At the Edge of the Night

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.

“Why?”

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?

Review

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.

Thoughts?

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 😂

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