Sunday, April 29, 2012

Girl Games

It sure seems dark tonight.  I guess there aren’t as many stars in the sky.  The lights on the bridge are the same.  So are the car headlights.  I sit in the same place, on the same rock every time I stop here. I like this rock, and I like sitting by the river, even if it does smell kind of salty and dirty.  The waves look green, don’t they? I think it’s a reflection off the bridge. Pretty smart eh? Yeah. Reflection. That’s what it is.

I saw Sandra in the cafeteria at lunch on Friday and she said she’d tell her parents if I kept following her home from school.  I don’t know why she made such a big deal about it.  I thought she liked me following her.  She smiled at me twice in the hallway and once in Chemistry.  I thought she finally liked me.  I guess I got it wrong again, like last year with Bethany. Girls play all sorts of games, I can’t figure it out.  

My buddies act the same stupid way too.  One minute you’re freaking best friends and then the next minute they tell you to get lost.  Lorne was a pretty good guy until he made goalie.  Now he won’t even look at me in class.  He sits in the back with that dweeb Mike who plays centre on the hockey team and they crack jokes all through Mrs. Langston’s English class.  It’s not right; she’s one of the few nice teachers we’ve got.  But Lorne and Mike are on ‘the team’ and that makes them gods.  Just ask ‘em, they’ll tell you all about it.  Of course, Lorne did kick his new best friend when Mike called me a dyke. I appreciated that show of support. He didn’t say anything but it was a pretty good kick in the thigh.

My brother Pete told me that I should stop being a tomboy and start acting like a girl.  I told him that I don’t have to because with the way he acts, Mom and Dad already have a daughter.  I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings but geez, come on.  I’m fifteen.  I know all about what I should be doing.  Doesn’t make it any easier to actually do it.  That’s why I like, no wait, make that ‘liked’, that’s why I liked Sandra.  She knows what she’s doing when it comes to being a girl.  

Sandra and I were friends in grade six.  That’s how long I’ve known her.  But I tell you, she really has changed since then.  Yeah, I know she’s older, I’m not an idiot.  But in grade six, all Sandra and I talked about was softball.  We learned it together.  I was a great pitcher and a great hitter; still have a good arm actually.  And Sandra – Sandra could run.  I could get her home from any base she landed on.  I hit the ball and she flew.  I’ll tell you a secret.  The best thing about softball that year was seeing Sandra run.  

Anyways, one day, we were sitting in the dugout after the game and she was talking about how she thought it was great that I could always get the baseball to the exact spot I wanted it to go.  Her arm was not meant for throwing.  So we went up onto the field, and I tried to show her.  I took her hand and explained how to grip the ball for maximum control. Then I stood behind her and showed her how to swing her arm.  We did that a few times, but as I was swinging her arm, with my arm holding hers in the right position, I couldn’t stop myself.  I leaned in and smelled her hair.  I stuck my face right into her golden brown-with-blonde-highlights-from-the-sun-hair and I took a deep breath.  

That wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done.  Sandra jumped away from me, like I’d given her an electric shock or something.  She turned and looked at me – stared right into my eyes. I stared back but I didn’t say anything, I couldn’t figure out how to explain what I’d done. Even then I knew she wouldn’t understand and I couldn’t make her.  Sandra kept looking at me but she didn’t say anything either. Her face kept changing, right in front of me.   It was like she went from being scared to being disgusted to being happy to being scared again.  We must have looked pretty odd, the two of us, standing under the lights on the diamond just staring at each other.

Sandra finally looked away and said she was riding her bike home so had to leave before it got dark.  I remember it perfectly because she ran across the diamond over to where the bikes were kept at the side of the field’s parking lot. I was mad she was leaving but she looked beautiful when she ran away.

Since that day, Sandra has only ever spoken to me when she was forced.  But like I said, last week was different.  She kept smiling at me.  Well, she smiled at me three times.  Smiling three times at a person you haven’t even wanted to look at for years? That’s a lot, isn’t it? No wonder I got the wrong idea. 

