Friday, August 20, 2010

Heartache on 14th Avenue.

As the breeze blew down 14th Avenue, it ushered in rumors of the coming winter. Surrounding trees braced themselves for the cold, letting go of amber leaves one at a time. On a small park bench weathered with rust, David Maxwell sat and reflected on one thing in particular: Nancy. Nancy, the girl who had bothered him so much when he first started working with her. Nancy, the girl who always forced him out of his comfort zone. Nancy, the girl who liked chocolate when he much preferred vanilla. Nancy, the girl who he felt had trapped him.

Nancy, the girl he loved. Nancy, the girl he lost.

Today marked the six-month anniversary of the day she left him. He had arrived home from work, so tired he could barely see straight. Before he could turn the knob and let himself into the apartment he noticed the note on the door.

“David,” it read, “I’m throwing in the towel. I hope that you find happiness somewhere else.” He laughed at how impersonal and immature the medium was- a note on the door, next to a flyer from Pizza Hut- but even so, the message had gotten across. And when he looked around at the now-empty apartment, it had a much more lasting impact than a coupon for pizza.

Now, six months later, he still missed her. He still missed her socks lying around the apartment. He still missed stepping in puddles on their walk to the coffee shop on rainy Sundays. He still missed the way she would clench her teeth when she told him something she knew would anger him, with an apologetic look in her eyes. Hell, he even missed her stupid little canary, Larry.

But David realized he had wasted half a year, far too long, wishing for something he could never retrieve. His thoughts turned to Allison, the cute little redhead he had met at the bar the other night. Sure, he probably only had her number thanks to the liquid courage lent to him by Captain Morgan. But if he wanted to move on and start his life back up again, he had to be bold. With this, he pulled out his phone.

The night went even better than the night at the bar. Dinner was delicious, and between bites they shared stories about the times when they had been happy, times when they had been afraid, times when they had been embarrassed. David couldn’t help but think that he would love to be part of a whole new series of stories for Allison to tell. After the movie, they didn’t say goodbye as he let her out of the cab. She took him by the hand and led him up two flights of stairs, where they stopped outside of her apartment.

“Wanna come inside?” Allison asked in a low, inviting tone. David mirrored her smile, but his eyes wandered, and rested on a small piece of paper. The note taped to the door said: See you at Wild Notes Karaoke Bar. It was signed by a Katie, whom he assumed was her roommate. All of a sudden, it didn’t matter who signed it. All he could think of was Nancy, and the little green dress she wore that night at the karaoke bar. All he could think of was Nancy, singing a Third Eye Blind song broken by giggles, while he watched from the audience. All he could think of was Nancy, taping a similar-looking note to his door before carrying her last box of things to her car. All he could think of was Nancy.

“I do, I really do,” he told Allison. “You’re adorable and I would love to come inside. But I can’t, and I don’t expect you to understand.” Before she could respond, he turned around and walked back down the two flights of stairs. While the cool autumn breeze blew crunchy leaves across the street, David walked back toward his empty apartment, avoiding every puddle along the way.

Friday, July 23, 2010

An Ostentatious Love Affair.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as Barbara lay on the sand. Thank God for that, she couldn’t help but think. Any cloud floating across the azure sky would hold the possibility of obstructing UV rays-- rays that she needed to maintain her flawless tan. Barbara always got what she wanted from whomever she wanted, and Mother Nature was no exception.

This was not the first self-centered thought Barbara’s mind had hosted today. Before leaving for the beach, she had stood in front of the mirror and admired herself for a while. Everything about her was perfect, from her long, slender legs to her big blue eyes complimented by perfect makeup. She wore perfect clothes that accentuated her perfect figure. When she left her perfect house she hopped into her perfect car on this most perfect of days.

Surely Barbara’s perfection made others sick as they glanced at her on the road, in the mall, at the gym. Women saw her and wish they looked like her. Men saw her and wished they had her. Little girls saw her and decided they would grow up to be just like her. She was the spitting image of the vanity consuming the world around her.

Everyone has his or her own counterpart, Barbara had always been told. Each individual will eventually meet somebody who complements him or her impeccably. However, she had yet to meet this man. Some had come close- Ron, the handsome and charming man who was just too nice, Scott, the extremely rich and athletic man who had a receding hairline, Mark, the funny and powerful man who was just too smart to keep up with. Barbara always found that one flaw in each of them, and ended each relationship on that basis. She had yet to meet a man of her caliber, so she stopped looking.

Today, as Barbara sat up to turn onto her stomach and tan her back, all of that changed. She saw a young man not much older than she, surfing towards the shore. He had bleach-blonde hair, bright green eyes, and a perfect olive complexion. He didn’t wear a wet-suit as he surfed, so his perfect abs were there to be admired, emphasized by the sunlight reflecting off his wet body.

It was rude to stare, Barbara knew. She was so used to being the one stared at that she had never found the opportunity to put that to test, yet today she didn’t care. She watched the man in awe as he drew closer to the shore. Naturally, he caught her gaze and mirrored it, as soul mates did in cliché movies. His lips curled into a smile, revealing perfectly white and straight teeth.

