I’m not trying to write something every single day this month, because I just have too many other things going on.
This prompt, to write a story set in an abandoned location, is great! However, my story, the beginning follows, is well on its way to a much longer piece that I don’t have time to fully develop at the moment. I will get back to it soon, though. One thing I want to address more thoroughly is the role of location in the story as central (versus character and backstory, which is where my piece is tending).
The grass hit her legs just above her knees. It is thick.
Cara parked her car on a small dirt road running off the main highway. She supposed it was unlikely that there would be any problem, that anyone would object to her exploration, but she was timid by nature.
She felt weird coming here in the first place and, if it had not been for her mother’s tearful request, she would not have come at all.
“I need to know,” she had said, even though this was the first time in Cara’s thirty-one years that her mother had said anything at all about the subject.
Cara had not previously known that Grandma Angela wasn’t her actual, biological grandmother. Then, this past weekend, her mother, Edie, weak after the latest round of chemotherapy, had begun talking about it. How she couldn’t die without some understanding of what her mother had gone through.
Cara sighed as she waded through the thick grass. The July sun beat down on her bare head. Sweat was dripping from her temples.
The sprawling, abandoned building loomed in front of her. And it did loom, there was no other description of it. Windows gaped, doors hung on their hinges, it was a cliched building.
Cara wasn’t exactly sure what Edie needed to know. She said she wanted to know what it was like, but Cara didn’t think she’d be able to know that from pictures of this.
Edie had few details to offer her by way of background. When she was quite small, four or five she thought, her mother had a breakdown of some sort and was whisked off to the Crystal Falls Insane Asylum (she only learned the name of the place much later). Edie never saw her again. When she was seven, her father told her that her mother had died. A year later he was remarried to Angela.
Cara hesitantly approached the main, gaping door. The inside of the building was not completely dark, sun came through the dirty windows, illuminating patches. She stepped in and looked around.
It was a wide open foyer, littered with — she couldn’t even begin to determine what all there was. Broken desks and chairs, papers. There was bright graffiti on one of the walls. She was glad she had thought to wear hiking books and not flip flops.
She pulled her camera out of her bag. Was this really what Edie wanted to see? She tried to put herself in her mother’s shoes, but she just couldn’t.
She took a picture anyway.
What could only be described as a crumbling staircase, wide and curving upward, faced her. Cara considered it and then took a deep breath and headed up.
The stairs creaked, the air was thick with dust that she kicked up with every movement, and the spider webs seemed almost decorative, hanging off light fixtures, door frames and window sills.