Wednesday Write-In #77

This week’s words for CAKE.shortandsweet’s Wednesday Write-In were:

warm beer :: ridicule :: double vision :: colt :: connect

This week, a voice and a scenario came straight into my head, and it’s something slightly different from my usual style – or so I think, at least. Let’s see if you agree.

Image: ubercomments.com

Image: ubercomments.com

The Last Drop

I’m laughing when I fall into the kitchen – someone shoved me, but I’ll never know who. The swinging door slaps smack against the panelboard wall and I tumble, bumpidibump, through it.

‘Hey!’ I shout, already half-up from my knee-bashed crouch. ‘Not cool!’ I get ready to turn around and go after them, but something makes me stop. Something catches me.

And it’s then that I see you, perched on the countertop beside the half-open fridge, and you see me too and there’s that look in your eye again, that look, the one you used to get. Before.

‘Warm beer,’ I mumble, nodding at the fridge, and the words come out all sticky and burning, like napalm.

‘Nothing worse,’ you say and your voice is as fresh and shocking as rain in winter despite the fact that I have heard it before, so many times, and in so many different colours.

‘Yeah.’ I pull myself up onto my feet again and make myself swear I will not trip and I yank my fingers through my stupid hair and I start walking toward you like I was planning, all this time, to do it anyway.

‘How’ve you been?’ you ask as I get close enough to close the fridge door. It meets with a soft moist little noise, a flumf sort of noise, one that gets me thinking about other stuff, the sort of stuff that gives me double vision as I imagine the things that could have happened between us but didn’t.

‘How’ve I been?’ I sound so stupid. ‘Fine, I guess. School. The usual. You?’

‘Same,’ you say, tossing back the last of your beer. You still drink the same brand, and your hair is still golden on top and brown around the back of your ears and down your neck and you still move your head like a colt does, like a coiled spring, like you’re ready but you don’t know what for.

‘How’re your folks?’ I clear my throat, trying not to look at you. I don’t know why I even asked about them, because the ridicule still burns like a blowtorch flame, and the tears are all still fresh in my mind and the anger will never die. I remember what they called me and even though they didn’t use the same words to talk about you, I know you suffered too in your own way. You’re in a different school now, one where you can just be you and not a part of us. You put your beer bottle down so gently that it barely makes a tink on the marble.

‘Folks are fine,’ you say, and when you look at me I happen to be looking at you and then our eyes get all mixed up and there’s no escape. There’s the old connect again, the one where I know my heart’s beating in time with your heart and our breathing falls into step like two old friends.

But then, a stumble.

‘I’ve – got to go,’ you say, and you slither down off the counter like a little kid, all elbows and urgency, and you blink and look away and it feels like I’m falling. ‘Enjoy the party, or whatever.’ And then you’re gone.

I pick up your beer bottle and there’s just a tiny dreg left in the bottom of it and so I put it to my lips and drain it, my eyes feeling like two blobs of molten glass and my nose starting to melt inside. I drink back the sour drop, all that’s left, and then I chuck the bottle with all the other empties, and it settles down clinkidiclink among them like a long-lost traveller arriving home, until I don’t know which one is ours any more.

When I get back outside to the party, someone tells me you’ve gone home early, and I pretend that I don’t even care, and everyone is fooled.

Maybe even me, for just long enough to get me through.

 

 

20 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-In #77

  1. Elaine Peters

    Reading this I’m a teenager again suffering from a broken heart but with all the bravado needed to save face. Loved it.

    Reply
      1. Elaine Peters

        Reading again I now see the hints that the narrator is a boy. Even better and more poignant.

  2. Elaine McKay

    I agree with all of the above. It’s a great piece, and I wonder what went wrong with their relationship. Why did the parents dislike her so? Did she get pregnant, I wonder. I love this style. I could read a lot more about these two characters. (Ps Congratulations on your two first runner-ups at Flash! Friday. I have to say that every week I’m totally convinced you’ll win. How do you do it! You are very talented indeed.)

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks, Elaine!

      Well. To address your questions, I have to explain something about the piece which purposely wasn’t made clear. I don’t really like to do that, because I hate to interfere with a person’s reading of anything I’ve written, but in this case it might help. All I’ll say is this: they’re not supposed to be a boy and a girl.

      Thanks a lot for your congratulations. I’ve already done better this year on Flash! Friday than I did in the whole of 2013. Beginner’s luck, methinks, or perhaps they’re thinking ‘She’s been around *forever*, we’d better let her win something!’ 🙂

      Reply
      1. elaine173

        Of course! Very good. I went down the line of thinking the parents might have used derogatory terms for a female and there isn’t really the equivalent for males ( in matters of sexual encounters anyway). Such a touching piece. Love it.

  3. elaine173

    I see! I assumed the parents called the character derogatory names ( re sexual encounters ) for a girl and there were double standards for a male character. But what you have done is excellent and it’s such a touching heartbreaking situation.

    Reply
  4. Emmaleene

    Lovely piece, very emotional. I guessed that both of them are male but I loved how you used the you to disguise it so gender is irrelevant and what’s highlighted is the emotion. I loved the description of the other person’s voice and I really loved how you used little details like those to tell the story. Ah now I understand what you meant in my comment about the setting; they could both be at the same party; we must have more in common than we realise! Great job, really enjoyed it. Well done.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks, Emmaleene. Such a lovely comment. I’d like to think our characters *are* at the same party. I wonder what they’d make of one another? 🙂

      Reply

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