Monthly Archives: October 2013

Pickup Truck

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The cup warms my hand as I lift it to my lips, grateful for the heat that slides down my throat as I sip at my coffee. It’s chilly in the kitchen where I sit, at the little breakfast table by the window. Toast and eggs sit before me, untouched. This is my third cup of coffee.

I watch as he trudges, wrench in hand, out to the old ford that has been planted in the yard like an oak since the day it broke down two years ago. It never gets any attention unless we fight. If he and I fight, that pickup truck becomes the most important thing in his world. The Ford’s rusted blue fender is dented and scratched, the hood a mismatched red the color of dried blood. And I sigh, seeing the similarities between the car and my husband as his shoulders slump, his hand goes to his back, sore from sleeping on the couch. He will work for a few hours or days, however long it takes him to work out what went wrong with us, or until I give in unconditionally and ask him to come back to bed.

I sigh and take another sip as he heaves up the hood of the ancient truck, searching for the problem, why the engine won’t turn over or the brakes don’t work.

I don’t know what’s wrong , I just know it isn’t working anymore. 

 

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Roommates

I wrote this as an assignment for my creative writing class. The assignment was to take a cliched situation and add a twist at the end that brought other pieces of the story to light. I hope you like it. 

The shouting bounced through the halls of the dorm.

Room 220 was usually quiet, its two occupants barely speaking to each other as they floated through their studies, activities, lives. The tall, willowy girl with mousy hair and alabaster skin, Alison, tended to be the more outgoing of the two, but even she rarely spoke when in her own room if her roommate was present. And her roommate Annabelle, small, and so thin a strong bass note from the parties that raged upstairs might break her, barely spoke at all.

It hadn’t always been so quiet in their room. The first few weeks the two girls had gotten along splendidly. They shared interests in books and movies, and they were taking many of the same classes. It looked as if they would be the best of friends, until Annabelle got a boyfriend. Annabelle was very quiet, so it was a surprise, even to her, when Ben in their chemistry class asked her out. She’d said yes though, whispered it really. And ever since the two girls just hadn’t gotten on the same. Alison had barely uttered a word to her roommate since. Even though Ben and Annabelle broke up after only a few weeks, the two girls never resumed their friendship.

Annabelle spent most evenings curled on her bed, books spread around her, buttery hair splayed across her baby pink comforter. Whenever Alison had friends in the room Annabelle walled herself in with books, hiding, protecting herself. But Alison rarely had friends in the room. She usually studiously ignored Annabelle. Headphones in, laptop open, she sat on the futon under her lofted bed, keeping the legs of her bed between them as a barrier to conversation.

Things probably would have continued in this way, each girl seemingly ignoring the other, if Annabelle hadn’t accidentally picked up one of Alison’s skirts when she did laundry one Tuesday. And that night, when she returned with her basket, in it was one horribly shrunken and misshapen scrap of fabric that used to be Alison’s skirt.

“Um… Alison?” Annabelle ventured. She didn’t usually speak to her roommate, so it took Alison a minute to realize what was happening.

Alison tugged an ear bud from her ear, barely looking up. Annabelle stood next to her closet, the remnants of the skirt in hand. It had obviously been a delicate wash only item, and Annabelle didn’t have any such clothing. It was irrevocably ruined.

“What’s up?” Alison asked, eyes on her screen.

Annabelle held up the ruined skirt. “I’m really sorry, but I think I accidentally washed one of your skirts, and-”

“Is that mine?” Alison was on her feet and had the skirt before Annabelle could finish her sentence. The smaller girl shrunk backwards, almost into her closet.

“It’s ruined!” Alison screeched, her voice echoing through the dorm walls, which were thin as newsprint. “Why would you wash this?!”

“I’m sorry,” Annabelle whispered, still clutching one of her own shirts.

Alison’s voice filled the tiny room. “How dare you? I bet you wore my clothes and just forgot to put it back! Didn’t you?”

“No! I-”

“You never respect my privacy! You’re always looking thought my things!” Alison’s face was flushed, and she towered over Annabelle, her height almost comical next to Annabelle’s petite form.

Annabelle was practically cowering. “I don’t! It was an accident!”

“An accident,” scoffed Alison.

“It was!” Annabelle said, as firmly as she had even said anything.

Alison spun away from her roommate, her brown hair whipping around her. She raked one hand through the dark waves, the other still clasped the ruined skirt.

She flung herself onto the futon, plopping her head into her hands. “Ugh!”

“Look Alison, I’m really sorry.” Annabelle tried, edging out of the closet, trying to extricate herself from the hanging sweaters that had engulfed her.

Alison’s voice was stony, but she kept her head down. “I don’t care about the skirt Annabelle.”

Annabelle stepped forward to stand in front of the futon, hands spread in front of her, a yellow top still slung over one arm. “Yes, you do, and I’m really sorry.”

“I said I didn’t care Anna!” Alison burst out, jumping to her feet, she ripped the shirt from Annabelle’s arm, wrenching it apart, shredding it until the small golden pieces of fabric drifted to the floor.

Annabelle’s face grew crimson, and she drew up to the very tallest her small frame would support. “That was my favorite shir-”

But Alison cut her off.

With her lips.

On

Annabelle’s

Lips.

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Apple Pie

My toe nail polish was chipping. I distinctly remember looking down and feeling a slight flash of embarrassment that quickly faded, replaced by something softer and darker. The pale pink she had slathered haphazardly on my nails, giggling when she dripped or painted my skin, was weeks old now, chipping. I hadn’t considered taking it off.

Your hand grazed my hip.

