So now I’m going to post a short story I wrote about a year ago. It’s actually a rewrite of another (terrible) short story we read in creative writing called “Story” by Lydia Davis. No seriously, she called it “Story.”
I actually got a decent grade on it, either and A- or B+, and I enjoyed writing it as well. Anyway, critique it and let me know what you think!
Also, I would really like to continue with this… does anyone have any ideas for a short story?? Or rather, why don’t you post a prompt and I’ll write about it! I need to get back into writing. Anyway, enjoy the story after the jump!
I get home from work to see a message on the answering machine from Sam saying we can’t meet up tonight… again. Says he’ll call me back later. 4pm. 5pm. 7pm. 9pm.
I couldn’t help but think something’s wrong, so I hopped into my car and drove to his house. I don’t know what I was doing. Why tonight? Why out of all the nights he’s cancelled, why am I going to his house unannounced? I couldn’t even answer these questions myself.
Looking at the garage doors, I couldn’t figure out which one was his. I craned my neck out of my open window to see the lights off in his apartment. It was so early… could he be sleeping already? I hesitated, my hands on the wheel at perfect driving position, and I began to wonder if I was going to go up or not. Next thing I knew, I was getting off of the elevator standing in front of Sam’s door, an old receipt and pen in my hand in case he didn’t answer. He didn’t. I left a note.
When I got back to my house I was doing any and everything to distract myself and past the time.
“Alright honey… I’m going to bed.” I heard the television cut off in the living room and slow paced, heavy feet ascend the stairs.
“Yes… ok. I’ll see you after I get back!” I responded automatically. It felt as though that clock above the kitchen doorway was clicking loud enough to deafen me.
I go over to the piano and play soft enough to keep John in his bed and off my back but loud enough to drown out the sound of the kitchen clock. At around 10:45 I call Sam again, finally getting an answer and he says he went to the movies with his ex-girlfriend and that she’s still at his house right now. My heart sinks.
Could this be the same ex-girlfriend who he was once said he was engaged to; the one true love of his life?
I hang up the phone with a shaky, “Ok” and go to lay down on the couch to drown out my sobs in the throw pillows. I wait for him to call me back to console me and tell me he’ll be right over to say goodbye before my trip or I wait to be angry for the next 2 weeks.
I grab the magazine nearest to me and start flipping through it to distract myself from the heartbreak and anger, when he calls me at around 11:30. We argue on the phone for almost 10 minutes about God only knows what; I’ve found that when men lie, they just talk in circles, around and around, again and again, until they start to believe it themselves. He’s no different; my husband, the same way.
I’ve also found that when a woman loves a man, she’s willing to put all her dignity and self-respect on the line to salvage the relationship they have, so I call him back and sweet talk his answering machine, imagining a forgiving face when he listens to it, even if it was he who was in the wrong.
I am once again conflicted as to what my next move should be. As much as I love Sam and respect his wishes of wanting to be alone tonight, I just seem to find my peace of mind more important right now, so I get up and get dressed to go over to his house again. Although I understand in my right mind how neurotic this is, I just can’t seem to stop myself. It’s after twelve and I need to make a 5-hour long drive tomorrow morning. Any rationalism I had in me left when Sam said she was there.
I wait anxiously at the red light before the block where his house is. I imagine she would drive a small car, in probably silver or gold and I look for such a car as I pull up underneath the trees to disguise my own.
I ride the elevator to the floor right below his apartment and then crept up the last 14 stairs. My hand lay elevated in the air as I decide if rapping it against the door is a good idea or not. I do it anyway.
Just as I am ready to knock, I hear the sound of laughter from inside. Sweet, reminiscent laughter from a man and woman…. What could he be possibly laughing about with her? What could possibly be funny about what is going on now? Has he totally forgotten about our argument and now has found other more important things to laugh about?
A sudden burst of anger comes out of me and I bang on the door like the police. The laughing stops abruptly and I regret it instantly. These are the kinds of things people break up over; knocking on doors you have no business standing in front of in the first place. I leaned into the door and could hear Sam telling her something and then there was quiet. I heard a door close inside his apartment.
