Silent screams. The party goes on.
Silent screams. The party goes on.
It was premiere night and Zoey was nervous. Her new movie, a remake of Jaws, was already getting panned by critics. It’d seemed like a good career move. Quality roles for actresses of color were rare, plus her character delivered the movie’s iconic line, We’re gonna need a bigger boat. But, the backlash was swift. Twitter was bombarded with hatred – racist memes, messages, videos – all targeting her. She hadn’t left her home for days.
The car stopped. She wiped her wet eyes and emerged with a luminous smile. The fans were calling her name.
For Friday Fictioneers.
Inspired by the most recent attack on the actress and comedian, Leslie Jones.
“No!” Izzy screamed, running to hide behind Rebecca’s legs. Rebecca ruffled her daughter’s hair as her great-uncle, Otto, continued to demand a kiss.
“Leave my daughter alone!” Rebecca growled.
“Brat!” Otto spat as he left the room. Rebecca scooped Izzy into her arms, nearly knocked over by a long-forgotten memory. Another uncle, another family gathering, another girl.
Give your uncle a hug!
She felt his wet lips against her cheek, his hands hidden from view. Her stomach flipped, her anger turning to sorrow.
“I don’t like kisses,” Izzy tearfully whispered into her hair.
Neither do I.
The Moral Mondays prompt this week is WHEN YOUR BLOOD IS BOILING, SPEND AN EVENING IN THE COOLER.
He rode up on a dark horse. So dramatic. I was sitting under an old oak tree on a blanket, sipping sweet tea and reading, my hair falling into my eyes. My parents stepped onto the porch.
“Mr. Powell – I have a question for you, but Mrs. Powell, I want you to hear this too. I love your daughter more than anything. I’d like to ask you for her hand.”
I choked on my tea as Dad shook his hand.
“Helloooooo!” I shouted. “Sean! We broke up MONTHS ago. Before I moved away.”
“But…I thought…if I asked your father…”
“So my dad is the one that gets to decide who I marry? Not me?
Mom began to wail. “Savannah Elizabeth Powell!! Do you want to die alone???!!!”
“You people are insane,” I declared, rising from the blanket. “I’m going inside.”
I watched my parents console Sean through the window and rolled my eyes. I looked to the sky, reminding myself that soon I’d be on a plane, far, far away.
In the first picture, Zoey was screaming, her face beet red, while Jackson’s finger was firmly implanted up his nose. Delete. Second photo – Zoey shoved Jackson just as the camera flashed. Delete. By the 10th photo, Zoey and Jackson wore bright smiles, their arms wrapped around each other like loving siblings. Brandi posted it to Facebook with the hashtags: #blessed #bliss #momlife.
In another city, Brandi’s friend Sandra was scrubbing vomit out of her shirt as something crashed in the next room. They’d been snowed in for days. She glanced at Brandi’s latest Facebook update on her phone, and sighed.
This would be CeCe’s and Ricky’s last date. She’d been infatuated with him for so long, actually becoming his girlfriend had been thrilling, surreal. She’d felt like Molly Ringwald at the end of Pretty in Pink. And the first kiss…a warm shock of excitement shot through her still when she thought of it. It always would. But they just weren’t compatible.
They stood in front of the scarecrow at the edge of her family’s property, CeCe knowing that they were in full view of her mother’s reproachful gaze. She told Ricky she thought they’d be better off as friends and Ricky seemed genuinely surprised.
“I thought things were good,” he protested.
If you only had a brain.
Alone in her room that night, CeCe’s disappointment faded. Ricky would spend his life in this town, as his family had done for generations. There was nothing wrong with that, of course. She just wanted a different life. There were places she wanted to explore, strange boys she wanted to kiss.
She started packing her suitcase.
The tour guide continued to drone on as Nikki stifled a yawn. She was only on the Historic Homes tour because of Denise. She had no interest in this sort of thing, but Denise seemed to be drinking it all in with an intense, almost religious-like, fervor. She didn’t think Denise had many other friends, poor thing.
Thankfully, the tour guide wrapped things up right on time so Nikki could rush to her next engagement, lunch and shopping with her bestie, Shana. She felt such pride in herself as she drove away, staring at Denise waving goodbye in the rear-view mirror.
“Do you think this works with my coloring?” Nikki asked Shana after a long lunch at their favorite bistro. She held a blush pink dress up to her neck. “Should I try it on?”
Shana nodded and smiled politely. As Nikki ducked into a changing room Shana checked the time, hoping Nikki wouldn’t try on ten different ensembles before making a choice as she had on their last shopping trip. She was meeting a group of her best girlfriends for drinks in less than an hour.
Written for Sunday Photo Fiction, and also inspired by this scientific study, which says that only 50% of the people we consider friends actually consider us a friend as well. Interesting read, if you have time.
Madeline was starving. She’d been too nervous to eat the entire day, her stomach churning as she sat anxiously in her work cubicle, waiting for 5 o’clock. Now, it seemed as though all of the hunger stored up from the entire day had decided to take over her body at once. I hope no one heard my stomach growl. But she was sure someone had.
Her foot tapped a silent beat against the plush carpet. She made up a recitation to go along with the rhythm. Which-fork-do-I-pick? Which-fork-do-I-pick? Which-fork-do-I-pick? She couldn’t remember. Her mother had mentioned it to her long ago in passing but hadn’t made a big issue of it. Clearly she hadn’t thought Madeline had too many formal, black tie dinner parties in her future. Madeline had never seen so much silverware at one place setting in all of her life. Do I start at the outside and work my way in? Or is it the reverse? She didn’t want to look like a fool.
