For this story, I had to use a list of things (for mine I decided upon heart rate per minute), and honestly, I think it turned out well. I am going to be self-praising now. I like this story. I am proud of this story. I got a kind of crappy grade on this story. But I still like it! Because it’s good! Yay! Enjoy!
174 (living – bpm of a premature child). The number of times her barely formed heart forced blood though her veins, in the span of a single minute. Her mother had chosen the name Esma, and prepared it for her as warmly as the crib in the pale green room that waited in their home for her arrival. She found out later that it meant loved, from an entry in some battered name book. But her father named her Bacia. He always made sure she knew that it meant death. She would have known anyway.
0 (dying – bpm of nothing). Her mother lay still. The nurse talked quickly to her father, telling him that it was no fault of the child, not to blame the child, you mustn’t blame the child. Perhaps he had held the same empty stillness in his face that he always showed her. No matter how his face had looked, how still and silent it must have been, like frozen mountains, cold and unmoving, he did not care to listen to the nurse.
63 (dreaming – bpm of a child sleeping). When she drifted off to sleep, her mind would soar to thoughts of other places, other worlds where the sun would cut less harshly. Where she could see the stars and places only learned about in the books of geography and travel that she read as quickly as she could download them from the info sites. She dreamed that someday she would leave.
131 (drinking – bpm of a drunk man). Her father would lay on the couch after he drank, his breath stinking of ferment, tears navigating the plains of stubble across his face, his chest shuddering with choking sobs. He would yell at her, never hit, never touch, simply words that cut like knives, like blades of the sun. There would be blame in his words, blame in his face, blame in her name. Perhaps she blamed herself as well, but she never cared to think about it for too long, afraid of what she might realize, what traitorous thoughts she might find skulking in the shadowed parts of her mind.
162 (running – bpm of an exercising teenager). She would always leave the house when he got drunk, letting leaves crackle and branches sway where she passed through the cool of night. When she ran, she didn’t have to wonder what she’d do when she could leave, worried that guilt might moor her to that house forever. Moor her to the man whose DNA she bore, the man who did not see her as his daughter. She was a parasite to him, she knew, sucking away the life of the woman he had loved, and leaving nothing but a muddled portrait of what had been.
118 (leaving – bpm of a scared teenager). She packed what few things she cared enough about to keep. A few sets of clothes, boots, and a necklace of her mother’s that her father had wordlessly handed to her when she was old enough not to asphyxiate on it. Her father had yelled when she told him she was leaving. Yelled that she’d taken away her mother’s life, and was now leaving him with nothing, accused her of not caring that her mother had died so that she could live, ranted and swore at her until she nodded meekly and went to her room, where the green was now faded. Her mother, her mother, her mother. She had thought about her mother’s sacrifice, and it was why she had to leave. Her mother had died so she could live. This was not living. This was existing, merely a shade, eternally shackled to the death of her mother. To him, she was nothing beyond that. She never would be. So she left.
122 (sweating – bpm of a woman in a hot environment). The enlistment station was sweltering, perhaps they were bolstering troops against the inevitable chill of the ships. No matter how good the insulation was, they were always a little chill, or so she had heard. It would be better than the city at least. The shining chrome of all the buildings smarted against her eyes, and while it looked slightly mystical, it would be horrid to live in, exacerbating the sun upon your skin. However, it was worth it to stand in the heat, as her form processed, because soon she would be on a ship, a courier. Necessary in case of required blackouts that left nothing but the shielded life-support systems online. She would run through darkened passageways, no more difficult to navigate than the woods at night. And when she reached wherever the ship was heading, with some pay in her pocket, she could finally be her own person.
186 (carrying – bpm of a running woman). Her feet hammered a quick tempo in the silent hallway. She heard a slightly slower pattern travel towards her, and she moved to let another courier pass unimpeded. The footsteps faded away into the almost oppressive silence again, leaving her with only her quick breathing and the pulse of blood sounding in her ears. There had been signs that a hungry fleet had been through the area recently, nothing to be too afraid of, but caution could keep you breathing, so it was always best to utilize it. Which was the cause for the blackouts, and for the running, but soon they’d be back to the travel, back towards some new world. Just a few more messages to carry.
194 (fleeing – approximated* bpm of a scared woman). She crouched in one of the bunks, the best place to be if the ship ever had to take evasive maneuvers. Even so, she had to grip the handles, secured firmly to the wall, with all the strength she could muster. The hungry fleet had not been far enough away, it had caught their scent, and now they were fleeing, as quickly as the gargantuan engines could muster. They might be able to make it away, but for now there was nothing she could do but grip the handles and feel helpless. And afraid. Astoundingly afraid. She had always had some iota of control over what would happen to her, and suddenly she could do nothing but hang on and wish for escape, for survival. Her name felt like a chain, the millstone encircling her neck as she sank to the deeps, connecting her once again to her mother. She wondered if this was how the woman who had borne her had felt, knowing life slipped away every second, yet unable to intervene against the looming figure, the figure that waited with eternal patience. Waiting with patience that could outlast the stars.
129 (shivering – approximated** bpm of a cold woman). The wind biting off of the snowfields was glacial. The ship had made it, just barely. She shivered in the unexpected cold, the cold that was wonderful and amazing all the same, because it was the sharp cold of life, not the interminable frigid silence of death. A few other people walked in the icy air, and some sat at the hatch of the ship. She looked at the town, just visible through the snow and sleet. It was surrounded by a seemingly depthless forest of trees. You just make out the sharp green scent of the pines that were liberally mixed with more deciduous trees, skeletal under a gray sky, but speaking of warmth to come. Things that looked so lifeless, but weren’t, simply biding their time until the small death of winter was over. Death was a part of life to them. Death was always a part of life. She stared at the forest, the living and the dead, seamlessly intermingled. What’s in a name, but the most unbreakable chains of blood, wound through with soft ribbons of love, equally adamantine. What’s in a life but death, and what’s in a death but life? She was her mother’s daughter, she was her father’s wretch, she was her name’s bearer. She was a woman, merely a woman, who would very much like to live in a place with forests to wander, once the snows thawed. She was loved, and she was death. She was free, and she was bound. She was lost, and she was home.
*I could find no info on the average heart rate of a scared adult woman, so I estimated from the teenage info, including additional exertion in 194.
**Cold does speed your average heart rate, although to what extent I could not locate, so I used a number close the overly hot heart rate of 122.