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You’re given one word and one minute to write. It was my first time. Break please!
She walks into the water which is changing colors from summer teal to winter gray. The waves are tiny. How much longer must she walk before she gets caught in a riptide?
I’m not sure about this. I did it quickly and it began going one way and went into an entirely different direction I feel uncomfortable with yet need to explore
The fear that has gripped her tightly refuses to abandon both her body and her mind. She wants to scream. What would that do? Anybody who hears her would just think she’s crazy. Really her scream would be similar to the sound of one hand clapping.
Once she had a good life. A great life really. She remembers the days of champagne and music. Men crowding around her. Wanting to make her laugh. Her low giggle would turn into a contagious roar she was incapable of stopping. Tears would come from her eyes. Somehow that was attractive.
She never really understood that. There was a lot she never really understood, she thinks, as she reaches for a cigarette in the overflowing crystal ashtray on the glass and sterling silver vanity; vestiges of the life she used to have.
He walks into the room. He’s like every damn cliche she can imagine: unshaven dark hair, half bald he makes up for that by dying his hair with shoe polish, she thinks. A wife beater showing his hairy chest and grungy white boxers that don’t quite hide the parts of his body he forced on her last night.
“You’re late for work,” he says in that accent that’s a combination of uneducated and illiterate.
What would you know about work? she thinks but doesn’t say. Instead she smiles. “I changed shifts. Doing the lobster one.”
It was a gamble to tell Mavis she would be happy to change so that Mavis could be home when her husband comes home from his cross country truck run. She didn’t know how Eddie would take it. Didn’t really care at that moment. For once she wanted to do something good for somebody.
Eddie’s cigarette manages to look like a baseball bat:
“I told you, you can’t change shifts without checking with me. I’m having the guys over for poker.”
“I didn’t know you changed nights.” It’s her job to serve the food, clean after the game, go into the bedroom and be available for any friend who might want her. Though really she’s getting so old. Then again so are they. Sometimes there are young ones. They really like her. For an old broad she’s hot.
Every morning Eddie watches her when she goes on the scale. If she gains anything he won’t let her eat all day. During her breaks and lunch at the factory she eats exactly what Eddie tells her to. She thinks figuring out her diet is the high point of his day.
She sits by herself, during breaks, at the factory. Eddie has his spies everywhere. Sometimes she talks to Mavis, who is new, in the ladies. Mavis doesn’t realize she’s persona non gratis. Mavis likes her educated accent and her look that is as defeated as anybody there but still has a hint of her former life.
She tries to remember how this life happened. It was all so gradual. Except for being fired from the publishing company during the dot com bust. She was an editor with nothing to edit. Nothing personal. Yeah right. For some reason she couldn’t work past the firing and would spend hour upon hour at the bar Eddie hung at mooching drinks off her and everybody else.
One day they drove to Point Hell as all the locals called the town that Eddie’s family had lived in forever. She didn’t remember much about that time. Once she had a great memory. “The memory of an elephant,” people would say as she would give a precise recount of some adventure that had happened years before.
Somehow they ended living in an apartment in a 40′s court. Eddie went back to New York and brought back what he liked of her furniture. He threw out everything that was personal and that she truly cared about.
Her parents had died years ago. Her brother lived somewhere in California. He wasn’t really the family sort. Her friends must have wondered but not cared enough. Or maybe they did and just couldn’t find her.
Eddie brought her out of her reverie. “Call your friend now and tell her you can’t do it.” He brought the cell to her. Usually it was locked along with other things he didn’t want her to get. He stood and watched her make the phone call.
She wished she had the nerve to tell Mavis to call the police. She wanted to be saved. Jesus she wanted to be saved but she didn’t have the strength.
Remember the pink and the pinup? Miss it? I do but want it more sophisticated and can’t afford a custom design right now.
Lianna had to run from the beach and then the field as fast as she could. She wasn’t a very fast runner but adrenaline kicked in and—she tripped.
