Short Story: You Will Never Be Mine

Note: This was a creative assignment for my contemporary British American Lit class. The style is inspired by Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-formed Thing.

You look at me. Pretty green eyes and all. She’s great isn’t she? Oh I know. I’m excited. I’ve got the jitters. But. Still. Excited! Can you believe it? Who would have thought? Me. Getting married. Are you okay? Hey. I know that look. Are you okay?
You rub my shoulder. As you always do. At least I’ll keep this part of you in my life. But not. All of you. I can’t tell you how much I want all of you. Not today. Today is your day. Not ever. Today marks the start of your forever. With. Her.
You’re sure you’re okay. Just a little tired? Okay. I just wanted to be sure. I couldn’t make it through today without you. You smile. Thank you. You hold me. I love you too. You are my best friend.
Best friend. Best. Friend. Just friend. Just. Friend. Couldn’t say something earlier. Couldn’t say any more. Couldn’t try to say something. Say. Something. It’s too late. You’d never view me that way. Not the way you look at her. Her. My enemy. The enemy who plunged her sword of words into my heart by being the one to say something first. My enemy. I couldn’t let you know. Why was your great girl my enemy? No. The enemy is me. Enemy. Me. Tell me you love me. I mean really love me. You say you love me all the time. Like a sister. I could never tell you how much that hurt. She’s the one you call lover. I stay your sister.
You slap your forehead. Oh right! I have to finish getting ready! Best man brother comes in to rub your shoulders and fix your bow tie. You wink at me. I’ll see you in the pews.
You do see me in the pews. But you look more towards her. She-devil. No. Me-devil. She-angel in white dress. Arm in arm with her father as she maintains your eye contact. You give the room one more glance before returning your bride’s gaze. One second. At me. I give you quick thumbs up. How pathetic. You are affirmed by it. I can tell. You return her gaze. Not mine. Never. Mine. You. Will. Never. Be. Mine.
Your aunty is sitting next to me. Doesn’t she make a lovely bride? Lovely how things worked out between them. Oh. Yes my dear. He makes a lovely groom as well. Funny he’s not marrying you today. I know I know. Just friends. Back in my day, you bring a lady friend home, you weren’t just friends. Anyway. Your boyfriend couldn’t make it? Broke up? Oh. I’m sorry to hear that, girly. Plenty more fish in the sea.
She’s still talking.
Stop. Talking.
More fish in the sea? I wanted to swim with you. I’m drowning. While you’re swimming freely into her eyes, I’m drowning in yours. At least I’ll keep those eyes. Sea foam green eyes. Pretty green eyes and all. Eyes. In my life.
Nothing’s going to change, you said. And. You’re right. Nothing is going to change. Nothing. Will. Change. Why wasn’t I. Willing. To change?
People divorce all the time. People die all the time. People make mistakes all the time. It’s not his mistake. It’s mine. It’s not her mistake. It’s mine.
I tried to replace you with nimble fingers. Deep brown eyes. Dark, swooping hair. Good job. Good teeth. Told me he loved me. I mean really loved me. Wrapped his arms around me. Stroked my hair. Wiped my tears away when you couldn’t. Good smile. Good future. Told me he loved me. I mean really loved me.
But…But.
He…He.
He wasn’t you.
He. Wasn’t. You.
Told him we were going in different directions. It was a lie.  It was for the best. You asked me if it was okay to invite him to the wedding. He didn’t come. I don’t blame him. Why did I come? For you. Always. For you. Despite my insides burning. Trying hard to yank back tears. Keep heart from pounding too hard. I. Still. Want. You. Did you? Did. You. Did you ever? Ever? Did you ever want me?
Oh, honey. Are those tears? No need to be embarrassed, honey. I’m happy for my nephew too. She holds my hand.
I actually need that. I don’t need to hear her talking. But I do need her hand. She’ll never know. How much. She’ll never know how much I needed that.
You exchange rings with your bride. My eyes release more tears. Diffuses internal burning. Does not diffuse heart pounding. Heart. Still. Pounding too hard in my chest.
Still holding her hand.
I would have ruined things for you. She-devil. No. Stop. She-angel. She would not have ruined things for you. She won’t ruin things for you. She’ll never. Ruin. Things. For. You.
You have your first dance with your bride. Still gazing. Her blue. Your green. Your pretty pretty green. Then she dances with her father. Then you dance with your mother. When everyone’s dancing you come to me. What, I can’t have one dance with my best friend? Don’t worry. Of course she’s fine with it. C’mon. You need one good dance.
You’re right. I do. So I do dance with you. But I also. Need. You.

