Tag Archives: anxiety

Friday #Fiction 2.1 — Gritting Cards

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Claire gnawed on her pencil. As one of the many creative heads for Hansen’s Greetings, America’s second-largest greeting card company, she had to roll out the new Revenge and Congratulations line in a strategy meeting. Despite her penchant for selecting bad bets as investments and having terrible business sense, her keen appreciation for irony made her a fantastic fit for the division, but Luther’s absence made her task all the more difficult because she had no one to project her work onto, no muse, no… catalyst for revenge.

Editorial interruption: This is sixth in a series; please go here for the first “chapter”:https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/friday-fiction-friends-2-0-familiarity-breeds-fonder-over-greener-ponds/

She stood up from her desk and looked around the office-scape for a moment before venturing out. No one was looking around, no heads could be seen, so she casually wandered over to Luther’s cube and started to inspect his space. It was oddly clean and organized; something she had never managed to notice while it was occupied. He had small photos of himself and his family at the beach, on the boat, at the club, on the docks, all in tennis whites, at the track, on the links. No picture of him with a girlfriend. Just family. Who would have him? He’s an ass, she thought to herself, scoffing at the idea.

Revenge and Congratulations. How challenging! How do you connote happiness for someone at the same time be glad they’re getting what’s theirs? This is like schadenfreude on laxatives. Why am I the one who’s heading up this division? What does that say about me

Claire’s eyes rolled in their semi-automatic way as she forced out a sigh. She had recently become aware of the opinion, thanks to her best friend, that she did it more than she thought.

Snap back to the now, Claire, she said to herself.  Looking around one last time… Hmm, he left his Dr. Dre’s here. But he loves those obnoxious things. Why would he? They’re like his asshole crest. This quiet moment was helping her creative juices flow, she saw a copy of What Color is Your Parachute? Which took her as a complete surprise and made her wonder if he were thinking about leaving his job. For a moment, she felt protective, wanting to conceal the book because even though the guy was an ass, she didn’t like the idea of his being let go sooner than he’d expect just because he’s trying to get a better job… But she stopped herself. She recalled his many jabs, his penchant for being The Jerk at Work and she started to imagine…

The Jerk at Work! What a great title that would be for my best seller! Write that down…

What would it be like if he were forced into retirement?

The thoughts started like a flood:

Too bad your career never took off …open the card… Now instead of complaining about the work you had to do, you can complain about the work you used to do.

Too bad your career took off without you …open the card… I hear they have openings at New Coke.

Claire jumped at her own creativity. She tipped up on her toes, pivoted to her left, skipped a step and dashed back to her desk. Her taupe palazzo pants caught wind and their hems swished gently after her, doing their best to catch up; they were always a half-second behind her movements. Completely forgetting the pencil in her mouth, she pulled the pencil in her hair’s bun; when the pencil released, her sable brown locks softly draped her shoulders, immediately warming her neck and she quickly wrote down the lines she’d come up with as she bent over the top of her desk.

She sat down, woke up her computer and began to type. The pencil in her mouth was a dented, chewed and masticated mess. Tiny glistening chips of periwinkle paint dotted over her forearms as her hands flew across her keyboard.

Your stratospheric rise was too much for your career ...open the card… All your hot air has melted the ice cap.

Your career called, it wants its ambition back …open the card… Now you really can talk about the good old days.

She paused, that last one was nasty. But he’s nasty.

Ok, that’s a good start… let’s move on to relationships, something he clearly has no experience with or evidence of manifesting. What would it be like if he got dumped by his girlfriend?  What would be the circumstances? Did he even have a girlfriend? What would he say about it? How would he handle it? Well, I know how he’d handle it… he’d be a dick, that’s how he’d be…

She turned to her purse and felt for her iPod. Maroon 5 was on the cue and and the first song to come up was “Misery” and she laughed at her luck. She sat at her desk, put on her ear buds, hit restart and her body began to chair-dance at her desk. First her neck started dipping left and then right, her shoulders got in on the action and her waist began to twist and groove…

Oh yeeee-ah… So scared of breakin it that you won’t let it bend…
and I wrote 200 letters that I will never send…
So let me be… Now set you free… I am in mis-er-y…”

Congratulations on your weight loss! …open the card… You managed to lose 130# (or #190# depending on the gender) of ugly body fat with a single text…

Sorry about your recent break-up …open the card… it is all for the bitter now…

Giggles emanated from her cubicle, she simply could not contain herself any longer and her enthusiasm was jetting her through the next drafts and ideas…

Now I’m gonna get you back…gonna get you back… yeah…

I heard you got dumped  …open the card… Good news: we are going out for beers. Bad news: you’re buying, you owe me $20 on that bet.

Happy Valentine’s Day …open the card… Go find someone else to love and don’t come back.

