The Gift of Life

It all started with the clicking of dirty-red stilettos as their unique diction cut through the whistling of the violent wind. Dustbins fell to the floor with a clatter. Vehicles came to a standstill with a scream as green became red. The owner and indeed inhabitant of the stilettos maintained her swagger in the gale, hips swinging with each stride, dark hair swishing with purpose. Her pale, milky skin camouflaged into the gray-brick buildings of the street. Her deep-set eyes, dark but with a glint, focused intently on a building at the end of the sidewalk.

‘Not far now’ she thought, once again stretching out her slender left leg for another stride, but this time her figure and the ground did not make contact as before.

A rough hand grabbed her from behind.

A stumble followed. Confusion.

Her eyes stay fixed on the destination until her vision became submerged in the darkness of an alleyway where she had been forcefully dragged.

‘QUIET!’ her attacker ordered with conviction, pressing her open-backed dress on the cool brick walls, like ice on her bare skin. His gruff voice confirmed his male identity, although she was already confident from the crushing grip of his hand on her shoulder.

‘Well this is an inconvenience’ she spat, the corners of her bold lips turning upwards, the glint in her eye still very much present. This witticism was clearly unappreciated by her assailant, as a blade was brought up to her neck.

A creature screamed in the distance – the meow of a feisty feline stray which sat atop a dumpster. A witness to the crime, it watched curiously as the events unfolded before its eyes, like emerald beacons in the darkness.

‘Okay, Okay. Let me explain’ she tried to reason with the holder of the now unsteady knife. ‘I’m -‘

‘I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!’ he growled with as much ferocity as his previous order to her. ‘You are lucky that you’re still alive’ he continued, this time with a more sombre tone. ‘Usually they don’t get a chance to speak’ he informed, avoiding her gaze, tightening his grip on the knife.

‘Wait’ she protested, struggling to force a single word from her now restricted airway. For the first time she began to panic, her eyes widening, breath accelerating. The tip of the blade cut into her neck, slowly revealing a river of red. One slash. One shank of the knife, one more slit of her throat and she’d be dead, she was sure of it. The world was closing in, the damp walls of the alley collapsing inwards.

Time passed. Pressure released. Something hit the ground with a sonorous arrival.

‘I can’t’ her once shouty assailant, whimpered. ‘This isn’t me anymore’. He turned his back and repeatedly launched his head into the opposite wall before beginning to cry rather audibly. With this, clearly unimpressed, the witnessing feline fled to seek entertainment elsewhere.

‘Thank you’ she uttered, her voice now hoarse and weak. These were words that rarely left her mouth. She staggered slowly to a patch of sunlight at the far side of the alley to inspect her battle scars. ‘Don’t worry about it, I’ve had worse’ she directed her words towards the broken man who had now concluded his head-banging. Smearing the blood from her slim neck with her fingertips she walked back towards him.

‘The gift of life’ she turned his head towards her once more ‘is the most magnanimous gesture known to man’. She brushed his forehead with her bloody thumb, leaving a trail of quick-drying blood on his grubby skin. ‘You’re a kind-hearted person’ she continued before the male figure felt a sharp blow to his stomach and took a sharp intake of breath. He collapsed to his knees, before she revealed her action and removed the full length of the blade. ‘Me? Well, I have no heart’ she smirked before heading back towards the street from which she herself was snatched, her dirty-red stilettos clicking back into the light…

15 thoughts on “The Gift of Life

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  1. The description of the narrator seizing an opportunity to take control of the situation was clear and gripping. There were some awkwardly phrased and wordy sentences. For example, “He turned his back and repeatedly launched his head into the opposite wall before beginning to cry rather audibly.” To launch is to begin or release something, so this sentence doesn’t have a completed action in it. “Rather audibly” is assumed in the fact that she could hear it well enough to mention it. Suggest something more straightforward: “He banged his head against a wall.” The bookend images of the red stilettos did a nice job of tying the story together.

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    1. Thank you for the feedback, James! I completely understand what you’re saying about the wordy sentences. Sometimes less is more, right? That’s definitely something I need to work on.

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  2. I liked the take on the prompt and the story was very dark. The way the man was repayed for his kindness was very noir.

    It did feel it was too wordy and I wonder if you were going for the old fashioned, metaphor laden noir style. I think that would be hard to pull off.

    Nice touch with the cat as witness.

    Thanks for the chance to read your work.

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    1. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave feedback! I definitely have a tendency to be too wordy, I guess I like to pack out the word count as much as possible! I’ll work on that.

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  3. I know we don’t have a lot of words to work with here, but the attack seems so random. Did he choose her purposely? Why? Why didn’t he go ahead and kill her? Would this have worked better if written from his point of view? I like how strong she reveals herself to be and the stilettos are a nice touch. Maybe without so many descriptive words you could better flesh out the story between these two. One last thing, the blood smeared on his forehead made me think of Ash Wednesday…was that done purposely? Yes or no, it was a strong moment that revealed who (or what) she might be.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it! I did want to retain the mystery element of Noir and it seems that I did that. I think it’s up to each individual reader to interpret a piece of writing as they wish, so what a fantastic thought re: Ash Wednesday! I also think it would be fun to explore this from the male’s POV in the future.

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