She looked at the sky with more dread than she could ever remember feeling. To her distant right she could see a large funnel cloud. She couldn’t help but stare as she had never seen one before. To her left were more familiar lightening bolts she had been running from all her life.
Yet the sun was blinding. None of this made sense. She pulled herself up and fast walked to the beaches edge. The field, though a protected bird sanctuary, was filled with cars. Many were turned over; some were on their sides. The people, ohmygod, what had happened when she had been in the water?
She wanted to grasp the people and breath life back into them but she was scared. Should she go back into the ocean? Was that the only safe place?
One person. One live person. That’s all she needed to see. One person; alive, walking and talking would pacify her, but there was nobody.
She opened car doors and grabbed cells. This was no time to be a lady. The fourteenth or fifteenth cell worked. When she tried making calls to those few numbers she knew by heart: her mother, boy friend, best friend and sister, the calls went straight to voice mail.
Now she tried radios. Nothing. Lianna became crazed.
Somehow she made it into town and saw people frozen on the streets and in stores. Would they come back to life she wondered as the lightening kept just missing her and the funnel cloud hit something far away.
Was she the last survivor? She didn’t want to live in a world alone. No she sure didn’t.
“You’re such a disappointment.”
Who the hell are you, I thought but didn’t say. Oh I knew her well. One of the biggest bitches in the city, and the woman people thought was one of my closest of close friends.
She was beautiful. The woman who had borne a rock star his last and favorite child. She didn’t have to do anything but be beautiful. Her life work was decorating his life with color and wit. She wasn’t brash. No, her style was more hit them with kindness. Everybody but me, of course. I saw through her faux kindness. She would bring soup to sick people. Visit everybody’s old aunt. Everybody’s but mine. My relatives weren’t even supposed to be seen by me. I was supposed to accompany her on her mercy missions.
I was supposed to be famous. I was so bright. Such a good writer. Pretty too. The brilliantly wrapped package had a carpenter’s ant or bee hole in one corner causing it to be imperfect. The sparkle was ruined.
My motto had always been, “I live to make your life easier.” As long as I was solving other peoples problems and had no issues of my own I was much desired as a dinner guest, movie to travel companion. But once I brought up any problems or couldn’t fix others I was damaged goods. It was easier to play the saint role.
“You’re such a disappointment,” rings through my head at the oddest times. I wonder how many other people thought or think it but have a bit more class than she does. I walked out of her life the night she said those words.
She contacted me several times. I couldn’t help but think she was trying to lubricate her way back into my life. Not push; not shove nor be nice about it but she acted like a snake that was pretending its venom was harmless.
A lot happened in the ten years since she berated me. My life once again began to belong to me. I wrote a book.
We ran into each other at a Christmas party. The rock star looked old and tired. She had too much work.
My fiancee began to introduce us. I laughed: This is Shelby, my college roommate. I guess I forgot to mention that she lives with Nick.
To Shelby I said I only tell stories about us in college. Everything else is too boring.
If her face could have moved she would have looked at me with horror.
A friend, not at all like Shelby, who I first met at 12 began a blog this week. ChictoChick
This is for 3WW
New York 1987
She was tired. Her whole body hurt. Really she should leave the mosh pit to younger girls but she had been caught up in the moment at the Iggy Pop concert. It had almost felt like flying, being thrown from guy to guy.
OK it had felt great. As if she were weightless and highly desirable though she had no idea what being thrown from person to person had to do with being desirable.
But this morning she felt as if her whole body had been trampled on. She had stayed too late at the VIP room and the after hours club downtown where everybody but the bartender and her were sniffing coke. She stuck to plain soda and pot. At least she didn’t have a hangover. Though it sure felt like one.
After the half hour shower she drank Bustello that she had filled to the brim. It gave her a jolt but not the jolt she needed. She decided she needed a brain and body transfusion as she tried to remember what she had to do at work today. Some meetings she could talk her way through in her sleep. Nothing important.
