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Finally! The sounds from the next room died down. You would think those two were making up for lost time. Truth is, I’m a little jealous. Truth is, I hate hotels. For this very reason. But I will not let them ruin my plan. My big “it’s all about me” day. I am going to wake at the crack of noon, put on one of those fluffy white robes they got, order room service, with champagne, and pancakes, with syrup, and then spend the rest of the day in the spa getting the most expensive head-to-toe pampering service they offer.
In celebration of UnOLWG’s 100th post, I wrote the above in, 1) 30 minutes, 2) in exactly 100 words. Happy “anniversary”! Prompts this week are: The sound died; Crack of noon; I won’t let them.
“One for the money, two for the road, three to get ready and go, Tigers, go!”
Therese made a mock stick landing, hands in the air and legs together. Her face beamed with silly pride.
“Of course, I used to be able to do back flips and all that stuff,” she said. “We’d step up on the boy’s knees and they would flip us over, like this…” Therese tried to pantomime how the move worked.
Paul frowned. “I never could do any of that stuff.”
“Well, gymnastics isn’t everyone’s thing.”
“I mean, I wasn’t athletic. I was more of a bookworm. I mean, I didn’t hang with the jocks. Actually, I was one of those kids that got picked on a lot.”
Therese didn’t know what she should say. She was part of the group of kids in school who made kids like Paul miserable.
Guessing the reason for the awkward moment, Paul continued. “Well, you know what they say. Opposites attract.”
“But that’s why we sign up on a web dating site, right?,” Therese laughed, “To avoid meeting stupid…” Therese stopped. Words had a nasty habit of falling out of her mouth before she knew what she was saying.
“Nothing is fail-safe. But, hey,” Paul gulped down the last of his beer, took out his wallet and placed two twenties on the table. He stood and held out his hand. “Anyway, nice to meet you. And Good luck. Meeting someone, I mean.” Therese stood, but didn’t shake Paul’s hand.
“Mind if we walk out together?” She asked with a nervous laugh.
“ ‘Course not. I’ll walk you to your car.”
This week’s prompts: I’m broken; One for the road; That’s not what I do
Marcus sat up. What woke him, he couldn’t tell. But something did. The room was pitch black, but what really alarmed him was the total silence. He’d never known such a complete lack of sound. He reached over to the bedside table for his phone and recoiled when he felt the unmistakable sensation of a body.
Marcus knew the body in the bed was not his wife. He knew he wasn’t in their bedroom. But he couldn’t say why he knew these things. Panic took hold. He could feel his heart pumping and a slight ringing in his ears. He had to get the hell out of there.
He slowly rolled to the other side of the bed, careful not to wake the other person. He swung his legs around and put his feet down on unfamiliar high pile rug. He paused, listening again to the silence, straining to hear something, anything. Whomever it was in the bed next to him didn’t seem to be breathing. Panic rose again. He reached out, found a lamp and turned on the light.
The room was made of cinder block walls, painted a dark brown, with no window. The bed was made up with what looked like floral print covers and sheets from some grandmother’s linen closet. Two beat-up, dated-looking side tables had old-fashioned lamps with blue fringed shades stood on either side. A wood chair in sat in a corner. In the opposite corner was a small sink, towel rack with a single white hand towel, and a toilet. Rolls of toilet paper were stacked neatly below the sink. A small table with collapsible sides and spindly legs sat against the wall next to a large metal warehouse door. On the table sat a porcelain water pitcher, perfectly centered on a white crocheted doily, with bouquet of pink and yellow roses.
Marcus’ eyes now rested on the body next to him. It was a woman, naked, the sheet covering only her lower legs. Her long copper hair draped all across the pillow. She lay on her side, her back turned to him. He had no idea who she was. He did not know where he was nor how he got there. The room gave him the creeps. The whole situation was terrifying. He wanted to lift the sheet up over her, cover her up. Whomever she was. He didn’t want to know.
