The Test

The dream fades as my mind startles awake. Something cool feels good against my cheek, but my body is stiff. I’m lying on something hard. I touch it, letting my hand run across its smooth surface, until it hits soft fur that smells like an old wet rag. My eyes open in semi-darkness and see the frayed bathmat. I’m on the bathroom floor. Why?

My thin nightgown is stuck to my sweaty body. The air conditioner clicks on, blowing an old spider web stuck to the nightlight by the door. My eyes focus on it because it looks like its breathing, but then, everything begins to spin. My stomach clinches as I burp and taste bile.

I curl my knees up against my stomach, wrapping my arms around them, hoping the feeling will pass, but it doesn’t. Get to the toilet. Now!

I crawl, slipping on my nylon nightgown, until my fingers touch the smooth base of the toilet. Reaching up, my hands sink into the squishy plastic seat and I pull myself up, leaning over the bowl gagging. My throat burns as the vomit splashes in the water. The sour smell of vomit and garlic make my nose twitch. Breathing through my mouth, I lean back on my feet, feeling better.

I slip down to the floor, reveling in the coolness of the tile. With sweaty hands, I push my damp hair away from my face. The spaghetti was bad. That’s all this is!

Eliza cries from the nursery and my body responds. The milk tingles as it drips from my breasts and dampens my nightgown with its warmth. The rustling of sheets and David’s’ shuffling footsteps tell me he’s gone to get her. I sigh, relieved.

I push myself up so I’m sitting, knowing he’ll be back soon. My mind races, trying to remember when we last had sex. I shake my head in disbelief. I’m still nursing; it’s too soon!

Yet, I’m compelled to rummage through the cabinet under the sink. I tug open the door and the strong scent from the spilled bottle of Obsession hits my nose, making me gag, but I’m determined. My fingers reach inside the darkness, knowing exactly where to go.

They pass over the burned out hair dryer with its melted plastic, the spray bottles of cleaner, the old dry sea sponge, until they touch the cardboard box. It’s exactly where I left it, almost six months ago. I yank it out. My eyes can’t read the label in the darkness, but they don’t need to. I know it says Pregnancy Test.

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As most of you know, I took a fiction writing class this summer. With each class, we were given an assignment. This story is my take on the assignment for the topic, Description.

My focus with this story was to use sensory description in the story and stay in the present first-person Point Of View. I wanted you to feel what this woman feels!

It also fits this week’s prompt for Red Riding Hood, sponsored by The Red Dress Club. The prompt is to write about sex without actually describing the act. As the prompt says, write without “any heaving bosoms or girded manhood.” Constructive feedback is welcomed!

Guest Post Monday — Liz, 6birds.net

This coming Monday, August 15, 2011, I will have a guest writer for the Story Photo post. She’s a young blogger with lots of talent:~) I encourage you to stop by, take on her “photo challenge” and welcome her!


The New Girl

This is a fiction story based on a prompt from The Red Dress Club, which challenged us to write a story about jealousy. The word limit was 600.

Karen sat two seats in back of Victoria, “call me Vicky” in the seventh grade classroom. She stared at her nemesis and, if looks could really kill, Vicky would be gushing bright red blood all over the classroom. The image made her smile, which shocked her, until Bobby leaned over and playfully tugged on a lock of Vicky’s hair.

A rush of anger shot through Karen. Bobby belonged to her!! They’d been going steady since last summer. He took her to see Elvis in Girl Happy at the movie theater. In the dark, he kissed her and said she was the prettiest girl he knew. Later, he gave her the tiny gold bracelet she now twisted back and forth on her wrist.

Vicky was a new student and a beauty. When she first walked in the classroom, the girls faded, like their summer tans, while the boys sat up straight, pulling their combs quickly through their hair.

Since that day, Bobby hadn’t bothered with her anymore. Instead, he hung out with the crowd of boys following Vicky everywhere. They carried her books, tripped over their own feet to pull out her chair and stared at her until….well, they didn’t stop staring!

It was clear why they stared. Vicky looked like a real life Barbie doll. She had long blond hair with just the right amount of curl, a nice straight nose and eyes the color of a bluebird’s feathers. She was prettier than Karen would ever be.

Karen hated Vicky with a passion she’d never known before. It made her sick to her stomach to watch Bobby flirt with her. The hardest part was she couldn’t do anything. In addition to her beauty, Vicky was nice. Everyone liked her, including Beverly, Karen’s best friend. Vicky didn’t even encourage Bobby and that made it worse. Karen wanted to cry in frustration.

Later, after school, Bobby was waiting at her locker. She smiled hopefully at him, but he didn’t smile back. After fidgeting for a minute, he said, “Karen, I know we’re going steady and all that, but I want to take a break. Can I have my bracelet back?”

She looked at him and saw red! Jerking off the bracelet, she threw it at him. Turning to get away, she collided with Vicky. Their books fell to the floor. As they bent down to pick them up, Vicky looked at Karen with concern and asked, “Are you okay? Did something happen with you and Bobby?”