Shit. She had been staring at the red ribbon without remembering its significance. Tonight there was another memorial service–the fourth she had gone to in the past seven weeks. After the memorial service there was going to be a rally, and tomorrow she was committed to bringing meals all day to boys apartments. Young boys, beautiful boys, successful boys. Boys cut down in their prime. Boys who maybe wouldn’t have had to die if the government hadn’t considered this a “Gay/Haitian” disease until too late.
She called in sick to work. Something that was really anathema to her but….She needed to prepare her eulogy. She really should have stayed home last night writing it but Will would have wanted her to be carried over a mosh pit.
The coffee kicked in as she thought she really did have the zeal of a convert when it came to AIDS though she had never needed to be converted.
There was a time when AIDS was thought to only hit Gays and Haitians. I wasn’t consciously thinking about Haiti when I wrote this but…
The Red Cross makes it real easy to donate to Haiti. They accept Amazon one click. For most of the day today I thought about running away from my life and going to Haiti. For some reason of all the fast moving tragedies of the last decade, this–well it’s one too many.
I heard it’s really hard to get through to the Red Cross and the other orgs collecting money. You can donate directly through Amazon.
This is for 3WW.
As she walked to the kitchen cabinet with two lazy Susan’s, enough antioxidants, supplements and vitamins so that she could go on different regimes every week for two months, she thought that in thirteen days she could clean out her Keogh if she desired. She didn’t desire to and was somewhat impressed with how not-depressed the thought made her.
Six months from 60 is young. She could reinvent herself up to three times more if she so desired….”Desired” she was hung up with being desired. She didn’t want to be younger. She wanted to be the girl who had inspired boys and men to irrational, oft times erratic behavior. Right it was the irrational, erratic she didn’t miss. OK she was guilty of the same.
She had been a drama queen who starred in an epic the Weinstein brothers would be proud to produce.
Was it worth living a temptuous love life when she saw so many couples so at ease with each other? She wouldn’t have known how to begin. Men had always been a drain on her. So why was there a nibble in her ear telling her actually try?
No she wouldn’t. She liked the ease of the boy toy. The nibble on the ear that led to a night of debauchery. Shit she was so immature. Wasn’t there much more to a life of committed sex?
Rick texted. She agreed to meet him at ten in the town’s hotel bar. He was 33. 33 and less than seventeen percent body fat. Young boys, they loved to give body fat stats and really how much else did they have to talk about? Casey Johnson’s death?
She had a nibble of yogurt as her mother would have said, walked out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the master bath and began getting ready.
I am the oldest of four girls. We were known in and around Stone Harbor and Manhattan as the “four gorgeous giddy Grove girls.” “Giddy” because we were.
I’m Anabel. Anissa and Alana are twins; two years three months and three days younger than I am. Alexa is but seventeen months younger than the twins. I’m the accident. I’ve never felt bad about that. Most families have one. Our parents called me the “dynasty maker.” Really they were.
Our mother dressed us all the same. We wore velvet dresses for winter events; organza, lace or polished cotton for summer.
Until I was about twelve I loved being seen with my family. Unlike many of the other mothers, our mother was naturally blond. When our parents married, she converted to Judiasm. Many people including our grandmother thought she wasn’t a real Jew. Our parents didn’t care. And really everybody loved to look at us
Our mother was from the South and her voice was the sweetest most calming sound I had ever heard. When I need to relax today I put on Southern movies for background noise.
When I was twelve our mother told me I could choose my own clothes with her approval of course. When the other girls turned eleven they copied me. I became a hippie. They became hippies.
Our father cringed at our clothes but smiled at our loyalty to one another and the entire Family Grove. Being loyal to the Family Grove meant everything to our father.
Our long thick wavy but never frizzy varying shades of gold and honey hair was called “rich girl hair,” by girls who coveted our lives.
