Writing inspired by the SWC creative writing prompt: Write a story about the moment before a momentous occasion or a big explosion, those few seconds before all hell breaks loose.

The Dragon Inhales

by Jan Cutting

‘I have no words,’ she said.

I stayed silent. She always had words. Too many in my opinion. 

I paced the hall in a great sigh. The kind of sigh that has its own tides. Collected and deposited by the moon of sadness. 

She didn’t understand. 

I am not sure she will ever understand.

She keeps telling me we are only 30 years apart. It is 34 years actually. And they were not just any 34 years. Her 34 years had milestones and events that shaped her thinking, tunnelled her vision, heightened her anxiety, swept away her ambition. I guess it’s hard to be ambitious when the world is going to shit. When towers are falling, species are dying out and the weather is on some kind of out of control spin cycle.

I walked back into her room. Memories hung in the air like smoke circles from Canadian forest fires. Our photographs are perched on every available surface and hanging on the wall. My brother tapped out long ago. I don’t remember her protesting this much. I suppose technically he could come home. Not that he does. 

She still loves him deeply. Me, right now, not so much.

‘It’s for a better world. For your grandchildren and their grandchildren.’ I tried again with reason. She shook her head. Crossed and uncrossed her hands on her lap. Rubbed the inside of her thumb with her other thumb. The windows started to patter with rain. I didn’t have long.

I kneeled beside her.

‘I love you, Mum,’ I said, my hand on her anxious hands. She looked up at me. He eyes were sitting in pools of water. The tears overflowed and trickled down her cheek. I wrapped my arms around her.

‘I love you,’ I said again. Hoping upon hope that she would see that I did. With all my heart.

‘I must go,’ I said. 

I moved to the door. My eyes were filling up now. I hadn’t thought it would be this hard.

I thought about that final moment again as the engineers strapped me in. My suit was flexible and climate controlled. I felt comfortable, safe. Calm. I looked across at my first officer. He smiled.

‘Good to go, Captain,’ the engineer said, patting the buckle on my middle that held my straps in place.

‘Thank you,’ I said as he closed the capsule door.

I took a momentous breath, the last natural air of my life. 

The countdown started. A relief. As the numbers reduced the vibrations increased. 3400 tons of propellant were heating up nicely beneath us. 16 million pounds of thrust would release us from Earth’s gravity.

‘Good bye, Mum,’ I whispered inside my head, ‘I’ll call you from Mars.’

Photo by SpaceX on Pexels

Jan Cutting

Jan Cutting

Sunday Writers' Club member

Jan Cutting (McLeod) studied English at University of Aberdeen and while there was Editor of ‘Scratchings’ an anthology created by the Creative Writing Group which included the mighty Ali Smith.
She began working in Marketing for an early internet company and then a Bank before running away to the film industry as Marketing Director of Scottish Screen. She set up ScreenScots, a network of Ex pat Scots in Hollywood who could help fledgling writers and producers develop their careers. Her Chair was Brian Cox of Succession fame.
After making a short, a documentary and a feature she returned to the real world and is now the Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications for The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
She still writes and has been a member of SWC for over two years. She is working on a rom com about a girl who leaves accountancy to join the film industry.


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