Archive | April, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge: 5 words

15 Apr

So I felt like actually posting something writerly today, so here’s a Flash Fiction challenge I undertook from Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds website. The prompt was to use 5 random words in a story that was less than 1000 words. The words were ‘figure’, ‘dusk’, ‘flirt’, ‘mobile phone’ and ‘wig’.

Here’s my little exercise, complete with all 5 words (and in order too, just for the fuck of it). If you feel inclined to give it a try, you have until next Friday to go for it, just click the link above.

**

Of All the Gin Joints

The figure in the shadows in unimpressed. I can tell by the way he or she has remained seated and kept his eyes fixed on the ashtray in front of him while the rest of the bar is at attention, eyes locked on the girl standing in the door way.

She’s tall, near inhuman in height, her blonde head brushing the ceiling of the low tavern room. Her face is shadowed, much like the darkened sky behind her through the open door, dusk having just fallen. A hint of a smile plays at her full lips as she scans the room with dark eyes, eyes that would smoulder if one were interested in dipping into clichés.

Another femme fatale. Just what I needed.

I return to rinsing glasses behind the bar as the woman moves slowly, high heels clicking with militant thumps across the wooden floor. The eyes of two dozen men follow her path, and more than one of them gets a well-deserved thump on the head from a jealous wife or girlfriend seated beside them. Rolling my eyes, I notice that the figure in the corner, still shadowed and silent, has put out his cigarette and is finally paying attention.

The woman leans over the bar, seductive and exposing a cleavage line in a dress that would make Jessica Rabbit jealous.

“Hey there handsome,” her voice is smooth, chocolatey, and it melts the hearts of the men around her. “What can a girl get to drink in this place?”

Her eyes and posture indicate that she’s attempting to flirt with me. I keep my eyes neutral and out of contact with hers and gesture behind me. “We have a full bar ma’am,” I say. “I’ll make whatever strikes your fancy.”

She ponders for a second, pouting slightly. She’s gotten the hint, and isn’t happy about it. “Dirty martini,” she says, still sultry despite my disappointing her.

I turn to gather my tools and concoct her beverage, ignoring the clamors of the men along the bartop, throwing themselves and their dollars in her direction.

A phone rings behind me, and I glance around to see the shadowed figure has answered his cell. I can’t hear his voice, but I recognize his posture and know what is about to transpire.

I place the woman’s drink in front of her and rapidly duck down behind the bar. The sharp crack of gunfire echoes through the bar, punctuated by yells and one high-pitched shriek. There’s a thump above me and I hear shattered glass. I release the breath I’ve been holding and then watch as something blonde and shapeless tumbles to the floor in front of me.

I can’t help but laugh. The dame went for a wig.

I stand up and survey the damage. The menfolk are shellshocked, the women trying not to be pleased. The dark figure vanished into the night, door of the tavern swinging from his departure. The woman is strewn across the bar, drink broken in her hand next to her, wig on the floor and natural hair color exposed and distinctly brunette.

I pick up the glass and sigh. Another night, another mess to clean up. At least this one was predictable.

I head for the back room to get the broom, and as I leave I address the room at large:

“Somebody’d better call 9-1-1. I’ve gotta start mopping the blood up or it’s gonna leave a stain.”


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This Song Has Been Stuck in My Head Since I Heard It

10 Apr

Lyrics:

There was that whole weird thing with the horses
I think they know exactly what happened
I don't think it needs any explaining
I'm pretty sure I wasn't your first choice
I think I was the last one remaining
I wish we hadn't gone and destroyed it
Cause I was thinking we could pull another weekender
You've still got a bit of clairvoyance

I remember the metal bar
I remember the reservoir
You could say our paths had crossed before

So if it has to be a secret
Then I guess that I can deal with it
you and i both know it's a negative thing
In the end only the girls know the whole truth

There were a couple pretty crass propositions
There were some bugs in the bars
There was a kid camped out by the coat check
She said the theme of this party's the industrial age
And you came in dressed like a train wreck

I remember the O.T.B
The five-second delivery
You could say our paths have crossed before

So if it has to be a secret
Then I guess that i can deal with it
God only knows it's not always a positive thing
To see a few seconds into the future

And if you swear to keep it decent
Then yeah I'll come and see you
but it's not gonna be like in romantic comedies
In the end I bet no one learns a lesson

guitar solo

So if it has to be a secret
Then I guess that I can deal with it
you and i both know it's a negative thing
In the end only the girls know the whole truth

And if you swear to keep it decent
Then yeah I'll come and see you
but it's not gonna be like in romantic comedies
In the end I bet no one learns a lesson

In the end only the girls know the whole truth
In the end I bet no one learns a lesson

 

Self-Deprecation Seems Okay: Mini-Essay

5 Apr

You can’t live right if you hate your life.

