Just under the wire, June’s short story is here! Well, not here on the blog, but HERE in the Kindle store.
I wrote a prehistoric version of this story way back in my second year of college for a creative writing class. At the time I was sure it was the best thing I’d ever written. When I reread it earlier this month I thought it was pretty atrocious. So I took out all the pretension, changed the POV and the tense, added, subtracted, and molded. A few lines made it through unscathed and unedited. But just a few. It is the exact same story as it was fourteen years ago–just much, much, MUCH better.
Unlike all of my other stories written thus far this year, this one is based on a real event and real people, though most are dead and the living have new names. It’s an artistic, fictional rendering of a very small event that made a very big impression on me, an event that I have never forgotten, but told from the perspective of someone else who was there.
Here is a short excerpt to tempt you…
When did she get so old? It seems to have happened when I wasn’t looking, perhaps one night as I was sleeping. It vexes me that time is quickly stealing away abandon, that most precious of childhood qualities. To be unconcerned, flitting about on the very edge of reality in the silvery world of forests and fairies, wearing a dress made of yellow rose petals and riding upon the backs of ladybugs. To lightly touch down upon the ground on soft bare feet. To wear necklaces of raindrops. To talk to fireflies.
“Paula, what are you looking at out there?”
“Karen. Just watching Karen play in the yard. I’m listening. You were talking about the prices at the meat market.”
“It’s really just ridiculous, you know. I’ve never paid so much for ground chuck in my life, and that’s including…”
And on and on and on. The motorcycles from the front room. The drone of negativity from across the table. I squeeze my eyes shut and push my fingers into my temples.
“Mom, do you have any aspirin?”
“It’s in the bathroom.”
I go into the bathroom, shut the door, and stand for a moment in the lovely still dark, my hands upon the counter. Then I flick on the light and open the medicine cabinet. I scan the jars and bottles lined up in rows, a neat little train of powdered normalcy that daily delivers some relief, some steadiness, one more miserable day upon this earth to the two old people who live in this sad little house.
I tell myself that I need to be more patient with her. That life has not always been kind to her. That I’ll be old someday. That she just wants someone to talk to.
In case you’re curious, the POV character is based on my mother, who loved the original story from my creative writing class. I think she will enjoy this one much more. And I hope you enjoy it as well.