So we wrote a mini-fiction in class, which was honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. I really love how it turned out, and it’s still but a draft, so I give it some leeway, but it’s the first time that half way through my writing I realized that my characters were leading me, and I was not sure entirely what would happen to them. I am working out the ending though, I forgot about the man’s injury until I was writing the final paragraph so I might consider changing it to something less rushed. Let me know what you think 🙂
A woman is rocking her head slowly, side to side, to her favorite Pink Floyd album. A man dressed all in black faces the mirror in the bathroom and looks hard at a purple welt on his temple.
The woman hasn’t had a good lay in years, “yeah, yeah, yeah…” she mumbles along with the music. She sits with her back against the wall in the hallway, bare feet and pajama bottoms make her feel like a twenty year old again, sitting high in a dorm room, never her own. She fingers the buttonhole on her flannel pants, and in the other hand, a glass of Pinot Noir from ’08 rocks precariously full over the camel Berber.
The man has worked hard at his job, now well into his sixties he is almost ready to retire. Almost, “that’s a dangerous word,” he brushes back a full head of hair he’s always been proud of and cups his face in his hands, pressing his skin with damp hands. The purple bump will definitely be there tomorrow, he grabs a snifter and fills it with water from the sink. His thick fingers snap the cap off of a bottle of Alka-seltzer and he drops two tablets in. His reflection disappears for a moment as he opens the medicine cabinet.
The woman stretches over to a small pink bag beside her on the floor and removes a pair of toenail clippers. She expertly maneuvers her glass from her mouth, to rest her wrist against one knee while she clips each toenail, starting from the pinky and working in methodically. “Mo-naaaay, it’s a crime…” she comes in with the wrong verse, but continues on, making a small pile of clippings on the carpet. It’s not that she hates her life really, she only wants a better one, but that’s how everyone really feels. When they aren’t lying for themselves, or their husbands. It’s bullshit, she thinks, to act like you’re over the fucking moon about how damn special your life is, how wonderful your kids are, everybody is miserable. Her toenails are perfectly rounded, she has always had a knack for that sort of thing, perfection.
The man has applied a filmy layer of Vaseline to his brow, he would have to get some peroxide from the Albertson’s across from his brownstone in the morning. He wondered for a moment if he might run down the street now, and pick some up. He had seen a gas station, did they sell that sort of thing at a gas station, peroxide? Better to wait till the morning, besides, he felt like a professional boxer that had taken a sucker punch to the kisser. “Haha!” he taunted the mirror with balled fists, hopping back boyishly. His smile faded as he strained a weak knee with the effort. He should get undressed.
The woman pushed her heels into the carpet in front of her and slowly eased her body up the wall, downing the last of her wine. She walked swaying her hips, as ‘Us and Them’ came to an end. She thought that was a pretty fitting song for the cliche soundtrack of her life right now, but this wasn’t the end, things always get better, “because otherwise, well, otherwise… Oh I don’t know, fuck it I guess.” She opened her closet, and by opened, she brushed aside a curtain of green glass beads and thumbed through her silks and satins. Time to get dressed.
The man worked at the button on his pants first. They were almost too tight now, stretching dutifully around his waist, they seemed to have shrunk just beyond the point of comfort over the last hour. He peeled them down and felt for a moment like some ridiculous human banana. His legs felt cool as the sweat was exposed to the air, and for a moment he moved over in front of the plastic fan on the nightstand. He began at his neck, opening each black clasp carefully, taking his time. Standing naked, he brought the damp garment to his face and inhaled. This felt good, smelling the leather, feeling his nakedness punctuated by the cool air from the fan. He looked sideways at the mask lying on the floor across the room, it’s contented zipper smile, “you,” he whispered, “you and me.”
The woman’s nails tapped out a staccato with shiny red tap shoes on the door-frame. The ‘Woman in Red’ she was a vision in satin. The album had stopped and the spent record was scratching obnoxiously in the player. She didn’t even like vinyl, she’d pretended to once, and some overzealous ex-boyfriend had bought her the ridiculous thing, trying to tighten his hold. That’s probably why they broke up, but she couldn’t really remember, only she had kept the damn thing, and three records. She looked into the mirror in her room, and began to make ridiculous faces at herself. A duck, a pig, stretching and puffing out her cheeks, wrinkling her brow “Meow! I’m a Pussycat!” she hissed at the mirror and made her hands into claws. Laughing for just a moment, she composed herself and put on her lipstick, to match the dress.
The man lay back on the bed. Antacid granules that never fully dissolved made a little trail up the side of the empty tumbler. The fan had been turned off, replaced by the soft jargon of a talk show host on the television. He had opened the window though, and the city far below him was still a flood of activity, “what time is it?” He asked the alarm clock, it answered him with tired red eyes, one in the morning. After tonight he was never going to do it again. It wasn’t fair to his wife, he loved her, she was beautiful, when they made love, he fell for her all over again every time. She should never have to see him like this, he needed to protect her. He looked at the mask with disdain, at the crimson lipstick caught on a corner, where she had pulled open the zipper and became aroused. Forcing himself to look away he rolled onto his stomach, to hide from himself, he was sick.
The woman floated as she walked, like a B list movie star, into a sparkling lobby with faux chandeliers and complimentary peppermints in a bowl. The plants were real, waxy green jungle varieties that added a touch of class to the chintz draped waiting area. Heading for the bar she reveled in the little clicks her stilettos made on the tile, she felt like a pony in a parade. “Vodka cranberry, uh… Wait, no. A martini please, gray goose.” Where did that come from? She hadn’t ordered one of those in years. A hand slid out from behind her, and deposited a plastic card key on the real granite counter-top of the bar. She stared straight ahead and said nothing. After five minutes had passed, she swished down the rest of her martini, and coughed embarrassingly, God she hated martinis. Her eyes softened pink around the edges as she walked from the bar and down the hallway to the elevators. Outside the room she never gave herself a moment to pause, to think. She thrust open the door quickly, catching him in the side of the face. He fell to the floor, then rose, slowly, and turned to her with that wicked zipper smile. It was a rough start, and he only had an hour. The door closed behind her with a click, and in the hallway, a small green light by the handle blinked off.