Tag Archives: short story

From my writing ‘junkyard’

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.

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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

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Suburban Fire

Excerpt from Suburban Fire, a longer short story I’ve had in the works ….

Surrounded by hedges properly pruned and a lawn emulating the brilliant shade of emerald, their home on Parkers Ave. stood as a dignitary among the unkempt strays littering their neighborhood. All of the women on Parkers Ave. held positions of modest employment where their talents went underpaid and disrespected, thus their dwellings suffered from a lack of attention and the surface details of happy, healthy marriages went overlooked. Again, all of the women on Parkers Ave. worked, all with the exception of Sandra, who made the tasks about her home her profession. Painted a quaint honey-suckle yellow, the same shade of honey that had once soaked the bedroom walls encapsulating her adolescent memories, her home was her trophy, the fixture of fulfillment, the symbol of self-actualization that people spend their entire lives hunting for amidst individualization. Though she was alone in this ache of satisfaction, for Sandra had lost all of her friends to feminism long ago, she simply refused to loosen the ties of her apron. As a woman, she felt as though she had it all; the adorably humble abode, the loving husband and the Kitchen-aid appliances that fostered her artistry. To Sandra, these were the pieces that made a woman.

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300 Words

I’ve been assigned a lot of 300 word pieces lately and from that developed a frustration to be precise and brief.

Most of what I’ve been writing in recent months has been about music and, as much as I do enjoy writing on the topic, I’ve grown to greatly miss the simple pleasure of writing short stories, microfiction and little poems. For whatever reason I haven’t been giving myself enough time to focus on writing. This is mostly because I’m busy traveling and getting to know Prague, but I think that is more of an excuse than anything else.

Fortunately, I managed to write something short, 300 words to be exact, that I can’t quite decide if I like or not. So, rather than continue posting more of my commonplace blather, I’m getting back into the swing of things. Here is some writing, you decide if it’s shit or not.

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For me, 300 words come close to nothing. Simple, inexhaustible scrabbling of words that are supposed to be important, somehow. Maybe for somebody else, 300 words stand as something significant, substantial, perhaps even noteworthy. Personally, I’d really like to meet that somebody because with 300 words I could force them into loving me.

Easily.

And, when you’re so desperate, so painstakingly desperate, to feel something real, anything real, 300 words may be all you really need.

With these 300 words I will touch you, violate your senses and spark a fiery flow that will overpower your numbing sense of being. You will lose control and cling to that sensation of being lost. Your mundane routine will morph into an intriguing mystery and you will finally be the protagonist in your own romantic tale.

Dreaming.

I will tickle your laughter and manipulate your pain into forgetting. I will seduce you with promises and you will believe, clutching to them tightly. My 300 words will remind you what it feels like to breathe again and teach you how to destroy each and every single day with your whole heart.

Splendor.

The air will become vibrant, full of light, and the colors in your life will quickly become alive. In 300 words you will know what love is and you will love me because you’ve grown familiar with the idea of love. After 300 words you will understand passion and reality will feel more like fantasy.

Contentment.

Sometimes I will make you scream. Other times I will make you cry. But, through it all, you will find comfort in the 300 words I write. In the end, it won’t take much for me to set you on fire and just when you thought you could never quite grasp love, I will seize you.

