy had expected. Sandy turned to the carousel, just to make sure it was doing the same thing, and it was: the small dark horses nearest the centre had starting going faster than the rest, irregularly. The speedy, irratic movement would spread outwards, until even the sleighs bumped up and down. Sandy had always stopped it at that point, afraid the thing was going to shake itself to pieces.

    “Stop it!” Bert snapped. Sandy jerked the power lever back, and the carousel creaked to a halt. Bert’s face was now schooled into a calm, puzzled look. “I see what you mean,” Bert said.

    Time writing: ~40 minutes, active, interrupting toddler

    1. Oh, very nice! Love the "spin doctor" take, and the mystery of the carousel...would love to see more of this :)