Prose throwback

Today I dug up this old short story I had written and it made me miss creative writing. Advertising is creative but in a completely different way.

I used to write stuff like this all the time but these days, after typing away on my computer for hours, I come home with zero motivation to write. I'm hoping that'll change eventually. 

circa 2011 

On the Tuesday before the first day of fall, Miles asked if he could take me for a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We hadn’t talked in over three weeks, but I’d said I’d go to break the cycle of silence.

When we arrived at Price Lake, it was nearly dark and the autumn sun was setting behind our backs. Our breath came out in puffs of chilled humidity, floating in the air like the unspoken words we both knew existed. He’d told me to buckle my seatbelt as we winded around the foliage-covered roads, even though I always did, and the rest of the ride had continued quietly. We walked to the edge of the water, arms crossed, standing on the rocks; we were both waiting for the other to start conversation.

“It’s colder than I thought it’d be” He spoke without looking in my direction, eyes on his feet.

Small talk, I was never a fan. I snuggled into my sweatshirt and stretched the fuzzy sleeves down past my wrists and gripped them in my hands. “Yeah,” I said, “guess you should’ve brought a jacket”.

He turned around to face me but I bent down, found a sturdy place to land and sat Indian style away from his gaze.

“So this is how it’s going to be?” He said, “You’re acting like I’m not even here.”

I answered his question with no response, picked up a flat pebble and threw it full force into the placid blue where it skipped three times over and then vanished. The sky was now littered with stars and yet I didn’t move.

“Ignoring me’s not gonna solve anything.” He said.

I could tell I was getting to him, but I didn’t care. Whatever I was about to say, I knew he could handle it, and if he couldn’t, that was his problem.

I let the words spill out of my mouth and even though I said them quietly, I knew they’d piss him off, “there’d be nothing to solve if it weren’t for you, Miles.”

His face was flushed with confusion. “Look, I don’t even know what I did wrong! You just started giving me the cold shoulder out of the blue! One second we’re great and the next it’s like we’re complete strangers, I just don’t get it!”

I was starting to feel nauseous. The guilt was eating away at my insides, at… it. At the reason why I hated Miles so much, the reason why I hated myself, the reason why I’d ignored him for over 20 days, when all I really wanted to do was crawl into his arms and lay there forever.

“I’m just mad at you, okay?” It sounded juvenile even to my own ears but the words I needed to say were stuck behind the tears in my throat and they weren’t moving.

“Baby, what’s wrong, can’t you just tell me?” Miles spoke with sadness about him and crouched down next to me near the lake.

“That’s…” I said. “Please don’t.” I hunched over and brought my knees to my chest as tears began to run down my face in the moonlight.

“Baby, just talk to me, please?” He pushed back my hair, took my chin in his hands and at his touch the irretrievable truth came crashing down.

“Miles… I’m pregnant.”

Dear Chipotle

My dearest Chipotle,

Though it pains me to say, it has come to my attention that you are incapable of serving sour cream as a topping o'er your delicious “Mexican” cuisine.

No matter how well I articulate my lunch order, asking for “just a little bit,” “tiny bit” or “barely a drop” of sour cream on my tacos, you ignore my request and choose to aggressively smoother my food in an entire ladle full of the stuff.

Today I was forced to perform surgery on my tacos, scooping soggy blobs of ivory death onto a drink lid just to avoid soaking through the mountain of napkins I had grabbed after paying for my white-washed (cough - 8 dollar) order.

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Too many times have I stood in horror as I watch a rushing cascade of cream drown my perfectly curated creation. Lettuce wilts in fear, chicken sinks in despair, and soft corn tortillas struggle to survive such catastrophic flooding.

Nope, no “dollop of daisy” here. Instead I’m stuck with a “wallop of disgusting.”  

Don’t get me wrong, there may be a time and a place for ½ a cup of sour cream - like when it’s poured over the world's largest burrito in the Guinness Book of World Records - but plopped down as a garnish on my salad bowl? Hmm… yeah, I’ll pass.

