Posts Tagged: fiction

A New Story on WhiskeyPaper!

I’m super excited to have a story, At the Roller Rink, on WhiskeyPaper today. Maybe I should be more chill about this, and say something like, “I am so humbled to have this site publish my story,” but actually I’m pretty stoked. I think Leesa Cross-Smith is the coolest and I loved her short story collection Every Kiss a War, so it’s really an honor to be on WP.

I’m sort of obsessed with the friendships of young girls at that age right before they start to be interested in boys, when they’re so close and intense that they’re almost romantic. And I’m even more obsessed with the point at which those friendships start to break down, which is when boys and sex enter the picture. There’s always one girl who crosses that line sooner, and that moment of outgrowing a friendship is like squirming in an itchy, embarrassing sweater. And then there’s the other girl, the one who’s holding on a little tighter, who doesn’t understand why things are even changing.

And also there’s rollerskating involved. An an REO Speedwagon song. I’ll love you forever if you read it!

Instead of Working on Things Actually Have a Deadline, I Wrote This Story About Lenny Kravitz

“Damn it,” said Lenny Kravitz. He’d spilled coconut milk on himself. Again.

That was what he got for eating cereal in bed. He knew it always led to disaster, but what could he do? It was a routine comfort. It reminded him of being a young Lenny Kravitz, sitting in a much smaller bed wearing a much smaller tunic and eating cereal with real milk. Lenny Kravitz was lactose intolerant now and had to drink coconut milk. He knew there were other milk alternatives, but he didn’t trust the phytoestrogens in soy milk and he didn’t like the taste of almond milk. He’d just seen that Almond Breeze was coming out with a almond/coconut milk blend. This intrigued Lenny Kravitz. He planned to try it.

Lenny Kravitz padded barefoot into the kitchen to find a paper towel. Carefully, he dabbed at his terry cloth sleep tunic. Terry cloth was a comfortable fabric, but goddamn if it didn’t absorb coconut milk. He’d learned this lesson many a time.

Lenny Kravitz sighed and thought about what was on his agenda for the day. Dr. Oz, sure, but that didn’t come on until 3. He thought about getting a 4th nose piercing put in, but decided against it. Lenny Kravitz walked back to the bedroom and stepped inside his walk-in tunic closet; he’d let the tunic decide the mood of the day.

Paisley. Chambray. Glitter. Name a tunic, Lenny Kravitz had it. He’d been collecting tunics for his entire lifetime, and it showed.

He ran his hand over them, and the hangers swayed back and forth. He seized upon a white linen tunic. Perfect for the warm weather. He pulled off the damp terrycloth tunic and slid into the linen tunic. Lenny Kravitz stared at himself in his full length mirror.

“Lenny Kravitz is ready for summer,” he whispered out loud to no one. He stared at himself and admired how the tunic looked over his impressively toned body. Lenny Kravitz didn’t work out. He’d just popped out of the womb looking like this.

After awhile, Lenny Kravitz emerged from the closet. It was dark. He glanced at the clock; 10 p.m. He’d stared at himself in a white linen tunic all day.

Lenny Kravitz crawled into bed, put on a sleep mask, and fell asleep immediately. He’d start all over again tomorrow. Maybe he’d get that 4th nose piercing after all.

My New Boyfriend

My new boyfriend works in a coffee shop. I’d tell you which one, but you’d find him and try to steal him from me. Girls do this all the time. I used to sit in the coffee shop facing the counter and watch them flirt with him. Sometimes I would walk up there and say, “This is my boyfriend! He doesn’t want to talk to you!” They’d say they were just ordering a latte, but I could see the truth in their eyes.

My new boyfriend is nice. He always apologized and said, “I’m not her boyfriend.” I know he has to do this for business purposes; he needs to be seen as available so they’ll keep buying drinks from him. His sexual attractiveness is an important part of his coffee selling strategy. I understand. My new boyfriend has a mind for business.

My new boyfriend is funny. He does this bit where he says, “You’re not my girlfriend.” He did this last weekend when I tried to talk to him at the register. “We’re not dating, I don’t even know you, and you’re scaring me,” he said. It was so funny. “Ha! Ha! Ha!” I screamed at him. Everyone in the coffee shop was staring. They were so jealous of our love. I laughed so hard I was crying. My boyfriend and I have such a good time together.

