Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DWP & Figment Fiction Contest - Story Starter, "I wish spoken words..."

Okay, so I learned many things in the Denver Writing Project, but perhaps the most important lesson I learned is just to write more and write often.  So, I had hoped to make some sort of "real" writing (beyond emails, Tweets, and status updates) a part of my daily routine.  So far, today is the first day (since the project ended last week) that I've written - between oil changes, eye appointments, Zumba, lunches with friends and happy hours, I have already begun to slip off the "writing wagon."  This little contest - a 750 word challenge that requires contestants to use the opening lines:  I wish spoken words were things that could be erased, forgotten.  But now I knew, and we could never go back, is my self-imposed challenge for today.  I admit it.  I love YA (Young Adult)'s short, snappy, and can often bring universal themes (both adolescent and adult) to the surface.  The prompt and contest specifications lent themselves to a a "YA" teen angst/acceptance type of story so here it's not as deep, universal or original as I'd like it to be, but some days you just have to write...something and anything.

Confessional Scars

I wish spoken words were things that could be erased, forgotten.  But now I knew, and we could never go back.  So instead, I replayed the two-word phrase over and over in my head, and like a deep wound that refused to heal, each time it left a new ache in my heart.  I wanted those words to be a lie or a practical joke.  But deep down I knew they were the truth. 

There were other words that had scarred me over the years.  Words like “divorce,” and “last,” and “mistake.”  Words like “fat,” and “ugly,” and “worthless.”  But between those words I had found comfort in putting my head into my mother’s lap and dumping all of the words that had been dumped on me into her patient ears, seeking solace in between bites of Oreo cookies.  

“Things will get better,” she always said, “Tomorrow is a blank slate.”

And until now, I had believed her.    

Things had gotten better when my father finally left us to pursue other women and other interests.  Relieved of the burdens of a wedding ring, a mortgage, an overweight adolescent daughter and an aging Labrador retriever, he had freed us to move out and start over – just the two of us, well three of us: my mother, lumbering, loyal Duffy, and me.

Things had gotten better when we moved to the city and I switched to Roosevelt High, where droves of students, in all shapes, colors and sizes, helped me disappear behind hooded sweatshirts and baggy jeans into the back rows of overcrowded classrooms.  Invisibility is a security blanket after years of being a target.

Things had gotten better after meeting shy and studious Simon in AP Biology.  A lab partner who became a friend, and then a friend who became my first kiss outside the movie theater on 10th and Trenton, his lips tasting of Sour Patch Kids and comfort.  That kiss had turned into others, and into soft, unsure hands traveling under my shirt and up my back in hurried, gentle bursts that left me breathless.  Things were definitely better with Simon.

That’s the trouble with wanting to be wanted.  You set yourself up.  It was then, when spring’s buds were turning into summer’s warmth, that I began to get comfortable in my own skin, a skin that was fitting into jeans better, responding to lip gloss and suntan lotion, enjoying the daily dog-walk with Duffy, the feel of his coarse leash around my wrist and Simon’s hand inside my own, damp with sweat and anticipation.  It was then, when for the first time in my life my skin felt beautiful because he wanted to touch it, that I began to believe that I could in fact be like other girls.  Girls who were blonde, slender and freckled, who giggled in carefree waves that consumed cafeterias and shopped in packs, brushing up against boys with confidence that oozed from heavily mascaraed lids.  Girls I had stared at with wonder and awe in locker rooms, and secretly listened to in bathroom stalls, waiting for their tales of that week’s flirtations and fashion mishaps to dwindle and disappear, before daring to flush.

Simon had changed everything.  And then, he uttered two words, from the same lips that had first kissed me at 10th and Trenton that left me right where I had started.  A chubby nobody, a nothing, a fraud.

It was at the end of one of our daily walks, when our hands parted and I reached out to pat Duffy’s head and scratch behind his ear, that a hesitant sigh escaped Simon’s lips.  “I need to tell you something, but I don’t want to hurt you.”

Puzzled and suspicious, I met his gaze, words escaping my lips in a forced, robotic fashion, “You can tell me anything.  It won’t change the way I feel about you, what you mean to me.”  For added emphasis and support, I leaned in for a peck, his sheepish withdrawal my first indication that indeed the next words he uttered I did not want to hear.

“I’m gay.”

And just like that, all of the hesitant kisses and touching, the progress I had made in meeting my own gaze in the mirror, the internal beauty I was beginning to trust, shattered by those two words.    Words that sent me straight to cookies and my mother’s arms.

No comments:

Post a Comment