Where is this heinous overcompensation coming from? Are you trying to make up for the fact that you didn’t always have queso? Buck up, my friend, those dark days are long gone.

I know my words may sound a little harsh. So, before you run off crying thinking I’ve broken up with you, I’d like to give you a simple solution.

(clap) USE

(clap) A

(clap) SMALLER

(clap) SPOON.

How will you do it? What’s a SMALL spoon?!?

It sounds crazy, I know. And you don’t want sour cream to feel like it’s getting gipped compared to the other toppings on your menu. But, as we all know, good things come in small packages.

I see you.
I hear you.
I smell you in my clothes after I leave.

We can get through this together.

Love always,
Mexican Food Fanatic

 

 

 

1974

That summer was extra hot. We had become limp at the ends, humidity getting the best of us. We’d wander into the kitchen on Sunday mornings, complaining of Mama and Daddy’s Christian habits. We’d skip out, stay home, make it a habit.

About mid-July, we got antsy. We’d drive Daddy’s Doge Dart around town all night. We’d howl at boys, our faces like wolves, lips pursed toward the moon. We’d smoke Marlboros in the evening; push our painted toes against the windshield and leave a mark.

We’d take Mama’s change, buy ourselves chocolate malts, and make fun of anyone that got strawberry.

One night we decided to go skinny-dipping in our pool.  We wished we were rebels. Our skin showed pale in the moonlight and our chests no longer resembled girls, but women. One of us ahead of the other, one of us a little less ashamed.

  It was above ground, the pool, and the Bradford pear trees between the yard and Old Mr. Schubert’s created little privacy.

We waded in deep, threw our bikinis over the edge, laid on our backs with our eyes toward the stars. We let it melt the day’s heat off our skin, copied each other’s movements, and somersaulted in the blue. We let our hair fan out behind our heads, taking our worries with it. We bobbed in the water, keeping beat with David Bowie on our Mama’s boom box.

We got bored after an hour and slipped back into our swimsuits that were strewn in the grass. We got devious, rowdy, and the idea to find our ping-pong ball and paddles and to hit Old Mr. Schubert’s window until he came lookin’. We could see the lights on in his house, the flashin’ colors of The Price is Right glaring on his TV.

We took swings, heard it hit the window with a hollow bounce and ran to retrieve it. We kept this up for nearly an hour, crossing our fingers that he’d turn his TV off in order to hear our racket.

We kept watch every 5 minutes, peering behind trees like criminals, but it was all for the thrill and nothin’ for the protection. Our figures were slim, juvenile. We swayed our hips and flung our hair. We swung, we crouched, and we ran and whispered, forgetting our parents who played cards inside.

We laughed carelessly. We snuck our Daddy’s liquor from the cabinet near the garage. We would each take a swig, fighting the impulse to gag. We’d spin in circles, fall dizzy. We kept hittin’ that ping-pong ball, making bets on who could hit it the hardest.

We were young, drunk, and dumb, unprepared for what happened.

We were screaming.

And then we were silent.

Our daddy found him in his living room that night, sitting in his burnt orange chair, glass shards a few feet away from him, near the window. The TV was still blinking in the background, but we heard no nothin’.  We watched him get rolled out. We saw the white sheet, the landscape of a man cast upon a midnight backdrop. We got woozy, threw up until our stomachs were empty.

Our Daddy said it was a good thing; Old Man Schubert had been gone for hours, according to doctors.  We hugged our parents, hard. We gave back their empty liquor bottles. We ate toast at our kitchen table and ignored their stares; the punishments we knew would come eventually.

“If that hadn’t happened,” our Mama had said, “who knows how long he could’ve sat in there.”

          We cried ourselves to sleep. We choked on guilt. We slept as close as possible. We saw the shadow of his house cast upon our floor.  We went back to church to that next Sunday. And we prayed.

And we prayed.

And oh, did we pray.