The worst thing was, Marcus couldn’t remember how he got there. Strangely, only the recent Christmas came to mind. He kept seeing images of his wife laughing with her siblings as they opened one gag gift after another. One of her family’s kooky holiday traditions. The memory made him flinch with a twinge of, what, he couldn’t be sure. Guilt? Remorse? He never had a single fleeting moment’s notice of any woman since he met his wife. Why was he here?
Marcus slowly rose to his feet and looked around for his clothes. He spotted them, a tidy folded stack on a bench at the foot of the bed. Another set of folded clothes, presumably the woman’s, were also on the bench. He took only two steps, trying to not make a sound, and reached the rest of the distance for his clothes. He put them on as quietly and as quickly as he could.
As he looked around for his shoes, wallet and phone, the woman turned over on her back. Her beauty caught him in a frozen moment of surprise and awe. Her high cheekbones had a subtle hint of pink luminescence. Long, natural black lashes curved coyly upward, and heart-shaped lips, with the remnants of lipstick lining the edges, opened slightly to let an easy breath in and out. Her breasts were perfect soft mounds with plump red nipples. Almost too perfect, Marcus thought, as he thought of his wife’s slightly lopsided, heavily drooped bosom.
And then Marcus saw a penis and testicles.
He shook his head as real panic overtook him. He frantically searched for his wallet and phone.
The woman sat up. Marcus stopped where he stood and stared at her.
“Will you be back?” She asked.
Confused, Marcus said, “Uh, no. No. I… No. I won’t… be… back.”
The woman’s expression changed from shy to agonized. “Well, you can get a cab, then,” she snapped. “I’m certainly not taking you anywhere! They’re just outside. They come by all the time.”
“Yes. I will do just that…I need…Where’s my wallet?! My phone…?!”
The woman rose out of the bed and Marcus abruptly turned away. He couldn’t bear looking. The woman reached behind her and pulled the sheet about her, draping and wrapping it into an elegant tunic. She walked gracefully around the bed, floating past Marcus to the table on side where he had been, and opened the drawer. She took out his wallet and phone and held them out.
Marcus reluctantly stepped forward and took them. “Thank you.”
The woman nodded, her face now a neutral, if not a bit angry, expression.
“I do not have a single fucking clue how…who are you?!” Marcus demanded. “I don’t…I’m not g…I don’t do guys! I’m not interested at all in anyone! I love…my wife…my wife! I never...Shit! Why can’t I remember anything?! Where the fuck…?”
The woman smirked. “You don’t remember meeting me?”
“Fuck you,” Marcus shot back.
“OK, I’ll tell you.” She swept a graceful arm toward the old wood chair in the corner, indicating she wished Marcus to sit and listen.
“I’m fine right here. Just … tell me …what the hell…happened. Last night.”
“Last night?” The woman gave a sarcastic snort. “Oh, honey. Try, last several days!”
I jumped into writing this right after reading the prompts last Sunday and then remembered I had to first finish my taxes! Fun to have this to come back to afterward. Not sure where to go with the story, so left it open ended. Prompts this week are: Outside, he raised his arm and hailed a cab/A little white lie/Woken by the silence
He was a lout and she kept snakes. We tell them that, and other nonsense about their parents. It’s the only way to keep them from asking questions, like why they live with us now and not them. Or, why their folks never even come to visit.
My wife, their mother’s sister, makes up all sorts of stories about them. The best is the one about them going to the Mongolia tundra to work with NASA astronauts in their top secret lab. By the time she gets through the adventures they had just trying to get to the astronauts, the kids are so transfixed, they forget to think about when they will see their parents again.
In one way, a weird way, we’re keeping their hopes up. But I sometimes wonder if we’re also doing them some sort of damage, making shit up like that. At some point they’ll grow out of the stories. Probably about the time they figure out Santa Claus is a joke. Now, I never known a kid that went into shock when they learned Santa ain’t real. But, stories about your mom and dad? That’s different. That’s personal. That’s real.
