Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Fourth Installment

I was feeling pretty tired today, but I managed to pump this one out before I have to go to work in a while. Hope yooz likes eeeet...


Zoe Beardsley unlocked the door to her apartment, and walked inside to see her boyfriend sitting on the couch playing video games, and still in his brown UPS uniform.

“Hey Matt,” she said as she took off her shoes by the door.

“Hey babe,” he said quickly, not taking his eyes off of the TV. Zoe went into the adjoining kitchen, set her purse on the table, and started looking in the fridge for something to eat.

“How was work?” She hollered to him in a muffle while she leaned in to search for leftovers.

“Fine,” he said blankly. She could hear his fingers pressing the buttons on the controller.

She pulled out a Tupperware container with some pasta in it, and popped it in the microwave on the counter after removing the lid. She set it for a minute, and walked back into the living room.

“So,” she said slowly, “whatcha been up to all night?”

“Just playin’ some video games, babe.”

“Yeah, I can see that… Did you eat dinner?”

“Yeah, I went to the bar after work. Got a burger.”

“You went to the bar?”

“Yeah, with some guys from work. No big deal. You had your class anyways.” His face contorted as the character in his video game got slashed with a sword.

“Yeah,” Zoe said, rolling her eyes. “My test went well, by the way…”

“Oh yeah,” he said casually through another contortion. “That went well then?”

“Yup,” she said through a long sigh. “So glad you remembered…” And she collapsed down onto the couch next to him.

“Sorry babe, I just had a busy day.”

Zoe noticed that most of the light in the room was coming from his video game, since by now the sun had mostly set. She stood back up to go flip on the switch and said, “Yeah, I can see just how busy you are there…”

“Dammit, Zoe,” he threw the controller down on the coffee table in front of him as his character died. “I drive around in a truck all friggin’ day delivering packages to people, walking up and down all kinds of stairs, lifting heavy shit… Am I not allowed to relax at least a little bit when I come home?” He stood up from the couch to face her, just as the lights came on.

“Of course, Matt. That’s not what I meant…”

“Well, what did you mean then?” He stood on the other side of the couch from her with his arms crossed.

“I meant that it would be nice to have you pay a little attention to me, and maybe even look at me when I walk in the door.”

“Well I’m sorry,” he started to say, but she cut him off and raised her tone.

“It also might be nice for you to remember when I have one of the most important tests in my entire graduate program, and have enough sense to ask me how it went!”

“Excuse me!” Matt threw his arms above his head. “But who’s the one working overtime so that we can afford to have you go back to school?!”

“Well who’s the one who works a full time job, goes to class in the evenings, does her homework and studies for her own tests in between grading the ones she gives her students!”

“Big deal!” He shouted. “So you have to make sure they only spelled ‘cat’ with one ‘t’ instead of two… Jesus, Zoe…”

“Oh? So now you’re going to belittle what I do for a living? Even though you know I love it?

“Come on, babe…”

“No,” she shook her head. “Don’t ‘come on, babe’ me… I teach little kids how to read their first book! How to add numbers together for the first time! You’re a delivery man! At least what I do matters!”

“Hey,” he said with a mocking shrug of his shoulders, “if the textbooks didn’t get DELIVERED to the school, how would you teach those kids a damn thing?”

“Ugh!” She stomped her feet on the floor. “Well if no one would have taught you how to read, how would you know where to deliver your packages?”

“Okay, this is ridiculous, Zoe… I’m sorry. Yes, I forgot about your test. Yes, I was playing video games. No, I am not perfect, nor have I ever claimed to be…”

“I know you’re working overtime to help me out, Matt, but the reason I’m going back to school in the first place is so I can make more money, and we can BUY a place instead of throwing away our paychecks renting this place year after year…”

“And I know that, babe… And I really am sorry.” They were quieting down now. “I think we’re both pulling some extra weight right now, and we’re both stressed, but we gotta learn how to deal with it. Okay?”