So I thought I’d follow her home, to see if she would talk to me.  Walking behind her was cool.  Like I said, she knows what she’s doing when it comes to being a girl. And I can tell you, I mean that from the front and from the back.  I know girls aren’t supposed to look at other girls’ butts but when you’re walking behind someone, what else are you going to look at?  A butt is the only thing then.  
Sandra knew I was there because when she got to her house, she turned as she was putting the key in the door, and looked right over at me standing beside her dad’s truck.   We walked to her house the same way two days in a row after that.  But on Friday, she walked over to me in the cafeteria and told me to get lost.  She said it kind of quietly but I knew she meant it.  She looked like she was going to cry.  I didn’t want to make her cry so I told her she didn’t have to tell me to get lost.  I wasn’t going to follow her again anyways.  I said that quietly too.  You never know in that cafeteria who’s listening to what conversation.  Anyways, it was just like in Grade Six softball again.  Sandra stared at me and I stared back, neither of us saying a word until she looked away after a few minutes, and said she had to go because her next class was French.  The language labs are on the other side of our high school.

So that’s it really.  I wouldn’t be thinking about any of this except tonight I got a phone call from her.   She said she wanted to meet me and talk.  Which is funny when you think about it - we aren’t much good at talking, her and I.  I’m willing to give it a shot though.  Sandra said she knew where I sat beside the bridge.  I don’t know how she knows this spot, I’ve never told anyone.  I didn’t ask her.  She said to meet her here at five o’clock.  I got here at four thirty.  I wanted her to know it was important to me.  

It’s five after five now, and here she comes down the path.  Wow, I sure am glad she’s late.  She still looks beautiful when she runs.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction - Explosive

You said it had been a hard day at work, with your idiot coworkers and late deliveries at the loading dock.

You said I should be grateful you were working, looking after our family while I wasted money on things only I wanted.

You said I was lucky that you would even look at me, and you pushed, and punched, and kicked me down the hall.

You said I better pretend to enjoy it because you’d had enough backtalk from the bitches who’d slept their way into manager jobs.

And when you finished, you said you were sorry, and you said it would never happen again…or again…or again…or again.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Once Upon a Time Flash Fiction Contest : Maddie White

Four days to cheque Wednesday and Maddie’s broke. The money from February lasted two weeks, which was record breaking, but now the rent’s been paid and it’s back to walking alleys, looking in restaurant dumpsters for food.  As with most things in her life, she finds that timing is everything.  If you don’t get to the dumpster quickly, rats get dibs on leftovers. Maddie knows. She’s fought with a few of them for donuts when she was desperate.

She pushes her bangs out of her eyes.  Her thick black hair can be unruly so she wears a bowed red velvet ribbon to tame it.  The ribbon was a gift from her father on her 17th birthday.  It was the only present he ever bought her and Maddie figures he shot himself to get out of buying her another on her 18th.

Annaluk scores crack several blocks away and says she’s brought some back for Maddie to make the day go faster.  Maddie remembers too well the feeling last time Annaluk shared her stash, so says thanks, I’d appreciate it.

Laying down so Annaluk can shoot the day-hastening pain relief directly into her jugular,  Maddie waits for the blissful feeling to overtake her. And for a few minutes, it does. But then, she starts to shake. Her ivory white skin turns ashen and the shaking turns into violent tremours.  Annaluk calls down the alley to the medic team trolling the neighbourhood distributing clean needles, then runs off in the opposite direction.

Thirty-six hours later, Maddie stirs in bed, squinting  in pained recognition she’s in the hospital. Opening her eyes, she tries to focus on the face looking down at her.  After several minutes she realizes the face she’s staring into is a handsome one, complete with kind blue eyes.  The intern smiles as he watches her closely. And then, as if anticipating the questions now rushing through her brain, Dr. Reg Alprince shows his hospital identification card, introduces himself and says:

“Welcome back Maddie.  You’ve been asleep for quite a long time.  I’m glad I was here to wake you up."

