Featured Stories, Week of April 29, 2018: "A Good View" and "Once There Was"
Updated: May 12
Each week we feature a story written by one or two of our group members at one of our meetings. For this week's featured stories, the group rolled a D20 against a list of 20 songs. We then had to turn the lyrics of that song into a short story. We had 20 minutes to write.
A Good View
By Salem Cole
Song: Hazy Shade Of Winter by Simon & Garfunkel/The Bangels
“You’re so hard to please,” Kim told me as we jumped off the side of the jungle gym. The parade spectators surrounded us. The view from the playground wasn’t good enough. In all my eighteen years of seeing this parade, not once did I find a good spot. Kim grabbed my hand and gave me a devilish look.
“Hold on,” she said. “Down by the riverside… if we go around, there’s bound be a ride we can sit on.”
I took another sip of my vodka and lime, not really feeling like I wanted to get muddy. I watched Kim drop her solo cup full of not water.
“Come on. I hear the Salvation army band. If we go now, we can still catch the main event.”
Kim sprinted away from the parade crowd. I hated being alone with her, but I hated being truly alone even more. I chased after her, weaving through the fraying crowd on the outskirts of the parade. She looked back at me.
“Are you still carrying your cup in your hand?” she asked.
I immediately dropped it; it was cheap vodka anyway.
I followed her every step through the back way where the river was. I saw river but it’s more like a creak. I hadn’t grown in height much passed 7thgrade, but what I once saw as a river, had shrunk into a creek by my own doing. Kim acted as if the flowing water was still a roaring river about to devour us if we took one wrong step. I was jealous she still saw the river.
We crossed over and then crawled under the boarded-up fence to the abandoned amusement park.
“We’re too far away now, Kim. We won’t be able to hear anything,” I said, trying to prove her idea to be a waste of time.
“Hang on to your hopes my friend. I will get you a good spot to see the parade.”
She took my hand and looked up to the old wooden roller coaster. My face went pale.
“Come on. Let’s climb”
“That’s an easy thing to say!”
Kim didn’t wait for my approval. She climbed the small of the two hills on the tiny coaster. I began my ascension behind her. The sky was a hazy shade of winter. Soon, it would be spring, and I wasn’t ready to toss my hat and tassel. But, Kim always seemed like she was ready.
We reached the top and parked ourselves on a wooden plank. A bird’s eye view of the parade. I saw it all at once. Kim held my hand and gave it a soft squeeze.
“Remember me,” she said.
I looked at her and saw her eyes glisten with growing tears. I squeezed her hand back and continued to watch the spectacle, pretending for just a little longer that growing up didn’t suck.
Once There Was
By Kate Weize
Song: Mmm Mmm Mmm by the Crash Test Dummies
“Alright Melanie,” Mr. Pendusky clicked his ball point pen and peered through his bifocals at the girl sitting on the other side of the desk. “Let’s begin.”
She looked like any other kid who’d come to school today. Long skinny legs dangling out of cutoff shorts. Scabbed knees. Grass stains and bruises from tumbles on the soccer field. Tennis shoes that might have been white two thrift stores ago. Dirty blonde hair in a ponytail, green eyes that wandered the length of the back wall, moving like the needle of a broken compass. Neither of them believed in her pretended interest in the endless rows of dusty class photographs. Most of their inhabitants had long grown and gone from Liberty High.
Mr. Pendusky set down his pen and sighed. “You have to talk to me. You can’t go home until you do.”
Melanie shrugged, the tiniest shift of her shoulders. No hurry, they seemed to say.
He looked at the bruises again. “You know I’ll have to call your parents.”
Green eyes snapped to him. Then, as if pulled by a magnet, moved away again.
“Once there was this kid,” Melanie spoke up in a faraway voice. “Who got into an accident and couldn’t come to school. When he finally did come, his hair had turned from black to bright white.” She picked at the loose threads on her cutoffs. “Said it was from when the car smashed so hard. Scared the color right out.”
Mr. Pendusky, who had picked up his pen, set it down again. He frowned. “Melanie. We’re here to talk about what happened with you. The incident this afternoon?”
She slouched lower in the chair, twisting dirty blonde hair around one finger. Her nails had been gnawed down to nubs. “Once there was this girl who wouldn’t go and change with the girls in the change room. When they finally made her--”
“When they made her,” she repeated stubbornly. “They saw birthmarks all over her body.
She couldn’t explain them. They’d always just been there.”
“I got off the phone with Mrs. Morrison five minutes ago. The doctors had to sew up Jamie’s cheek. He lost two teeth. They said it was a miracle he still had his left eye.”
Another minuscule shrug. Nothing she didn’t already know.
Mr. Pendusky set aside the pen. He leaned forward and tried to catch those wandering eyes. “The only other person who knows what happened in there is you. If you don’t talk, then Jamie gets to tell this story.”
Or his furious mother. He could already hear Mrs. Morrison’s version taking shape. A vicious girl. A delinquent. A troublemaker. She must have had a weapon. She must have maliciously lashed out against Jamie. Her little boy certainly did nothing wrong. Even in the girl’s locker room where he had no business being. Even when three other girls had fled and refused to say why.
Melanie drew her legs up onto the chair and wrapped her arms around them, resting her chin on her knees. She pressed her cheek against a scaly brown scab. “Both of them were glad. The boy and girl. ‘Cause one kid had it worse.”
Mr. Pendusky took off his bifocals and pinched the bridge of his nose; the world turned into a blur, close and far. Patches of whitewash and dusty class photos faded into abstract grays, browns and whites. “I can’t help you if you won’t tell me the truth. Please.”
The magnet drawing her green eyes moved due north, piercing him.
“Parents made him come right home after school. When they went to their church they shook and lurched all over the floor. They’d always just gone there.” Melanie opened her hands. Her knuckles were red and raw. “He couldn’t explain it.”