She nodded, but had a sad look on her face. “You know I don’t really think your job doesn’t matter, right?”

“I know,” he smiled. “Just like you know that I think teaching kids how to read and spell is incredibly noble… And how I admire the way you love your career.” He walked around the couch and crossed the room to stand in front of her.

“I’m sorry,” she said as he started to run his hands up and down her arms, then rub her shoulders.

“Me too,” he told her, and they stood there in silence for a moment until they smiled at each other. “So your test went well then?”

“Yeah,” she grinned. “Think I aced it.”

“That’s my girl,” he said. “Now, what do you say we go finish heating up whatever it was you put in the microwave before we got mad at each other?”

“It was the pasta from the other night,” she laughed.

Matt rubbed her shoulders two more times before they walked into the kitchen. He turned the microwave back on for a minute, while Zoe moved her purse off of their little table so there would be room for both of them to sit.


Cheers! More tomorrow!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Third Installment

Alright people, I have to warn you... This piece is unedited. I wrote it, and I'm posting. I didn't have time to read back through it, because I have to go to work in two minutes. So, as a result, this is some very dirty fiction. Enjoy!


Max jumped out of bed in the morning, feeling energized at the very moment he opened his eyes. He quickly got dressed with the clothes his parents had laid out for him the night before, then reached underneath his pillow to retrieve the lucky pen his mother had given him the night before. He stashed it safely in the pocket of his jeans, where the end of it stuck out a little, and he made his way to the kitchen.

“Good morning, buddy,” his mom said through a smile as she was standing by the table, about to pour him a bowl of cereal. “Did you wanna go through those words one more time?”

Max shook his head enthusiastically. “Nope! Now that I have your lucky pen, I won’t need any more help!” He patted his pocket, and his mom grinned at the top of the pen sticking out.

“Well, here’s some Lucky Charms to go along with it. Have a seat.”

He hopped up into the chair and she slid the bowl in front of him before pouring milk into it. He ate the cereal as fast as he could, while still eating the normal pieces first and saving the sweet marshmallows until the end.

When they were in the car on the way to school, his mother asked him from the front seat, “So, do you have that test first thing this morning? Or later on in the day?”

“Oh, it’s later,” he yelled up to her. “Not until after lunch.”

“Well, that’s too bad… I bet you’d like to just get it out of the way, huh?”

“It’ll be okay, mom. I know all the words now, I’m not going to forget them.”

She laughed as she pulled up to the school. She turned around, and leaned over the console to look at him. “Good luck today, Max. Dad’s gonna pick you up after school, and I’ll see you later on tonight when I get home from work. Okay?”

“Okay! Bye mom!” He said as he was already hopping out onto the sidewalk. She drove away as he ran towards the playground, his backpack bouncing behind him.

There was still about twenty minutes before the morning bell would ring and they had to go inside, and today was the day the girls were going to chase the boys.

Max dropped his backpack by the rest of the pile, and quickly spotted Katie. She was chasing someone else, but he knew that would change as soon as he made himself noticed. The trick was to make sure Katie noticed him before one of the other girls did.

He crept quietly along the outside of the playground, trying to appear like he wasn’t part of the game. Once he was on the other side, where Katie was, he waited for her to get close.

When the boy she was chasing ran by Max, he entered the game. Katie had been about ten feet or so behind the boy, but once Max jumped in her way, she stopped altogether.

Now it was Max’s time to make a move, and he did it with a taunt. “Hi Katie!” He said loud and slow, drawing his words out as long as he could. “I bet you can’t catch me…”

“I bet I could, Max…” She challenged back. The just looked at each other intensely for a moment, or at least, as intensely as two first graders could possibly look at each other, and then the chase was on.

It lasted the whole twenty minutes they had. Under the monkey bars, up the rope ladder, through the big plastic tube, down the curving slide. She chased him past all of the equipment on the playground, and by all of the other kids, and they didn’t stop until the bell rang.

