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Corners - A Short Story

Writing Prompt: Write about someone that was buried alive.

I’ve always despised enclosed, suffocating spaces. Yet there I was, in an enclosed, suffocating space buried several feet under layers of dark soil. Consequential to hours of incessant shouting, my throat and lungs were raw and tense. In a vain attempt to soothe the pain and conserve the remaining air, I breathed slowly and deliberately, consciously inhaling small sums of oxygen and subsequently holding my breath. However, even in small doses, with each spurt of air I inhaled, claws scraped my flaking lips and slithered down through my esophagus, only to puncture my already coarse lungs.
           Although each inhalation was punctuated by such fits of splintering anguish, as I lay in silence, detecting my haphazard breathing pattern, I realized that I had never considered that the interiors of coffins could be so comfortably furnished. I relaxed and allowed my eyelids to drift to a close, actively prodding and poking my surroundings while delighting in the soft, padded frame of my confinement. Contorting into a curled position, I patted what felt like a blanket covering my lower body and pulled it toward my head, simultaneously nestling the side of my head into a thick pillow.

As comfortable as the coffin’s interior was, as I relaxed, numb to the excruciating pain I had endured for hours prior, I lurched upright, slamming my head into the also padded overhead casing of the coffin. Shuddering, I quickly recovered and concentrated my efforts into escaping my enclosure. Sucking a breath in, I heaved upward, my shoulder rising to shrug against the ceiling of the coffin. Unsuccessful, I tried again, but crouched and braced my legs to provide extra support and leverage. As I strained my neck, tensing every tendon and fiber of my body, my legs soon collapsed and I lay motionless and silent. Raising my hand, I caressed my palm on the ceiling of the coffin, feeling no difference in the overhead casing save for minor creases it had suffered following my attempt to escape.

Returning to a prostrate position, as I squinted, attempting to make out any distinguishable detail from the coffin’s interior, it was only then that I noticed how penetrating the darkness of the coffin’s interior was. I was essentially gazing into a dense, velvet nothingness that folded and twisted around my limbs. I viciously clawed at the darkness, desperately trying to peel away any layer of blackness I could, until I felt an odd protrusion on the far end of the coffin’s overhead casing.

My heart thundering and beads of sweat crowning my forehead, I shifted my torso to face the condensed protrusion. With an outstretched palm parallel to the floor of the coffin, I fingered the ceiling until I brushed across the fine lettering. Punctuated with spaces and capitals, I traced the lettering with my fingernail, struggling to make out the sentence I assumed it displayed. After laboring over the inscription, I finally pieced together the poorly written sentence:
         Corners are escape.
      Without thought or hesitation, I stroked the spines of each corner of the coffin and Heard latches snap with each brush. As I reached for the final corner of the coffin and snapped its corresponding latch, I heard a soft ringing overhead.
             As the ringing stubbornly proceeded, I awaited another sound, a voice, a shovel. Alas, still, that was all I heard. I resorted to counting seconds on my fingers in intervals of ten, allowing monotony to reduce my disappointment.Nearing four thousand, I heard it: chink. I had heard it. I had heard the sound of freedom, of rescue, of escape. I knocked and beat on the ceiling of my coffin in response, and was rewarded with the satisfying sound of another chink. Gnawing on my fingers, I hopefully listened for more sounds, removing my fingers from mouth only after the coffin was heaved open and I gazed into the cold, shallow eyes of a bearded man. Sharp wrinkles and creases accentuated the corners of his eyes and lips, and his stringy, fraying hair was caked with grease. Without a word, he hoisted me from the coffin, and scanning the vicinity, lay down into the coffin himself, oddly gesturing to me that I should close the coffin.
    Vigorously shaking my head and denying his unfathomable request, I silently strode away, tripping over a bell I had not noticed, the bell that had been my salvation.

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Corners - A Short Story


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