I’m doing a “writing your first novel” online course run by a London lit agency. Everything is cool and awesomo, sort of. It’s just that almost everyone else is writing stories about relationships; mostly husband and wife, sometimes father/mother and son/daughter. It’s all about break-ups, make-outs, rows, regrets, love and lack of love, fidelity and lack of fidelity, trust and luck of trust. I wish someone came up with a stammering alien, a flying accountant, a vampire granny, an orange monster (wait, we have one in the news), a Starbucks for dragons, a man with two dicks, anything a bit odd so I don’t feel like the only weirdo who writes strange stuff.
That said, since I wanted to show my goodwill to fit in, I too have written a story focusing on relationships, in a strangestoryesque way, of course. It’s very short, you can read it here below.
A battered pale brown station wagon jolted along the rough country road.
“Let’s see what else you forgot to do… or, as you say, what else ‘slipped your mind’.”
The sarcastic tone of the overweight man in his mid-fifties didn’t seem to pique the woman behind the wheel. Muggy air blowing in through the open windows hit her baggy eyes and ruffled her black hair, exposing the white roots. She looked worn-out, like the man sitting next to her, like the car they were in.
“Did you take out the trash? I bet a grand you didn’t.”
His sweaty, sagging face seemed to gather all the humidity of a stifling summer night in EastTexas.
“So, my lady, shall I lay the bet on the green table?”
“You don’t have a grand. Never had it in the bank,” she answered, keeping her eyes on the road.
“Because I always done shitty jobs. Not because I was frittering it away on drink and women, for sure.”
The car bent and rolled on its exhausted shock absorbers. Outside, darkness and silence all around them.
“You know only too well my folks didn’t have the money to send me to college. I had to work straight out of high school, for fuck’s sake!”
“Was waiting for the first “f” word since you slid your big ass in the car.”
“You don’t wanna get me started on the big ass thing. When was the last time you worked out, Molly-lazy-ass? Mollazy!”
“When was the last time you gave me an orgasm, Frank? And don’t call me, Mollazy, fatso!”
“I guess it was the last time I came back from work and didn’t mistake our house for the warehouse of a pawn shop.”
“Fine, Frank, I’m a lousy housewife and I have a flabby ass.”
“Bang on the money, baby. Just how it is.”
“Cool, we’re even, then. I have just one question.”
“Why did you marry me?”
“You really want to know?”
“Because all my buddies had already settled down, I didn’t feel like going to clubs and hitting on girls by myself.”
“What about you? Why did you say yes?”
“Me? I wasn’t pretty or smart enough for the college guys, I knew I had to settle for someone in the lower leagues.”
“Lower leagues… give me a break.”
“No point in waiting for someone better. It wasn’t gonna happen.”
The road became rougher and bumpy, and as the car jerked up and down, a bark came from behind them.
“Of course, it also slipped your mind to feed T. Kirk, right?”
A black Golden Retriever pushed his muzzle over the backseat.
“I’m sure it is. You know, I was thinking… ever thought that we never asked T. Kirk about this?”
“He’s a dog, for Chrissakes!”
“He’s not ‘a’ dog! He is Tiberius Kirk, and he deserves all our consideration.”
“Whatever, it’s too late now.”
The wheels of the station wagon were now jolting over potholes. The dog yelped.
The man turned and glanced at him with affection, then half-closed his eyes and turned to his wife.
“Okay, fuck everything!”
“Fuck everything!” she repeated, gripping the wheel harder and putting her foot down.
He placed his hand on her thigh and stared ahead as T. Kirk howled. Almost out of control, the car bounced towards the darkness. Their eyes fixed on the road ahead.
She flinched and slammed down on the brakes. The tyres screeched over the track leaving scars like bony fingers on the earth. The car came to a halt in a cloud of red dust. He stared through the dust and said nothing as she turned the car and started to drive back.
A few steps away the rotten branch of an elm snapped and plunged into a steep gully lit by the moonlight.