This is my experiment with second person, present tense for the NPR round 4 contest a couple of months ago. As always, the stories had to be 600 words or fewer — FICTION (that’s in big bold letters so my husband doesn’t get any wrong ideas) that could be read in roughly three minutes. The story had to include four words: “plant,” “button,” “trick” and “fly.”
I didn’t win, surprise, surprise, but I thought I’d use the new audio feature of my blog to give it a whirl. I didn’t realize how much like an old woman I sound on the phone. Yuck! I read this in about two minutes. Should have used bigger words and/or read more slowly (sorry).
This piece is also part of the first #SpokenSunday. Please check out all the other participants reading their flashes here. The stories are wonderful and the accents make them even “beytah” (she says in her really bad Aussie accent.) I love shrinking the writer’s world in this manner.
Text of the story follows:
You rise while he’s still asleep, his button fly jeans in a crumpled heap where you’d helped him hastily discard them hours earlier. What once seemed so urgent, so necessary, so right, now lies in dark shadows of regret. The light plays tricks on your eyes. It can’t be evening yet.
The clock reads three o’clock. Thirty more minutes. That’s all the time you have left before you must retake the reins of your humble, risk-free life. You’ll be home in fifteen. Just in time to shower, just in time to wash off all traces of the lie.
You’ve already planted the seeds of your alibi–an afternoon of shopping and a solitary movie. What movie? Why that chick flick you’d been dying to see of course. It was alright, very true to the book. No, you didn’t see anyone there you knew; it wasn’t a busy theatre that time of day. Buy anything? No, nothing tempted you.
But that’s all a lie, isn’t it?
Your children tumble off the bus in a rush and dash for the door when they see you waiting for them. They look so much like him that you feel a pang, a dull ache. You wonder for the thousandth time what you’re doing, why you’re putting your own selfish cravings between you and these innocents. One phone call is all it would take to end it. It’s over, you’d say. No one would ever have to know.
But you can’t.
“Mommy, why do you look so sad?”
She takes your hand and looks up into your face and you see yourself at her age. So much has changed, become complicated and tangled with equal doses of adrenalin and anxiety, desire and dread. You wish you could go back, make a different choice.
But it’s too late for that.
Like a junkie on a downward spiral, you feel yourself falling, falling and no matter how many times you reach out to catch hold, you can’t gain purchase. No one will save you and you’ll hit the bottom because the wicked always do.
And the wicked are you.