This is my piece for this week's Indie Ink writing challenge. The way it works is that you sign up for the challenge weekly, and you'll be paired with another participant who will create a writing prompt for you, and you have a few days to write and submit your piece. (Click HERE if you'd like to participate next week.
This week, I challenged Alyssa Goes Bang with the prompt, "She wasn't a pretty girl."
I was challenged by Flaming Nyx. Her prompt was:
Fiction Piece: Oh, I think calling me a lady is overly generous and unjustifiable.
Here's my response.
I sat low in my seat, grateful that I decided at the last minute to wear long pants. The theater was ancient and everything was covered in a barely perceptible film of stickiness and dust. "Do you like old movies?" he had asked me on Monday.
"I don't know," I said, although I did. I didn't like old movies, especially black and white films. I felt that the world before the late 1930's was dry and bled free of its color. I found the notion of a grey house with a white fence in a shadowy lawn to be depressing.
"There's something playing on Friday at the renovated theater that I'd like to take you to," he said.
I glanced at him over the top of my book. How long had it been since I'd been on a date? My husband wasn't really the date-night type, and even then. He'd been dead for seven years. I hadn't had sex in seven years.
"I'm not sure if I'm free on Friday," I said. "I'll have to take a look at my schedule for this weekend."
"Oh," he answered. "That's okay."
"I'm kidding," I said. "I haven't been busy on a Friday evening in years."
I was unable to have children. I wasn't meant to have them, I suppose. Now, there was gum sticking to the bottom of my shoe. Now, I was allowing my arm to rest against his arm in the cool dark. The projected beams were illuminating particles of dust above our heads like stars. Nothing about this felt right or good, but it felt very much like reality. It felt very much like what happens to you when you're thirty-eight years old and you've been alone for a long time. It felt like inevitability.
The actress on the screen was blond and beautifully curvy, her grey skin smooth and glittering in the flicker of the film. Her lips were painted black, which must have been the way red looked before there was color in the world. She smoked a cigarette dangling from a long filter. She held it between her teeth and dug around in her purse with a gloved hand. "Here," she said. "Take this and meet me at the station," and she passed a train ticket to a mustached man who was not yet her lover.
I glanced at the stranger at my elbow, the lines of his face. He had a scar near his eye. I leaned in to ask him how he'd gotten it, but decided against it. I would save that conversation. We were already occupied by the movie. I would remember to bring it up later to fill an awkward gap. He noticed that I'd shifted in my seat, though and he responded to my nearness by leaning his shoulder against mine and smiling at me.
The actress winked and tipped a bellboy. "Thank you, lady," he said and bowed a little, committed bow.
"Oh, I think calling me a lady is overly generous and unjustifiable," she replied, her white teeth flashing like perfect pearls behind her painted lips.
Later, when I was tired and up later than usual, I folded my sweater neatly on a chair in the corner of his room. Everything here was sensible. Everything in shades of blue and grey and white. His bed was covered in a duvet, smoothed at the corners and pillows lined up quietly next to one another, not a crease or a wrinkle to betray him. He said to me, "I think I've been waiting for you."
"I'm sorry," I said.
"I think you're what I've needed," he said.
What could I say? He had a hairless chest and his pajamas were plaid and flannel. A mirror hung next to his closet where he kept his clothing coded by color, there were no photographs on his walls. Not like my bedroom. I hung pictures of everything, the seasons, mostly. Landscapes and sunlight and falling leaves. My record of the time I'd spent with my feet on the ground. I wouldn't be calling him again. I wouldn't spend the night in this bed, again. I didn't care, I learned that much about myself from him. He used a condom to be safe and I didn't care about anything.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked, my breasts pressing against his powdery smelling skin.
"Where did you get this scar?" I asked.