That did it! She wasn’t accepting Vicky’s pity. Standing up, she kicked the books towards Vicky in anger. Her foot missed and slammed into the Vicky’s head. Vicky slumped to the ground and didn’t move.

Karen froze. As if in a dream, she heard someone shout, “She’s not breathing!” Then someone pushed her over to the wall. She slid down it, watching the frantic people working on Vicky. Soon the ambulance arrived and rushed Vicky to the hospital. As the sirens screamed, Karen put her hands over her ears.

Eventually, her mom arrived and took her home. Later that night, the phone rang. She heard her dad answer it and say, “Oh, God. We’re so sorry.” As he pushed open her door, Karen flinched, expecting him to yell at her. Instead, she saw tears heavy in his eyes.

He sat on her bed and hugged her closely as he told her Vicky had died. Unknown to everyone, she had an aneurysm right where Karen’s foot landed. It ruptured and caused her death. Over and over again, he said it was an accident.

Karen knew better.

 

Constructive feedback is welcomed and encouraged:~) I want to improve my writing and hope those who read this post, will assist me in my efforts.

Thank you.

 


The Teacher

They were waiting for me on the other side of the door. Straightening my shoulders and touching my hair to ensure it was neatly in place, I opened the door.

I walked behind my desk, put my book bag down, and turned to face them. Angry faces, some tearful, looked back at me. This wasn’t a surprise. I’d given them plenty of time to study the papers that had been waiting on their desks. Most were covered in red; marked-up by my pen.

“I see you aren’t pleased with your papers. Neither am I. Read my comments carefully. This may be an intro creative writing class, but that doesn’t give you license to write the silly drivel I had to read this weekend.”

I watched the students flinch at my words; especially Gabby. At six feet tall, with spiky hair and angry blue eyes that heavy black eyeliner didn’t disguise, Gabby was intimidating. She also had tons of talent, but absolutely no discipline. Creative writing requires discipline. I was determined that Gabby would learn this one way or another.

Watching her body stiffen with anger, I continued, “By now, you know I expect good character development, a decent plot and definitely much better grammar. It seems most of you have forgotten your high school grammar. Refresh it or sign up for remedial grammar! You have two days to rewrite these stories. I expect them by five o’clock Wednesday afternoon. If they’re even a minute late, you will fail this assignment.”

A few hands shot into the air, like arrows. Gabby didn’t bother to raise her hand. She stood up, pulled her bag off the chair, and walked up to my desk. She flung her paper down so hard it almost bounced to the floor. My hand instinctively caught it.

She snarled at me through black painted lips, “Ms. Hunter, you are such a bitch! I fuckin’ hate you! Nothin’ I do seems right for you! And, for your information, at my high school, we didn’t get grammar, we got survival education. Grammar wasn’t high on that list.”

With that, she marched out, slamming the door behind her. It made me jump, even though I steeled myself not to. The class applauded, but stopped immediately when my unsympathetic eyes stared them down.

After they were quiet, I said, “Class is dismissed! Go work on your stories. For those of you with questions, my office hours are tomorrow at three o’clock. Remember, your deadline; there are no exceptions.”

The class filed out, some tossing me angry looks. Others refused to meet my eyes, embarrassed by their applause at Gabby’s outburst. Watching them go, I knew they understood the rules, unlike Gabby. Their revised stories would be turned in on time. They would eventually pass this class and move on.

Standing in the empty classroom, my hand was shaking from griping Gabby’s paper. Unclenching it, the crumpled paper fell on my desk. My eyes were drawn to it. Gabby’s words were buried under the red ink of my markup. Nevertheless, I remembered them. Even the poor grammar and cumbersome sentences couldn’t hide her talent. Her words sang from the page with a raw, but potent voice.

My heart wanted to tell her how gifted she was, but I would not. My job was to teach her how to play within the rules; talent was never enough.

Gabby turned in her revised story with every single mistake corrected. She handed it to me at one minute past five o’clock on Wednesday, daring me to fail her. I did.

This is a fiction story based on a prompt from The Red Dress Club, which challenged us to write a story about someone who gets under our skin or drives us crazy.

We were asked to write it in first-person from the perspective of that person and include the things that bother us. The word limit was 600.

This story is based on a teacher I had in college who was a stickler for the rules. She drove me crazy because she was so inflexible and even hardhearted. Many a student left her class in tears. BTW she didn’t teach creative writing, thank goodness:~)

Photo Credit: evirgen

Endings

Eleanor sat at her computer, staring at the picture of a pink donut with sprinkles and hearts. She groaned and said, “Why did I accept that challenge?”

Before getting this picture, she agreed to a challenge from her writing coach to write a story without a happy ending, difficult for a writer consistently known for her sweet stories with happy endings.