David had introduced her to his parents only about a month ago. His mother, Claudine, had seemed decidedly underwhelmed by Madeline, coolly taking in her off-the-rack clothes and scuffed shoes before offering her a dry handshake and a tight smile. David had told her not to worry when Madeline fretted that his mother didn’t like her, and sure enough, a week later Claudine had begun planning a dinner party to introduce Madeline to all of their closest friends and family. It was their coming out party.
One piece of advice from her mother that Madeline did hold on to – if you’re ever unsure, watch to see what the other dinner guests do first. Great advice, except no one had begun eating yet. Claudine was in the middle of a lengthy anecdote, something about her and her husband’s recent visit to the South of France, and they all seemed to be hanging on her every word.
David was seated at the opposite end of the table. He’d warned her this would happen. Traditionally at dinner parties, he’d explained, couples were separated to give everyone a chance to meet someone new, make new acquaintances. Madeline didn’t see the point. To her right, David’s great-aunt Dorinda was already lightly snoring into her uneaten garden salad. To her left, the wife of David’s best friend from high school, Tiffany, kept leaving her seat every five to ten minutes to make suspicious trips to the powder room, wiping at her nose upon her return. Is that going to be me in a few years? Madeline wondered as she stared once again at Tiffany’s retreating form. It also wasn’t lost on her that David had been seated next to his beautiful ex-wife, Elisa, who put her hand on David’s forearm and laughed lustily every time Claudine made a joke, or what passed as a joke in this house, anyway, tossing her hair back and leaning into David as though he were still hers.
Screw this. Madeline raised the fork she thought was meant for the salad course and decided to go for it. The salad was dry and underdressed but it was the first sustenance she’d had all day. She bit down on a huge chunk of carrot and a loud crunch seemed to echo through the dining room. Claudine stopped mid-sentence and every eye turned on her. Seriously? How do these people eat carrots? Do they pay someone to have them pre-chewed?
Sheepish, Madeline, unable to remove her eyes from Claudine’s steely glare, went to set down the fork on the side of her salad bowl but accidentally knocked over her water glass and a glass of red wine, dousing the front of her dress and splashing poor Aunt Dorinda, who still didn’t wake up.
Are you okay? David mouthed from across the room. Madeline nodded as she rose from the table, gathering all of her confidence. “I’m sorry to disturb you. Excuse me for a moment, please.” She rushed from the room as quickly as good manners would allow, making her way to the powder room Tiffany was exiting, glassy-eyed.
As she scrubbed at the front of her dress with a towel and made little headway, there was a gentle knock at the door. Her heart lifted. David.
But it was a fiery-eyed Claudine who opened the door, quietly shutting it behind her as she stepped inside.
Today’s Story A Day prompt is Write at Your Natural Length.
I decided to write a scene instead of a complete story. Instead of writing a scene from the novel I’m writing, I decided to write one using characters from a short story I wrote a while ago.
Read Part 2
Lara was going to have a place in history. The first woman to win a racing championship. Of course, women had won individual races before. The men had taken pity on them and laid off near the end, letting them race triumphantly toward the finish line as though they’d truly accomplished something. Lara didn’t need anyone’s charity.
As she lifted her trophy over her head in jubilation, tears streaming from her eyes, champagne spraying everywhere, she could see Cole, her biggest rival, at the edge of the crowd. They’d been neck-and-neck all season. He was a typical spoiled rich kid, thinking that just because his dad was the most celebrated name in racing that he was entitled to this win. Not wanting to earn his way. Cole told the press the night before that the only reason Lara even got the sponsors and publicity she did was because of her looks, not talent. How she hated him.
Cole placed last today. A crash took him out during the first lap. Now, their eyes locked and something passed between them. An understanding. He knew what she’d done.
Lara waved to her fans, holding her head high as she descended the platform. A girl, no more than twelve, crying profusely, fell into her arms. Lara hugged her tightly, watching as Cole stalked away and tossed his helmet in the dirt. He was going to come for her now, she knew. But she’d never be sorry.
This restaurant isn’t my style. I would prefer someplace with peanut shells on the floor, a karaoke machine, shots of tequila lined up on the bar. Dancing. But there will be time for all of that later.
Still, it’s sweet that Renee wants to take me to dinner to celebrate my college graduation. We’ve been friends since we were five, when most of my friendships were determined by geography. She’d been my next-door neighbor. If we met today, I don’t know if we would even see each other, much less become best friends.
There’s a busboy clearing the table next to ours. He notices my stare and winks at me. Cheesy, I know, but I still blush. Renee does not approve. “Joss, seriously? You’re an educated woman now. Don’t sell yourself short.”
I watch as he carries something outside and follow him, mumbling an excuse to Renee. As I duck into the alley, he grabs me and pulls me close and I can’t think about anything else, other than the faint smell of tequila on his breath.
A collection of various things: hodgepodge, mishmash, variety
Transformational Coach. Motivational Speaker. Friend.
EDITOR | SENSITIVITY READER | LITERARY SEEKER OF GROWTH | CRITIQUE PARTNER | A FRIEND
A story is only as good as the storyteller.
Movie reviews every so often