What if?: G's last line story

Sunday, April 30, 2006

G's last line story

It needs a title, and I am open to suggestions. It's 500 words exactly, and I hope to maybe send it to another contest at Gather. I italicized the sentence I used.


He scraped the top of the formica with a razor blade. She sat across from him, trying not to be excited. The laminate was colored with swirls of grey and blue, and if you looked hard enough, embedded with tiny gold sparkles. When he was younger he would get so absorbed looking for them his mother, in a grey housecoat and no sparkles, would continually nag him to eat his dinner. His imagination mining for wishes such gold could bring.

"Penny for your thoughts Charlie."

Her hair was the color of corn; she wore it down today. It was a special day. She leaned forward, smiling at him with bright, pink cheeks. Her arms stretched out across the table, hands clasped, potential energy leaking from her fingertips. He reached out to swipe some.

"For you," he said, "I might have to charge a quarter."

She laughed, and he was glad.

"I can afford it, you know."
"I know. This is an amazing opportunity for you."
"The chance of a lifetime," she added for fun, quoting his favorite movie. She was trying so hard to make this be normal. Normal would be her hair in a ponytail. Normal would be a pullover instead of that silk blouse she was wearing with two buttons opened. Normal would be a grey housecoat, not a pink trench and pumps that matched an overstuffed pocketbook.

The corner of the blade caught an edge, and he began to twist and dig at the groove undoubtedly left by someone carelessly cutting their peanut butter sandwich without a board under it. A perfectly manicured pink finger appeared pushing a coin.

"What gives Charles?"

What gives? Santa gives. Levies give. Lovers give. Mothers give---

"I was just thinking I've never seen you look so pretty."
"That's very sweet, thank you." The silence that followed was full, expanding by the second. It threatened to envelop him.

"You know, I did ask you to come to this thing with me."
"I know you did. I have no desire to attend some soiree full of suits and benefactors." What would he do? Talk about ground wires and voltage? Rave about the horsepower in the new Mustang GT? Bitch about how transit fares are going up again to the CEO?

She sighed. "Would you rather I not go?"
"Of course not," he told her. The chance of a lifetime. Up the ladder of success. A chance to be someone better.

A kiss on his cheek. Her trench coat smelled like moth balls, her breath like mint. "I'll see you soon baby," she whispered. "I just have to go fix some things, make them better."

The manicured finger stroked the back of his hand, leaving a burning trail.

"What are you doing with the razor Charlie?"
"I'm digging for gold."

She sat there a minute or two, then stood and walked around the table.

She kissed his cheek.

"See you later," she said, but what I heard was the damning finality of "goodbye".


Blogger Lisa said...

I love it! You can really feel the winds of change a'blowin'...

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

overall I like it but you continually switch from first person to third person narration. I didn't fully get the idea that it was coming from him until the last line.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hm...I don't see a point-of-view shift, anonymous. The narration is very close, but it remains third person throughout.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Nancy Dancehall said...

The only point-of-view shift I see is in the last line, where you go from 'he' to 'I'. I see no reason why you can't tweak it to say 'he'.

Great, great story. I'd only add 'she said' after the "I can afford it, you know" line, just to clarify. I thought he had said it the first time I read the story through.

Other than that, it's a great slice into something bigger, and leaves me wondering, 'where is she going?' Not a question you need to answer; I like the ambiguity. And I love the mining for gold, and the way she leaves him.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Nancy Dancehall said...

P.S. We picked one of the same lines for our stories! :-)

1:42 PM  
Blogger Giovanna said...

LOL. Yes, because I based the story on the line, and then just stuck it in at the end, not remembering it was "I". You know what, the same thing happened at Grub Street class when we did this, not to me, but someone else, who used a line that was in a different POV than they originally wrote theirs.

Eagle eye Nancy.

Oh, and I took the tag out to cut more words, lol. I was desperate to keep it to 500.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Nancy Dancehall said...

Ahhh...I see. maybe cut out 'or two' instead? (She sat there a minute or two,).

11:19 AM  
Anonymous clowncar said...

Just a curious bystander, but I think it's better without the last line. I guess that sorta breaks the rules, though.

Good piece of writing, G.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Overall a powerful piece of writing. Character development and movement in a very tight space.

I am curious if the razor was an intentional metaphor as the severing instrument of their relationship or dialogue.

One dialogue line that seemed out of place to me: I just have to go fix some things, make them better. I can't place my finger on it. Maybe because it seemed too condescending - it seems out of place with her neutral, pleasant tone in leaving.

9:50 PM  
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10:53 PM  

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