With the cry of the morning bell, all of the running kids instantly slowed to a walk, and put their heads down as they walked over to pick up their backpacks from the pile. They walked into the school in a clump of chatter and laughter.

Max went through science lessons and math problems with ease. Someone was shooting spitballs across the classroom for a while during social studies, but they stopped once the teacher was done writing up on the board. Max wasn’t sure who had done it. The first half of the day flew by, and Miss Beardsley didn’t even mention the spelling test before lunch.

It was pizza day in the cafeteria, so this caused quite a stir amongst the kids. Some of the boys Max sat with started throwing all of the food they didn’t want to eat on one tray, and one of took his fork and started mixing it all together.

Before long, they had a slurry of pizza sauce, corn, jello, yogurt, apple juice, potato chips, soggy bread, a banana, and cheez-its. Once it was thoroughly mixed, they carried on with the tradition of daring each other to eat it, until Ricky Glaso finally took a spoonful of the brownish mixture and slowly raised it to his lips. After all of the laughter, gross noises, and one kid almost throwing up, it was time to go back to class.

“Alright, kids,” Miss Beardsley said before they were even settled back into their desks. “It’s time for the test.”

Max and all of the other kids were silent, and she could tell that there was some nervousness in the room.

“Did you all study the words?”

“Yes, Miss Beardsley,” they rang out in unison.

“Well, then you have nothing to worry about,” she comforted them. “You know what? I know exactly how you all feel.”

“Really?” Some of the kids asked, while others just sat there confused.

“Yes, really,” she went on. “Remember how I’ve told you about how I’m going back to school right now too? For my Master’s Degree?” Most of the children nodded. “Well, one of my hardest classes is tonight, and we’re taking a test too. I know what it’s like to feel nervous, but you’re all going to do just fine.” And with those last words of encouragement, she started handing out the tests.

Max took the lucky pen out of his pocket, and got right to work as soon as Miss Beardsley given him his test. He had no problem spelling ‘extinct,’ or ‘honeydew,’ and he was sure he even spelled ‘astronaut’ without a problem. He coasted through the entire test without so much as a second thought, and he was one of the first kids to finish.

There was an ear-to-ear grin on his face as he carried his test up to his teacher, and she smiled back at him after she took it from his hands. Max returned to his desk to wait patiently for the other kids to finish so Miss Beardsley could read to them.

At the end of the day, all of the kids rushed out of the classroom right when the bell rang, but Max stayed behind a moment.

“Miss Beardsley?” He said as he walked up to her desk where she was sorting some papers.

“Yes Max? What is it?”

“I hope you do good on your test tonight,” he told her shyly.

She set the papers down and smiled at him. “Oh, that’s so sweet of you…”

“Because I was really nervous about the spelling test today, even though I had studied. But my mom, she gave me her lucky pen to take the test with, and I know I did a good job.”

“I’ll bet you did,” she told him, “you’re one of the best spellers in the class.”

“Thanks Miss Beardsley… I want you to have this…” He reached down to his pocket and grabbed the top of the pen that was sticking out. “It’s my mom’s lucky pen, but I already used it so I don’t think she’d mind.” He held it up to his teacher.

She paused for a moment and smiled at him. “Are you sure, Max?” He nodded. “Okay then, thank you very much.” And she took the pen from him, still smiling, and slid it above her ear. “I’ll use it for my test later.”

He grinned back at her and said, “Good night, Miss Beardsley!”

“Good night, Max!” She called after him, since he was already on his way out the door of the classroom to go meet his father.


The Second Installment

Here it is, folks! Hope you enjoy!


Christine threw her purse over her shoulder after they left the restaurant, and Amy came up next to her as they walked up the street. They both lived in the neighborhood, just a short walk away.