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Chaos and Calm

You find it outside of the Thrift and Save hidden underneath a pile of crumpled newspaper used to wrap fragile used vases and picture frames. It is poking out of the garbage can, sprinkled with petals of ashes from dead cigarettes and stained with a splash of RC Cola that was flung in, just barely missing the rim. You don’t quite understand what the painting is doing there, in the trash. Sure, it isn’t pretty or inspiring, but it could have sold for at least .89 cents, if not more. You decide to steal it. No, not steal because it’s not in the store. You decide to rescue it and think about placing it in your bedroom. You have been meaning to find something to talk about after sex and this piece would be a worthy conversation starter. Men will either find it creepy or sexy, you aren’t sure which. You know this doesn’t actually mean anything because you haven’t gotten any since Doug. After you fuck a Doug it’s going to take a while until you get a Nick, James, or Adam. Henry’s are like that too. Never fuck a Henry unless you are prepared for the consequences.
Your bedroom is the shade of a bland beige. You picked the color out yourself because you liked to think of your room as a sandstorm. It didn’t strike you until later that no matter the crafty name, beige is beige. You hate to admit it, but everything in your life is a messy sandstorm, right down to your breakfast of oatmeal with brown sugar. The painting stands out against your barren walls. You tilt your head slightly to the right as if this movement helps you to recognize any hanging errors.
“Perfect,” you breathe softly to yourself.
From a distance, you admire the desert landscape depicted within the canvas, a blaze of blood-bathed sands, orange fiery freckles, and a daring midnight sky of obsidian verging dangerously close to the flames of the desert below. It was chaos and calm contained in a 20” x 12”.  You find it disturbing because it reminds you of the innumerable contrasts in life and other things you don’t like to think about, heaven and hell, success and failure, warmth and chill, faith and betrayal. Still, you wake up every single morning to that image penetrating your eyelids. You think about throwing it away, but you are afraid of what image would take its place. Even disaster is better than emptiness. You know this from experience.
Doug has left you with a three-month dry spell and you realize that if you do sleep with anyone they won’t find your wall hanging sexually arousing unless they are a sexual predator. You start to check the locks on your windows frequently and consider buying a gun or a pit bull. They both deliver the same result, but a gun is less maintenance.
You get lonely and desperate so you place a personal ad in The Daily Gazette. You claim to be 5’ 8” when you are really only 5’ 6”. The most attractive male you ever dated told you tall women were beautiful and you believed him. Your hobbies include reading The New Yorker, watching Woody Allen films, and rock climbing. You have never been rock climbing, but are fond of the idea of being a woman that would like rock climbing. You have dirty blonde hair that is getting far too close to becoming red and blue eyes. You make certain not to mention your natural transitioning hair color because you are terrified of becoming a red head. You think they all look the same.
For months, you get no response and you blame the painting in your room for every aspect of your life that has failed since you took it. Rescued it. Salvaged it. Whatever it is you did to it, you thoroughly regret it. Sometimes.
You receive an email from John, a response to your personal ad that has been running for three months, exactly. This date will have cost you $30.00 before you even sit down for dinner. John is a financial analyst and a huge fan of John Grisham. He has read everything by John Grisham and this bothers you, but you think to yourself “at least he reads something”. You can tell a lot about a person by what they read and this should have been a sign of a defect in your date, but you only thought about the fettuccine. You wanted to look skinny so you fasted all day and now the acid in your stomach was burning a hole through the lining. You were slightly worried, more than your should have been at least.
“You know, a lot of people underestimate just how fascinating financing can be. I love numbers. I mean I really love numbers.”
You were never this overly enthusiastic about your job. Of course, you loved listening to woes of troubled teens and depressed single women, but you weren’t going to go on about it through an entire plate of pasta. He paid for dinner, but only left a 10% tip. For a financial analyst he was stingy and you didn’t like him already. Despite everything, you wanted to sleep with John so you invited him inside.
“Wow, this is a really great place you’ve got here. I used to own a little one floor place like this back in the day. It was a real fixer upper, but….”
He went on about his old place, his new place, his hybrid car, he probably talked about his watch, and maybe some more about numbers, but you stopped listening a while ago. Your ears typically go numb after anyone says “back in the day”. Anything following that statement never bodes well and you’ve known this your entire life thanks to your father.
You take him to your bedroom and he begins to kiss your neck. He pulls you onto your bed and before things get heated you excuse yourself to the bathroom. You wanted one last look in the mirror before you screwed a John, a financial analyst, a 10% tipper. You weren’t certain, but you thought afterwards you might look different and wanted to keep a mental picture of your prior self.
As you reenter your room, you notice John standing across from your bed, examining the chaos and calm.
“You must have a natural ability in picking out the good ones. This is a beautiful piece of art.”
—–

He called you three times to see if you felt better and if you wanted to “pick up from where we left off”. You never returned any of his calls and you took down your personal ad. It was mostly a lie anyways. Despite your better judgment, you kept the painting hanging across from your bed. If nothing else, it would at least identify the sexual predators. Eventually, you decided to paint your bedroom red because the most attractive man you ever dated told you he thought red was sexy and you agreed.

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