She thought of the video for the song; how poor delicious Adam Levine got beat up and abused by his hot girlfriend. His expressions in the video were her favorite part. The methods that the girl employed were her second-favorite part. Too bad the whole band got beat up along the way…

Bad break-up sex is better than great make-up sex …open the card… When it’s with you. Here’s your key back (with a little space for glue to tack on a key).

I’ve got news. …open the card… The good news is no one’s thinking about you as much as you feared; The bad news is no one’s thinking about you as much as you wished. Get off my couch. Your crap’s in boxes by the curb.

“Don’t touch the printer! It’s mine!” Claire yelled through the office as she pressed Command / P on her computer. With a flourish, she shoved her seat out from under herself and took off for the printer hub. “My creative! MIIIINE!” She almost tripped on a pair sneakers that Marjorie left outside her cube.

As she gathered her sheets from the printer, she examined them for typos, and other errors that could’ve appeared. Everything looked good, she was ready to get with design and images to work on collaborating the pictures and illustrations to punch the card’s delivery. Claire knew her strengths, she knew she could do cartoonish sketches and help with concept, but when it came to the real artistry, she left it to the team down the hall and next to the atrium.

She went to the mounting room and grabbed some pieces of black board for tacking on the content. She knew she was skipping a few steps, that she should wait and not mount any of the drafts until people saw them, but she felt good about these concepts and she knew she’d hit at least half of them out of the park. She began to slice the papers using the giant cutter and used spray fixer to mount the sheets to the boards.

If I’ve got this concept down, we are on our way. The bottom line is that if people paid attention to how jerky and arrogant they were, there’d be no fodder for me to put this together, so in some weird way, I owe Luther some gratitude.

Not seeing the irony of her own penchant for paying mind to too many conflicted people and situations, Claire whisked her work off the tables and headed for the “artrium” as she liked to call it.

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Thank you.

© 2013 Molly Field :: All Rights Reserved.

That’s it for today. I’m late, as you can see!

Here is the prompt: You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” –Anne Lamott

Jump on the other great writers’ entries:

http://worldsworstmoms.com/friday-fiction-part-18-eric-wakes-up/

http://clearlykristal.com/?p=3796

http://katbiggie.com/friday-fiction-friends-part-8/#sthash.bFKTqYw3.dpbs

http://debiehive.blogspot.com/2013/05/fiction-friday-challenge-be-nice-or-ill.html

Here’s the Maroon 5 video (it’s very clever and funny, actually, and i LOVE Adam’s eyebrow raise, especially at 1:29ish): 

Friday #Fiction 2.1 — Pants on Fire

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“Your father is getting rid of the dog, Luther,” his mother said after a peck on the cheek under the arrivals canopy at Logan Airport. He hadn’t had a chance to unload his luggage into the way-back of the family wagon.

“Mom, you should get rid of this thing, it’s a pig and you don’t need all this space anymore.”

“He also wants a divorce.”

“What? I just talked to him this morning, before I boarded, what are you talking about?”

Luther was used to his mother’s histrionics. She was an eccentric, a free spirit, and often given to flights of whimsy or bouts of rage.

“I’ll take the dog with me when I leave. This is madness. I should drive, you’re in a state.”

“Why didn’t you answer my call? I called you six hours ago. Why didn’t you answer?”

Luther held out his hand for the keys. “Mom, the keys. Give them to me.”

“You didn’t answer my call.”

Editorial interruption: This is a fifth in a series; please go here for the first “chapter”:https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/friday-fiction-friends-2-0-familiarity-breeds-fonder-over-greener-ponds/

“We were about to take off; they told us to turn off our cell phones. It — it wasn’t on. I don’t have any recollection of you calling. The phones interfere with the communications between the pilots and the tower people,”

Tower people? Luther, speak directly me to me; you’re not making any sense.”

“The people, mom, who operate the … the … the people in the Federal Aviation Administration airport towers who direct planes on the runways and in the air. Those tower people. Mom. The keys.”

“The AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS, Luther. That’s what they’re called. I’m driving; you don’t even know what the flight crews are called at an airport, I’m not letting you drive my car.”

Luther walked to the back of the car, and prepared to lift the tailgate. His mother locked the doors just as he reached.

“It’s ok. You’re perfect anyway. Show me your teeth. Smile for me. I got caps last month, what do you think? Show me yours.”

Luther’s shoulders slumped and he swallowed back a breath. He lifted his face and showed his mother his teeth. His mother lowered her Andy Warhol-eqsue prescription sunglasses and moved in to inspect his teeth.

“Mmmmhmmm. Your tooth, that bicuspid, it still does that doesn’t it? It snags on your lower lip when you smile. See my teeth? Whe I smi li you do, I don hav tha sna, see? Loo, it’s awl flus alo th guhli..”

