Archive for May, 2011

26th May
2011
written by amber

Jessie Goes On a Date

Among the mistakes I’ve made in my life, this was a big one. If I were a less mature person, I’d blame my friends, but I know it was my own choice. True, they’ve been bugging me non-stop about Jonah. They continue to go to the bar where I met him, even though I won’t go with them. None of them know my past with the guy, my school-girl crush on him for so many years, the cruel way he rejected me in high school. They think I’m a stuck-up, prejudiced girl who won’t give a handicapped fellow a chance. They claim they’d date him themselves if they didn’t have boyfriends.

I don’t have a boyfriend. I had a relationship while I was in university that’s going to take me a long time to recover from, but my friends don’t know about that. I’m not ready to date again, but it began to seem that the only way to get them off my back was to go on a date with someone other than Jonah.

I picked the safest man I could think of, a co-worker at the town’s Recreation Department who has always been friendly to me in a brotherly, not a flirty, kind of way. He’s a bit younger than me, he works at the same place as I do, he knew the date was just to prove to my friends that I do go on dates. He’s always traipsing through the department with one or another pretty girl in tow. I thought I was safe.

Boy, was I wrong.

Steven was a perfect gentleman, taking me out to a far nicer restaurant than I’d expected, insisting on paying for everything himself, even though I’d asked him on the date, inviting me for a walk down by the river after we ate, before the blues band was due to start at the club he’d suggested. And that’s when the confession came – he’s had the hots for me ever since I started working for the town, he never thought he had a chance with me, he was thrilled to discover that I wanted to start a relationship. I protested that I’d told him the date was a smokescreen, but he said he intuited my true motive. He could see how lonely I am. He was going to save me.

Then he lunged at me, bumbling me into a clumsy embrace, bringing his lips perilously near to mine. I leapt back, almost falling into the river. Keeping out of his arms’ reach, I marched back towards his car, not sure if I’d let him drive me home or if I’d call a taxi. I told him as firmly as possible that all I would permit between us was friendship, the way we’d been before, and if he tried to push it further, the friendship would end and the work environment would become very uncomfortable.

“Okay, okay, Jessie, I get it,” he said, but his eyes were still twinkling with unextinguished hope and I swear he had one hand behind his back, fingers crossed.

Now things are uncomfortable as hell at work, I have one more secret to keep from my friends and they are still extolling the virtues of Jonah to me.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

25th May
2011
written by amber

Ritual

For years it was innocuous.  It seemed normal. If she was a little inflexible about it, it was because she’d learned that her day went better if she followed her morning ritual. Get up, wash and dress in loose comfortable clothing, shake out her yoga mat and do some stretches, eat a light breakfast, change into work clothing and go to the office.

Over the years, she developed some preferences. Loose shirts worn for yoga were annoying when she did inversions.  She bought a shirt, stretchy and breathable, from a local hemp store, but it was very expensive. She could only afford one, and she wasn’t happy when it was in the wash and she had to wear something else. Sometimes she’d just skip yoga if she couldn’t wear her favourite shirt.

She developed a fondness for Earl Grey tea, followed by a particular fondness for a loose leaf Earl Grey ordered on line, coupled with a preference for a high fat yogurt from an organic grocery store on the other side of town. She was a person with refined tastes, she told herself, but at work, her stomach rumbling, she didn’t confess that she’d gone without breakfast because the organic grocery store closed for two weeks for renovations. Her co-workers wouldn’t have understood that she’d rather eat nothing than eat the wrong yogurt. At lunch, she could eat anything, drink anything. Morning was for perfection, otherwise the entire day was jinxed.

Her tea cups were old, antique, she had only two left, and one had a chip. She found herself thinking of it as ‘the devil cup.’ If she had company, she made sure they got the bad cup, not out of malice, but because she knew they were immune to its threat. She kept it at the back of the cupboard, yet one morning found it in her hand, full of tea which she had to immediately pour down the drain.

She tried to throw the cup away, but her hand was stayed just above the bin by a force she could not identify. Was it the devil cup itself, or her fear of it?

On the bus to work that day, she wondered if she needed help to break out of her ritual, if it was too constricting, too obsessive.  But by the time she arrived at her stop, she’d decided to put the devil cup into a box in her storage room and look for an identical china set on line.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story was triggered by a suggestion from StoryADay.org which is a website devoted to encouraging writers to produce a story a day for the month of May.