“I don’t know,” Amy said as a cool breeze rushed through their hair. “He was kind of cute…”

“Cute?” Christine verified, “Maybe in a puppy dog sort of way. Cute because he’d be like a pet… He’s too young for you.” A taxi was rushing up the street, but slowed down as it passed them in case they needed a ride. They both ignored the cabbie and he sped away.

“So what?” Amy retorted. “It’s not like I’m seeing anyone else, and I’m not looking for anything serious. Just a little bit of fun… Especially since summer is coming along now…”

“Well, I guess it’s too bad he didn’t ask you out then.”

“What’s he gonna do, Christine? Write his phone number on the receipt? That would have been pathetic. I would have lost all interest if he would’ve done something ridiculous like that…”

“Excuse me, then… If he’s gonna be you’re little man-pet, maybe you should just go ask HIM out then.” Christine dared her friend.

“What is this? High school?” Amy shook her head at Christine’s condescension, but after a moment of thought, she raised it in suspicion as she said, “Maybe I will just ask him out. He’d probably never do it if I was sitting at one of his tables.”

Christine shrugged, and pulled her purse back up onto her shoulder to keep it from slipping. “Maybe you could go in and hang out at the bar. Maybe he sticks around for a drink after work,” she speculated. “That is, as long as he’s old enough to drink…”

“Oh shut up,” Amy laughed as she slapped her friend on the arm. “You stole his pen, by the way…”

“What?” Christine checked to make sure she had heard correctly.

“You stole his pen,” Amy repeated. “When you signed the credit card slip, you threw his pen right into your purse.”

“Oh,” Christine said awkwardly, “Why didn’t you say something?”

Amy gave her friend a very serious look and told her, “I didn’t want to draw attention to your petty theft…”

They stopped walking for a moment and stared at each other before Amy couldn’t hold in her laughter any longer, and they regained their stride as Christine took her turn slapping her friend on the arm.

“You’re ridiculous,” she said. “Would you like it? To have as a little token of your friend? Maybe you could take it in there and give it back to him… That could be your in!” Christine poked Amy in her side as they walked.

“Now THAT would be ridiculous!” Amy insisted, and she joked aloud in a prissy voice, “Excuse me, waiter… My friend accidentally took your pen earlier, you wanna get a drink sometime?”

They both laughed as another taxi flew up the street, and they came to a stop as they walked up to Christine’s condo.

“Well, dear,” Amy said, “Thanks for dinner. Tell that gorgeous little boy of yours I said hello.”

“Which one?” Christine asked, “My husband or my son?”

Amy giggled and shrugged before she said, “Take your pick.”

They said good night to each other, and Amy continued walking up the street to her apartment as Christine walked up the steps to her second floor unit.

Before she even had the door closed behind her, she heard her son yell, “Mommy!” And in an instant his little bare feet were pounding across the wood floors of their living room as he came to greet her with his arms spread as far apart as possible.

“Hey buddy!” She said through a laugh as he buried his face in her stomach and wrapped his arms around her. She reached behind them to close the door and lock it before she returned his hug. “What are you guys doin’ in here?”

He tilted his head up, and didn’t pull away from her to say, “Dad was just helping me study for my spelling test tomorrow, but now it’s almost time for bed.” She felt his chin bounce against her belly button as he spoke.

“Well,” she said with a grunt as she picked him up, “you’ve got that right. I’d say it’s about to be past your bedtime, actually.” She started to carry him across the living room towards the kitchen, where the light was on and she knew her husband would be sitting at the table.

“I know, but this is a big test! It’s my last one for first grade!”

“I know it is, Max! You’re getting so big, almost too big for mommy to carry you around the house…” And she turned the corner into the kitchen to see her husband where she thought he’d be, smiling at them.

“How was dinner?” He asked as Christine set their son down, and he took his place back at the table.

“It was good. Amy was crushin’ on the nice, young waiter a little, but we had fun. Oh, which reminds me…” She knelt down by Max’s chair and said, “Miss Amy said to say hello to you, to both of you actually…”

Her husband just smiled and shook his head. “I’m glad you had fun,” he said, “but I’m sure it wasn’t as much fun as we had working on Max’s spelling words, right bud?”

