Gut Reaction

A fictional tale of unexpected, and slightly silly, heroic rescue.  

Wendy reached out to turn off the alarm and cringed, waiting for the hangover to slam into her head. After a moment or two, when nothing happened, she opened first one eye then the other to the midday glow emanating from around the edges of the shut curtains.  Still nothing. No pain, no queasiness. Random thoughts from the night before bounced around her brain without chronology or context, but one thought was clear: she’d drank a lot. More than she ought to.

Sitting up in bed, Wendy looked at the clock and saw it was a minute past noon.  Exactly when she wanted to awake, plenty of time to recover, shower and dress for Sunday dinner at her parents house. Perhaps the lack of hangover was due to the ten hours of sleep she’d just had.  Ten hours.  When was the last time she’d slept ten hours? Groaning, almost wishing for the distraction of the hangover, Wendy prodded the memories of the night before like she would a sore tooth. She remembered her uninhibited hands groping in strobe light, a cute guy with soft lips and muscular arms. She shook her head wishing the embarrassing memories away, imagining instead the dinner tonight. She would plant herself in a safe corner, watching her loud brothers dominate the conversation at the table and their uncontrollable sons tear the house apart. She’d try to get a few mouthfuls of her mother’s cooking, and maybe a word or two with her parents, before escaping into the quiet night.

She got out of the bed, spent a few minutes in the bathroom then went downstairs to the kitchen.  Her tiny rented house, with its mini backyard and single-person sized rooms was a dream after four years in a dorm and a lifetime of sharing space with others.  She started the coffee maker then went back upstairs to dress.  With bra and underwear on, she’d just started to put one leg into a pair of comfy sweatpants when she heard a scream from outside.

Wendy thrust back the curtains and threw open the window to see into the neighbor’s backyard. She hadn’t lived there long, only a few weeks, and hadn’t met her neighbors yet. The only thing she knew about them was their ownership of a small, yappy dog.

That dog, visible only as a bundle of white fur, currently occupied the space between the talons of a huge bird.  A raptor of some kind, its neck long and snakelike, its wings stretched in a protective circle around the meal in its claws. The sound of the continued screaming originated from a woman, just now falling to her knees, maybe ten feet away from the bird, her fear warring with her desire to save the dog.  Her hands reached into her short hair, fists pulling uselessly at the roots.  The bird clacked its beak and hissed.

Wendy’s first thought was to simply watch the drama unfold, like a bit of National Geographic wildness happening live before her eyes.  But the neighbor’s pathetic wail sliced into her ears, a cry of pure helplessness. Wendy couldn’t say later what it was that spurred her into action. Maybe it was the high feeling from the missing hangover, or the rare ten hours of sleep. Something in her clicked from observer to participant, and she found herself searching the bedroom for a missile.

Wendy had an excellent arm, she’d played softball since she was little. Her eyes scanned the room finding nothing round and throwable. But there, just behind the trash bin, the rejected birthday gift for a nephew, a toy spear and shield. Wendy made the mistake of showing the gift to her sister-in-law before wrapping it.  “No, I’m sorry, we don’t allow our kids to play with toys that encourage violence,” she’d said.

Wendy held onto the toy, even though it made her mad every time she’d noticed it.  But now the thought of using it made her smile.

With a leap, Wendy grabbed the spear, a flimsy plastic thing with a soft rubber tip, ripped it out of its packaging, and bounded back to the window. A giggle bubbled up, and even as she threw the silly toy, the giggle turned into laughter.  The spear flew from her fingers, sailed the short distance to the scene below, and amazingly, hit the bird.  It only bounced off a wing, but was enough to startle it.

The bird leapt back and released the dog which bounded away, straight past it’s owner’s welcoming arms, and in through the open door to the house.

Wendy’s laughter burst out of her in a loud guffaw.  The shocked neighbor looked up, a hand poised as if to wave, but frozen as she stared.  With a squeak, Wendy saw herself as the woman must see her, with long, bed-tousled hair, clad only in her underwear, cackling hysterically, after having just thrown a spear.  She drew the curtain then fell back on the bed, clutching her stomach, overcome by her laughter.

After she’d recovered, wiping tears from her eyes, she finished dressing, and went downstairs to have her coffee.  She stood in the kitchen, gleefully imagining the surprised faces of her brothers and their kids at dinner.  Tonight would be her turn to dominate the conversation with a tale of heroic rescue.

There is this really fun website called Seventh Sanctum that will generate prompts for all sorts of writing. Last night I clicked through several ‘Writing Challenge’ prompts until I landed on one that said, basically, that the story had to happen at noon, involve an eagle, and end with a spear.  Not sure if this story makes a whole lot of sense – but it was awfully fun to write… Hope you enjoyed it!

8 thoughts on “Gut Reaction

  1. Awesome! A very enjoyable afternoon read that brought a smile to my face. Some very familiar content which I could really relate to ( awaiting the hangover, looking down at the neighbours yard) but your character Wendy was far more brave than I would be!


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