“I’m not smiling mother. This is embarrassing.”

“Just get that fixed and you’ll be perfect.”

Luther hung his head and looked for a rock to kick.

“You need to move your car, Ma’am,” said a traffic police officer. “His bags are in the car, you need to get going now.”

“He wants to drive, officer, would you kindly tell him that I should drive him? He’s had a long flight. This is my son. Luther, he’s coming home for the long holiday weekend. Isn’t he beautiful?”

“Nice to meet you Luther, let your mother drive. Just get this car out of here. NOW.”

“Yes officer, thank you … uh. Nice to meet you too.”

“We’re waiting for someone else, Officer,” she blurted out. “Get in the car, Luther, no need to make a scene,” she said.

“No we’re not. What are you talking about? Officer, I’d like to drive. I’m not tired. The sun is up.”

Get in the car, Luther,” his mother barked at him, her teeth gritted, and her eyes burning into Luther with an intensity he’d not felt in years.

“What do you mean you’re waiting for someone else? Well, I don’t care. If you are, you need to taxi around the airport. Just keep making a loop. Either way, get in the car, Beautiful Luther,” and Luther did as he was told and got into the car.

“Thank you officer! I’ll do just that! See Luther?”

She adjusted the side view mirror so she could see herself, put her big sunglasses back on, fixed the scarf around her face and slid into the car like a movie star.

Luther hated riding with his mother behind the wheel. She was an angry and anxious driver. She loathed highways and would drive 40 mph in the right lane. She’d drive slower if she could, but 40 was the legal minimum. On two-lane roads, she would slow down when opposing traffic would approach and hug the shoulder of her lanes. Anyone who rode with her needed a nap afterward.

“Why did you lie to that policeman? We aren’t waiting for someone else,” Luther said.

“I liked talking to him. I love the energy of airports. People coming and going. Do you know where my copy of Haywire is?” she asked.

“The John Belushi book? The one about his overdose? No. Mom, I just got in the car. I just got off the plane.”

“Which reminds me, why didn’t you answer my call?”

“I told you that already. It was off. We had to turn off our phones. I didn’t see you call. I turned off my phone before I boarded.”

“Can I change lanes? You need to look over your shoulder, can I? Can I? I need to get over to the right. LIAR! You said you talked to your father before you boarded! He TOLD me you spoke.”

“Yes, it’s clear. After this red Buick, you can go. Oh my God, mom, mother, yes, I did, I spoke to father. But then I –”

“Your father wants a new wife.”

“What? Mom. Pull over.”

The sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was one of those fantastic May days when the air is clear, a gentle breeze wafts the leaves of the trees, sometimes the longer blades of grass catch it and wave in its flow.

She switched lanes to get off the highway to take the back roads to the house. They were going to stop at the house in town first to get some things for the weekend before heading to Nantucket to open up for the summer.

At the first red light, Luther reached over, put the car in park, turned the ignition and grabbed the keys.

“Get out of your seat, switch with me. I am driving. You’re not right today.”

“Smile when you say that.”

“Get out of your seat and switch with me. I am driving us home and to Nantucket. There is nothing to smile about right now. Do it, or I throw the keys into the trees.”

“Your mother is not happy about this, little man,” she said, her nostrils flaring and eyes as dead as a corpse’s. “Very well.”

Luther got out of his seat, his mother slid over to where he was sitting.

He walked around the side of the car, pulled open its ancient and heavy door, sat down behind the wheel, pulled his door shut tight, locked the doors, started the engine, fixed the side-view mirror, shifted into drive, just as the light turned green.

“Don’t speed, Luther. This isn’t some hot rod.”

Luther nodded and said, “Yes mother.”

“You’ll be sitting in the hot seat for this unacceptable behavior, young man, when we get to the house.”

“Just enjoy the view, mother. I’m already in the hot seat.”

“Is that a comment about me? That I made the seat hot? Is that some menopausal slam?”

“No, mother. It’s just a saying. I’ll try to not be so witty next time,” he said.

“Smile when you say that, Luther. Show me your teeth again.”

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© 2013 Molly Field :: All Rights Reserved.

Here’s the next installment: Gritting Cards

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Thank you.

This week’s prompt: It is “Liars need to have good memories” ~Algernon Sidney

Please check out our other writers this week! More will be added as the day goes on.

http://incompetenthausfrau.com/2013/05/17/friday-fiction-friends-sophie-sees-the-light/

http://worldsworstmoms.com/friday-fiction-part-17-smooth/

http://susannenelson.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/fiction-friday-19-honesty/

http://debiehive.blogspot.com/2013/05/friday-fiction-challenge-lie-begets-lie.html?m=1