Supposed to Be (October 2016 Short Story Challenge)

She was supposed to be dead. 

Everything was a mangled mess of bones and skid marks on her clothes and tangled red hair and blood everywhere. She was no longer recognizable. She was no longer human. She was about to cease to exist. 

She heard the voice of her former lover wailing and moaning in the middle of the road, rocking what was left of her back and forth, well, what was left of her. She heard the sirens blaring in her ears as no doubt paramedics and police and the fire department had been called. And she felt so cold. Cold to the touch like a tin cup on a winter day. 

She was supposed to be dead. 

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She expected the end of the road. She didn’t expect this… tube of golden light. She felt weightless. For a moment, she ceased to exist. Then she simply… was again.

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Somewhere along the way, her life had taken a sharp turn. She was supposed to be dead. Now she wasn’t. As the memories faded, Elaenor Hart sat up on a cedar wood park bench and felt the embrace of sunlight on her skin. She lifted her perfectly in-tact arms and stretched, half-expecting her existence to be a nightmare and for her arms to detach from her shoulder blades. She stared at her hands as if seeing through the fresh eyes of a stranger. Nothing crushed or bruised here. Not even a dirt smudge.

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Elaenor wobbled to her feet. She felt the sting of a static shock, the remnants of a blueish lightning encompassing her whole body. She stood paralyzed, frightened. She closed her eyes and tried to hum… anything… but no sound came out. Was I electrocuted? 

Elaenor dared peek, and she noticed the blue light had faded. She no longer felt the surge of electricity. She could move again. All her limbs functioning properly. She cleared her throat.

“I’m supposed to be dead,” she squeaked out.

So the vocal chords are working. 

She stomped her right heel. Solid ground. She wasn’t floating. She wasn’t falling through.

I’m not a ghost. 

She was boxed in by hedges, and grass that looked a little too green and a sad little fountain gurgling like a drooling baby above grey stones.

Where am I? 

Elaenor took two tentative steps back and found herself standing on a sidewalk in an unfamiliar place. Glancing up and down the street, she saw a few houses and some traffic on the road. From the position of the sun in the sky, she guessed the time to be approximately mid-morning, and judging from the heat of the day, she figured this was summer.

I must be dreaming, she surmised, gently tapping her forehead in a “duh” realization. Then why does this feel real? she thought in dismay after pinching herself a few times.

I see my shadow. She twisted her toe in the grass. I feel like someone just walked on my grave. She shivered.

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Am I dead? 

She wandered between the hedges, slightly taller than her head. She peeked over the sides. One way was the fountain she had just left. The other way was a row of deep blue hydrangeas. A bumblebee landed on one of the blossoms, buzzing a tune.

Why can’t I hum? she thought in dismay.

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She walked until there was an opening in the hedge. Three artist’s easels stood, surrounded by rose bushes of various colors. Roses used to make me smile, she thought. Why does that feel like a new statement instead of a memory? 

Ben used to get her roses on Friday nights after work.

He would say, “Roses are red and I love you…”

She would giggle. “Ben, you’re supposed to say ‘violets are blue, then something like sugar is sweet, and then you can say the ‘I love you’ part.”

He would wrap his arms around her and bury his face in her neck and kiss her. “But I like to skip to the good part.”  

Her own laughter echoed in her head over and over again, drowning out any bit of Ben’s voice. The man she had loved and lost. Like Jason. She felt cold again. No Jason lost me. 

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Elaenor crossed the pathway to another opening in the hedge. This time she discovered an antique table with an intricate pattern and two chairs. The objects seemed so benign and yet lonely.

More roses.

Roses used to make me smile

Instead, Elaenor found the overpowering scent to be sickly sweet causing her stomach to turn. She quickened her pace, her heels clicking on stone through the maze of hedges.

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Is this park my purgatory? 

She paused to let a pair of ants cross the pathway.

I’m a giant compared to them. 

She swallowed hard.

It was a giant compared to me. 

As the ants scampered beneath the skirts of the hedge line, Elaenor realized she didn’t stand a chance against the truck.

Yet I’m still here… 

or am I?

A loud creaking sound startled her. Elaenor whirled, trying to deduce the direction of the sound. It came from the small stone building behind her.

