Excerpt from “Roses,” a short story

September 16, 2009 at 10:48 am | Posted in Writing: Stories | Leave a comment
Tags: ,


(Published in The Sun)

      Jane and I were in my room having one of our sleepovers, doing the things we always did together, like shining flashlights under our chins in front of a mirror, or holding our eyes open as long as we could without blinking. Tomorrow my mother would take us to Rose’s, our favorite department store. At thirteen, I could think of nothing more fun than going to Rose’s with Jane. My mother keenly understood this, which was one of the reasons I loved her so much, one of the reasons I could not bear the thought of her death.

      At Rose’s you could always find the latest fad items, like troll dolls, Jesus Christ Superstar buttons, plastic Buddhas, and rabbits’ feet. Jane wanted a rabbit’s foot: she had held mine in her hand all day, ever since finding it among my precious trinkets. She’d held it so much it was damp from her sweaty hand. 

      Tomorrow we would spend the afternoon at Rose’s, but tonight we were staring into the mirror, our flashlights transforming our faces into those of hideous crones, reinforcing how awful it would be to get old. We had accepted that we were ugly compared to other girls, but to be old on top of that would be too much. We would never get old, we decided. The thought of looking like that, distorted and wrinkled beyond any semblance of our former selves, was the worst thing we could imagine. I told Jane that I never wanted to get old, not ever; that I hoped I would die before I turned fifty. Holding the rabbit’s foot tightly, Jane said she wanted to die before she turned fifty, too, and I took the foot in my hand and wished on it, then gave it back to her.

      Next we lay on my bed and propped our butts up with our hands and stuck our skinny, hairy legs straight up and pedaled like wild.

      “I dare you to call Carl Leach,” Jane said.

      Carl Leach was in our accelerated-learning classes at school. He was friends with Steve Roach, and together they had formed a rock band. Carl played drums; Steve played guitar. They were very serious about their music. They dressed in jeans, fringed vests, and leather chokers. “Leach and Roach,” people called them, always “Leach and Roach.” Even the smart kids never called them by their first names. People, I had found, were cruel. I was cruel, too; I just didn’t know it.

      I did not see how Carl Leach and Steve Roach could ever think their band would succeed, because although they took their music seriously, no one took them seriously. Their music could never be anything but a joke. 

      I didn’t care that Carl wasn’t popular, though. I was drawn to his loneliness, believing it resembled my own. His face was pimply, but it had a gentleness that you had to look past the raw red eruptions to see. I thought I was the only one who could see that gentleness, and for that reason I was sure that Carl would someday fall in love with me. He was a beautiful person trapped in the temporary ugliness of that face, and I imagined that manhood would transform him. He would become handsome, and then he would love me and only me, because I had seen his beauty when no one else had. He would thank me for this someday, underneath a starry, starry sky, and we would get married, have children, and be happy. That was one future scenario I imagined for myself. …



Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: