Are You Coming to Bed or Not?

22 07 2011

Preface:

I am a shit writer, or, more appropriately, I feel like I am a complete crap writer. I know I am my harshest critic, but I also happen to know it to be true. There are 94809587394857 errors in this. You can feel free to rip it apart, from an editor’s stand point or because it is complete trash, just know that it was something that was rattling around in my head for the last week or so and I really just wanted to get it out of my brain. This is a first (and likely only) draft that has ZERO revisions in it. This is as raw is it gets. Mind the typos and the changing verb tense (I know it runs rampant). This is the first in what I hope to be many “microfiction” works – I understand that microfiction doesn’t have a set definition or applicable size, so, just roll with me.

I am also very well aware of the influence Raymond Carver has had in my writing style. Haters gonna hate.

———-

 

“Where were you today?”

“Hmm?”

“I asked you where you were today” he said again, in relaxed tones.

“Oh, you know, the usual” she replied, looking into her coffee cup.

He stood from the table and walked to the counter, taking only a few strides as the house they were living in was considerably small, especially given the financial status of both of them. His stride, while not bounding, was also not like floating. It simply was, and that was much the way he presented himself.

He reached into the cupboard and withdrew a rocks glass moments later.

“Do you want one?”

“No, I think I’ll be just fine” she replied as she held up her coffee mug, a boring brown mug that could be seen in nearly any greasy spoon, no-name diner. She put her mug back on the table and clasped both hands around it. The light above the table was somewhat harsh and unforgiving, but it also made everything seem very real, and with the realness came the happiness and despair.

With glass in hand, he walked back over to the refrigerator and freezer, swung open the freezer door and placed a few ice cubes in his glass. He rattled the glass and ice as he closed the door and went searching for his bottle of whiskey, which was tucked away in the usual place. The kitchen, from where he was standing, was only a few feet across and a few feet long, no more than his height in both directions. The countertops were old and worn in places and the sink was in desperate need of a new faucet. The cabinets, few as there were, were also in need of a new coat of paint.

He poured his whiskey and held the class and the amber fluid up to the light above the table, the light refracting through the cubes and liquid. “This,” he said, “this reminds me of a kaleidoscope I had when I was a little boy. Did you ever have one of those and just stare into it and see all things you wanted to see, even if they weren’t there?”

She looked up from her coffee, her normally bright eyes, a piercing gray like a polished steel, seemed dim. Her hair was long, to just below her shoulders, and dark, somewhere between deep, dark walnut and black. On this night, as she had been doing lately, she wore it lightly curled in certain areas, with the rest remaining wavy. She sat at the table staring into nothingness.

“Did you?” he asked.

“Did I what?” she replied, raising her eyebrow.

“Did you ever have a kaleidoscope when you were a child? Did you see all types of things and imagine them to be there even though they clearly weren’t?”

“Oh, no, I can’t say I ever did. Well, no, that’s not true. I did that with the clouds or when I closed my eyes at night. I could see all types of shapes, animals usually. I could see them and point them out to others and they…they just couldn’t see them.”

He took his glass and turned out the kitchen light, leaving just the light above the table and a distant table lamp in the bedroom, casting a warm glow in the hallway. He joined her at the table, sitting across from her. They both had long since changed into casual clothes for the evening, he into a pair of blue jeans, wearing thin in the knees, and a beat up t-shirt that used to have the logo of his old hockey team on from his time playing; she was in her favorite old gym shorts and her sweatshirt from her college sorority.

They sat there in silence. One would sip from the drink in their hands and the other would fiddle with something. They sat and stared out of the window in the kitchen. They stared into the darkened sky through the branches of the tree by the house. They sat and the they stared at one another.

“Do you remember the first time we met?”

“Where is this leading?” she asked.

“Nowhere in specific. Do you remember?”

“Yes, I do.” She took another sip from her coffee. He watched as the raised the cup to her lips, thin and pink like rose petals. “I remember it. You. You were so nervous, but you didn’t let it show. You just presented yourself as you were, take it or leave it.” She lowered the mug, having talked in to it, and continued. “You showed up ten minutes late, which you did apologize for, and then just…just kinda acted like yourself. I liked that about you.”

