Proud

Proud

Last night’s class confirmed my revelations from last week about needing to slow down. It was the first time I felt like the conduit my characters were speaking through that my teacher always refers to.

This week taught me to trust what I am learning even when I doubt my ability to do it. I decided to submit the short story I wrote for class. Not only because it was well-received but because I was proud of the work. Proud of the work I put in and proud I finally listened to characters that were asking for a voice.

It’s to Put Flowers In…

It’s to Put Flowers In…

Another challenge from my Pens Up, Fears Down writing workshop: Write a 2-page story with the prompt about an uninvited guest showing up early to a party.

I am standing in front of my dresser, silently cursing myself for not being a grown-up yet. Why don’t I have a decent jewelry box that holds everything I need? I quickly picked up earrings and a necklace that was spilling from the box. I surveyed myself in the mirror and nodded, pleased at the way the jewelry sparkled against my black dress.

“Sean, can you zip me up? I call out to my husband. He jogs up the steps, secures me in my dress and doesn’t even wait for me to do my obligatory spin and “Well, how do I look?” before jogging back down to continue watching his game. I shake my head and follow him downstairs.

I was arranging the hors d’oeuvres and asked Sean “Do you think we have enough food?”

“Yes, and if there is anything else we need, I can go out and grab it.” he reassures me.

“I know you’re right. I just want everything to be perfect for Mom. She is going to be so surprised!”

“I know. And she deserves it. You know what? I do think we need more ice though.”

“Hurry back, you know my sister will be right on time. “

Sean left and I paced the floor. I started fluffing pillows and refolding throw blankets. A couple of minutes later, I heard a frantic knock on the door.

“I bet you that is Ash. She just had to be early.” I muttered aloud as I raised up on my toes to look into the peephole and then I stumbled backwards. Definitely not Ash. It was our father. Why is he here? I huffed to myself…And how did he know to come here tonight?

The bell rung and there was another loud knock. I could not bring myself to wrap my hands around the knob. My fingers were shaking. It’s like he has a radar for when things are going well for her, well for us. Even through  the doubt and wishing Sean was home to deal with him, I decided to push through the hesitation. I can’t just leave him on the doorstep, exposed to the whole neighborhood. He probably would just stand there and wait to shuffle in with the throng of guests. I turned the knob.

“Hi Daddy.” I said softly.

“Hi Sweetheart, he replied, tucking his gift underneath his arm and stretching the other out for a hug. I received it reluctantly.

“So, you just stopping by?”

He just stared at me instead of answering and then proceeded to walk right past me and set his gift down on the table.

“Ash invited me. And I wanted to come. I haven’t seen your mother in two years. I just want to say Happy Birthday. This has gone on too long.”

“Daddy, I don’t want any trouble tonight. You can leave the gift. I’ll tell her it’s from you. You are free to call her if you want. No guarantee she’ll pick up. But just call her. I only want to see Mom smile tonight.” With that, I took his hand, hoping the sting of the door I was now holding open would be softened.

“Zora?”

“Yes? I bought her a vase. She always loved them, it’s to put flowers in. I never gave her enough flowers.”

I nodded and watched him as he walked into the night, his head down. I picked up the box, felt the weight of the vase.

“It’s to put flowers in.” I repeated aloud.

 

 

 

 

A Proposition

A Proposition

 

I’m taking a class that is stretching every fiber, tendon, bone, vessel in my body entitled “Pens Up, Fears Down.” We were assigned to write a short story using three words we randomly picked from a bag. I haven’t attempted to write a short story in a long time but was thrilled with the challenge. Here is “A Proposition”:

I’ve just returned to the house after running errands and start putting away everything from his grocery list: apples, bananas, chicken breasts, broccoli spears, oatmeal, almond milk and his one vice: thick loaves of French bread. I spill apples on the kitchen island and quickly pile them in the mauve fruit bowl. I fish a water bottle out of my purse and take a long swallow.

            There is a nook with a pillowed bench nestled underneath a tall and expansive bay window. I sit there and unhook the clasp of my leather-bound journal. I begin to jot down things I wish I had the courage to say aloud. After a while, I snap it shut. I go upstairs, gripping the wooden railing with one hand and his dry cleaning with the other. I hang the shirts up in the guest room.

            I tiptoe into the bathroom, as if anyone is home to be disturbed by a heavy footstep. I strip off my clothes, leaving my heap of sale rack wears on the heated floor. I perch on the edge of the clawfoot tub, watching it fill up before pouring the Mango Butter Bath Oil into the water. I like the alternating cool and warm streams of air disrupting my bare skin. I pour two capfuls and ease myself in, relishing the luxury and the silence.

            About forty-five minutes later, I grab a lavender towel and wrap it around my body, cinching it at my chest. I peer down, admiring how the color compliments my skin. If he could only see me, I think, pleased at the image I was conjuring up. I lift the stopper and watch remnants of me swirl and disappear down the drain. I spray a cleanser over the porcelain, rinse the tub, and wipe it dry. I focus on my reflection in the mirror and turn my face, inspecting my chin and jaw line. I could use a facial. I shrug my shoulders, grab a body butter from a woven basket and massage it onto my skin, letting it seep into my pores.

            Once fully dry, I set off for the closet. It would be a haven for any fashionista. Swaths of fabric and color delight and overwhelm me. I finally choose the floral print summer dress with the flouncy skirt, cotton blend and Italian silk. I slip it over my head and watch it settle over the curves and angles. I twirl over and over again, catching my reflection in the full-length mirror at each turn.

            I know I am daring to stay a little longer this time. But a single thought persists, feeding my tunnel vision: I belong here…with him. I hear a creaking sound which stops me mid-spin, my reverie interrupted. I put everything back in its place methodically, with deft movements I’ve perfected over the last two years. Jogging down the steps with the laundry basket and used towel in tow, I realize paranoia has gotten the best of me. No one is here. I shove the linens and detergent in the washer and start a new cycle.

            “Ronda?”

            “Hi.” I’m back here in the laundry room!” I call out. He appears in the doorway.

            “I have a proposition for you.”

            My eyes widen, filled with anticipation and longing. “Yes?”

            “What would you think of increasing your hours Monday through Thursday and in return, we give you Fridays off?”

            “That works for me. Thanks, Gabe!”

            “It’s settled then. See you tomorrow! Oh, and tell Michael I said hello. I am sure he will appreciate having his wife home on Fridays.”

            “I think so, too. See you tomorrow.”

Can you guess the three words I was tasked to use? Comment below.  I hope this encourages you to take a leap and write a piece in a genre that is uncomfortable or new to you.