I asked my wife how she will handle it when Hatch, their eldest, starts figuring it out. She promises that’s when she’ll tell him, and our two, who are older than their kids, that the Bonnie and Clyde of the family are in prison. But not for the real reason they are in the joint. She says she’ll weave it into her stories they went down for something stupid, like some mishap on their travels in some barely-on-the-map place. I mean, what kid could handle knowing their mom and dad are in for killing 14 people in cold blood? It’s the truth, but what the hell! So, I’ll let her run with it. Her family, her call.
But, kids these days? I’m just sayin’. Here’s the deal: Someone’s gonna slip up. The in-laws will forget, call them by their real names, or something, and before ya know it…a coupl’a twitches of the thumbs on those phones of theirs and there it will all be, in black and white.
At some point, the truth will have to have out.
Get to the point, that’s what I say! I don’t think I’ve written a prompt in all these years that places all 3 at the top in the first 2 sentences.
Wally was hunched at the bar with another empty beer. The playoffs were on and most the tavern’s clientele was glued to one screen or the other. The occasional roar and cheer would explode, breaking Wally’s train of thought.
Suzanne, Wally’s sister and the tavern’s owner, stood in front of him. She raised a brow and nodded to his glass.
“No. I want a G and T. Double. With the good stuff you keep in the back.”
Suzanne shook her head. “You get Bombay Sapphire, single, and like it.”
Wally shrugged and went back to pretending to watch the game. The new server, a young man called Big Stuff, swooped in with a litany of drink orders and rushed away. Suzanne got to work.
It was always great to watch Suzanne tend bar. She was fast, efficient and dramatic in the way she slung the bottles and shook the shaker. In her younger years, she used to drive all the way to Chicago to enter bartender contests. She won one year for the longest distance pour from a bottle into a glass. Her flair and good looks got her a lot of marriage proposals. “Men figure I don’t mind a drinker,” she would say, “but they’re dead wrong. I don’t bring work home.” She married the local Veterinarian, a quiet, serious Vietnamese man who knew he was the envy of many when she said yes.
“So, what’s it this time, Wally?” Suzanne asked as she slid the Gin and Tonic to him.
“Why don’t you do like all the other places?” Wally said, deflecting her inquiry. “Get one of those touch tablets for orders. Give that new kid of yours a break.”
“One headache at a time.”
“Gotta move with the times, sis. You won’t always have Aunt Glenda around to do your books. Wouldn’t want to get an unnecessary audit, right?”
“What’d you know about it, anyway?” Suzanne scolded. Big Stuff swooped in again, deftly lifting a large tray of drinks to his shoulder and hurrying off.
“Why they call him Big Stuff?”
“Never asked, actually,” Suzanne shrugged. “They just do.”
Amy, who worked the kitchen orders, suddenly appeared next to Wally and placed a plate with a cheese burger and fries in front of him.
“I didn’t order no food!” Wally protested.
“I did,” Suzanne said, “You need to eat, you gonna drink like that tonight. And I mean, all of it. Slow that drunk down, you so bent on getting. And, before you ask,” Suzanne continued, “your next is a big glass of water. I’m warning you, whatever is up your backside tonight, you are not making a mess of it here.”
Wally shot his sister a look, picked up the burger and took a bite. Until that moment, he didn’t realize how hungry he was.
The prompts this week are (one literal, one interpreted, one implied): blue Bombay Sapphire; one scream at a time; justifiably so. https://aooga.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/olwg-96-heist/
Two! Two prompt weeks in one post! The prompts are: 1) everything, except the last thing, 2) it’s tragic, 3) rows and rows, 4) outside, 5) just ice, 6) Hi, Mom.
Got all but one in. That is, unless you consider its implication and/or its opposite connotation.
“Sorry, kiddo. I didn’t recognize the number.”
“I, ah, borrowed a friend’s phone.”
“OK. So, what’s up?”
“Nothin’. Just, standing here, looking at the tulips. It made me think of you, so I thought I’d call.”
“How nice!” Darlene said as casually as she could, trying to mask her mother’s gut reaction that something was wrong. Her mind quickly picked through the incongruities of everything Jack said, especially the last bit. Calling wasn’t his thing. She typically called him.
