Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Day In The Life Part 1

I checked all of my favorite sites for prompts and nothing inspired me. So I began working on one of two pieces that I need to have written in a few weeks. This is actually one of the rare times I will allow myself to edit so your feedback is vitally important! Please, leave a lengthy comment and tell me what works, what doesn't, and where you see this piece going.... because at this point, I have no idea. (By the way, the one requirement I must follow is that it is written in second person, meaning 'you', not I, he, she, or it.)

The dawn breaks early, an orangey-peach filling the sky and nosing its way between the slats of the blinds, across the floor, and up the heavily embroidered afghan of daffodils, daylilies, delphiniums, and dahlias spread over your thin body in your too large bed. Blonde strands of hair fall haphazardly over your pillow, one arm flung above your head, and a stream of saliva eases over the hill of your flushed cheek. The combination makes you look like a child of ten, not 29. Your breaths come steadily from beneath the weight of sentiment in this final gift from the one woman you loved and trusted. Your grandmother spent months crocheting each petal and stem, wrapping each flower delicately around the others to indicate she was still holding you, caring for you, watching you from the highest of heights. She knew her illness was terminal and made plans best she could, the afghan being the only tangible piece of those plans. You found out about her illness at her funeral the day you turned 18.

Juice Newton’s voice sings softly, filling the space the sunlight hasn’t yet taken. You stir when he reaches your favorite line, “just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby,” savoring the idea of someone calling you angel one day. Maybe. Humming, you lay in bed, eyes closed, your body stretching for the ends of the bed, your back arched in the way it does when you invite that rare guest into your bed for the night. A release, pure and supremely innocent, flows through your body. A smile curves into your cheeks, causing them to plump a little more. Your hand traces a daffodil, a daylily, a dahlia before you pull the comforter off your warm body. Chills fall menacingly across your skin making your limbs retract from their lengths and rushing you out of bed, stumbling into the bathroom. Your eyes open falling witness to the softening dawn colors splashed on the cream walls in the narrow bathroom.

Closing the door is of no concern. You strip your clothes off, urinating naked. Living alone fits you well. It’s the way childhood went for the most part. Home alone, struggling to support yourself while your errant mother purred sex driven nothings into her newest man’s ear every time payment changed hands. “I’m doing this for you!” she’d tell you when she saw the disapproval thick in your eyes. “How do you think I would put food on the table and clothes on your back otherwise?” A combination of challenge and shame would set into her pretty face, her arms pulled back emphasizing the size of her breasts, all features you’ve inherited, before she’d storm off slamming her bedroom door. You’d mutter a short rebuttal, “How about the department store or flipping burgers at McDonalds like the other mothers and fathers do?” It was a rebuttal your mother would never answer. One she never heard.

These were the thoughts that thickened in your mind as the steam from the hot water rose in little vapor clouds, fogging the mirror and you wished, your memories. You release an audible sigh, water splashing on your chest and running in rivulets over the mountains and valleys of your body, crashing like a waterfall on the rock bed of your feet only to eddy into a swirling whirlpool, taking some of the thinner thoughts with it to the sewer. Drying off fifteen minutes later, using the back of your arm like a windshield wiper you clear the condensing droplets from the mirror, creating small broken paths in your wake. Deep blue eyes, high set cheekbones, a small pouty mouth and sharp nose stare out of the mirror. “Come on,” it whines, “grab the lotion and make-up brushes. Don’t torture me with my own nakedness!” You walk away, the heavy towel turban style on your head, your thoughts moving from your childhood role model to work.

The dresser sits obediently against the wall, holding the very few items entrusted to its care. The crystal vase stands tall and proud, offering the odor of summer in the arrangement of flowers it holds. Glinting in the now yellow sunlight, a silver necklace with a Christian cross spills out of the small opal covered jewelry box. The photograph of your grandma and you together, happily slurping spaghetti from the little Italian restaurant kiddy corner from her run-down house, whispers of happier times. You glance over these items, pulling open the top drawer in order to rescue the new lacey pink bra and panty set from the chaos of twisted straps and crotches. It feels rough against your hand, but will feel silky on you.

In the closet hangs several black dresses, all modest, all bought to add experience to your age. You plunk the sleeveless one off the hanger and slide it over your lotion moist body. Music continues to play softly in the background. More songs about love, romance, and heart ache. Your heart beats to the rhythm and truth buried deep in the lyrics. Damp hair falls from the towel and lands on your neck and collar bone as you pull up nylons, careful not to puncture a whole in them. Nude. Even this color is deeper than your porcelain white skin. You’ve never understood society’s obsession with baking skin until it turns into a hard leathery coat that can’t be taken off. There is no beauty in that as far as you are concerned.

Back to the mirror, the same face stares out, a little less pink, more its natural color now. Quickly, you paint it with neutral shades of bronzers, blushes, and powders. The products are subtle, but the effect always feels so dramatic, like Norman Rockwell when he took a pathetic piece of canvas and turned it into something with life, beautiful or not. Carefully, you retrieve the cross necklace from the safety of the jewelry box and fasten it around your neck, the chain slipping delicately beneath the cut of black fabric, the cross dangling just over your heart. Black satin heels with a soft pink heel add the only flash of color and complete the outfit.

Breakfast consists of the usual granola bar, glass of juice, and small piece of fruit. Rechecking for imperfections in the mirror, none are found. You grab the shiny pink purse altered with beaded fringe as a strap and get in the car, turning the engine over three of four times before the clinker starts. Effortlessly, the car glides down the drive and into the street, idling only momentarily while you direct it down the street and toward the low brick building you need to be at in 10 minutes. Soft songs float from the speakers.


  1. Sorry for the delayed response, life has been particularly hectic lately. Anywho:

    The first sentence runs a little too long for my taste. I feel like I’m being overwhelmed with too much information right at the very start. I think even just ending it at ‘… and across the floor.’ would help. Then you could start the next one with ‘It continues up the heavily…’ or something like that.

    Super nit picky, but if you’re going to say ‘child of ten’ then you should probably say ‘twenty-nine’, not 29.

    At the start of the second paragraph the lyric ends with ‘baby’ but then she’s hoping someone will call her ‘angel’ – it seems like the two words should match there.

    I might stick a comma in that last sentence of the second paragraph, after ‘open’.

    First line of the fourth paragraph needs a comma after ‘and’ here: ‘… fogging the mirror and you wished, your memories.’

    I really liked the description of the shower, that’s good stuff!

    Really liked the bit about ‘baking skin unit it turns into a hard leathery coat that can’t be taken off.’ And the Norman Rockwell bit too.

    Very much enjoyed it as a whole. Where do I see it going? This woman needs a shake up. Something needs to happen that gets her out of her routine, perhaps out of her solitary existence. The options are pretty much endless in that regard and any number of them could work well here.

    Overall though? Excellent! :)

  2. As always I like it too many "you"s though.
    And I agree with Marc about that first sentence if it wasn't you I may have stopped reading. It was very descriptive but too much for a first sentence.