I have this special place, my writing junkyard, for the scraps of stories that have never received proper attention to be completed and/or are rather poor examples of writing that I should be mildly ashamed for having written, but cannot quite bring myself to delete forever. Sometimes though, I get the pleasure of revisiting a scrap that I’m actually fond of and can add to my list of ‘to write soon,’ an embarrassingly long list of story ideas that shows just how not enough time and energy I am dedicating to my craft. What follows is a scrap of a story that, if I properly recall, was meant to be developed into a tale of one woman’s return to her childhood home after her mother passed away. The main character, Meredith, is an incredibly insecure woman, over forty and still single, and all too blatantly aware of this fact all of the time. At this point, the story is very much just a piece of scrap-metal in my junkyard, but I see some potential in what’s already there as well as what it could be, if only I paid it some ample attention.
Meredith marveled through her memories of youth and childhood glee while she stood staring at her red bicycle. The banana seat still shone as bright as traffic cones, but the tires seemed to be defeated by her years of abandonment. The metal basket her father had attached to the curved front handlebars was still there, though it wore its rust with a slight tinge of embarrassment. Meredith longed to ride “Ruby” around the block, but, like Ruby’s tires, she too felt defeated. At forty-one she was still alone.
Gripped against the lonely metal, Meredith snatched her hand back from reminiscing and gawked at her mangled fingers. The view, she was revolted to realize, could be likened to flesh torn and ripped apart by the teeth of an untamed beast. Despite her disgust, she still couldn’t stop from marveling at her own capacity for destruction. Meredith never thought of herself to contain any animal instincts and thus this revelation was almost appealing to her.
She used to blame her fingernails for all of her relationship catastrophes. Phil left her wearing a lavender floral nightgown while cooking egg benedicts one morning because of the hangnail on her right index finger. Charlie never called back because her cuticles were dry, cracking and resembled frayed thread. As for Neil, well, he found the shards of nail tips sheltered in the back of her mouth and didn’t find the texture to be pleasing to his tongue. Meredith was certain that as long as her nails were manicured in shambles her love life would suffer from the compulsive damage.
Waltzing with furrowed steps, Meredith carved a trail out of her footprints in the freshly rain soaked soil of her mother’s mismanaged yard. The overgrown ferns fainted towards her toes and she could see the dusting of the pollen shading her black leather boots. She hadn’t been home for what felt like years, but was really only since Christmas. She remembered how her mother kept escaping to the kitchen and how she would find her hovering over the sink, allowing the garbage disposal to do away with her tears.
“I’m fine darling, I just have something in my eye. There is always so much dust floating through the air, you know. A person can never keep themselves clean of it. You go back out there, talk to your Aunt Cindy. I’ll be back out soon.”
No one could ever comprehend why or quite how Marilyn had fallen for so hard for an abusive relationship with life, but at sixty-seven she had finally mended her final bruise.
Meredith still remembers, as a young hormonally charged adolescent, stealing nail polish from the corner drug store a block away from her bus stop. The sleek bottles radiating a spectrum of finely crafted tints were rather conniving and most of the time all she needed to hear was the name, an exciting adjective paired with a hue, to know what she wanted. Cataclysmic crimson was her favorite color from Revlon. Back then her nails were always buffed and brightly painted; never did her hands flee to her jaw as they do now. Had she been confident she surely could have laid any number of men; Meredith can’t say that about herself now.
Written by Chelsea Marie Hicks