24th May
2011
written by amber

Immigrants

You asked me to describe what our life is like here on Antio. If you receive this info bud, here is the answer.

We mostly stay in the human compound.  We’re more comfortable with the gravity there, and we don’t need to wear the nasal plugs.  We can work from our terminals, we have the cafeteria or the supply kiosks if we prefer to cook in our personal areas, we have the entertainment and exercise rooms. Antio is a beautiful planet but we’re not as comfortable here as we were lead to believe we would be.

Our children, however, love Antio. The heavy gravity is all they have ever known, and every one of them agrees, when they reach the age of consent, to undergo the surgery to implant gas converters in their lungs, so they don’t need nasal plugs. They come and go freely through the gates to the human compound, they go to school and play with the Antian children.

Not a one of us was over the age of 24 when we signed up to come here. They said they wanted married couples so that we wouldn’t be lonely. Our children are reaching adulthood en masse, and we had our first request the other day to allow the surgery enabling sex between a human female and a male Antian. Thank god I have no daughter, but I see by the interest my sons show in this case that they may soon be asking for the surgery for their gender.

We don’t know if our compound is monitored. The Antians have seemed indifferent to us from the moment of our arrival, and not a few of us wonder about the useless nature of the work they invited us here to do. But we are the ones who hated our own societies and planet enough to agree to leave them forever. When we voice our doubts, our children point this out, and speak of their happiness with this beautiful world, the ease of the life here and the exciting new friends they have made.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

23rd May
2011
written by amber

The List

Do we have bacon? Do we have wine? Your grocery lists are never complete. I don’t like having to go back to the store again and again all week. Some things are essential; we should never be without them. Try to consider what we’ll need.  Butter – didn’t you plan to make that shortbread? You ought to think ahead, not rely on me to pick up the slack for your lack of foresight.

Do we have enough toilet paper? Check the drawer and call me back. Also I noticed the aspirin bottle was getting low – have you had any of your headaches lately? You know I hate it when you put the empty bottle back into the cabinet.

Do we need milk? Even if we don’t, add it to the list. Your brother dropped by the other evening when you were at the pool. I left him alone in the kitchen for just a moment but you know how he sometimes drinks right from the carton.

What? Well, if he does it at his house, he’d probably do it at our house too.

Do we have a new crossword puzzle book? I’m almost finished the one I’ve been doing before bed. Write it down, write it down. I’ll want the list the moment I come up the driveway from the bus stop. I won’t even come in, I’ll just take the car and head for the grocery store.

Do we have enough gas?

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

Thanks to my mother, Mary Bond, for suggesting this first line which she overheard on the street from a person talking on their cell phone.

22nd May
2011
written by amber

Cats

All night long, like bubbles in a boiling pot, the cats rise one or two at a time, rub against her neck or hands, then sink back down to the foot of the bed.  At 4 a.m. they start to mew and miaow and yowl for food, but she does not respond.

Fifteen cats lie on the bed, an interlinked jigsaw of variegated fur.  Three more shy cats huddle beneath the bed and the solitary one watches from his perch on a high cupboard.  Friends and even strangers have brought some of them to her, but most find her on their own, gypsy cats reading the signs scratched on her fence posts.

The cats seethe and fuss, demanding food, but still she ignores them. Food comes, they have learned, after talking.  She might say, “Bugger off, it’s not even 5 a.m.” or “Can’t a person get a little sleep-in around here? You kept me up half the night.” But today there is no talking.

The sun peeks through the window, casting weak light across the furred bedspread, catching in the threads dangling from the curtain, the curls of wood festooning the lower reaches of the doorframe. And still she will not talk nor will she rise, grumbling, to feed them. She bats weakly at them when, en masse, they stand sentry on her shoulder and the pillow, staring.

Talking sometimes involves the talking stick. Rosey, the eldest, knocks it free and Burns walks across the buttons. A small voice emerges from the talking stick, “911, what is your emergency?”

And still she will not talk. The solitary one, the hungriest of all because the others kept him from the food the previous day, jumps down. Twitches travel up and down his back as he braves proximity, tail high and expanding. He dashes toward her face and swipes at her cheek, claws rampant.

“Bugger off!” she moans, “Can’t you see I’m sick?”

The cats nudge the talking stick toward her and finally she pulls it to her mouth, weeping, “I’m sick, I’m sick, help me.”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

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