I’m serious. If you hate your life, what you do with your days isn’t living, it’s an uncomfortable imitation. We sit and we stare at the world passing us by, converting oxygen into CO2 and food into feces. Breathing and shitting isn’t the only purpose to our existence, but sometimes it might as well be.

It might as well be because we hate who we are, hate who we see in the mirror every day even if we try to paint our faces and pin the corners of our mouths into smiles. Self-loathing is the new status quo ladies and germs, and its so cliché it’s accepted and expected.

I don’t live right most of the time. Most days I wake up hungover and feeling like last night was a mistake I won’t live down. I feel hungover even when I spent the night before sober, my mind a mess from the dreams of the night before, from the toils of existing. My working day is a haze of computer screens and fingers on keyboards, my nights mostly solitary, also mostly in front of screens. My computer is less an accessory and more an appendage, my gateway to an outside world I try to avoid even on my good days.

I make elaborate plans for self-improvement involving work-out schedules and the proper intake of sustenance, but find myself sitting on my ass three days later surrounded by empty bags of chips that smell of fake cheese and somewhat of shame.

Shame smells like cheese in a can. It smells like snack cakes and delivery pizza. Once or twice a week I scrub off my shame with a home-cooked meal, pasta or a grilled cheese, because I’m too poor to afford shame 24-7. I spend my money on long nights and poor decisions, on videogames and liquor, on cake mix and frosting, on the gas I need to run my car, on groceries that I select in the store carefully, trying desperately to do math in my head despite suffering from discalcula because what loser carries a calculator in a grocery store to make sure they only spend ten dollars on food to last a week?

Self-deprecation comes to us as naturally as breathing. It’s ingrained in us from the beginning and holds on with sharp and sticky fingers. It’s like a little monkey, a gremlin, some mutant creature clutching our back and whispering hateful thoughts into our receptive ears.

I hate myself most of the time. I wake up and stumble into the bathroom, staring at my hair that never sits right and my ass that isn’t perky enough and my tits that refuse to stay the same size as each other and the same shirt I’ve worn to bed since high school and I glare at my blurry reflection and tell it I hate it and wish it would just go fucking die already so I could stop dealing with it and everything it represents. It represents the degree I got that wasn’t worth anything. The half-dozen half-baked novels sitting on the hard-drive of my computer, all of them mediocre when read despite hours, days, weeks, months of hard work. The job I go to with the hope of advancement even though I’m only working part time at a job a monkey could do better. The friends who clearly don’t know me well enough or they would have run for the hills by now. The boyfriend I feel I don’t deserve no matter how many times he tells me I’m wrong.

When I was a kid I hated myself so much I was violent. I didn’t start fights or ram my head against walls, but that would have been less stereotypical. Less cliché.

Maybe that’s part of being a writer. Being a bit of a cliché. At least I’ve quit the cigarettes, even if the alcohol shows no sign of stopping.

We keep trucking though. We’re human, and we know we aren’t perfect no matter how many people try to put us on pedestals with their words and expectations. No matter how much we hate ourselves for our lack of perfection.

I’m occasionally guilty of loving myself. Of being okay with my out of shape body and never sits right hair, of liking my wonky tits and the shirts I’ve had since high school that I still wear for the memories. Of sitting down at my computer desk and typing up a novel that I want to write because even if it sucks, it’s a story I have to tell. Sometimes I think about how hard I worked to get through my BA, how far I’ve come since high school and the sad, broken girl lying on the floor of her bathroom, not caring if she gets blood on the tiles because then at least she’s feeling something. I feel lucky that I work in a basement with a dozen other nerds who type at inhuman speeds, that I can read at the speed of light and make ten bucks an hour part time practically right out of college. Lucky that I have people in my life who love to watch funny movies and mix strange drinks and make really bad penis jokes. That I have a boyfriend who loves me no matter how down I get on myself.

Maybe I’m mediocre. Maybe I’ve fucked up in too many ways to count. Maybe I’m just a hack.

But hating myself for it is no way to live my life. It isn’t living.

So, sometimes, if I try really hard and nobody else is around to see, I love my life. And in doing so, just for a little while, I really live.