The last of the harvest festival wound down behind us, the massive stage lights illuminating several feet into the thick forest underbrush. “Truth is, I haven’t really done this kind of thing a whole lot before,” I said, wrapping my gloveless fingers more tightly around my to-go cup and wondering if I should’ve admitted that I basically have no dating experience.
I grinned sideways at him. “There’s no way I can participate in this part of the conversation without sounding like I’m fishing for compliments!” I laughed.
“Go on,” he said, gesturing at me with his own to-go cup and grinning. “Give it your best shot.”
I thought about what Hanna would do in my shoes; she probably wouldn’t have been able to be so honest with a boy she liked so much. But I apparently didn’t get that demure filtering system. “Okay, then,” I said, turning to face him squarely. I enjoyed the rush of adrenaline through my veins as I looked up into his face. “Just a lack of interest, or to put a finer point on it: guys I don’t like always take my politeness as flirting, and guys I want to like me think of me as their mother.”
“So what happens if someone comes along who doesn’t align with either of those things?” he said, taking a sip.
From somewhere in the dismantling mess of the festival, something crashed and clanged. We turned to look, but whatever it was was deeper in the festival grounds. “Well,” I said, turning back, “my high school physics teacher told me I’d eventually get a boyfriend, but he’d probably have an Oedipus complex.”
He laughed, and oh, that laugh. It wasn’t so much the quality of it–it was a pretty average laugh–it was more the way his eyes pinched closed and his face was all smile.
“Should I be worried?” I said, grinning, turning back to face the woods.
His laugh wound down and he was still smiling when he said, “Probably not. My mum passed away.”
A block of ice clunked into my belly and suddenly my whole understanding of him changed, expanded, as I realized we had something like this in common. “I’m so sorry to hear that,” I said quietly.
“It’s alright,” he said, with a shrug. “Happened over two years ago.”
I turned back towards him. “Doesn’t mean it hurts any less, believe me, I know…” I started to take another sip, then blurted out, “My mom passed away four years ago February 11.”
He made a little nod. “I’m sorry.” I didn’t like how our voices were suddenly so quiet, as if we were whispering sins when we were really talking about our dead mothers. “Were you close?” he asked.
I shrugged a shoulder, figured I shouldn’t lie. “Close as any two enemies could be.”
“Enemies?” he said, raising his eyebrows.
I shrugged again and gave him a small smile. “She and I didn’t get along. That’s not to say I don’t miss her.” I wished I didn’t sound so emphatic. I shrugged a third time and wondered if he’d think I had a tic. “I just miss very specific things about her.”
He made another series of nods, like a bobblehead. I found it entirely endearing. Finally, he said, “You know, for someone who doesn’t do stuff like this all that often, you’re not half bad at it.”
I couldn’t tell if he was deadpanning, so I said, “I made it to half! I’ll drink to that. Cheers!” But as we tapped our to-go cups together, I had a good feeling he wasn’t.
Hello, my darlings!
I’m still playing catch up from the days I missed whilst painting my house. (Did I mention I painted three massive rooms in two days and afterwards, my hand felt like it was going to fall off? But anyway.)
October 8’s prompt was: harvest / dangle / flame
Once again, only one of these words ended up in the actual piece, and I was actually inspired by today’s prompt of “moonlight / forest trail / sway.” Combining “moonlight” and “harvest” gave me an interesting backdrop for this piece, which I quite enjoyed writing.
I found the dialogue in an old writing notebook and decided to challenge myself to build in the prose around it. This is, actually, how I usually plan and write my novels. I create scene sketches using dialogue and brief action descriptions (though I will jot down lines of prose if it comes to me). I do it this way because dialogue is so important in scenes, but also because I think it’s one of my strengths.
What do you consider your strengths in writing?
As much as I enjoyed writing this, I’m not quite sure I liked the way it turned out. I struggled with the contemporary feel of it and with worrying whether it was getting too long. The ending needs some work, for sure. It’s something I like I could turn into something really nice in the future, though.
Fun fact: the line about the Oedipus complex? Taken almost verbatim from something my very own high school physics teacher said to me my senior year 😂