Advertisements

Short Story: The Session

Note: Part Two from “The Sketch”

One painting. One painting is the only thing colorful in this tiny space, as it hangs in the middle of two college certificates. It displays a purple flower in bloom and health with its freshly green stem and violet petals stealing attention away from the blue background the artist called a sky. The painting hung on the blank, white wall, kind of alone. Alone like Eddy, despite his father sitting directly next to him.

Father and son were sitting in a small blank room in black chairs, waiting for the therapist to walk through the black door, and sit on the empty black rolling chair in front of them and the frames.

All looks new, except for the dark carpet under their feet. The walls appear smooth and freshly painted. The masterpiece of the flower even looks new. Unfortunately, I piece of the carpet moving up and down, revealing and hiding the old wooden tile under Eddy’s foot didn’t help the room’s masquerade.

Hopefully the therapist sees through Dad’s masquerade, Eddy thinks to himself. It took a lot of convincing to get him here. How much will it take to convince him to tell the truth?

“We don’t have to be here,” Dad whispers.

Eddy turns to him and scoffs. “Yes, we do, Dad,” he states at a normal tone. “It’s time.”

“Eddy, you are twenty-four years old. You sent me here to cry with you about how I threw a sh**** drawing you made about fifteen years ago?”

He always does this.

“You did a lot more than what you did fifteen years ago, and you know it.”

“You just need to quit whining like a little b****,” Dad declares, higher than a whisper, but still lower than normal, crossing his arms.

Eddy raises one eyebrow and sits up straighter to say, “Oh? Says the one who’s being a total child about counseling once a month. Be glad it’s not once a week, we need more than what we’re getting.”

“Look, son, I’m doing this for your mother, not for you.”

Eddy sighs and shakes his head. “It’s amazing she’s stayed with you for this long,” he points out under his breath.

“Now you wanna whisper, Eddy?” Dad shifts in his seat and places a fist on his chin, pretending to be inquisitive. “What was that? C’mon.” He gestures his fingers in and out to play this up some more. “You’re speaking more than you did with your silly sketches, so what was that?”

“It’sss amaaaazzinggg,” Eddy returns to normal voice level, articulating every word as hard as he can,” howwww she’ssss stttayeddd withh youuu ffforrr thissss looong.”

Dad’s facial expression gets softer as he turns to face the empty chair again.

“You’ve become a real prick since college,” Dad attempts to hide his emotional defeat.

Eddy emphatically shrugs, “I learned from the best.”

Finally, both men look up upon hearing the doorknob twist. The silver doorknob twists to the right to have Dr. Dunbar enter.

Funny, no suit and tie like your usual therapist. He has on a brown button up with blue stripes and corduroys; to put the cherry on top of his whole look, he has a goatee that can dance in the wind if it were to blow in here, or if a fan would blow in here. Dad snickers to himself until he glances Dr. Dunbar’s credentials again: Bachelor’s at Duke University and a Master’s at Princeton University, all in cognitive psychology. Pretty legit, pretty top-notch.

Eddy smirks; he is doing something right.

“Good afternoon, gentleman,” Dr. Dunbar greets, reaching his left arm out for a handshake before sitting down. “I’m Dr. Dunbar, thank you for meeting with me today.”

Eddy shakes his hand, “Oh no, thank you,” he responds.

Dad shakes Dr. Dunbar’s hand limply. If you aren’t from the business world, don’t expect a respectful handshake from Dad.

Maybe it wasn’t the stress that made him lose his hair. Maybe it was karma kicking him all throughout the top of his head instead of in the balls where it should have been for being so rude to people.

Dr. Dunbar sits down in front of them and asks, “So, shall we get started?”

Dad nods, shrugging. God, why does he always do that, Eddy shouts in his mind.

“Yes, please,” Eddy confirms, placing emphasis on the word “please.” Dad sits up straighter after groaning at Eddy, more subtly than when the therapist wasn’t in the room.

“All right then,” Dr. Dunbar says, rubbing his hands together to fold in front of him in his lap.

Short Story: The Sketch

The living room is painted in a bright beige color, correlating with the cream colored carpet. The sun is setting outside; slanting through the white, transparent curtains, which try to shield the view from the window. Little light seeps through the curtains, so the overhead lights are turned on, making the room have more effervescence than it actually has. A couple of yards from the window is a big, plushy, yellow-green couch. It’s so new. Eddy can smell its freshness while laying on it to draw his picture. It didn’t smell like a book’s pages like their last sofa; it smells like the linen scented Febreeze. How well did Ikea know Febreeze, Eddy thought? Did people who work there spray it to make people buy it? Hey, it worked, if they did.

There wasn’t anything wrong with the old couch, but Daddy said it was time for something new. Eddy didn’t have a problem with that.

Daddy was coming home from work soon; maybe he would like a present after a long day. Mommy has been saying how stressed he’s been lately, so this ought to make him feel better and relax.