“Right!” Max jumped in his chair.

“Are you all ready for your big test tomorrow then?” Christine asked her son, and was a little surprised to see his expression drop.

“I think so,” he said cautiously. “I mean, we studied all the words over and over, I’m just still a little nervous. Miss Beardsley said it’s going to be the biggest test of the year, since it’s our last one…”

“Oh buddy,” Christine put her hand on Max’s shoulder, and slung her purse off of her own. “It’s going to be fine, you’ll see.”

“Like you said, Max,” her husband chimed in, “We studied all of the words, there’s nothing to worry about.”

“You know what?” Christine said with a twinkle in her eye, and Max looked up to meet her gaze. “I’m going to give you my lucky pen!”

His smile popped back to life as he said, “Really?”

“Uh huh,” Christine reassured him. “I’ve got it right in here,” and she set her purse down on the ground in front of her to fish out the pen she had accidentally taken from the restaurant.

“Here ya go,” she said as she held it up in front of him, and he took it carefully out of her hands like she was handing him some sort of precious, ancient relic.

“Wow,” he said slowly, “Thanks Mom!”

“No problem, bud,” she said while she ruffled his hair. “Now, I think it’s time to get ready for bed. We can go through those words one more time in the morning if you want.”

“No way!” He shouted while he leapt to his feet to run off towards the bathroom. “Now that I have the lucky pen, I’m gonna ace that test!” They heard his last words echo from down the hall, and they looked at each other and laughed.

Before either of them spoke though, the phone rang, and Christine grabbed it instinctively.

“Hello? Oh, hi Amy… Did you get home okay?... Yeah, can I call you back in a few?... We’re just putting Max to bed... Okay, talk to you in a bit.” And she hung it up just as abruptly.

“There a problem?” Her husband asked casually.

“No, just said she has to tell me something. She sounded kind of excited though, or maybe just like she couldn’t keep from laughing. I’ll call her back once Max is down.”

He just smiled, and put his arm around her, and they walked down the hallway side by side to go make sure their son was brushing his teeth.


Stay tuned!

The First Installment

Here it is, as promised! It is a bit later than I had hoped, but it's here nonetheless, and there will be another one that I will write tomorrow!


“I don’t know, I guess I’m just in a bit of a dry spell,” Shawn told his coworker shortly after she walked into the restaurant. He was leaning against the wall by the server station, twirling a pen through his fingers and watching over the two tables he was serving so far.

“Well,” Maria said as she clocked in at the computer, “Plenty of girls come into this place, maybe you should hang around in the bar after work and try to make some friends?” She smiled mockingly.

“I wouldn’t mind being friends with her,” Shawn said with a nod towards one of his tables.

The front room of the restaurant was narrow, with wooden walls and a painted, concrete floor. The bar was on one side, and a row of nine small tables was on the other. The nine tables were spread evenly against a padded bench that ran the entire length of the wall, and they had chairs on the opposite side. There were two men sitting at a table that was fairly close to Shawn and Maria, and there were two women who were sitting at one closer to the front door. That was the table Shawn was nodding at.

“Which one?” Maria asked, as she squinted against the setting sunlight coming through the windows up front. “The one on the booth side, or the one in the chair?”

“The one in the chair,” he replied while getting lost in a gaze. He was admiring the highlights in her hair, along with her olive complexion.

Maria was finally satisfied with her look and stopped squinting to say, “She’s too old for you.” And she turned back to the server station to rifle through her purse, causing its contents to click against each other.

“What?” Shawn came out of his daydream and stopped twirling the pen to look back at his coworker. “She’s not THAT old…”

“She looks at LEAST thirty, she could be ten years older than you…”

“Yeah, but not more than ten… And that’s not THAT much…”

Maria looked up from her purse to give Shawn a serious look. “She could have babies and stuff, maybe even kids that are significantly older than babies.”