I looked for the nearest stairwell or emergency exit that I could disappear into, but before my feet could move fast enough Sam opened the door and I turned back around to look at his solemn face. That handsome, manly, beautiful face. It was always like this; no matter how upset I was with him, how angry I was, how bad I wanted to just end this whole tryst, when I set my eyes on him again I couldn’t bring myself to hold even one ounce of anger.
He stares me back in the eye and steps out onto the cement in his bare feet and wraps his arms around me. My heart breaks; he feels guilty about what he’s about to say. It’s over. It’s all over. The laughing, the cuddling, the “strictly business” retreats that I would go on, that youth I got back, the celestial sex… all gone. I just stand there, wide-eyed not even embracing him back.
He lets go of me and pulls his door in before he runs his hands though his dark, curly locks.
“Look Katy…” he starts. I’m waiting for him to say that that bitch is inside and it’s all over between us… but he doesn’t say that. “I’m sorry.” Pause. “Everything… just everything tonight is my fault. And I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have lied.”
I want to be angry. I want to kick and scream and I want to hate him but I can’t bring myself to do it. I wanted to go to his bedroom and forgive him all night long but there was one little thing standing in my way.
“Is she still here?” I ask. He doesn’t answer. Just looks down at his feet on the cold cement. I take that as a yes and light up a cigarette.
Am I out of my mind? What am I even doing here?
“Hey… I know it’s going to be hard for you to understand, but would you try?” he pleaded. “She’s going through some things now… and… and she feels like I’m the only one she can’t talk to about it. I know her best, ya’ know?”
I give an annoyed chuckle, then I pause. I storm towards the door, brushing him out of the way and twist the doorknob. I see 2 wine glasses and a plate of cheese and crackers on his coffee table. Then I see red.
It’s not the romantic wine glasses and low lighting that infuriates me—it’s the cheese. The fact that he took the time to get a knife, take the cheddar out of the refrigerator and cut it up for her enjoyment with the wine is what pisses me off. I flick the ashes off of the end of my cigarette onto his cream-colored carpet and I look for her. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I find her but I want to see her.
I’d only seen one picture of her before; it was crumpled in the back of his underwear drawer when I was snooping. The milky lines that grew from the aged creases of the picture made her face indistinguishable—I wanted to see her.
I threw open the door to his room and there she was, right on his bed. She looked at me wide-eyed and I suddenly felt bad. She was startled by my rage and I suddenly felt like this big, playground bully scaring the little kids. Why was I doing everything wrong? Every move I made tonight was the wrong one.
I felt like such a hag looking at her young face, long dark hair, jeans and shiny, pink nails. She was a girl and I was on old woman. What am I even doing here?
We stared each other in the eyes long past the comfort zone and I couldn’t help but notice her positioning—she was sitting cross-legged on his poorly made bed (he always just threw the comforter over everything). She looked comfortable; she looked at home!
I saw his socks on the floor and his belt hanging over the chair near the window.
“Did you sleep together?” I choked out. My cigarette had become nothing but dried ash and crumbled to the floor.
She didn’t answer. Just gave that same sorry ass look Sam did and stared at the floor. I turned on my heels to leave before this little girl could see an old woman cry.
He was leaning on the couch when I came out of his bedroom; he had heard what I said. As I raced for the door he grabbed my elbow in an effort to turn me around.
“Katy. Katy, wait.”
“Don’t touch me!” I screamed at him, yanking my arm away from his. “Don’t you ever touch me you son—” I tried to curse him but I started to choke on my oncoming tears. My mother, God bless her, always said to never let the man who has hurt you see you cry, so I heeded to those words as I ran out of the apartment and down the stairs.
“Katy, come on! Please! Can we talk about this for a second!” he yelled over the banister.
Don’t stop. Don’t look back. Don’t turn around, I kept saying to myself.
I took my tears to my car where I ferociously drove around the corner to be alone where I could cry my heart out in peace.
And the crazy part of it all, is that even though I have cried until my ducks have all dried and shriveled up like raisins, I can’t help but find humor in the fact that the player got played.