He took a deep drink from his glass. “Mm-hmm. And we sat in the corner of the bar, away from all the noisemakers and people making fools of themselves. We sat and talked for, what? Two hours? About nothing. Just complete get-to-know-you stuff while we measured each other up.”

“How did we get to this?” she asked him, somewhat mystified.

“What do you mean?”

“This,” she said, as she simply spread her arms out, indicating the totality of their lives, from the house to the drinks to the beat up old clothes. “We’re both professionals. We make enough money. Why can’t we move to somewhere nicer? Why can’t we go out like we used to? Hell, we don’t even kiss and play around like we used to. Where did the spark go, or did this just become the logical next step and safe business decision for both of us?”

“You know the answers to, well, most of those questions. I told you, I just need to get through this year and I’m looking at a decent bump in salary. Sure, we could afford something nicer, but this will do for now.” He looked down at his glass, which was now empty. His hair, getting long and somewhat scraggly, fell down in front of his eyes. He pushed his hair back out of his way and looked back up at her. “I wish I could give you the life you wanted, or rather, the life you deserve, but I just don’t know if I can. I like what we have here. We built this from nearly nothing. It may not be impressive, but it is ours.”

She sighed as she flicked her hair back. “I know. I know. And that does mean something, but don’t you feel, you know, something is missing? Doesn’t it feel different now than it did a few years ago?”

He couldn’t deny that things did feel different now.

“What do you suggest?” he asked.

“I really want to move. I think a change of scenery would do us both a lot of good. I love this town, but I think we need a shock to the system, or at least somewhere we won’t get shocked every time one of us goes to use the clothes washer.” She chuckled and smiled as she said the final part.

“Yes, but where would we go? We both have jobs here. Good jobs, mind. There isn’t a decent town within 40 miles. Besides, I really like it here. I wanted to wait, though. I wanted to wait for the raise before we moved, but I guess we could -could- start looking at new places. Would you like that?”

She smiled at him, took her final sip of coffee and got up from the table. She walked over to the sink and placed the mug in the basin. He watched her as she walked and moved. Everything seemed effortless for her. She was elegant in her movements, even when in benign housework.

“You used to look at me like that all the time. You have no idea how it makes me feel when you look at me like that.”

She walked back over to the table, only this time she bent low right in front of him, gently placing her hands on his cheeks. They stared into each others eyes for the longest time. She closed her eyes and gently placed her lips on his. He, too, closed his eyes and returned the kiss.

“Come on. Let’s go to bed. We can talk about this all in the morning.”

She let go of his face and walked away, turning down the hallway toward the orange glow of the table lamp in the bedroom. He watched as she walked down the hall, slowly removing her sweatshirt.

Her voice carried from the bedroom into the rest of the house as she spoke to him.

“All I wanted from you was to give me some hope for the future. All I had hoped for tonight was some sign that my voice was being heard. You gave me that. We can worry about details another time. Just as long as we are going somewhere.”

He took his final sip of his whiskey and placed the glass in the sink, running water in both his glass and her mug. He took one final look through the window. The faint sound of owls hooting could be heard through the glass.

“Are you coming to bed or not?”

“Yes, I’ll be there in a moment.”


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17 responses

22 07 2011
tomBJftw

its different for the blog so far, but pretty good. you put a hell of a lot of detail in there too

22 07 2011
Walt Flanagan

Thank you, sir. Yeah, I want to try to keep different things coming through here all the time. Keep it fresh, keep it real.

22 07 2011
Walt Flanagan

No idea why the bar at the top went into the next line. I don’t even care. I say I care, but I don’t care.

22 07 2011
katrinasusan

Glad to see you stretching your wings and writing some fiction. I have many comments but I won’t make them here, I’m about to fall asleep anyway…

22 07 2011
Walt Flanagan

Oh, you can comment (it also took me a minute to figure out who you were, but then I saw the whois return and it alllll made sense). I’m already well aware of how crap it is and how many technical errors there are that could be fixed in a few hours of revising and editing.

22 07 2011
Walt Flanagan

Had to remove the mystery line. It, above all else, was driving me bonkers.