“Can’t he get his old job back so that he can relax again?” Eddy asked Mommy. That was a week ago, and they were both sitting on the couch to talk before Daddy came back.

Mommy smiled warmly, rubbing Eddy’s shoulder. “It’s not that simple, baby,” she said.

Eddy takes his black crayon to shade in a mustache on his sketch’s face. It was oval and apricot. It is too late to draw an apricot neck, because a blue jacket and blue pants are already attached to the body. And Eddy was too focused on finding the correct red for a tie, like Daddy’s tie. Was it red, scarlet, or burgundy?

How furry is Daddy’s mustache? How hard does Eddy have to dig the crayon into his paper to make the sketch look just like Daddy?

A lot of people say how Eddy looks a lot like Daddy. He wishes that were true sometimes. He looks at his tan hands and back at the apricot hands he drew. Well, at least he has hair. Daddy doesn’t have any hair. He used to have a little before his new job, but not anymore.

Suddenly, hands a little smaller than Eddy’s cover his eyes, making him drop his crayon upon the couch. He knows exactly who’s interrupting his drawing from behind.

“Guess who!” the so-called mystery person yelps in a higher pitch than her own.

Eddy laughs and lightly pushes her hands away from his eyes, then faces the culprit.

Little Gracie, with her long, blonde hair and rosy cheeks. She sticks her pink tongue out at Eddy.

“Do you want me to chase you?” Eddy asks his friend.

“You’d never catch me,” Gracie taunts, already sprinting towards the window.

Eddy leaps from the couch, causing Gracie to shriek as they scamper around the big couch.

“Can’t catch me. Can’t catch me.” Gracie chants.

“We’ll see about that!” Eddy proclaims as he yanks her arm, causing them both to fall on the floor.

“Ow!” Gracie says, surprisingly giggling as she rubs where Eddy pulled.

“You’re it now,” Eddy says, excitedly jumping up.

“No, I am,” a distinct voice calls to them, causing both children to stand up straight. A female voice, firm, yet sweet, as if soaked in honey with a single bee stinger to keep you in line; Mommy.

“Gracie, your mom is waiting for you outside,” Mommy announces, entering the room in her blue jeans with her dark hair placed in a sloppy bun. If Eddy drew her, he would mix mahogany and brown together for her hair. That would get her color just right to be pretty like her. The lighting in the room makes her tan skin more golden. “You may want to get your things together.”

Gracie nods. “Yes, ma’am.” She turns to Eddy. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you,” Eddy farewells.

Gracie walks over to the white door, where her small, tie-dyed book bag was, against the wall near the exit.

Gracie reaches for the golden doorknob, only to see it turn to the right on its own.

A tall man comes in, unbuttoning his blue jacket, and stretching his scarlet tie from his neck. He nods at Gracie, wishing her a good evening.

“Tell your mom I said hello,” he says gruffly.

Is Daddy ever okay? Does he always have to sound stressed coming home?

Gracie shuts the door behind her, and Daddy sighs loudly, taking his jacket off, throwing it on the couch.

“How was work, hun?” Mommy asks.

Daddy looks down to shake his hand at Mommy, almost shooing her. What did Mommy do?

Mommy would usually give him a hug, a kiss, or a rub on his shoulders or feet each time he looked down like that. For the past month, it’s been different. Does Daddy not want her to help him anymore?

Trying to make him feel better, Eddy grabs his drawing from the couch, and runs to Daddy.

He lifts his drawing up in the air and smiles.

Daddy bends forward, squinting his eyes at the drawing.

“Is that supposed to be me?”

Eddy nods feverishly, grinning.

Within that very moment, Eddy’s pride is crumpled up, like the sketch Daddy immediately crumples after snatching it from his tiny hands.

Mommy gasps before the paper hits the carpet.

“Edward!” she yells, rushing to the floor, picking up the paper.

“What?” Daddy shrugs at her. “If I wanted a girly gift, hell, I would have asked my assistant.”

“Oh, is that what your family is to you now? Your assistants?” Mommy asks forcefully. She massages her temples with her right hand’s nimble fingers. “God, what is the matter with you?”

“The boy has to learn what’s good, and what’s not.” Daddy points to himself, furrowing his eyebrows. “I did.”

“I didn’t ask you to take the job, Edward,” Mommy seethes, unfolding the paper.

Daddy shakes his head, groaning.

“I’m going to bed.” Without looking back, he says, “Night, son.”

Daddy’s been doing that a lot lately. Eddy didn’t think he would dislike his gift, though.

Mommy walks slowly towards Eddy, and hands him his drawing.