The summer I turned 20, my former fiancee Hunter married our cousin Sabrina. Being her only cousins we were all bridesmaids. I remember walking up the aisle, looking at my sisters and wondering why they were smiling a bit too brightly, not that anybody would notice. I don’t think anybody noticed Anissa seemingly gently touching the bride’s dress. Sabrina tripped as she reached the pulpit.
I choked on my laughter. I remember looking at my sisters and thinking how almost obscene it was that we cared so much about each other. Despite Hunter, despite the other girl’s first love failures, we were happy.
I will be away for eight days making mirth with friends who are family and family of friends. Happy Thanksgiving, Americans! The one holiday we all almost celebrate. Always my favorite.
I walk onto the balcony though really it’s too cold. He’s an argumentative drunk filled with self-love and loathing for almost all people. He’s to leave, not me. I own the shabby chic condo in a part of town that once was up and coming; striving to be Ocean Isle City’s Tribeca when it couldn’t even be Greenpoint, Brooklyn at the top of the bubble.
I know my weaknesses. I like liquor, men, make up and clothes, probably in that order. No men should be last but unfortunately needed.
Jerry thinks he’s still in charge. He thinks it’s life like it was at the turn of the Millenium when he had a wife and he had me. He had money and a career also. I liked him then. Once a month he would fly down for a long weekend. My job consumed just enough of my attention to let me go to Hatter’s,most nights.
Hatter’s a bar you would be laughed at if you asked for a tini drink. Martini’s at Hatters were always no name vodka straight up. The food was edible and sometimes wonderful.
I liked my life in Ocean Isle City on the coast of Florida. I had been a cougar since I was 28 and loved a 20 year old boy. Younger men made me feel alive. They would always obey me.
He’s younger. But what’s 45 when you’re 55? Jerry wants me to wither; to marry him so I cant be compelled to testify against him. He needs me to testify for him as his ex is planning on telling all.
I won’t help a man who out Madoffed Madoff. I let him drink and rage all he wants. For I know before midnight the FBI will be here to take him to jail.
Yeah he’s to leave not me. My karma will let me live the life I like. Bye bye Jerry
Thommy G does the words for 3WW. He’s one of my favorite bloggers as everything from his “outdoor column” for his city’s newspaper to his flash fiction is worth reading. I did 3WW for the first time in a long time but don’t know if I will link to it as I don’t know if I will be able to comment. Frankly it’s beautiful out and who knows when we’ll see warm weather again? Then that write a book in 30 days thing is happening. I’m not participating as I’ll be in New York for eight days but am trying to write 50,000 words in the next two weeks minus the a week plus the first two weeks in December. My own personal whatever….And really October would have made the perfect month. No major holidays until the last day. Nobody travels to visit the relatives on Halloween. Unless they throw one incredible party.
Thanksgiving is the only holiday that almost all people in the USA celebrate because really we’re all grateful to live in this country. I began a new life this past year. I’m very very thankful.
This is 3WW. Try it!
I meant to link to Etan Patz I know even his family believes him dead and are 99% percent sure who did it. Strangely the irrational romantic in me harbors hope. Manhattan is like a small town in many ways and I worked with several people who knew the Patz family. There were so many stories, rumors and yes horrible stories about the parents people later regretted telling.
New York, late May 1979
The missing signs seemed to be everywhere. At first they shocked her. She had never seen so many, and they had always been for some teenager who probably ran away or an older person who lost his way, perhaps intentionally.
But these were for a seven year old boy, Etan Patz. His mother let him walk part way to the bus stop alone for the first time and never saw him again.
The summer of Sam had happened two years earlier. Now it was the late spring of Etan. She, like Etan and his family lived in Soho. In school a few years earlier somebody did a study of residential patterns in Soho. Almost no children lived in Soho then. Now every other block had at least two children.