22 07 2011
Michelle

I liked it. I didn’t find it to be particularly sad either…just…real. Although it could have been improved if she had taken her shit-brown coffee mug by the handle, slammed it into the table edge to create a jagged ceramic knife and slit his throat, the blood then splattering onto the peeling paint, the red contrasting so harshly with the colorless cabinets that she stopped to watch the droplets drip down the panels, sliding down the paint chips and coating in them in liquid like a drop of sweat following the curve of a spine during a summer afternoon fuck session and she would be hypnotized by the bright spots thinking about what she had just done as he lay on the floor twitching violently now, clutching at his throat as if he could stop the red, oozing stream emitting with every slowing pump of his heart…

Oh, yeah, that’s my genre, not yours. Haha. Seriously though, I do see the influence of Carver and maybe even Updike? Are you a fan of his?

22 07 2011
Walt Flanagan

I can see the Updike influence. Most of his stuff I’ve ever read has been in Playboy. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever actually owned and/or read any of his books outright.

Yeah, that’s very much more Dr. Arnzen’s style, which is NOT for me, by me, etc.

Also, run-on sentence(s). You haz them.

22 07 2011
Michelle

Yes, that was intentional.

22 07 2011
matsif

forgot exciting things like salmonthumping and tunacars. the only thing that bothered me.

*disclaimer: I didn’t notice any errors because I can’t english quite gooder.

22 07 2011
Walt Flanagan

Speaking of Salmonthumping and Tunacars, “walterflanagan” no longer exists in the world of LiveFyre.

I’m just glad someone was reading it. I know it is rife with errors. I literally did no revisions or pre-writing. It was pretty much from ol Walt’s brain and memory and through the fingers and into the Word document.

Today I was kicked in my chest by the heat while I worked on the pond. The liner is ordered and I bought my pump and filter. I am excite.

22 07 2011
matsif

I’ve been kicked in my chest since tuesday. it was like 93 at 1 AM this morning, still 90 when I got the paper at 5 after I got up for work.

hard to talk the good shit when you’re drowning in the humidity in the air.

22 07 2011
Walt Flanagan

I hear you, bro. This has just been nuts. It is completely impossible to talk all that good shit anymore. Our brains are collectively overheating. I spent time taking a buddy out driving to get some practice for his test the other morning. I was running around an asphalt parking lot. Dear God. I thought I was gonna die.

23 07 2011
Kevin Gomolchak

That story was kind of boring, It was too real. One does not read nor go to the cinema to read or see what they did just yesterday. That’s my only criticism, but the fact I’m a sc-fi nerd explains why I didn’t enjoy the story. Although, oddly enough, this boring, average life your characters have is the one I wish I had. I can only fight so many ninjas to the death, disarm so many bombs, and rescue so many kidnapped models before it gets to be too much.

23 07 2011
Walt Flanagan

Well, that’s where it all comes down to a matter of preference in style and personal experience. A few others I’ve spoken to who have been in situations like the one above found a real connection to the piece. Likewise, I don’t think you would do well reading someone like Raymond Carver. This was a very poor man’s tribute to Carver (though, admittedly, that is also how I speak and tell a story).

25 07 2011
chizmo

no need to apologize on the draftness of the story. i enjoyed it quite a bit. as you just said, i am in a somewhat similar situation and can connect with it from that perspective.

i read a fair amount of technical writing from “engineers” at work, and i find verb agreement horribly frustrating when i find it incorrect. i don’t find it a factor in fiction though. i usually get so into reading that it doesn’t even show up.

i’ll read it again and maybe expand on the connection, but for now i can leave it at good work. on to griggsy’s gripes in the AM!

25 07 2011
Walt Flanagan

Thank you, sir (I assume you are a “sir.”) Yeah, it’s why I am so drawn to the works of Carver – his titles just absolutely get me. “Where I’m Calling From,” “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” “Call If You Need Me.” All of those are things I’ve said before. All of his stories are just so beautifully crafted and straightforward. Typically the stories do not feature a good/happy/clear-cut ending, either. There’s just a notion of “things end” or “things go on.” I love his voice.

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