“Well,” Shawn said as he stubbornly crossed his arms, “She’s not wearing a wedding ring, so at least she doesn’t have a husband.” They could hear the two women laughing from across the room, but a quick look confirmed that they hadn’t heard Shawn and Maria talking. The men at the other table were talking quietly.

“Maybe just an ex-husband who’s super jealous and insane.” She gave him another mocking smile, and topped it off with a shrug before going back to her purse.

Shawn turned his attention back to the woman at the table and nonchalantly said, “Maybe I’ll just ask her out.”

Maria let her palms fall to the wooden counter and turned back to him. “Shawn,” she said condescendingly, like she was about to teach him something, “You can’t just ask out someone at one of your tables. It’ll make you look pathetic… Even more pathetic than you already are. Seriously, she’s older than you. She probably has a good career, an elitist group of socialite friends she hangs out with, and as previously noted, maybe even kids. Do you really want to make an ass out of yourself and ask her out while you’re waiting on her in a restaurant?”

Shawn didn’t break his gaze as he said, “The worst thing she could say is no, and I’d still be the same person I was when I woke up this morning.” He looked back at Maria and gave her an imitation of her own mocking smile and shrug.

“Ugh,” she sighed and shook her head. “You really are an idiot. Or just a bucket of hormones, I can’t tell which.”

“Hey,” he said as if he’d just gotten some brilliant idea, “maybe she’ll ask ME out…”

“Ok, I’m definitely leaning towards idiot now…”

“Come on!” He insisted. “Maybe she’s just looking to have fun, not for anything serious, and she thinks a younger guy might be good for her because he hasn’t yet been tarnished by the evils of corporate America! Maybe she’ll be attracted to the blissful ignorance of my youth!”

“The only thing that made sense just now was the word ignorance,” Maria told him with her condescending tone again as she stashed her purse on a shelf below the computer. While she was pulling her hair back, she spoke again, “Seriously Shawn, just go for someone attainable. Don’t stand around here waiting for some attractive older woman to waltz in and sweep you off your feet.”

“Speaking of which,” Shawn raised his eyebrows in excitement, “I should go check on my ladies up there.” Maria shook her head at his goofy smile and watched him walk over to the table to ask the women if they needed anything else. She heard them giggle at something he said, and then watched him return to the server station with the goofy smile still on his face, their empty wine bottle in one hand, and a credit card in the other.

“Excuse me, Maria,” he said as he tossed the wine bottle into the trash and listened to it clank against the sides of the mostly empty can. “I need to run this card for Amy and Christine.”

“And which one is your hot, steamy lover?” Maria joked as she stepped away from the computer, making room for him.

“That would be Amy,” he told her with conviction, “but Christine is paying the bill.”

“Oh no, maybe your lady doesn’t have the fantastic career we thought she might?”

“Nonsense,” he insisted as the credit card processed. “Her friend is just being nice, maybe she paid last time they went out. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go say goodbye.”

Shawn snatched the credit slip out of the printer and walked back over to the table. He thanked the ladies for their visit, said that he hoped they’d come back again, and wished them a good night. He gave Christine back her credit card, along with the slip, and he twirled the pen in his fingers before he handed it to her.

She signed the slip right away and handed it back to Shawn. The ladies thanked him for the service, and wished him a good night as well before they got up to leave. He watched them walk out the door before he walked back over to Maria.

“Well, did Amy give you her phone number? Did she ask you out?”

“No,” he admitted, “but Christine did steal my pen.”

“Your pen?”

“Yup, she signed the slip and threw the pen right into her purse like it was something she did every day.”

“Ugh,” Maria sympathized, “I hate it when people do that.”

“I know,” Shawn agreed, “but what can I do? I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of Amy.”

“Well,” Maria said sarcastically, “if that were the case, you probably shouldn’t have approached the table in the first place.”


Until tomorrow, my friends...