The woman sitting down at the desk could have certainly had a better day. She pushed her large, black-rimmed glasses up her too flat nose once again (she had already repeated the action about a dozen to a million times; she had lost count long ago) as if that would help clear her mind, or fill it full of ideas, more like. She could have been doing about a million things, other than grow ditzy with her blank canvas of a mind, the more you observed her. She had frizzy brunette hair which she hadn’t bothered to run her aquamarine come through before she shoved it behind her ears, she obviously hadn’t finished washing off her makeup by the streak of mascara you saw smudged off her face in her sleep (as if she would ever), or her plain throw-on clothes of old sweats topped with a T-shirt that said “I’m not an old, I’m a classic.” Maybe she should find an escape in a story created by herself, she obviously needs it just by her mundane appearance. She was like “The Little Match Girl” in a perfectly warm corner of town, or maybe a “Harry Potter” character that had moved out of her foster parent’s place long ago who should’ve had a handle of her life (likely story), or a locked away princess of “Sleeping Beauty” (minus the sleeping, and the beauty); yeah, she wished. It felt like it had always been the same for her. Her name was the un-ditzy, opposite of glamourous Susan Pascal.

           She rested her forehead on her palms, as if that might bring her some reluctant inspiration in her dull, gray apartment. It was sad. Her whole entire life was a tragedy, she did not know how to put words to it. Let us see if I can. When she was incredibly young, still living with her legal by birth rights family of her parents, Blaise and Cornelia Pascal, an epidemic hit the world, much like lightning, if not worse. The epidemic was of a disease addressed by the Corona Virus, or COVID-19. Susan tried to get outside of their Houston household too often, she heard. She knew the truth. She was just too much to handle, especially when her Nana Joanna was not feeling too well herself. Give her a break. Give me a break. Susan knew the real reason that they gave her up. It was the blunt, nail hard, no screw-hard reason of they did not love her. No one had loved her since. She was more like Shakespeare’s Macbeth when she thought of it. Never loved, always desiring it hard though. She probably could write the tragedy of her life, but that would be too hard and too vain (would not it). Skipping through rusty nails. Hopping through very sharp thorns. Give the world a break.

           Use your imagination. It sounds so stupidly simple when the deed was versed like that. She wanted her story to be a particularly happy one, but how could it be happy when her thoughtless, un-tantalizing, chubby red cheeks had never experienced anything? She could write about who she thought was her best friend all those years ago, in her third foster home of short, curly-haired Averee Marquez, but that was so long ago and what would the story be? (“We spent everyday childishly laughing and giggling together like the ignorant children we were, until the first day of kindergarten, when I was introduced to her true best friend of Brittany Coutre. I didn’t even bother giving her the frayed, purple friendship bracelet I had made before with the slack help of her mother (I should’ve known then) the day before.”) Yes, it was sure a glum, monotonous tale, the narration of her time on earth, so far at least. No one would like it. (Sounds like she has not heard of some of our classic tales like “Anna Karenina”, or “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, or heck, maybe even “Titanic.” Wow. Talk about writer’s block.

           Or maybe she could vividly illustrate her most recent relationship with the daring, dashing, and devilishly handsome Ezra Wilhelm. If only he was daring enough, much like Nike’s “just do it” attitude. If only he was dashing, much like the Superman of her heart. If only he was handsomely dark and tall enough, like the spirit of her Darcy come to life. She shook her head, now sitting up straight again. She had to stop thinking of E.J. now. It was not like he was ever coming back to her in her fat, “I have ice cream for every meal” stance. He had broken up with her the week before, leaving her crying on the sidewalk in the rain like the glum woman that she was, in her too dark, too tattered, too fraying raincoat, claiming that she had always expected him to be something that he couldn’t be. She had no idea what he was talking about, while even thicker smeared make-up was running down her cheeks with the raindrops when he left too quickly. Sort of like everything in her life so far. It was pitiful. Always dreaming never satisfied. That was her all right. Maybe someone once had told her that she was a good writer once when she was a child, still full of the tragic thing called hope and she let it sink too deeply inside her, much like the Titanic, except there was no Jack Dawson to her Rose DeWitt Bukater. Who cared how perfect he was with his dirty blonde hair, brightly sparkling blue eyes, or large succulent lips? She did not care anymore, at least that was what she told herself. All be it, except at night when there was only herself to mock her tearstained cheeks, or her chapped lips.

           Going nowhere and leaving nothing behind worth remembering in her groggy, dull, Satanist world. If she happened to go to Hell once her life was finished, she wore she already knew what it was like. What a story that would be? Like Bill Wiese’s “23 Minutes in Hell” but better, she would make it more realistic. She sat up, suddenly out of her pre-coffee, morning grog. It was as if she had this story idea long ago or should have. Her third-grade teacher, Ms. Meier would certainly be proud of her (no matter how much Susan feared she was a go-to-church-EVERY-Sunday, hope for the best, hippie Christian). Afterall, once her ideas were all down on paper, they could not be that bad, could they? She could narrate a story on how homeless someone was, without parents, or without a true home someone was. Or maybe what it was like being something who got everything taken away from them because of something that no one asked for (except maybe a witch’s curse). Or maybe what it is like to deserve something, anything, but never get it so many times that one got used to it in their old t-shirt, trying to be optimistic. Or maybe some Love Story where worse than nothing goes right (as if that does not already occur in each of our lives at least once). Maybe the girl finally gets some form of revenge on the boy, or maybe something worse (let me see if her mind can even traverse to that dark place…too late).

           Who knows, maybe her oddly inspired story will be one that looks like this.

June 12, 2020 18:27

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Stephanie Gull
15:12 Jun 20, 2020

I love how this woman who "doesn't have a story of her own" constantly makes her story via famous literature and characters and even Nike!


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Jane Andrews
05:39 Jun 25, 2020

I think your concept here is good, but the execution is a little uneven. The fact that your character’s thoughts flit all over the place is fine as we can imagine that we are following her stream of consciousness as she sits and thinks about what to write; but I feel your story could flow a little better in places. Like the other person who commented, I think it’s effective that your character sees herself or others in terms of literary references. There’s lots of potential here - maybe go back to it in a few weeks with fresh eyes and edit t...


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