The man climbed off his board and waded through the water until his feet met dry sand. He set his surfboard next to Barbara and sat down on top of it. As he extended his hand, he said, “Hi there, I’m Ken. Wonderful to meet you.”

As she took his strong hand and gave it a light shake, she said, “My name is Barbara, but you can just call me Barbie.”


[Fiction] Friday Challenge #165 for July 23th, 2010

Pick two established characters, either from your own work or others’. Now write the scene/story of their meeting.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Passion & Passivity.

The sweat rolled down the boy's face, beginning at his scalp and finding it's way to the edge of his chin, like a river winding down a mountain. He ignored the sweat, ignored the temperature, ignored his mother's nagging as she poked her head through the door and told him to "turn that crap down," in an exasperated tone. He ignored everything except his fingers pressed against the strings, and the tabs that sat beside him, printed off from the internet. Mason Welding loved music, and not much else. Behind him, his friend and bandmate, Shawn, pounded on the drums. He could use some practice, Mason thought to himself, but then again that's why they were here. That's why they were sitting in the ridiculously hot garage on this ridiculously hot day. Eventually it would pay off, they thought. What now seemed like nothing more than a series of jam sessions broken by the occasional local gig would someday give way to a record deal, surely. The idea of a record deal was vague to them. Somewhere in the world, a powerful man in a sharp suit sat in a highly air-conditioned office, and his sole job was to find worthy artists to sign onto his prestigious record label. That had to be how it worked. He would eventually stumble upon Mason and Shawn's music, maybe on MySpace. He'd like it so much he had to sign them. Whoever he was, wherever he was, he had to.

Bowie Riverton didn't have a ridiculously hot garage to complain about. He didn't have much, in fact. He had his guitar, and he had a backpack full of worn clothes and sentimental items. He had his voice, too, and he made the most out of what he had. He sat outside the Stater Bros. one day, and outside of the local 7-eleven the next. He strummed his guitar and he gave life to words he had carefully jotted down. Beside him lay his straw hat, upside down. It collected change as he sang each day away. The collective earnings Bowie emptied out of his hat provided him with all that he needed to live what he considered to be a fulfilling life: a cup of coffee in the morning, a sandwich sometime around noon, a 40 and a burger in the evening, right after sunset. Occasionally, if he had a little extra change, he would replace a broken string on his guitar. And though he lacked a set of wheels or a roof over his head, Bowie was happy.

Inside a highly air-conditioned office overlooking the city of San Diego, Greggory Helms sat at his computer. He rapped his fingers against the oak impatiently, occasionally glancing to his left at the phone. The call he had been expecting for a good 45 minutes now still hadn't come, and as it was now well after noon, he felt a knot being created in his stomach. Greggory enjoyed fine cuisine, and he had been looking forward to trying a new Italian restaurant just about seven blocks from the office all morning. But as the minutes rolled by and the call never came, Greggory increasingly lost patience. Finally, he muttered "Screw it," removed his sharp gray suit jacket, loosened his tie and walked out of the office. No longer caring about trying the new restaurant, he walked quickly in the direction of the nearest 7-eleven. He would just settle for a sandwich today. As he approached the store, he stopped in his tracks. Sitting against the wall to the right of the store entrance, a man played his guitar and sang, eyes closed as if to shut the world out while he created his melody. It was beautiful, Greggory thought. He couldn't help but walk toward the man, compliment him on his musical abilities, and hand him a business card bearing the name of his record label. With the promise of a phone call if he decided to sign onto the label, Greggory said goodbye and walked back toward the office. He forgot the sandwich.

Years later, Mason Welding found himself driving down the 15 freeway in a corporate fleet vehicle, his Honda Accord. As he sat there flipping through the stations on the radio, his coworker told him to stop at 101.5 FM. The station was playing a slow, acoustic song that had a certain nostalgic feel to it. The vocals had a quiet passion to them that Mason had not paid much attention to in years. Gone were the days when music was his pastime, his passion, his declared future. Late-night jam sessions had given way to early wake-ups and hours spent in a cubicle staring at a computer screen. In this moment, when he really listened to the lyrics to whatever was playing on the radio, he was brought back to a time when music was all that mattered to him. "Wow, I really like this," Mason admitted. "Do you know who sings it?"

"I don't remember his name," the coworker replied. "But I've been hearing him a lot lately on all the local radio stations. He's really good, and a nice change of pace if you ask me. It's funny, he must be pretty old. He has some kind of Flower Child name like Aladdin or Ziggy or something."

"Ohhh, I know exactly who you're talking about," Mason exclaimed. "It's Bowie Riverton."


The prompt:

[Fiction] Friday #164

JULY 16, 2010

Use a McGuffin in your story.

McGuffin: An object or person in a movie that has no use other than to drive the narrative forward. (originally coined by Alfred Hitchcock)

examples: The Maltese Falcon in the movie of the same name; the suitcase in Pulp Fiction.