“Give it to your daddy this weekend,” she soothes. Tussling his messy hair with her long, soft, caring fingers, she adds, “He should be better then…Promise me you won’t cry, okay?”

“I’m not going to cry, Mommy,” Eddy promises.

“Give it to your daddy this weekend,” she soothes. Tussling his messy hair with her long, soft, caring fingers, she adds, “He should be better then…Promise me you won’t cry, okay?”

“I’m not going to cry, Mommy,” Eddy promises.

Short Story/Flash Fiction: Guy Walks into a Bar

So a guy walks into a half empty bar, and he snickers at me. Looking all smug, ruining the only chill I had tonight in this space. Not too busy, but not a complete ghost town. Respectable people in corners talking at a normal voice level about politics and art sitting on wobbly wooden chairs at scratched, wooden tables, and he just rolls up in here with a few “buddies,” I presume, as if this were a sports bar! I hate guys like that.

The guys that brought me to my knees crawling and reaching around a dirty tiled floor for strayed, wide-open books and poetry journals as he smirked and chuckled at me. My horn-rimmed glasses weren’t a symbol of intelligence in high school; they were a symbol of my poor choices in shields against these kind of people that roamed throughout high school.

I twiddle with my mechanical pencil as if I’m twirling a baton for a small, yet focused, marching band. With each pat it makes on my thumb, almost to the beat of a moody type of song playing, and then my notebook paper, I’m trying to beat away any past thoughts of teenage angst in my writing. I’ll be twenty-two soon, it has to. I wish it were the cider giving me the headaches instead of the writer’s block.

“Freakin’ nerd,” he said, walking down the hall in satanic triumph.

The frat-faced guy today releases a monstrous belch as I take another sip of my drink. Dribbles plop on my face and shirt imminently.

Was it because of my shirt? Was it because of my glasses? The guidance counselor said it was probably because of jealousy. What did his stupid pretty face have to be jealous about? Why did God decide to bless him with the charm of angels for the faculty and sporty kids and charm of demons for the science and art kids? She also mentioned possible personal problems at home. Like what? Boo hoo, it’s so hard to be pretty and get away with stupid stuff?

“You all right over there?” the guy asks, trying to swallow his last few snickers.

I take the counselor’s advice to breathe, and shout “Yeah. I’m fine. Thanks.”

Short Story: Coming Home

Joyce is watching another TV movie when she hears a knock at her door. Dang, it was getting to the good part. People always want to knock when it’s just getting good. Nevertheless, she gets up from her couch, which gets flatter and flatter from sitting in the same spot over and over, and goes to the door quickly so she can sit back down. She opens the door and finds her godson, Lenny, with his hands in his pocket smiling at her. He may have gotten taller, and his hair shorter, but his cute, awkward actions haven’t changed a bit, she knew.

“Hey, baby,” she greets as she pulls him into a warm embrace. “How’s college treating you?”

Lenny rubs her back a little before letting her go and answering “Pretty well.” Another beat passes as he walks in the door, aware that he never needs an invitation before asking “How are you, Aunt Joyce?”

She pops her wrist at him and grins, going back to her seat to see what Ariana was going to do next on the screen. “I’m doing real good baby.” She doesn’t give Lenny eye contact; she has to see how bad, meaning sly and sexy in this case, Ariana was in pursuing revenge against her husband.

Lenny doesn’t mind. It gives him more time to think of a way to make proper conversation. It gives him preparation to process how he’ll appear sincere as he nods to his honorary aunt’s stories of what she was doing with her free time that didn’t have to do with television, when her son was going to go to school, and how she was happy for him being away from home and not seeing her every weekend before he decided to move away for college.

Once Lifetime goes to a commercial for Excedrin pills, Joyce faces Lenny and asks, trying to joke, “So I guess you don’t want me to braid your hair no more, huh?”

Lenny laughs, which is expected of him. It took him a couple months before he decided to cut it just because he knew she would say that. “I’m just trying something new,” he starts. “Besides, you know how cornrows could never stay on my head for long.”

Joyce giggles, knowing how true that is with White people’s thin hair. Granted, Lenny is Biracial, but his hair was White hair to her.

In the corner of Lenny’s eye, besides the TV displaying a tampon commercial, he sees the blinds shut. Sunlight tries to sneak in patterned slips, but they didn’t create enough contrast to make the living room healthily brighter. He is tempted to open the blinds for once. Just this one time he wanted actual light in here. But he knew his Aunt Joyce. “You don’t have to do that, baby,” she’d say. She’d say that every time, there was no sense in trying anymore.

“I was going to come up there to visit you,” she said warmly, “but you know how it is.”

Yeah, I know how you hardly want to get out of the house, Lenny thinks to himself. You don’t like how I had the guts to leave.

“I understand,” he dutifully responds.