What It Is
FiveSeven writers, each contributing five hundred words once a week, for every day of the week. Beyond that, we'll just have to wait and see what evolves.
Who It Is
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Monthly Archives: October 2010
Sexy Lunch Lady
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Part I of something larger.
There’s vomit on the windshield. It’s also all over the back of Margie’s seat, and on Nick’s sleeve where only I can’t see it. I don’t want to see where Philip’s bile has landed on me. Philip can’t believe what he’s just done. He won’t stop telling his hands that he isn’t drunk.
“Oh my god,” he says again. “I can’t believe that just happened.”
“Should I pull over?” Nick asks. He holds the wheel as if he might make a sharp turn at any moment.
“Yes, pull over, hon’,” Margie says from the passenger seat. She touches her hand to his arm, and he noticeably relaxes as he eases off the highway into the next rest stop. He pulls into a spot between a minivan and a Prius, both with barking dogs in the back. It feels like we’ve stepped in the middle of a conversation.
I’m glad to climb out of the car when Nick steps out and lets his seat jerk forward with the push of a button. Margie lets Phil out on her side. He stumbles out, still apologizing. I catch Marg and Nick exchange a glance, similar to the one they exchanged when Phil arrived smelling like weed and speaking with the familiar inflection associated with his intoxication.
I walk quickly toward the concrete building where the men’s and women’s bathrooms stare at one another. The gaping doors yell obscenities in the form of powerful flushing toilets and hand dryers that blast long after the room has emptied. The smell of Philip’s vomit has me nauseated, and I stand in the stall, bracing myself against the wall, making a note to scrub the side of my arm in addition to my hands when I leave.
I hear Margie cough in the stall next to me.
“You all right, hon?” she says. Her feet shuffle against one another.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine, thanks.”
She’s quiet and is no longer peeing, so I know she’s debating whether to say something else to me.
“Is he drunk?” she asks.
“I guess.” I lean my head against the wall. “I could smell it on him when he got in the car.”
“Yeah,” she says. She sighs as though she’s been hiding her own observation since she made it.
I don’t say anything else to her, just sit there waiting for her to pull her jeans up and leave the bathroom. I want to ask her if we can turn the car around, if she’ll drop us off at the nearest bus station where we can take the next bus back to Boston. But we’re in the middle of Connecticut, exactly where, I’m not sure, on our way to her sister’s wedding. The last thing she wants to do – perhaps after cleaning up Philip’s vomit from the backseat of her boyfriend’s car – is drive the other direction from where her little sister is getting ready for one of the biggest days of her life.
“I’m going to go wait at the car,” Marg says. “Take your time.”
I’m glad to be left alone, but when I step out of the stall, Marg is still standing in the bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” she asks. We make eye contact in the mirror.
“Well, aside from not wanting to climb back into that car with my own husband and being embarrassed beyond what I’d thought possible,” I say, breaking eye contact, “I think I’ll be all right.”
“There’s nothing for you to be embarrassed about,” she says. She feels for her words, trying to be polite without relieving me of responsibility at the same time. “Is he getting help?”
“Well, if he was, it wouldn’t appear to be working.”
She nods and pulls a piece of paper towel from the dispenser. “I’m going to wait in the car.”
I caught a tiger in the high grasses,
casual, without force or mystery,
not knowing that she was the last of her kind;
for a moment we lost our fear of extinction.
I spent nights watching the dark stripes
shine on her back, holding each breath
between purrs as she slept, and all
was silent taxonomy when we woke;
for a moment we lost our fear of existence.
The brushfires raged as she yawned away
the myth that had enshrouded us. And we
went weeks without human encroachment;
for a moment we lost our fear of captivity,
I and my tiger of cotton and seams.
The white-burning flame of a sulfurous halo can
illuminate a path through the plush red clouds, and if you
gaze long enough, its phosphorescent glow will tell
you of its guileless truths that stain the iris with visions of me
drifting flotsam and jetsam in an ocean of puppets, uncertain of how
I will ever return. But knowing still if I allow these strings to
guide me as a compass to where that I might go, then I will get
back to the asphalt shore that I had once called home, to
the years that I spent perched before the mast marked Sesame
and the onus of the eyes that cast a stigma on the street.
Initially, I was asked why
until it was quite clear that I
would not spill. Because I drank
with the best of them, but I drank
by myself. Always. And that’s why,
in my cups, there was no way I
could stop, because I sensed that I
was a real drip unless I drank.
I couldn’t tell anyone why
I stopped, because it’s why I drank.
Alas, the day job – bill payer, bacon provider, and allower of bedtimes before 3 AM – has sent me to the Interop conference in New York where I will write about cloud computing and SaaS and – I assume – it is frowned upon to make anything up. See you next week.
Until then, some super flash fiction.
As much as I wish for him to think of me, I do not wish for him to think of me in the city alone. He will turn my solitude into something other than what it is. He will grant me one wish while stripping me of my contentedness, and I no longer think one is worth the other.
I started the game off with WIDOWER; ———————-86
double word score plus 50-point bonus.
She followed with SORRY, but didn’t get ———————10
much with it. I tried to lead with Y
and discovered YEARNING, which could have been —.74
much worse; another 50-point bonus.
She was falling behind, and all she could
come up with was REGRET, although that did ————18
make me reconsider things a little bit.
After some thought, I countered with SUPPOSE, ——-86
acting like that was the plan all along.
She wanted to shake things up, so she laid
FAMILY down on the table while I —————————–28
was reaching for my tiles. I drew a blank.
I tried to concentrate, but the best that
I could come up with was MAYBE. ——————————11
She threw out LOVE next, which was surprising ———33
and got her some decent points, though she was
still miles away. I tried NEVER, but
it didn’t fit, so I was stuck with LIFE
or LEAVE, both of which felt like such a waste.
After a while I managed NAÏVE, ——————————–.16
but then I felt stupid. She made it worse
with AGONIZE. So I AGONIZED, now ————————108, 22
only 98 points ahead of her.
CHILDISH. Now she was annoying me. ———————-113
I replied with HAUNTED, barely taking ———————-22
back the lead. She dropped FLATTENED; I lost it. ——.82
I attempted QUITE, QUIT; the board wouldn’t
let me. QUOTA ended up working, though ——————28
wasn’t what I wanted. She dropped an AX ——————.25
on a triple word score, cutting me out
of the game. I couldn’t find anywhere
that felt right and started to get pissed off
at the crappy situation I found
myself in so late in the game. How many
tiles left? Six maybe? I dropped IF, BIT, TAX, ————25
clearly flustered at this point. Her turn: LIFE, ————16
with EX thrown in there for good measure.
ACT: I wasn’t getting back in this game. ———————-10
FIE: she was mocking me now, I could tell. —————–6
HAG: I was down to only vowels, but ————————–9
it was worth it. JOKE, double letter score. ——————23
Damn. I really thought I could handle this.
We were down to the final stretch, grasping
at some tangible understanding of
what was going on: WE, DO, LORE, hoping —————-12
to avoid a complete blowout. OBIT. —————————-6
I tried to avoid it: IN. RUT. Out of ——————————4, 3
time; I couldn’t let go of U and I. ——————————--2, 2