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Red Wine

by mel0


Stacy lounges on her worn couch enjoying a well deserved glass of red wine. Bare feet rest atop the coffee table as she clicks through the channels, only half paying attention. She swirls the glass in her hand, taking in the bittersweet aroma before finally enjoying a sip. Her hazel eyes drift to the small screen resting on the table. A small smile forms on her lips seeing her pride and joy sleeping peacefully.

The smile wipes from her face just as quick as it had come. She jerks her body into an upright position, swapping the wine in her hand for the monitor. She studies the picture, worry lines appearing seemingly out of nowhere. There! In the corner! A dark and tall shadow looms over the crib. It wasn’t doing anything? Just… standing there, watching… waiting? Stacy jumps up from her spot on the couch, bumping the table and spilling red everywhere.

Wine slowly makes its way to the end of the table, reaching the floor with a faint drip drip drip. The white rug underneath began to look like something out of a crime scene. Slowly, she begins the long walk to her precious child’s room. One foot in front of the other. Stacy’s feet slap quietly against the hardwood floor. The apartment seems impossibly dark. She rounds the corner leading to the tight hallway, pausing at the open door to her room. Stacy ducks inside, retrieving the wooden baseball bat she kept in her closet then turns back to the task at hand. One foot in front of the other.

The door draws near. Each step brings her closer, but also increases the pounding in her chest. One foot in front of the other. Stacy focuses on breathing. Nice, long, deep breathes. She can’t let herself get too panicked. Not if she was going to be of any use. She grips the bat tighter, her hands slick with sweat. One foot in front of the other. Stacy now stands in front of the dreaded room, where the intruder is, where her child is, or at least she hopes she still is. Her ear meets the cool door as she strains to hear something, anything to indicate her baby was still ok. Nothing. Not a peep, not a cry. Nothing. Deafening silence envelopes Stacy as she releases one hand from her death grip on the bat. She moves it slowly, shrinking the already small distance to the knob.

Her hand grasps the knob.

She brings in a slow breath and holds it.

The knob turns slowly.

Stacy begins to push the door open.

It squeaks on its hinges breaking the terrible silence.

Wider  and   wider    the     door      opens.

In one swift motion, Stacy shoves open the door and brings her hand back to the bat, ready to strike.

Her wide eyes dart to the corner she knew the figure was in.

That’s when she saw it.

All at once Stacy’s body relaxes, the baseball bat hanging limply by her side. She releases the breath she had been holding. How could she have been so stupid. Stacy almost laughed at herself. She had gotten herself all worked up over this? Now, up close, she could barely see how this new lamp could ever possibly look like a person. Maybe she had had too much wine. She watched the little chest in the crib rise and fall. With that Stacy turns on her heels and left to go deal with her spill. She closes the door behind her blissfully unaware of movement behind the lamp.


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Points: 262
Reviews: 3

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Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:54 am
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TheRedPencil wrote a review...



This gave me chills. Full body, skipping down my arms chills. Holy fork dude.
The suspense build was great, you started out low and slowly built it up to the pressure point, released it and then spiked it back up.

The only thing that I saw that stuck out in a not great way was that you switch back and forth from present tense to past tense a few times. Aside from that there are a few sentences that don't flow as well as the rest of the sentences around them, but that could also be a style preference.

Please keep righting more stuff like this you're great at it!




mel0 says...


Thanks so much for the read and review! Yeah, that is a problem I have a lot. For some reason, I have a hard time identifying tense especially when I'm writing.



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Points: 4
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Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:27 pm
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crow514 wrote a review...



This is really good! The suspense is excellent throughout the whole thing. It's very short, but I was on the edge of my seat while reading it anyway. I thought I could relax at the end, but then you wrote, "She closes the door behind her blissfully unaware of movement behind the lamp" and I got chills.

There are only a few things I would do to make this better.

"She jerks her body into an upright position..." - I would change this to say "Her body jerked upright..." It sounds a lot more natural this way and gets the point across without being too wordy

"Each step brings her closer, but also increases the pounding in her chest" - Similar to the last one, this just seems too wordy. I would change it to, "Her heart pounded faster and faster the closer she got to the door"

"She can’t let herself get too panicked. Not if she was going to be of any use" - This one is a little weird. I would change it to "If she was going to be of any use, she knew she couldn't let herself panic."