Her boyfriend wanted children. They lived in a huge loft that until recently had housed a mens tie company. She didn’t think this was a good neighborhood for children. There were still many factories and some showrooms. She felt too young and too enamored with this new New York that hadn’t existed ten years earlier and was rapidly morphing into a new and exciting city. She wanted to embrace everything,
You couldn’t be timid if you lived in a warehouse district. They didn’t live in Soho proper but further west in Tribeca. Nobody had heard of Tribeca. People thought the buildings dreary but you could see the river from their loft,
Every morning she would walk 55 blocks uptown and three avenues east to her job at a publishing company. Unlike most of the other girls she didn’t have a degree in English but in Urban Studies–both undergrad and grad. The publishing company she worked for was doing a series of books on New York, both its history and today. The publisher believed in the city. So did she.
But that Saturday night/Sunday morning when she and her boyfriend walked home from an early breakfast at the Kiev after a night of dancing they were sobered by the posters and couldn’t shake the feeling that something horrible had happened to New York.
Etan Patz was the first child on a milk carton. He went missing 30 years ago May 25th New York was to regain its fiscal standing but something big changed that week. You first noticed it in the missing posters and all the talk about his family. It was only later you realized that kids didn’t run as freely.
I wanted this to be more suspenseful (in the vein of last week) but I, I mean my house is having severe plumbing problems caused by a plumber. I haven’t been able to be out during the week or on Memorial Day Weekend and if I weren’t so certain the new plumbers could fix the problems I would be losing it as the flood is going under my new floors. I can’t imagine what my water bill will be next week. Yesterday I actually updated my house renovation blog today I disputed half the charges on my American Express bill. I’m running out of mindless things to do.
My plumbing problems have been solved. They didn’t have to break into the bamboo. Hate to admit it but there are times I’m so happy to see people from the land of big hair, big nails and everybody is connected–or so they think here about Jersey. I got the owner of the company’s accent down to almost the exact town. He was here Sunday. The master plumber on the job today was from the land of cheese steaks, American Bandstand, and some of the greatest 50′s music.
Tomorrow I’m having the AC inspected and then hopefully….renovation phase one through five will be finished. My vegetable plants are so happy now that water has been restored to the outside.
Here’s 3WW I didn’t mean to write what I did. It just came out.
“Don’t give me that shit,” she said. He stared at her. She seemed so calm as she questioned his authority. She had always did what he asked of her. He was efficient. He knew what was best.
She fiercely cut the tomatoes. He was mesmerized as he watched. Chop. Chop. She seemed to optimize each chop. Chop. Put bowl in sink. Rinse. After she put the bowl in the dishwasher she took a cucumber out of the fridge. He watched her chop it quickly and deftly.
He had never seen a person cut with such precision. Each piece was tiny and perfect. Better than the results from a food processor or mandolin. Not that he had ever seen a person use one. He watched a lot of late night TV ads.
She mixed the tomatoes and cucumbers with a bit of olive oil and vinegar. “Here,’ she said smiling, “Israeli salad made just for you.”
What was she really saying? Was the Mossad coming for him? He wished he hadn’t smoked so much pot. She was better at that than him. Not that he would admit it. She never became paranoid. She never smoked before breakfast, or during the day now that he thought about it.
He looked at her. She had the same mousey hair, pinched face and bad posture that she had since he began keeping her in the cage only letting her out to cook meals for him. He thought she had become more compliant. He would have never let her use the knives if he thought….No, that was his fantasy. She just looked like she belonged in a cage. He had many fantasies all involving her and places she couldn’t emerge whole from.
He watched in amazement as the treacherous bitch stuck one of the knives through his heart and calmly walked out of the room.
As he lay dying he heard her say to somebody: “he’s so gone he probably thinks I stuck a knife in him. Thanks for the LSD. Let’s get out of here.”
“Don’t you want to call the cops?”
“No, I just want my life back. Somewhere far far away.”
I was angry. My first plumbing emergency that I actually had to pay for. Or it might not have been, anyway that was yesterday….
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