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As she approached, she realized the door didn’t completely reach the ground.

A public bathroom. 

“Hello?” she called out after hearing the creaking again.

She gulped and summoned all her courage, shoving the doorway open.

A motion-sensing light flickered on, revealing no one and no critter hiding behind the door. A forlorn toilet stall. A tiny window offering a view of trees. A leaky sink with creaking pipes. She breathed a sigh of relief after checking the second room and finding more of the same, save an urinal. She wrinkled her nose. Public restrooms. 

Wandering back outside, she meandered down the pathway, past the empty garden box to a place under the trees. She found a familiar lime green bedroll. Her mind fought with her memories. I don’t recall owning a sleeping bag, but somehow I feel like this is mine. 

Elaenor continued down the pathway between the green hedges. One foot in front of another.

One step.

Two step.

Three step.

Heartbeat.

I’m still alive. 

Reality looked like a dream. It felt like a nightmare. She had the sinking feeling she wasn’t in Windenburg anymore. Where am I? Is this heaven? Or hell? Or somewhere in between? 

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She came upon a picnic table area, outdoor grills, and a fire pit under a grove of trees. The ropes on the edges of the table were swinging back and forth in the slight breeze. She gulped her fear, crushing it into a little ball and shoving it into the deep abyss of her abdomen. This isn’t as bad as it feels. 

Elaenor followed the pathway to the edge of the park, or wherever it was she was. She noticed a thin redhaired woman, approximately her age, across the street. She waved and called out, “Hello?”

Every step she took across the pavement felt like she was running through a pool of red gelatin. She looked down at her toes and thought in horror – It’s not gelatin. It’s my blood. 

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“Hi there,” the redhaired woman called back, pulling her back to reality, if that was what she could call it.

Her hand pumped the blood in Elaenor’s own.

“Hi, I’m…” she paused for a moment, wondering what to say.

I’m lost. 

I’m confused. 

I don’t know where I am. 

I don’t know why I’m alive. 

I’m supposed to be dead. 

“…Elaenor…” she said simply.

“Susan… Wainwright,” the woman responded. “Are you new in town? You look a little lost.”

“Do I?” Elaenor laughed nervously. “I am. I can’t seem to remember…”

Why I’m here… 

“…where we are?”

“This is Sunset Valley,” Susan smiled slightly.

“Sunset Valley?” Elaenor repeated incredulously.

“Yes,” Susan frowned. “How did you get here?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never heard of Sunset Valley,” Elaenor said worriedly.

“Well the Valley’s always been here,” Susan laughed as if finding the whole situation incredibly amusing.

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She stood silently waiting for Elaenor to join in her laughter, crack a joke, say anything. Instead, Elaenor stood dumbly, processing everything Susan…was it?... just said. I’m supposed to say something. Smile. Or laugh. Or did I lose my language processing skills?  The sunlight was a little too bright. The air was a little too warm. The birds were singing a little too loud. A car drove by and Elaenor nearly jumped out of her skin.

Was I actually in my skin? 

“Where do you live?” Susan was asking.

Elaenor couldn’t speak. It was like she was suddenly mute. It took her a moment to realize her hands were shaking… badly.

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“Maybe you should see a doctor or somethin’,” Susan suggested. “I can drive you to the hospital.”

“I’m fine,” Elaenor said gruffly, turning quickly to conquer the sea of asphalt between her and her new home. A thousand thoughts pooled in her brain.

She probably thinks I’m an idiot. She might think I’m mentally ill. Am I mentally ill? Am I unstable? I’m not a ghost. I’m too pretty to be zombified. I am not dead. I am alive. How do I know this place is my home? She said Sunset Valley. How did I get here? Wasn’t I in Windenburg? How did I survive? What is this place? Where is this place? 

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As Elaenor crossed the divide, she realized it was like she was transported to another universe. She raced through the aisles of green, trying to make sense of her new reality. She rounded the corner and let out a screech as she was greeted by a rather tall woman with dark sunglasses wearing a freakish llama suit.

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“Hey, watch where you’re going!” the woman snapped.

Her teeth looked angry.

The llama’s teeth looked angry.

“This isn’t happening,” Elaenor said, more to herself than the llama girl.

“What isn’t happening?” she asked.

“Who are you?” Elaenor asked in return.

