"In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away." -Shing Xiong *** "Do not go where the path may lead; instead where there is no path and leave a trail." -Ralph Waldo Emerson *** "Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget." -G. Randolf *** "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." -E.M. Forster *** "Imagnination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, imagination encircles the world." -Albert Einstein *** Defintion of Suburbia: A place where they cut down trees and name streets after them. -(Unknown, found on sticker) :p *** "A lie goes halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." -Winston Churchill***"Love is the irresistible desire to be desired irresistibly." -Louis Ginsberg ***"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." -Martin Buber

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Squeaky Shoes (a short story)

Squeaky Shoes

Today, I ran into an old friend.
            It was a strange, how something as simple as going on a toilet paper run could bring you to something as complicated as a blast from the past.  Just a plain old Sunday in a plain old Wal-Mart, and a particularly wet parking lot that made my shoes squeaky.  I hated squeaky shoes, ever since the 7th grade, when I owned a pair of sneakers that sounded like ducks even when they weren’t wet.  I had often been stared at, and I had relied on the noisy babble of kids to disguise my noisy shoes.
            And then I rounded the corner, emerging from the toiletries isle, and bam. There he was.
            I almost fell over.  I hadn’t seen him since he had moved to Georgia in our junior year.  It had been the end of a long three year relationship, and it had left me heartbroken.  We tried to stay in contact, but we both came to the awful conclusion that it was too painful, so we ceased calls.  And like leaves in the fall, we drifted apart.  Lee had gone from a heartache to a fond memory.
            What was he doing here?  I simply didn’t make sense.
            And just as though I were some insignificant stranger, he glided right past me.
            Didn’t he remember me?  Didn’t he recognize me?  I sure as heck remembered him.  How could one forget those luminous blue eyes dancing with mischief and playfulness?
            I was rendered speechless until I reached the five items or less register, where I was required to answer “credit or debit?”  The question was asked by a teenager, her eyes thick with black eyeliner, her face covered in little metal rings, and a rose tattoo crawled up her neck.  She stared at me dully, sighing with impatience when I had trouble finding my credit card in my messy purse.  She looked like she had just risen from her grave.
            I dashed out into the rain and to my car.  I ran away from the droplets that soaked my clothes, from past memories that were suddenly pricking at my heart in the present, and from the evil cashier.  Not to mention a symphony of squeaky shoes.
            Awfully dramatic for a quick trip to Wal-Mart, if you ask me.
            I tossed the toilet paper into the back seat and crawled into the driver’s seat.  I turned on the heat and put my head on the steering wheel, hoping the awful dizzying feeling would stop.  The warm air gushing from the dashboard dried my hair into a messy mop if curls that tickled my cheeks.
            I sat up after about five minutes, and started to shift into reverse.
            There was a tap at my window, and I nearly jumped out of my skin.
            Bright blue eyes sparkling with mischief smiled down at me.  My heart jumped to a breakneck pace.  I rolled down my window.
            “Kay?  Is that really you?”  His grin stretched from ear to ear.
            “Yeah.  Is it really you, Lee?”  He’d remembered.  He’d recognized me.
            “Really.  Want to meet me at the café?  We’ve got some serious catching up to do.”
            “Yeah, I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

            We talked for three hours.  Three hours.
            He was visiting from his home in Virginia to attend his sister’s wedding tomorrow, and possibly to check out some houses.  He worked as a mechanic in a car shop, and was impressed when I told him I was a journalist for the New York Times.  I told him about college, he told me about his comfy apartment with his slobbering bulldog, Beast.  It was an interesting trade.

