Meant To Be

November 10th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Prompt #2: Incorporate these words into a 500 word piece of flash fiction: Burlap, Chocolate, Sensitive, Flowers, Oyez, & Monster. One other in class managed to write about a similar topic. What are the chances??

Thom whipped his Honda through a pile of mud brown leaves, cutting too close to the curb.

“Jesus, Tommy. There coulda been a kid hiding in there,” she said. She knew she was slurring her words. He flicked a cigarette out of his window and blew smoke out of the corner of his mouth, looking at her.

“I think we would have felt a bump.”

“Well come on, I’m sore. Don’t drive crazy.” She played with the duct tape on his rearview mirror, watching vortexes of dead foliage spill out on the road behind them.

The hospital had been hot and dry. She drank giant cup after giant Styrofoam cup of ice water, chewing the straws absentmindedly, ringing the nurses to refill it every show or two. They were happy to indulge her, and didn’t even seem to mind helping her go pee every hour because she was drinking so much. They wouldn’t meet her eye, but maybe they didn’t meet anyone’s eye. Charlie guessed she was something especially horrible, but this was a hospital, after all, so she couldn’t be the worst thing.

The cup came home with her, a momento, but it was crushed at the bottom of her bag by the time she unpacked. Thom had given her chocolates and flowers and stayed through the evening. “I gotta go, baby,” he finally said, rubbing his eyes. “Sheila keeps texting me; I’ve been gone all day.” She winced at the name. In a gesture of compassion, he gathered chocolate wrappers from the coffee table and put them in the kitchen trash.

She hadn’t wanted sweets but he was starving, he said, and they would do.

“Don’t let the monsters get you,” he said, brushing her hair from her forehead and kissing her. It used to be cute. “Afraid of monsters?” he would say, poking fun. She used to have a fit when he left; she hated sleeping alone. She took her pills, scripts Thom had filled for her while she waited in the car, and fell slept on the couch under a blanket as rough as burlap.

Thom said she was getting too sensitive.

“Oyez! That’s an opinion. YOUR opinion,” she’d say. “So technically, legally, you have nothing to back up your statement. And besides everyone knows you’re full of shit.”

“Whatever, Charlie,” he’d say. “You’re the one who lies to everyone, Miss Wannabe Lawyer.” She’d pretend to snicker and go on playfully until she couldn’t stand it anymore. Then she’d slink off to go cry in the bathroom. He was right.

She packed up the few things she’d had ready, t-shirts and booties, cute little impulse buys. At six months her belly had been rounding out but she felt there was still plenty of time to make bigger purchases. She’d put off telling her mother or sister or work or buying a stroller like they were all one and the same.

Now it was an embarrassing relief. She was hot in the face thinking that fate had sided with Thom. Had twisted their baby’s spine so much that it couldn’t live. She wondered if it had been Sheila cursing her existence, cursing her place in her husband’s life, cursing the unborn child that would eat up his time and money. She wondered if Sheila even knew about her like Thom said. She was mad that she’d wanted something impossible. Had fought to have something impossible, only to be told no by fate.

Thom said they were lucky, that they were given a little more childhood, a little more freedom. Thom said now she didn’t have to mess up her body or give up her career.

“Of course,” she said. “It makes sense, anyway.” She brushed her hair from her eye. “If nothing else, we know it was meant to be.”

West Coast, Positive, Climax

October 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Time to repopulate this thing. I’ll try to push some of my old pieces, but until there’s time to do some serious digging, new content will have to suffice.

This is the story I generated using Joe’s first prompt of three random things (see title).

Hauna sprawled across her bed, settling in to listen to the new neighbors fight. Their window was directly across the alley from her own, and for reasons she couldn’t discern, was always open. For the past five days her bedroom had been a theater filled with shouting, colorful profanity, and bold statements implying all sorts of moral failing. The last neighbors weren’t the Cleavers, but at least they had the decency to close the windows before having family ‘discussions.’

Harvard was a small street, with one end pushed into a brushy wood that was littered with garbage. It was roundly accepted as an unofficial neighborhood dump. Two small stores sat on the west side of the road: Frank’s, a polish deli, and Ogie’s, a party store. Hauna lived above Frank’s, which exuded the smell of greasy pork products six days a week but closed at 5, which left her with quiet evenings. The new neighbors lived above Ogie’s, which was open much later and attracted an inebriated, noisy, and sometimes dangerous clientele late into the night.

The new couple were tall and lean and wore sunglasses too often. On Tuesday, she leaned on the counter at Frank’s, watching them take armful after armful of boxes and bags out of their Volvo and up their stairs.

“They’re from the West Coast,” Tony said, chewing on a toothpick.

“Like where? How do you know?” She asked. Tony thought he knew everything.

“Well, their plates say Cali. I’m not surprised. They look like Cali. My cousins live out there and they’re a pretentious bunch of wanna-be movie stars like that, sunglasses and designer clothes all the time. That whole bag.” He snapped gloves on over his furry hands and started slicing salami. He handed her the first piece.

“Good luck with them next door all the time,” he said. “Gonna be trouble.”

Their first night a woman’s voice, shrill and punctuated with sobbing, jolted her out of a dreamy sleep. It belted out accusations of infidelity. Hauna sneaked to her open window and peered out. In the yellow light, the man walked in and out of sight, pacing. The woman was sitting at the table. Her head was cut off by the blinds, but her hands were visible. Little fists pounded up and down on the table like a child’s.

She watched for maybe 20 minutes, considering the graceful movements of the slender woman compared to the stomping and grand flailing of the man. His dramatic movements seemed to be compensating for the fact that he didn’t feel the argument as intensely as his partner, she noticed. A few times it sounded like he might actually laugh, but still he wildly gesticulated.

At the climax of the argument, he gripped her shoulders and shook her until she crumbled into him. For reasons Hauna didn’t understand, this seemed to end the conversation peacefully every night.

A week later, she went out her door and down the rickety steps to get some cheddar for a tortilla she’d been craving all afternoon.

“Hey Tony,” she said, calling in to the backroom. Cigarette smoke billowed out of the office.

“Hauna!” He appeared in the doorway. “Did you hear?” He eyed her with a twinkle in his eye. She looked at him like he was a crazy person.

“I need some cheddar, Tony. Do it thin? And no, I didn’t hear anything about anything.”

He absentmindedly picked bits of food off the deli counter and popped them in his mouth. “That girl next door? Miss California? She killed her boyfriend. This morning? She was on that front stoop there, like a zombie. I saw her but I didn’t think nothing of it. She was in this little skirt, just smoking cigarettes like nothing. When Ogie’s kid came in she just told him that she ‘finally killed that sonofabitch’. Can you believe it? And I can’t be positive, but watch – they’ll be asking if you heard anything. You know, investigating.” He threw his hands in the air, exasperated.

She thought of those skinny wrists, wondering how she’d had the strength to do it. “They fought some, but in the end they always seemed to make up,” she said thoughtfully.

“I guess not, girlie. I guess not. Those West Coast people. I told you – always trouble.”

WordPress Fail

October 3rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Never mind the sudden lack of previous posts – working on updating things here, in the hopes that if I spruce the room up a bit I’ll start using it more often.

Cross your fingers that I didn’t just delete an entire database.  Digging through archive.org for a month straight to rescue things that perhaps didn’t have much value in the first place isn’t very appealing.