“Yeah, like, it’s really amazing. There’s rows and rows of them. And, like they are all one color. Like, each field is, like, red, and then yellow, and then pink, ya know? Not, like all mixed up. You’d love it.”
A surprising thought hit her. “Are you in Skagit? At the Tulip Festival?”
The very picture of her son—who dressed perpetually in black and combat boots, colored his long hair a deep blue tint, wore black liner around his eyes, signed his name ‘JX’, and played bass in a Death Metal band called Sux Offal—doing anything ‘outdoorsy’ was one thing, never mind in the midst of every retired suburban grandmother in the state that went by the busload to the Skagit every year to meander around the tulip fields and shop in the nearby towns’ tourist shops. It was almost more than she could process.
“Hey! Don’t get all tragic on me!” Jack scolded, sensing his mother’s confusion.
“I’m not! It’s just… well, you don’t … OK, right? I’m confused! Are you OK? HA! Yes, I asked, OK?”
Darlene heard Jack chuckle. It made her heart practically soar. Her mind flashed to a memory of playful boy of six rolling on the living room floor in a fit of giggles.
“Mom, chills it, OK? So, like, I’m here with a friend. Her name,” Jack said with particular emphasis, “is Betty.” Darlene heard a girl’s voice in the background. “OK, it’s not actually ‘Betty,’ OK? The name her parents gave her is Ashley, but she hates that. She goes with Betty.”
Before Darlene could respond, the young woman’s voice she heard in the background said hello. Darlene paused just a moment and then said, “You got Jack to go to the Tulip Festival?”
She could hear girl’s smile from the other end of the phone. “I did.” the girld replied, with every bit of cheerful confidence Darlene needed to hear.
“Brava, my girl. Brava.”
I opened the door slowly and called out.
No answer. I stepped into her bedroom and took a sharp breath in. My heart was racing. Her room wasn’t anything as I imagined, but it was everything I thought it would be. Large, with an unmade king size bed, unkempt with clothes and shoes and crap strewn everywhere, but beautifully appointed.
I couldn’t believe I had made it all the way through the house unnoticed. Just another party crasher, I suppose. She and her posse must be used to the casual attention of strangers vying to be part of their scene. And now here I was standing in the middle of her bedroom.
As I looked around, I recalled all the times I fantasized about meeting her, being near her, the instant spark that would ignite between us, the times we would spend together, the love we would share. I felt light, almost ethereal. Time moved in and out of the present, past and the future I knew was to be ours.
I walked farther into the room, carefully taking in every detail. My eyes fixed on several bras and panties on the floor. I stared at them for a while, wondering why so much of her underwear was clustered together on the floor, when the thought came to me: She wanted to be ready. She wanted to be just right for the moment. I felt my palms sweat and a stirring in my groin. I reached down to touch the delicate lace of one bra when laughter exploded from the staircase. A man’s laugh followed by a woman’s laugh. Her laugh. Then silence.
I moved quickly to the closet, but strangely, the doors were locked. I panicked. I listened for something, anything, that indicated where they were. Nothing. I considered the bed, but saw it was set on a solid platform. Then I heard soft murmurs and movement. I made a quick move for the bathroom and hid behind the opened door.
The unmistakable sounds of kissing and soft groans increased in volume as they entered the bedroom. I recognized the sounds of clothes coming off; the creak of the platform on which her bed was set. It was excruciating. I wanted to scream! Then the sounds stopped and they started to talk. At first in low voices, but as their conversation continued, their voices grew in volume. I recognized his voice. That asshole!
He’d ruin her. He didn’t, definitely couldn’t love her. I had to act! My mind raced. The talking stopped and the kissing resumed. I carefully stepped out from behind the bathroom door. They both were lying down, eyes closed. I shuddered with horror at seeing her naked body lying with his. I looked down at the floor and quickly tiptoed to the door. Neither of them heard or saw me. I stepped out into the hall and bent over, putting my head between my knees, and took in a deep breath.