            I couldn’t sleep that night; my mind was filled with images of innocent hugs in the morning, between each class, and one more before getting on the bus.  Phone calls every night, and countless French skits memorized together.
            I was awake until the dawn light streamed in through my curtains, contemplating life.
            “Ow! Shoot!”  I cried, staring in horror as red spattered on the green peppers I was cutting.
            “You cut yourself again, didn’t you?”  My phone asked me from the counter.
            “Shoot- Andrea, I’ve got to go, this one is really bad.”
            “You really shouldn’t multitask.”  Andrea sighed.  I hung up the phone and ran my sliced thumb under cold water.  I applied pressure.  I smothered it in rubbing alcohol.  It wouldn’t stop bleeding no matter what I did, and it felt really deep.
            Wrapping it in a dishrag, I jumped in my car and drove to the E.R.  I am the queen of klutzes, in case you hadn’t noticed.
            I sat in the waiting room for an hour, soaking my dishrag in burgundy.  Finally a nurse escorted me to a room and gave me some sort of solution to soak my thumb in.  Then I sat there for two hours, watching people dressed in white go back and forth with patients much less fortunate than I strapped into stretchers.
            On the third hour of National Geographic magazines and doodling on a piece of paper with my left hand (needless to say they didn’t look that good), I witnessed a very peculiar scene.
            It started as a flurry of voices and loud footsteps down the hall.  They continued to get louder and louder.  I looked up to see the commotion that was about to pass by my hospital bed.
            A crowd of paramedics swarmed around a stretcher like bees to a hive, pushing it down the hall at a furious pace.  The odd thing about it was that a woman in a wedding dress was racing after the retreating stretcher, tears streaming down her face, smudging her make-up.
            What a horrible way to interrupt a wedding, I thought, and returned to my NG magazine.
            Suddenly, a sickening realization crawled into my stomach.  My toes and fingers tingled and I felt dizzy.
            I jumped up, the solution for my thumb spilling all over the floor, my magazine falling and splashing in the gathering puddle of iodine.
            I took off, splashing through the mess and racing after the stretcher, my shoes squeaking furiously.
            “Lee!”  I shrieked.  All I could think was, oh God, not him.  Anyone but him! 
            I followed them through the labyrinth of hallways before they finally reached an open room and shut out me and his sister.
            I watched as the beautiful bride slumped in a chair outside the room.
            “Oh my God, Lee! Lee!  She choked.  Then she looked up at me.  “It’s you isn’t it?  Kay?”  She whispered.
            “What’s going on?”  I demanded, swallowing my tears.
            “The church steps… he tripped… and his head…”  She broke down into hysterical sobs and said no more. 
            For six hours we sat.  I bled allover the chair arm for about ten minutes before a nearby receptionist noticed and retrieved some gauze.  On the second hour the groom joined us, holding hands with his hysterical bride.
            On the fifth hour, after she’d cried herself dry, she turned to me.
            “Kay- It was always you, you know.”  She said.  “Ever since we moved to Georgia, he never looked at another girl as more than a friend.  Not once.”  Then it fell silent again.
            This came as a shock, and my stomach twisted horribly.  She had to making that up.  There was no way.  I had been 13 years since Lee left for Georgia.  No one could hold on for that long… no one.
            The sixth hour.
            The door opened, and a doctor emerged, his scrubs covered in red.  We all stood up, staring at him expectantly.  I stood so quickly I nearly fell over.
            “I’m so sorry.”
            Lee’s sister crumpled, falling to the floor and burying her head in her hands.  Dazed, I fell back into my chair.  The tears that I had been holding back let loose.
            Funny how three simple words could do something as complicated as break your heart.

            Now, in my old age, I don’t grieve over Lee.  I remember all the good times.  I know now that we found each other in Wal-Mart on that rainy Sunday for a reason.
            And now, whenever I hear squeaky shoes, I think of luminous blue eyes that dance with mischief and playfulness, and I smile.

This short story was written using the 'first sentence' method. The sentence "Today I ran into an old friend." was offered by my step mom, and this story bloomed from it. What is first sentence?
First Sentence is a game where you are given a sentence.  It becomes the first sentence in a story that you entirely base off of it.  This really helps when you’re having a writer’s block.  You can use the method to continue a story, or you can use it to spin off the beaten track and distract yourself for a while- to rekindle your imagination.  I absolutely love this game, and when I’m overwhelmed with my novels I write short stories using First Sentence.  It provides a relaxing distraction.  A million stories can be molded from one story.  If you gave two people the same sentence, they would write something completely different.  This makes my story completely unique, and it exercises my imagination and creativity.
Ask a friend or family member or some random person on the sidewalk (preferably not someone who will stalk you for the rest of your life) to give you a sentence, and see what story you can bring to life…