Glass and Pasta

Submitted for Contest #46 in response to: Write a story that takes place in a writer's circle.... view prompt

8 comments

It was early Westmacott season when the glass broke her. She was sitting on the floor with glass about her knees, trying hard to choke back tears. Gasping, with blood sparkling on her hands in the white morning sun. And then sighed. And then let a tear roll down. And then crawled to the stack of scrap paper in the corner of her kitchen.

Glass and pasta, crushed on the linoleum in front of the fridge. Vivian wrote this with a limping hand and the other against her cheek. Outside the sun was dawning gently and the ivy blew in eastern wind. Clouds were fleeing from the iron storm in the night, and the air, leaking through the windowpanes, smelled like moist dirt.

Westmacott season usually lasted a week and came right after Bauby season. Of course sometimes seasons came and never returned, but Westmacott and Bauby and also Dickens, always came back, year after year. Still on her nightstand were stacked three dogeared Mary Westmacott books. Underneath it was the thin yellow Bauby book. Underneath it was Dickens, and under that Shakespeare and Christie.

Seasons. Periods during the year when she read nothing but Westmacott. Or Bauby. Or Shakespeare, or Woolf, or Christie…

She kept her books there, read them and prayed and waited.

Rosey in the Scooticycle Gang always raised her eyebrows when Vivian raised her hands. I have a paper, she always said, looking at the floor. Oh yes? Rosey always mouthed from behind the speaker’s back.

Mrs. Montgomery was the speaker. She started the Scooticycle Gang and invited writers and dressed in maroon robes with peacock feathers poking out her ears.

Yes, Vivian would say.

Let’s hear it, Mrs. Montgomery would always say. I am sure it is wonderful.

And Rosey would smile slightly as if to say, I am not so sure.

And Vivian would stand and she would read and it would be plotted like Christie, soft and sad like Bauby, poetic like Shakespeare, but with dialogue like Lovecraft—

How lovely, Mrs. Montgomery would say. The plotting is wonderful, and the prose—oh!—so sweet and sad!

And Vivian would blush.

Terrible dialogue, Rosey would always say. You suck at dialogue.

But Vivian didn’t mind Rosey, not really. What hurt her, what she did mind, was that Mrs. Montgomery never shut Rosey up. Hilaria always seemed to agree with Rosey, or at least never disagreed. Mary would just finger the edges of her own pages—with perfect dialogue, even if her stories lacked meaning—and Georgie-Razzia would just wink at Vivian. As if to say, she’s right, but I’ll still be charming to you.

It came to be that Vivian dreaded the meetings. Her writing grew limp. Fell off the page. Her dialogue got worse and her poetry started to sound like Auden’s… and Rosey started a campaign to throw her out.

Glass and pasta. It was mixed at her feet and the blood was beginning to gather as well. She wrote it all down. Westmacott season, Bauby season, Lovecraft’s dialogue. Everything. Her hurt and her hate and Rosey’s anger.

A text.

Scooticycle Gang meeting Wednesday noon. Bring coffeecake. See you then.

She replied.

Good. Pecans or no pecans?

No reply. Like Mrs. Montgomery had put the conversation—and Vivian—out of her mind. No matter. Vivian shook herself. She pulled her knees up and twisted round until her back was up against the refrigerator. Her orange-pattered skirt was going to be ruined, sliced with glass, rubbed with greasy pasta, and dotted with blood, but she thought rather confidently that she had a good story now.

She wrote it all out. Everything above. Everything. Handwritten. She writes this as well:

Wait til Rosey sees this.

Mrs. Montgomery’s house is dark and smells of coffee and wine. Rosey is talking with Hilaria. Georgie-Razzia has finished her third slice of coffeecake. Mary is sitting by the stained-glass windows with her feet up. Vivian does not write this, but she writes it later.

“I have one,” Vivian says loudly. Rosey keeps talking to Hilaria.

“Let’s hear it, dear,” Mrs. Montgomery says.

Rosey does not stop talking.

Vivian gets up. She begins reading.

It was early Westmacott season when the glass broke her. She was sitting on the floor with glass about her knees, trying hard to choke back tears. Gasping, with blood sparkling on her hands in the white morning sun. And then sighed. And then let a tear roll down. And then crawled to the stack of scrap paper in the corner of her kitchen.

Glass and pasta, crushed on the linoleum in front of the fridge. Vivian wrote this with a limping hand and the other against her cheek.

“Westmacott season,” Rosey scoffs, now listening closely. Vivian keeps reading.

But Vivian didn’t mind Rosey, not really. What hurt her, what she did mind, was that Mrs. Montgomery never shut Rosey up. Hilaria always seemed to agree with Rosey, or at least never disagreed. Mary would just…

Rosey is not smiling. Hilaria looks as though someone has just struck her in the chest. Mary waits. She looks breathless. She looks hurt. Vivian keeps reading.

…but she thought rather confidently that she had a good story now.

She wrote it all out. Everything above. Everything. Handwritten. She writes this as well.

Wait til Rosey sees this.

Rosey looks like Hilaria now, like Vivian has whacked her in the face.

Vivian looks up. She smiles across to Rosey, and then tears her pages in two, right in Mrs. Montgomery’s face. The old lady is stricken.

“Goodbye,” Vivian says, and stands. In her hot hands the papers sit crumpled. She tosses them into the coals of the last fire. “I don’t think I’ll be seeing you. I can write without you. You’re not helping me. Goodbye!”

Out the door.

She is smiling. She walks home. The sun is warm on her back. Her papers are gone, and that’s not good, but it’s okay. She said what she meant to say and now she could go home and write some poetry. Her hair is thick over her neck and she ties it up with the rubber band on her wrist.

Vivian is smiling. Her fingers are aching from the writing, and her voice is hoarse from the speaking, and her mind is tired from the thinking. But she smiles.

As she walks, through the windy dogwood-strewn park and across the damp grasses, a new story forms in her head.

After glass broke her, after pasta broke her, she walked away from the writers dragging her down. She walked away, smiling and strong, and she can now write her own damn story. 

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

8 comments

Batool Hussain
07:32 Jun 17, 2020

A great story once again!

Reply

Show 0 replies
22:26 Jun 17, 2020

Wow! I have heard from multiple people that you're a great writer, but you have definitely gone way over my expectations! The way you wrote this story was amazing, and I agree with Ranya that you made this prompt very exciting! I really don't have any advice. Mostly because you're a great writer, and I'm young, so I don't see anything wrong! Keep writing and stay safe! :) -Brooke

Reply

Zilla Babbitt
22:34 Jun 17, 2020

Aw, thanks so much!

Reply

02:10 Jun 18, 2020

Of course!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Ranya Navarez
16:45 Jun 17, 2020

That was incredibly imaginative, Zilla! It was not at all what I was expecting, but that is what made it perfect! I couldn't think of anything for this prompt that was would make it exciting, but you blew it out of the water! Phenomenal job, Zilla!

Reply

Zilla Babbitt
14:27 Jun 18, 2020

Thanks so much! I was going to submit this under the "hasn't written in awhile" prompt, and it wasn't clicking, and then I read The Year of Magical Thinking and everything clunked into place. I'll be submitting "Everything Aiming Toward You" later today, under the hiatus prompt.

Reply

Ranya Navarez
15:18 Jun 18, 2020

Cool! Can't wait to read it! I'm also going to be putting up "Elize Pena, Author" today under the same prompt as your story "Untitled".

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Huma Fatima
13:38 Jun 23, 2020

Another amazing story.

Reply

Show 0 replies