page contents

Thursday, May 2, 2013

On Writing

So, my blog has taken a backseat lately. But my writing hasn't! I'm enrolled in a class through the Gotham Writer's Workshop. Since every week we're assigned a prompt, I thought I'd share a few of my short stories for any of you that enjoy a bit of fiction...

This short story titled The Date focuses on the element of "plot."

Incurably prompt, Ashley had arrived first. 
She had calculated her approach to conversation, using the newspaper format as her guide. Current events. The economy. Pop culture. While she always kept a working knowledge of any particular topic, she had really immersed herself in that day’s post. But of all the topics she had perused, it was the article on taxidermy that lingered. She had hoped to repress the details on that particular subject.
The longer she sat, or rather fidgeted with her phone, the more she regretted the idea. Nerves, she supposed. Her co-worker had set it up. The blind date. It would be her first time out with anyone since the divorce–the divorce that had turned the hot-shot marketing executive into a recluse. The moment she had learned of her husband’s indiscretion, she refused to consider forgiving him, no matter how hard he pleaded. The relationship was over once she found out how a night out with the boys turned tawdry when an old flame appeared. And despite her stoical declarations to her friends (“Thank God we hadn’t started a family yet”), she was devastated.
That was three years ago. Three years ago she declared that her career would be her spouse. But now, she was feeling the the loneliness of a life without a minute to spare. She had begun to pull out old photos, to confirm how once she had lived in a world that didn’t involve endless deadlines or seventy-hour workweeks. There was a time when she enjoyed the view of the ocean or took the time to play tennis. Maybe it was time to try again. So, she agreed to a blind date. No questions asked. At least it had given her an excuse to purchase this new sleeveless dress–if only she had brought a cardigan to keep her from shivering in the restaurant. Of course, she might’ve shivered anyway.
Just as she gave in to a piece of warm sourdough bread on the table, a voice forced her swallow a chunk whole.
She stood up to meet a lanky, blonde man, with deep-set eyes, dressed in a three-piece, pin-striped suit.
“No need to get up.” He coached her back down, to her seat, as she looked upon him with her own unwavering eyes. “I’m Ben.”
Ashley nodded. “My friend didn’t tell me your name. Only that I needed to be here at 7:00.”
“That’s just like Betts.” Ben glanced around. “Nice place. Have you eaten here before?”
“Yes, actually,” said Ashley. “We take our upscale clients here.”
Ben tilted his ear toward the music. “I suppose the Italian Opera music clinches the deals every time.”
Ashley squinted her eyes. “I’m not sure about Italian Opera. French love songs, for sure.”
Ben shrugged. “You say potato.” Ben picked up the menu. “You might need to help me order. I’m sort of a burger and fries type of guy.” He flipped the menu around. “Is this just the wine list?”
“That suit looks pretty swanky,” said Ashley, raising her eyebrows. “I mean, it’s very nice. Would be a shame to wear it only to McDonald’s anyway.”
Ben took a deep breath as the waiter took their drink orders.  “I’ll take the most plain-label beer you have.”
Ashley studied the wine list. “I’ll just have an iced tea.” The waiter turned to leave. “Wait. Make that a glass of Reisling.” 
Ben smiled at Ashley. “I figure if we at least made it through a drink together, the night might not be a total failure.” Ben clenched his hands together. “You look really pretty. Nice dress.”
“Thanks, Ben.” 
She looked away, at the fountain in the middle of the dining room. The rippling of the water muffled conversations around them. She noticed an elderly couple, in a lively conversation. She noticed another younger, middle-aged couple sitting in stony silence. Turning to Ben, she said, “I’m still really, really mad at you.”
“You deserve to be. But you never gave me a chance to beg for your forgiveness. Or even explain the events of the evening. I’m only asking that you at least give me a chance.” Ben looked down at his lap. “I know you’ll make fun of my trite words, but I’ve really missed you.”
He didn’t look up–until she took his hands. She didn’t smile, but she didn’t frown. “It’s nice to see you.” He watched her, waiting for her to say more. “It...feels nice to be with you as well. Let’s see how dinner goes.”
Ben nodded, biting back his lip. “So, what’s been going on with you?”
“Working. A lot.” Ashley sipped on her water. Ben sipped on his water. Then Ashley asked, “Did you happen to catch the article on the history of taxidermy today?”
Then the waiter brought their drinks, in which Ben insisted on making a toast.
“To...the mounting of animals.”
Ashley put her wine glass down, without a smile. Then she lifted her drink, tapped her date’s mug, and with a smile said. “I missed you too.”