When she agreed, she thought it would easy. But that was before she visited the online writing site and saw that the prompt was this picture of a scrumptious pink donut. She immediately knew she was doomed. How would she NOT write a sweet, happy story about a pink donut?

Eleanor sighed, took off her glasses and leaned back in her chair. She ran her hands through her curly red hair in frustration. The now slightly blurry pink donut just stared back at her. She imagined it childishly singing, “Nah, nah, nah, you can’t do it!” She couldn’t help herself. She stuck her tongue out at the picture.

Cleaning her glasses, she put them back on and the donut became crystal clear. She concentrated on the picture again, waiting for something terribly sad to occur to her so she could write the story.

Her mind wandered. She thought about how much she liked donuts, especially iced donuts, like this one. She even loved the sprinkles and the candy hearts. It really did look yummy. Her stomach growled loudly, letting her know it agreed.

Eleanor stood up and stretched. Since she wasn’t writing anyway, maybe it was time for a coffee break. She’d think about the story while enjoying a donut with her coffee. She printed the picture, stuck it in the side pocket of her purse and headed for her favorite Dunkin Donuts. She remembered seeing pink donuts in the baking tins behind the counter.

The bell chimed loudly as she walked inside the restaurant, but no one was behind the counter. She perused the donuts. They were a sad lot. Only a few glazed lemon-filled and some broken Crullers sat on the baking tins. Not a single pink donut was in sight.

Disappointed, Eleanor stood at the counter wondering what to do next and then she smelled something familiar; something definitely NOT nice! It was cigarette smoke!

Turning away from the donuts, she looked for the offender and spotted a dark-haired man in a booth wearing a dirty apron, looking back at her. He was drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette!

Eleanor HATED cigarette smoke! It made her sneeze. She immediately felt one coming on and then promptly sneezed all over the countertop.

“I beg you, ma’am, not to leave your contagions on my countertop,” said the dark haired man as he blew smoke towards her.

Eleanor was pissed. It was his fault she sneezed in the first place! “If SOMEONE didn’t smoke, I wouldn’t have sneezed on the countertop. As a matter of fact, if SOMEONE was working behind the counter, I’d have my coffee and donut by now.”

“No, you wouldn’t. The pink donuts with the sprinkles and the hearts aren’t ready yet” said the man, giving her the smallest of smiles.

Eleanor froze. Staring at man, she thought, “Okay, this is weird. How’d he know I wanted a pink donut with sprinkles and hearts? I didn’t tell him.”

She contemplated this for a few minutes and then said, “Well, when will they be ready?”

“They’ve got about ten minutes to go before I ice them and put on the hearts and sprinkles. Do you think you can avoid sneezing until then?”

“The impudence of this man! What happened to decent service?” Eleanor angrily thought to herself, but said instead, “If you put out that cigarette, maybe I won’t sneeze.”

The man squashed his cigarette in an ashtray. He sauntered behind the counter and into the room where Eleanor guessed the donuts were made because she heard the sound of pots and pans.

She sat down on a counter stool. While waiting, she used her compact to add some bright red lipstick and then wished she hadn’t. It wasn’t like she wanted to impress THIS guy!

Just as she was about to get up to leave, the man emerged, holding a tin of the most beautiful pink donuts with sprinkles and tiny hearts that Eleanor had ever seen. She swallowed hard as her mouth watered.

He poured her a cup of coffee and put a pink donut on a nice clean plate. She daintily picked it up and bit into it. The moist cake was divine and the still soft icing tasted like strawberries. Her teeth crunched on the small sugar hearts, as a few sprinkles fell from her mouth to the plate.

The donut man, who Eleanor now realized had the most beautiful blue eyes, swept up the sprinkles from her plate with his finger, and put them in his mouth.

Eleanor forgot all about the cigarettes, the sneezing, the incomplete story about the tragic pink donut and almost everything else. She stared into those blue eyes and knew she’d found the man of her dreams at Dunkin Donuts.

A few weeks later, the dark-haired, blue-eyed donut man, who now wore a nicotine patch on his arm and answered to the name Stan, told her how he knew she wanted a pink donut.

Actually, he whispered it to her, while they were in bed. “It was the paper sticking out of your purse,” he said as his breath tickled her ear. “It had the picture of a pink donut with sprinkles and hearts. I saw it and guessed the rest. I had some donuts waiting to be frosted and it was easy to add the sprinkles and hearts.”

Eleanor sat up, thinking about the irony of her story. She’d been searching for an unhappy ending, but got a happy ending instead. This made her laugh so hard, she started sneezing. Stan just patted her on the back and kissed her neck, sending wonderful shivers down her spine.

The moral of this story is writers never really know where their stories will take them:~)

This is a post for The Red Dress Club and based on the prompt which asks us to write a fiction or nonfiction story about the header picture. There was no word limit this time. Thank goodness!

Constructive feedback is welcomed and encouraged:~) I want to improve my writing and hope those who read this post, will assist me in my efforts. Thank you.