I snapped to attention. No, no, no! I whipped around and took two bold steps to the door and knocked.
They scrambled. “What the hell” I heard him say.
I knocked again, opened the door and stepped in. “Oh! I’m, so…sorry. Shit! Sorry! Should I come back later?”
I’ve had “one of those weeks,” but here it is, a Saturday, and, as the saying goes, life goes on. So I thought I’d give this week’s prompts a go. They are: Should I come back later?; The closet was locked; Time becomes elastic. https://aooga.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/olwg-93-abasdarhon/
Louisellie – named for both grandmothers, Louise and Ellie – was brought up to always strive for originality. Her parents had a single-minded passion for living life as uniquely and alternatively as possible. Alternative to what, Louise (as she preferred to be called), was never entirely sure.
Louise was typical of children born to parents with firmly held beliefs: She did not want to be anything like them. So, where her parents embraced a freeform life, Louise craved routine and discipline. Where her parents vacillated between one school of thought or religion and another, selecting only those insights and edicts that suited their particular view of life, Louise sought a singular dogma to guide her. She chose Christianity. Afterall, what could be so wrong about it? If it was good enough for the grandmothers for whom she was named, she reasoned, it ought to be fine for her.
Her older brother Albertodd (you guessed it. Named for their grandfathers) often chided her for being contrary. “Just go with the flow,” he’d say. Louise hated the phrase. It was all she ever was expected to do.
“I want to go to the public high school,” she announced one day. “I want to live in the world, and make friends, and be normal.” Her parents tried to dissuade her with their usual arguments about propaganda and hedonistic commercialism and the subjection of the simple man by the government’s industrial complex. Albertodd agreed with their parents. “The world is just a place. Nothin’ special.” Louise found her brother’s attitude ironic.
Albertodd was expert at sneaking off the family compound to get away from their parents and explore the world outside their cloistered life. He would disappear for hours, even days at a time, and come home with stories of the places and people they weren’t allowed to know. Her brother’s stories enthralled Louise.
Three summers ago, Albertodd met a boy his age who lived a vastly different life than theirs. By the end of that summer, the boy made Albertodd a tempting offer: the boy would pay Albertodd to attend high school in his place. Albertodd accepted, and since then, he had been attending high school as Robert Templeton. He kept his nose down, his grades up, and never attended Parent Teacher Night (which was a snap, since the actual Robert Templeton’s parents never attended, either).
Louise and Albertodd’s parents were as clueless as the Templetons about the situation. Every evening, Albertodd would surround himself with the library of school books he parents deemed appropriate for their children’s home school education, all the while instead doing homework from the high school. Then, each morning, he announced he needed to go on a long walk-about to process his homeschool work from the night before. His parents thought nothing of it.
“So, why is it OK for you to go to high school, but not me?” Louise confronted her brother. He only shrugged.
Louise was desperate to do as she wished, but she didn’t want to sneak around like her brother. So, on her 13th birthday, she announced she would start attending the public high school the following fall, even if it meant walking out the front door on the first day of school, leaving the family compound, and walking down the road and all the way into town, asking people she came by if they could point her in the right direction.
Her parents ultimately conceded and felt a formal ceremony was necessary to mark the occasion. They wrote a formal proclamation, read aloud by her father in full voice at the intersection of the road that lead to their homestead and the main boulevard that lead into town. As confused drivers and the occasional passersby looked on at the family standing in the middle of the median, Louise’s father declared that, on the 5th day of September, 2020, Louisellie Bradán Bláth Liptonadams, would leave the sacred home of her beloved parents and enter the world of fear, destitution and degradation.
Her brother chucked her on the shoulder. “My way’s easier.”
Oh, man! The prompts this week had me on a wild goose chase. Have you ever had a perfect picture of what your story will be, but when pen is put to paper (or key strokes to monitor), nothing you envisioned is rendered?
The prompts this week are entirely implied in my story. They are: my outfit is entirely vegan; it had to come to this; unique isn’t always useful.