My new boyfriend has a playful side. One time I went to the coffee shop during his shift and he wasn’t at the register. So I ran behind the counter and opened the storage closet and there he was! “I found you!” I shouted and he pretended like he was scared. If I didn’t know we were in love, I would’ve thought he was afraid of me. Of me!

My new boyfriend and I haven’t talked for a week, because the police say I can’t go into the coffee shop anymore. That’s okay. In every great love story, there’s always someone trying to keep the lovers apart. Now I sit on the bench across the street and watch him through the window. When he sees me, he leans over to talk to another barista. He points at me and I know he’s saying, “There she is. The love of my life. The law keeps us apart, but one day we’ll be together.”

I’m not really supposed to be here, on this bench, either, so when the police drive by I hide. Once I ran behind the coffee shop and jumped in the dumpster. A half-empty bottle of caramel syrup leaked on me and coffee grounds stained my skirt. I’m not going to wash these clothes or take them off, ever. Now they smell like our love. Like coffee and sugar and garbage.

If I Were Dating Gordo from Lizzie McGuire

Gordo and I wake early these days. We spend our summers at the cabin on the lake, and when I come downstairs at 7, the coffee’s already going. Gordo’s been up for an hour. Invariably, he is on the back porch, looking out over the lake as he writes. He calls these his “morning pages,” the thoughts that flow directly from his unconscious mind to the paper. I do not ask to read them.

I put on my bathing suit. The sun has faded it from black to grey and it pinches at my thighs. It’s an uncomfortable reminder of just how long ago I bought it, that first summer we came here. The first summer we were together. I swim across the lake and back and pretend that Gordo is watching me, even though I know he isn’t.

When I finish my swim, he is done with writing. He leans against the porch railing. I wrap my arms around him from behind and stare out at the lake.

“Beautiful morning,” I say.

“Not as beautiful as you,” he says. He takes a sip of his coffee. A splash of soymilk, two spoons of sugar. I could make him a cup of coffee in my sleep after all these years.

We never talk about her anymore, but her name hangs unspoken between us. Lizzie. Lizzie McGuire. When I met him they’d just ended things, or rather things had never even begun. “One kiss in Rome, that’s all it was,” he told me over double Americanos at the café where I worked. I’d boldly sat down beside him on my break and introduced myself; that confident girl seems like a different person now. He just wanted to talk about that recent non-relationship, which didn’t seem so bad at the time. It was a fresh wound, and he was still raw. I didn’t mind listening. It makes me laugh now, that I thought I could be the one to help him get over her. As if anyone could. He soon stopped talking about her, but he didn’t stop thinking about her. I knew that much.

I remember a story he told me, that first day at the café. “She wanted to be voted best dressed, in the yearbook. She wanted to beat Kate.” He shook his head. “She hated Kate. So she—Lizzie, I mean—she bought these expensive jeans to wear on picture day. She thought she’d return them later.” He laughed, a short exhalation. “Of course she spilled something on them. Of course she did. Classic Lizzie. So she ended up wearing these other pants she had, and you know what? Everyone loved those pants.”

He turned to look at me. “Everyone loved those pants.”

I knew he wasn’t talking about pants, but I don’t know if he knew. It was the most honesty I ever found in his eyes, those murky waters I’d been trying to navigate for years.

He is singing to himself softly, barely whispering. I don’t think he even knows he is saying the words out loud. “Sometimes we make it, and sometimes we fake it. But we get one step closer each and every day, figure it out on the way.”

I press my face into his back and feel a sharp stinging in my eyes. It might be tears and I might be getting pink eye again; it happened once before from the bacteria in the lake. How strange it is to have a physical hold on something that isn’t really mine. I can wrap my arms more tightly around him, but it will not change a thing. I will never know him more than I do at this moment.

“Let’s go inside,” he says to me now. “We’ve got that Will Shortz Sudoku book to work on.”

I am awful at Sudoku. He takes my hand and I try to smile. Gordo might as well be one of Will Shortz’s puzzles, completely indecipherable to me no matter how long I stare. But maybe not. This might be the day I master Sudoku. I don’t know where we’re headed, Gordo and I, but for right now, this is enough.