Sunday, July 20, 2008

A very short fiction.

It is a hot day and she is limping (probably more theatrically than is truly warranted) on aching feet in stupid shoes that she wears anyway because they’re so damned cute. And suddenly in her head is an odd pop, a blinking into existence of something just slightly newer than the all the stuff around it.

The other day he said to her, “Look, I’m sorry she’s not talking to you.” The angry condolence did what it was meant to do; it awakened an answering anger in her. Not talking to you? What the hell kind of way was that to put it? Torturing you with silence, perhaps. I’m sorry she’s stomping loudly through the hallways of your heart in stiletto boots of absence, that might work. How did he dare belittle the horror of it, her constant scorching pain?

Over the past three years, her life has appeared to others, if she allows them to peer in, which she often does, event-filled, often amusing, occasionally exasperating, chock-a-block with all the usual small failures and victories and untidy endings and beginnings and middles. Snarls of string and stained coffee cups left on windowsills, beautiful green stones that are actually the smoothed shards of some Sprite bottle thrown into the ocean and beaten tumbling up against a shore in another hemisphere for a decade or two. A life in other words, not much different than other people's, probably quite a bit more fortuitous than most.

But she has not seen it that way. To her, her existence has been the stuff of high tragedy or at least grand melodrama. Which is how she’s preferred it.

But the thing about characters in melodramas is, well, they have to neglect so much to keep the story going. You rarely see a femme fatale reading a book, except as a ruse to unobtrusively spy on the spurning lover as he buys his train ticket in a echoing train station, heading home to the doting wife in the suburbs he doesn’t yet know has been kidnapped. No tragic consumptive heroine takes time off from her wilting and delicate coughs muffled by the bloodstained handkerchief then tucked demurely back into her sleeve to, say, take in a really good action movie or walk through the city on a sunny day just to enjoy the asphalt baking up through the soles of her fabulous orange flats, to pass shop windows full of stuff she can’t buy and probably wouldn’t if she could, but which still make her salivate and twinkle in delight as she gazes through the glass.

That’s what that little pop in her head says,

“He’s right you know. She’s just not talking to you. Just one more person on the planet who is at this time not saying words to you.”

She could hate the pop if she wanted. She could blink it back out again, squelch it entirely, with any one from her arsenal of highly effective dispelling rituals. But you know what? She thinks, surprisingly, that she’d rather read a book. There’s a paperback that’s been waiting for her for months now.

The inside lining of the impractical shoes are silver leather. Back in her apartment, when she takes them off, she notices that her toes are now glittering. Her feet look like she forgot to wash off all her Tin Man make-up. She picks up a Ross MacDonald from the top of her pile of paperbacks and heads out to the fire escape.


Blogger Kendra said...

Which do i love more...the short fiction, or the shoes? Probably the fiction...i love sharp, clear glimpses into another's life. But, the orange shoes are fabulous. Thanks Julie!

6:55 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"beautiful green stones that are actually the smoothed shards of some Sprite bottle thrown into the ocean and beaten tumbling up against a shore in another hemisphere for a decade or two"

If I ever make another list of objects, I'm stealing this.

4:11 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Love the orange shoes. Dorothy-on-crack shoes, plus the Tin Man toes.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

which is stranger, fiction or real life?

8:06 PM  
Blogger austexgrl said...

darling shoes...but, ohhh, do they look like they hurt!

4:11 AM  
Blogger Nanci said...

Completely random to the subject of the moment (although I do confess to being a maniacal Oz freakie and did enjoy the pic of the "Dorothyesque" shoes for a new milleniea, I just wanted to join your blog for the first time.
I just finished reading your book, can't imagine how I possible missed it for so long (must have been more brain addled by my advancing age than I believe) and wanted to give you a great big HUZZAH!

8:22 AM  
Blogger Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Do you still have the 100 lb dog?

8:53 PM  
Blogger carolyn said...

I have just moved to LIC - one of the new 4 star resorts on the water and I have to say I love it.

Just finished reading your book, inspired perhaps by the knowledge of you living in LIC as well.

It was a blast and inspiring. Thank you. Upon closing the book, I promptly made my husband some Oeufs and decided cooking was far more fun than watching baseball.

PS: I was a Buffy junkie too! Now it's all about Bones and House.

12:23 PM  
Blogger austexgrl said...

Do you not ever reflect your life has, in a moments time, in a falling of a snowflake, a turning of a leaf, everything changed. One book....and not even the book you cherished ..and spent time upon.....Odd, this life we lead?

10:52 PM  
Blogger Hoang Trung said...

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8:09 AM  

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