“I’m Nichol. Who are you?”

“Elaenor… Elaenor Hart… I’m Elaenor Hart…I’m Elaenor Hart…”

“Why do you keep repeating yourself?”

“To make sure I’m real.”

“Okkkkkaaaaayyyyy…. well, I’m just on my lunch break from making my rounds in the neighborhood…you have yourself a nice day…” she said.

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Elaenor could see the road in Nichol’s sunglasses. She could see the sea of green. She could hear Jason crying. She could hear Ben’s voice saying “Roses are red…and I love you.” She could hear tires screaming. She could feel herself falling. The green called to her. It called her to a new home. The road called too with a message of destruction. It smelled like burnt tar. The green called again.

Choose life. 

Choose death. 

Hurry up. 

Make your decision. 

That’s it, Elaenor decided. I’ve fallen down the rabbithole. This must be Wonderland. I’m… dreaming… but I’m not. This is real. I am real. I am alive. 

But I was supposed to be dead. 


Author Note: 1813 words and 15 pics later…I sort-of intended this to be a “just for fun” post, then I realized I fit the special requirements for the month – within 2000 words and 15 screenshots. Woot!

The surreal feeling of waking up in another world after thinking you were dead kind-of fits with the “spooky” October theme of the short story challenges on the forums. I bobbed back and forth between several ideas for my submission before choosing this story line.

I choose this character and this story for a very particular reason. Elaenor Hart made an appearance in my very first submission for the short story challenges over on the forums. She was the former girlfriend and lover of Jason, my main character in my short story, Choices. The ending was incredibly sad because Jason reflects on how he lost his one true love due to his own stupidity and absentmindedness. Upon encountering Elaenor once more, he tries to take her photograph again, only to have her become angry and run away. She’s then, subsequently, hit by a car “off screen.”

Jason and Elaenor weren’t originally my creations. Their stories were created by me, but the pictures were from an anonymous person on the forums. You can read the original prompt here. The pictures were from TS4 Windenburg. I don’t own TS4. One of my lovely Simming friends on the forums, CathyTea suggested recreating Elaenor and Jason in TS3.

So recreate her I did.

I thought about how cool it would be to have Elaenor resurrect or somehow be transported to the world of TS3. In fact, she’s not dead, but very much alive in Sunset Valley.

Now that I’ve written a novel and I’ve doubled the length of this post… :p

…Carewren123, the moderator for the short story challenges on the forums, is stepping down this October. As a tribute to this lovely Simmer and as a thank you for all her hard work, I wrote this story entry. It felt only fitting to write a story based on the first submission I ever did for the challenges. Carewren123, you will be missed and all your work is appreciated. Good luck with all your future endeavors!

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12 thoughts on “Supposed to Be (October 2016 Short Story Challenge)

  1. This was amazing! I loved the atmosphere and the descriptions, from the gruesome beginning to the surreal beauty of “Sunset Valley”. The inner struggle and frantic thoughts and memories of Elaenor created a great contrast to the frozen, strange calmness of the new world. Another great contrast was between the eeriness and the bright beauty of the place. That hedge maze Elaenor ended up in is gorgeous, but the descriptions really made it feel more creepy than nice. I loved it all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, RipuAncestor. I like to twist reality sometimes in stories – things that are beautiful can also be deadly and things that are broken can have a beauty to them. I particularly love the second picture where she’s on the bench resting and over the top of the hedge you see the road sign (curveball anyone?). I also really enjoyed creating this lot. I also got really lucky with the reflection in the llama mascot’s eyes. I knew that’s how I wanted to end the chapter. Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This was so great ! We’re talking about text-based chapters in your SimLit thread , and this story is a great example of how the pictures compound the story’s meaning and effect ! Really well done !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I noticed right away that was the same character from the April SSC submission!

    I also used a character from my first ever SSC submission this month as an homage! The witch that suddenly appeared in the haunted house appeared in my first ever short story submission, called “The Stray.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really loved this! You get the creepy factor with the graphically described beginning and then in the next instant where Eleanor is trying to,figure out what is happening. I like this “afterlife” where she finds herself in this strange, surreal world of Sunset Valley. Very creative and so wonderfully done!

    Oh, and I like Eleanor’s dress. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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