“Look,” you said, holding a tomato before me, and I wrenched my eyes from the fragmented paint below to meet yours, not looking at the vegetable, or fruit, I supposed, as an afterthought.

“Mmm,” I managed in response, turning like I was looking at the cucumbers. I wasn’t.

We were at the farmers’ market. The sun too low in the sky still to make being awake acceptable, but you had made my roommate let you in and then dragged me bodily from my bed. “It’ll be good for you,” my roommate had mumbled softly as you’d pulled me from my room, the first time in days I’d really seen sun.

The vendors filled the air with the soft sounds of morning chit chat and the bright smells of fresh produce, but I studied my toes. Brooding. Her giggle as she painted my toes resounding in my head.

You touched two fingers to my chin, surprising me, and I looked up, looked at you.

“Look at the tomato, Kat.”

“Yes. Tomato,” I murmured, and when you sighed, “I don’t like tomatoes, Kyle.”

My first real sentence in…days? Definitely the first today.

You held my wrist lightly, pulling me to the next booth, where peaches sat like fat boils in the sun, pink and red, glistening. The smell of them ripe, too ripe, the scent cloying, overpowering, and I shook my head, studied my toes.

I pulled my wrist free, and wandered a little bit away from you. You let me go, pretended to select a peach, but I saw your eyes follow me. I was annoyed, assuming all the creases in your brow were concern, only concern.

I roamed away from you, no destination in mind, wandering between booths.

The summer wind brushed my hair across my eyes and I turned, spinning so that the wind blew my hair back, cooling my face. A vendor called to me, and I turned towards him, his direction as good as any. I picked up one of his strawberries, lethargically, uncaringly, but it was red, her favorite color, and it called to me more than anything else I’d seen today.

“Try it,” the man, the vendor told me, eagerly.

I shrugged, and brought the berry to my lips, his eagerness urging me on, but not my own. The soft skin of it puckered as I bit, juice flooding my mouth, and memory flooding my mind.

She had made pie. Strawberry pie, years before, her first attempt, I think, and she sat on my kitchen counter, waving a fork at me playfully. That giggle bouncing off the yellow walls.

“Try it, Kat!” I was reluctant for some reason, maybe because I knew this pie was her first, and because this was before she learned the use of a timer in cooking. “C’mon!”  She’d pulled me forward, from where I stood at the stove.

I opened my mouth reluctantly, and allowed her to dollop the pie onto my tongue. And then I sprayed whipped cream at her, exploding in giggles. “It’s terrible!”

“It’s terrible,” I told the vendor, smiling a little, my muscles unsure of the almost forgotten expression.

His face fell but I turned, picking up a grape, and tried it too, wandering away from the stunned man with the strawberries that really weren’t so terrible.

I noticed my toes again. I hadn’t painted them since she had. I’d worn closed toed shoes, pumps I think, last weekend, black of course. Everything had been black.

I glanced up and caught you watching me again, and saw the flash in your eye, of concern, pity, I was sure.

I turned away and saw them glistening in the morning sun, red like blood and love and pain. I thoughtlessly picked one up, hefting it in my hand, feeling its imperfect red skin, smoothing my thumb across its curve. I took a bite, unthinking, and I broke, unexpectedly crippled by an unassuming fruit.

It didn’t mean to hurt me. It didn’t know apples were her favorite.

That if she was here, if she weren’t gone, my best friend would be fawning over the apples. Tasting each of the colors and picking her favorites, lugging home bags and bags of apples.

And you find me that way, broken by that apple, my one hand braced on the table, the other clutching the offending fruit, the vendor looking at me like she’s worried I might puke on her table.

You wrap your arms around me, my back to your chest. A small voice in my head realizes this is new for us. You’ve never held me. You whisper in my ear, knowing somehow, already, this scene had broken me.

“Remember the apple pie on your eighteenth birthday?” You paused, pulling me away from the booth, still embracing me, so that we stood under a tree, slightly away from the rest of the market.

I remembered. She had made apple pie, a huge apple pie. I’d been irritated at her, mad that she’d made her own favorite for my birthday instead of mine. I sighed, relaxing against you, and a tear slipped from the corner of my eye.

“And then she brought out the other pies. The chocolate, the cherry, the lemon, and,” you chuckled, “the coconut cream pie.”

The coconut cream pie that somehow, had ended up plastered across my face. I realized, though my cheeks were wet, that I was smiling again. The second time I’d thought of her and smiled in weeks.

You chuckled again. “It took you the rest of the night to get all of the whipped cream out of your hair, but you smiled the whole time.”

“Most people just get to blow out candles,” A sob shook me, but my smile widened, the conflicting emotions crashing within me, threatening to overwhelm, but you centered me, turning me to face you.

“She wouldn’t want you to be sad, Kat,” you tell me softly, so softly, “not this sad. She would want you to eat apples for her and smile.”

And it was like you’d given me permission to breathe air I didn’t know I needed, my breath came rushing in, soothing my aching chest, allowing my sobs to wrack me, for a moment, and then calm. You pulled me to your chest, soothing me, whispering to me.

And when my tears finally slowed, you curled the apple in my hand and held it to my lips, urging me to bite, letting the memories of her, that I had been trying so hard to suppress, fill me as my mouth filled with the sweet taste of apple.

I closed my eyes for a minute, my mind clearing, and then, all at once realized the truth, about your crumpled brow and watchful eyes.

Before I could think better of it, knowing only that she, impulsive and glorious as she was, would have been proud, I rocked forward, touching my lips to yours.

That day, with your arms around me, an apple still in my hand, and your lips on mine, I began to heal, to allow myself to let go of the pain and just remember the giggles, the fingernail polish, the pies.

And the kiss tasted like apples.

 

 

 

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