Tuesday, May 12, 2009

WAG: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

This week's assignment was to pick a stranger and assign them a phobia. Over the course of my regular Monday-night journey to my writing group, I encounter many souls to which I could easily assign one phobia or another. But one particular individual stands out.

My writer's group is in Marylebone, central London. For me, this necessitates the Tube to Baker Street, then a 10-minute walk down one of my most hated streets in London: Marylebone Road. I hate, hate, hate Marylebone Road. The wide lanes of speeding traffic, the few and far between crossings where you only have about five seconds to scuttle across the road, the dreaded tourist-swamped Madame Tussaud's... all conspire to make this one of most unpleasant locations in London.

Last night was one of the windiest nights I can remember, making the walk even more hideous. I picked up my pace, practically running down the road. I noticed a man lumbering down the sidewalk ahead of me. He jerked to the right, then the left, then back to the right again, as if he was dodging invisible bullets. I looked behind me. Nothing there. Was he crazy, or was I? Was there something for which I, too, should be pulling evasive maneuvers?

I rubbed my eye, trying to dislodge an errant piece of pollen the wind had smacked into me. Then, I looked up. With every gust, pollen streamed from the leaves above, hurtling through the air like miniature bombs. I looked back to Zig-Zag Man, still cavorting in front of me. With all the grace of an elephantine ballet dancer, he was trying to shield his body from the raining pollen. Nose streaming, eyes running -- for him, pollen was the enemy, representing long nights in the no-man's land of the sofa so his other half could sleep, the constant invasion of the cough into his throat. He would not give in to its insidious ways; he would fight against it at all costs.

Sadly, though, resistance was futile. He was felled by a sneeze, and with an anguished snort he succumbed.

11 comments:

Nancy J. Parra said...

Fun post! I could see it, feel it and nearly taste it. Especially since I've been complaining of late of itchy eyes...

Thanks for the good read. Cheers!

dan powell said...

I like the dance aspect of this. That and the fact you called him Zig-Zag Man, which would be a top name for a superhero. His would have to be a bullet doging power...but that's an idea for a whole other WAG challenge.

Neat description. :)

Marsha said...

Thanks, Nancy and Dan! Pollen is the enemy!

Nixy Valentine said...

I loved this, Marsha! You have a way of making your characters so very human.

I've never heard that you can actually dodge pollen, so the silly manoeuvre combined with its futility struck me as funny and sad.

Sharon Donovan said...

I love it, zig zag man! I could picture it. Fun and light piece.

SueO said...

I love the ZigZagMan, and all of us with allergies wish his superpower of dodging a speeding pollen was possible.

I love the twist on this. Nice flow from your personal angst to this poor man with the sensitive nose.

Cheers!

Iain Martin said...

Good job, Marsha; you set the scene well and had good descriptions of your subject. You were able to cross-pollinate the second part of your entry with the first : )) And threw us off the scent with your intro.

Frances said...

I loved the pictures in this. I could really see your man trying to dodge the pollen, and liked the "elephantine" image!

alexia brown said...

"With all the grace of an elephantine ballet dancer". I love that! Very well-written. I enjoyed this!

J. M. Strother said...

Darn, Alexia stole my comment. ;) I too loved that phrase. What fantastic imagery that evokes. Wonderful.

Be sure to check out the flash fiction contest at Editor Unleashed. I've typed this so often tonight that I fell like a spammer, but Maria runs a great site, and I think this looks like a wonderful contest. She's looking for 1000 words or less, on any topic.

I'll try and get around in a little more timely fashion for the next WAG.
~jon

dmwcarol said...

I feel sorry for your poor zig-zag man and his unavoidable enemy. Nicely written.