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I had a birthday this week and I've found that my birthdays send me face first flying into a time of reflection.  I reflect, I ponder, I hope and I wonder.

The past year has been filled with newness and change; the change hasn't been in my circumstances - I still live in the same apartment, still work at the same job, still struggle along on a tight budget.  No, the changes that I'm talking about are different than those realities.  This past year I took a leap of faith in myself and decided to say aloud, to people close to me and to acquaintances alike, that I write.  I am a writer.

This kind of declaration can be exhilarating.  It can also be scary as hell.  Once you say anything aloud, it makes it more real, doesn't it?  The idea bursts out of your cranium and becomes a call to action.  Now you've said it, you need to do something about it.

When I was in grade 9, our English class read the play "the effect of the gamma rays on the man in the moon marigolds".  As was usually the case, because my voice was, shall we say, more pronounced than the other kids, I had to read the part of the mother.  Perhaps it was because of what was going on in my life at that time, perhaps it was because it was so well written, perhaps it was because I was in love with the words, I read the part very well; I read it so well, the teacher took me aside and told me I should try out for the local theatre group.  Yeah right.  I may have faked bravado very well back then but I was painfully shy.  Painfully. So I said  thank you very much and never read anything in a play again.

But tucked away in my heart, what I had 'heard' the teacher say to me was that I could be an actress!  How wonderful a thought! The only way that I could keep thinking that thought was if I never tested the possibility.  If I had tried and failed, another dream in my teenage life would have been shattered. So I never said it aloud. I kept it sealed away in my heart as a secret talisman, as an affirmation that great things might be possible in the future.

As an adult, I've learned, in fits and starts, that it is actually empowering to take a chance on yourself. By taking action, you seek to drive the future rather than it driving you. The first time I noticed this was when I quit a job as a bank teller to look for work in Human Resources.  Quitting my job back then was insanity. I had no backup plan.  But I had been working in jobs since age 17, sometimes two (one summer I worked three) at a time.  These jobs that would never be satisfying in terms of the work, only in terms of paying my bills and tuition.  So, one day, I stood tall and decided I deserved more, I deserved to be happy.  And somehow, I made it happen.

With writing, as soon as I thought "I think I write" I began building my confidence and writing little stories.  Then I gradually got the nerve to put the stories on this blog. Everything has grown from that one thought.

What all of this is about is that saying "I write" has opened my world to possibilities and ideas and people I would have never encountered otherwise.  I now am connected, in varying degrees, to 50 people who follow this blog and over 250 people who follow me on twitter.  There is a small, hardy, dear group of people who are interested in what I have to say.  There are writers that I admire so much it makes my head spin whom I can now call my friends.  And there are a core group of people on Twitter who make me smile and laugh, who cajole, who lend a shoulder, who share hugs and stories and secrets and joy and who expand my horizons farther than I could have ever imagined.

For one year, I think that is some damn good change.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction - Scorching

This afternoon, after three-hole punching my homework assignment and tucking it into my binder, I walked out of history class, turned the corner by the language labs, and heard our friendship ending as you spoke to Missy Hamilton:  “Abigail just hates her mom, we all know what that’s like.”

     “But why does Abigail hate her; her mom sure doesn’t seem like the angry Thunderdome bitch that cooks me dinner.”

     “Well don’t tell anybody, but her mom’s a drunk…like she drinks A LOT…the other day we walked home together and when we went inside Abigail’s house, her mom was passed out on the sofa in the living room.”

Missy said she wouldn’t tell anyone what you had said, which we both know means she will start her Tuesday tomorrow by telling everyone she sees.

But don’t worry Susan, I’ll be sure to tell Missy about why you hate your Dad; I want her to have a happy Wednesday too.