Susan attempts to write fiction.
In my last post, I mentioned that I was participating in the Great Writers Series. Today’s challenge is to take initiative. I decided to take a stab at writing fiction. It’s something that I’ve thought about doing for awhile but just don’t have the time to commit to writing anything. Below is the first installment of a short story I’ve wanted to write. (In case you are wondering, Day 2 was a task that didn’t require writing anything.)
So here it is. I apologize in advance for how long it is.
I recognized her the moment she walked in. Her dark brown hair was shorter now and she had clearly learned how to control the frizzy disaster that she styled in high school. She seamed shorter, though I knew her decreased height had little to do with her actual size and more to do with the memory I had created of her. Her eyes still sparkled like a clear blue ocean. The only thing new was a three inch scar on her left cheek. Looking at her now, she seemed so human. So normal. Had she always looked so normal or was it my maturing as an adult that finally allowed me to see her this way?
I was pretty sure she hadn’t seen me. Most people try their best to avoid eye contact when they are arriving late to church and looking for a seat. From the back I watched her walk halfway down the aisle and find a seat on the end.
I couldn’t look away. I was still in disbelief that she was even here in the same room as me. A million thoughts raced through my mind. Was this her first time at this church? How long has she been back in the area? Had she ever left? Where had she been for the past 10 years? Did she remember me?
I knew the answer to the last one. I had hoped that time made her forget, but for the same reason that I remembered her, I knew she would remember me.
I looked around at the 500 other parishioners in the congregation. Every one of them knew me as the Pastor’s wife. The stay at home mom of two precious little girls. Every person except one.
As if equally disgusted with me, my stomach quickly began to betray me. I had roughly 45 seconds to get out of that sanctuary or I would be spewing all over the Burns family sitting in the pew in front of me.
Not realizing that my husband was watching me as he preached, I stood up and ran out of the sanctuary and into the bathroom. I barely had time to lock the bathroom stall before I was throwing up. Over and over my stomach muscles tightened until finally there was nothing left. It wasn’t until it was all over that I heard the toilet flush in the stall next to me.
“Honey are you okay?” I heard Sally Stephenson say to me.
Of all people to be in the bathroom with me right now, I’m stuck with Sally Stephenson. Sally Stephenson was practically born at this church and knew everyone.
“I’m fine, thank you Sally.” I said as I walked out of the stall to rinse my face off.
“Don’t worry, sweetie. I won’t tell anyone. You think it’s a boy this time? Chris will be so excited.”
“Huh? Oh a boy? Haha…I’m not, um, I think I just ate something last night that didn’t agree with me.”
“Oh of course, sweetie. Again, my lips are sealed.” With that, she finished washing her hands and left me to myself.
I knew what I had to do. I didn’t want to call Keith but he was the only person in the world who would understand what I was going through. Keith and I had become friends my freshman year of high school the same way I became friends with all of my guy friends. He had a crush on my friend Melissa and in an attempt to get closer to her, he befriended me. Eventually his crush on Melissa faded but our friendship didn’t.
We hadn’t spoken for years. After the incident, something was different between Keith and I. As close as we were, being around him was a constant reminder of that night. The following day, we both knew that things would never be the same. A few months later we both left for college and didn’t speak again. It was only recently that I received a friend request from him. I accepted and left it at that. Hopefully he had his number public on his profile. I’m sure he did. From his status updates I could tell he was still living the single life, partying late and hooking up with random girls. Keeping his phone number public was an open invitation for girls to call him any time.
I would wait to call him during naptime. I could hear people outside the bathroom which meant that the service had ended. I left the bathroom and did my best to blend in while looking to make sure she had left.
“Hey beautiful. So Sally Stephenson just passed me with her fingers crossed mouthing ‘hope it’s a boy!’ What’s that about?
“You are kidding me! Man, she didn’t waste any time did she?” I was about to lean in to give Chris a kiss when thought against it and gave him a hug instead.
“But really, are you okay? You look a little pale.”
“I’m fine. Really. I think it was just the steak sub from last night. I’m fine now. I’m going to go get the girls.”
“Sounds great. I’ll be home around two. Tony and I are going to try to plan the next three months of worship today at lunch, so we might run late.”
“Take your time. The girls will be napping anyway.”
The next few hours were a blur. I picked up the girls from Sunday School and drove home. The good thing about lunchtime with a two-year-old and a four-year-old is that it doesn’t take much to stay involved in the conversation. There are only so many topics that preschoolers care to talk about. Lunchtime is pretty much always the same. Hannah is two and her life revolves around Dora the Explorer. Faith is four and has decided that she is too cool for anything made for girls. Naturally this creates a bit of tension around the dining room table.
“Mom, Dora like Peanut Butter Jelly?” Hannah’s latest routine includes asking me if Dora would approve of her actions. If Dora doesn’t like jeans, Hannah won’t wear jeans. If Dora doesn’t like milk, she won’t drink it.
“Yes, Hannah. Dora LOVES peanut butter and jelly. She also loves to wash her hands before lunch.”
“Dora doesn’t like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Dora hates peanut butter and jelly. She told me.” Faith’s latest routine includes disagreeing with everything I say. Chris is convinced that it’s just a phase but I’m not. If she’s like this now, what will she be like as a teenager.”
“No, Faith, Dora loves Peanut Butter and Jelly. And Faith, you need to wash your hands please. Please do not mention Dora again to Hannah. You know it upsets her. If you do it again, I’m taking away your Power Ranger sword.”
I spent the rest of lunchtime diffusing potential outbursts between the girls. In the back of my mind I kept repeating this morning. Naptime could not come sooner. I needed to call Keith.
At last the girls were in their rooms sleeping. I found Keith’s number on Facebook and began to dial. This was going to be awkward. He probably hated me. No, he didn’t hate me, he friend me on Facebook. He’s over it now, right? I didn’t have time to think about it for too long.
“Hello?” The voice on the other end of the phone sounded older and more raspy than I remembered. Did I dial the right number?
“Um, I’m trying to reach Keith Milescot. This is Megan Duncan. I mean Megan Campbell. Well I’m Megan Duncan now, but I –“
“Meg, I know who you are.” Silence.
“Oh right. Hey Keith. How are you” More silence.
“I’m good. Just waking up actually. I was out pretty late last night.”
Just waking up? It was 1:30 PM. The last time I slept past 9:30 was easily 8 years ago. Not to mention past noon. Who was this guy? This was a mistake. He’s not going to understand. He’s not going to help. What was I thinking?
“Meg? Are you still there?”
“Yes. Sorry, I am. Look I’m sorry for calling. I didn’t realize that I was going to wake you up. I wasn’t thinking. I wake up at 6 AM every morning because of my girls. Oh hey, I have two kids! Crazy huh? Who would have thought? Remember in tenth grade when I said that I was never going to have kids?”
I was rambling. I knew I was rambling but I couldn’t stop. The words were coming out of my mouth faster than I could think of them. I kept talking until finally he stopped me.
“Meg. I know you have kids. I’ve seen them on Facebook. They are adorable. I loved the picture of your older one dressed up like Superman. She’s like a little you.”
“Yeah, she is isn’t she?”
The small talk was over. At some point I was going to need to tell Keith. I took a deep breath and began to speak.
“Keith, I hope you don’t mind that I called you.”
“Meg it’s okay. Really.”
“I saw Kate.”