The challenge with any writing is to tell a good story. I wrote this piece of short fiction a few years ago for a writing class to see if I could write — not as an adult male — but as someone else, in this instance, as a rural country girl from the south. You be the judge.
I walked out of my meeting with a huge grin. I had been worried about the meeting for weeks. I had practiced my sales pitch on my commute home and spent hours fine-tuning the presentation.
In the end, the meeting had been a major success. I won approval from a key senior leader in my company and we came out of the meeting with an agreed-upon roadmap for the future.
As I walked out of the conference room and through the building lobby, I considered raising my arms in victory. A victory lap of sorts. I thought better of it when I looked up to see a uniformed security guard at his desk and a fellow coworker waiting by the revolving door for his ride home. I didn’t raise my arms, I kept them close to my side, but I still must have had a funny look on my face, because they both looked at me strangely, like I had two heads or at the very least like I had spinach sticking out of my teeth.
I didn’t care. Let them stare. In my mind at least, I swear I could hear the famous University of Michigan fight song, “hail to the victors valiant! Hail to the conquering heroes!” ringing through the lobby. And I hate Michigan.
I’ve written and rewritten this piece countless times over the years. The piece will either strike a chord with readers or like the cliche says: go over like a lead balloon. But, it’s important for me to get it off my chest, to be open and honest in my writing and my faith. Here you go. For what it’s worth.
As I wrote recently, after watching my father hone his carving hobby, I became a writer. I saw the passion and craftsmanship that he put into his carving and I put the same effort into my writing.
At the same time, however, I also remember being a young kid and crossing paths with my father’s temper.
When it was at its peak, you wanted nothing to do with it. I usually stumbled across it for silly things: failing to find quick enough whatever tool he asked me to hand him when we worked on the car or on some carpentry project or coming home with the “Check Engine” flashing and our car on its last legs.
My father came from a different time, a different generation. He wanted more for his sons, but he couldn’t always provide it and when bad things happened — a car wouldn’t start, a bill came in the mail that he wasn’t expecting — he let loose with a flurry of verbal assaults in a chaotic and haphazard fashion. He didn’t mean to harm anyone per se, but the rat-a-tat verbal spray could still cause damage, making you feel two feet tall.
I had a friend in college who suffered through an experience like this in high school. I guess it didn’t work out too bad for him: He ended up marrying the girl. My short story ideas come from a lot of different thoughts, feelings, and emotions. This story has its share of sentimental fluff, but my goal was to put down on paper the anxiety, frustration and challenges that we all experience in adolescence. I’d love to hear what you think. Continue reading “Fiction: The silver lining”
I lost it.
My coworkers wanted answers that I didn’t have time to track down. My wife wanted and deserved help around the house. My daughter wanted her daddy to recognize all the great things that she had learned that day. And my newborn son needed everything that a five-month old baby needs, love, food, security, and a hug to boot.
Everyone seemed to want something from me and, unfortunately, I had nothing left to give. I was exhausted. I hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep in weeks. My clothes hung off me because I hadn’t had a chance to eat right. My car had left me stranded on my way home from work. My nerves were frazzled. I was at my breaking point.
I love writing my blog. I love it so much that I probably post too frequently, but it keeps me writing and gives me a chance to write about what’s going on in my life. I haven’t posted a lot of my short stories, but it’s also an opportunity to publish some of my other work. Here’s a piece I wrote a few years ago for a writing contest that you may like. What do you think?
John pulled the taxi in front of his parents’ home and turned off the engine. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He had had spent the previous three days rehearsing what he was going to say. While he would have liked to delay the discussion, he knew the extra time wouldn’t help. He sighed once more and got out of the cab.
John had flunked out of his freshman year of college and over the past four years had gone through a series of jobs: car salesman, waiter, stadium usher, and bouncer. For the past six months, he had been working nights and weekends as a taxi-cab driver. The job was certainly respectable enough, but John’s parents had higher hopes for their only son.
John’s parents never had the chance to go to college. His dad graduated high school and went straight to the mill and a part-time job to help support his brothers and sisters. John’s father used to say that he was faced with a simple decision: pitch-in or starve.
The IT developer was getting agitated with the short, but burly car salesman who sat at his table. They were both nursing drinks, a Long Island Ice Tea for the developer, a craft beer for the salesman.
“For the millionth time, I’m not interested in a new car. I like my little Camry, I’m not buying,” the man said.
“I hear you, I hear you. I’m not saying you should replace your Camry, I just thought you might like . . .”
“Stop, stop, please stop,” the developer said, slamming his fist on the table.
“. . . something sportier to run around the weekend,” the salesman finished out his sentence.
The two had been lobbing attacks and counters for the past twenty minutes and the discussion was starting to get louder and more heated.
Or was it?
A short Amish woman, wearing a brownish-gray dress and white prayer cap or covering, was camped outside of my busy work cafeteria in the Philadelphia suburbs on Wednesday selling various jams; large oversized oatmeal cookies; raisin bread smothered in white icing; thick, gooey cinnamon rolls, and, of course, whoopee pies. As soon as the woman had all of her baked goods laid out in the proper order, a large group of my coworkers started lining up at her table to see what she had for sale. More than a few had their wallets already out and ready for action.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the strange site of the plain-dressed, simple-talking Amish woman smack dab in the middle of blue oxford shirt, tan pant, and brown loafer-wearing Corporate America. I’m used to seeing my coworkers rush into the cafeteria to grab a quick coffee or muffin before the next meeting, not running in to buy baked goods, made from scratch, from a Lancaster area Amish woman.
I feel sort of like the guy who writes a message, rolls it up and puts it into a bottle, and then throws it into the ocean to see where it lands. The note could be an SOS message to potential rescuers, a message to a long-lost love, or even a silly schoolboy note, the topic doesn’t matter.
The bottle floats here or there in the choppy waves and most times the note — in my case, my blog — goes unheralded floating forever in a nether world. Oh thanks to modern technology and social media, I’m able to see that my blog touches home with a few loyal Facebook friends and family members, who have my eternal gratitude, but it floats into nothingness.