There are a few other small things similar to the ones I listed above, but they're not too big of a deal. Overall, I think this story was really good! I enjoyed reading, and I still feel the suspense every time even though I know how it ends. Keep writing!




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Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:26 pm
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Kess wrote a review...



Hi there! You did a wonderful job of building tension in this story. One way to create suspense is by zooming in on the little details of a story. The red wine dripping onto the carpet is a perfect example of this. It paints such an ominous picture in the background of the story. Tension and suspense are also difficult to build up in short stories and/or flash fiction, but you achieved this without being too forward. You eased into it by introducing Stacy and creating her situation without rushing or dragging the plot out. Overall, this is an excellent piece! The ending is so good! I love how you created a false sense of security for the reader and then shattered it with one line. "She closes the door behind her blissfully unaware of movement behind the lamp" is a brilliant ending! I don't really have any big picture suggestions for you. Sorry about that! This story is simple, and I love that about it. Sometimes, people get caught up in unnecessary flourishes when they're writing a mystery or a thriller, but you did a nice job of avoiding that. Anyway, I hope this was helpful. Keep up the amazing writing!




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Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:07 pm
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KatjaDawn wrote a review...



Hello mel0, Katja here to review your short story "Red Wine". As with all of my reviews please feel free to disregard any and all comments or suggestions I make, should you find them unhelpful. Also, Warm welcome to YWS! With that being said, lets get into the review~

Overall Thoughts

As a "tension" story I must say well done. I imagine it is pretty difficult to write a piece strictly intended to cause tension while still creating a well-written plot. You did just that.

We are introduced to Stacey who is having a glass of wine while watching her baby daughter on a baby monitor. She sees an intruder looming over her baby and makes her way up to the room with a baseball bat. She turns and leaves upon realizing the figure was actually a lamp.... except that it wasn't and when she leaves it is hinted that it WAS an intruder as "She closes the door behind her blissfully unaware of movement behind the lamp." --- Poor mom has some wine at the worst possible time ever... jeez.


I like the story's slow progression. It felt almost like time was moving very slowly. My only dilemma was with the mother's urgency.... i know the piece is meant to draw tension, but even if she was rushing to check on her baby, as a mother would (but in her case she goes slow enough to walk quietly, grab a bat, and pause to hear if there's any noise in the room) it can still work for a piece like this. Apart from that, The plot itself is fantastic and tension-building indeed. Even the ending leaves the reader on a tense note- I love that you ended it without a complete resolution so the readers are left tense.

I love how this plot splits off and focuses on the red wine spilling at the same time.. The imagery had me imaging this playing out like a movie... scene switching back and forth from the mother going to her baby's room to the red wine dripping slowly on the carpet... I. Am. Impressed. Seriously, I love this short.


Suggestions

My only suggestion is for the mother's reaction. I understand she was drinking and also wants to remain calm- but that does not mean a mother, seemingly home alone with her infant/child, is not about to storm into a room with her sleeping child if she thinks someone is in there that doesn't belong there. Just my opinion, and everyone reacts differently, but I really strongly think pure adrenaline alone would have her breaking into that room to make sure her child is safe~

That's all I have for suggestions.

Summary

I enjoyed this read. It was refreshing and unique in my opinion. Well done~

I look forward to reading more of your work soon and I hope my review was helpful to you!

Keep Writing,

~Katja




mel0 says...


Hi Katja! Thank you so much for your feedback! I am not a parent myself so it was a little challenging writing this in a realistic way. I wanted to try and do a more 'freeze' reaction rather than fight or flight. I was going for a new mother struggling with her fear and freeze reaction but battling with the 'mama bear' instinct to protect her child. I have been throwing around the idea of making the slowness of the piece be how it feels to her. How everything seems to be in slow motion when she is going to save her child when in reality everything is happening fast. Thanks again for the feedback!



KatjaDawn says...


That makes sense in context. You did a good job! :)



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Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:52 pm
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dahlia58 wrote a review...



Scary! There's tension in this story alright...If "red wine" was your prompt, you wrote this really well. I actually felt scared while reading this. The red wine dripping to the floor makes rhe setting even more frightening..."Blissfully unaware of the movement behind the lamp" indeed. Is this going to be the last drink of her life?

You're a good mystery writer.^^





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