Original writing from 2011 (edited 2015). A little melancholy perhaps. Fiction & creative non-fiction.
She ordered cardamom ice cream, explaining it was good for her spleen. And then she asked me what I wanted and I ordered a coffee milkshake because it made me feel older. We talked about books we had read and how we liked authors who could write a sentence that was smooth. Like, we could speak it on our tongue without saying it out loud. That smooth.
Ana had a long, broken looking nose and high cheekbones, which she regularly smothered in girlish rouge. She was the only employee that ordered the hot lunch plate everyday she worked. The kitchen served canned green beans and overcooked meat sandwiches and coleslaw and pineapple swimming in high fructose corn syrup. But Ana always ate it—the entire plate, finishing with a glass of pineapple juice from the juice machine. The aides weren’t supposed to drink juice from the juice machine, unless it was pineapple because none of the residents liked the pineapple juice. Nobody really liked it because it was full of pulp, sour, and made a person thirstier than quenched. Ana did not seem to mind it though, saying her taste buds were too dead from chain smoking. And she continued to drink it until the nursing home administration made the decision to order grape juice instead of pineapple juice to better suit the needs of the residents.
He sat down next to her on the porch, taking the plastic bottle of cheap whiskey out of his jean pocket and offering her some. He didn’t wait for a response, but took a swig himself and then held out the bottle toward her with his arm straight, head down, and a “whew…strong stuff.” She glanced at him, and took the bottle without saying a word. She looked at the bottle, read the label quickly without considering it and put it to her lips. She made a subtle frown at the bitterness of the stuff, then said, “never had any of this before.” She handed the bottle back to him. He looked at her, the way she sat blankly with a book and a pack of unopened cigarettes. How each time she spoke she surprised him with her loud, fearless voice. (This is loosely based on a good friend in her high school years).
They were crouched in the bushes, snowdrifts underneath them, pushing down most of the weaker vegetation. Her socks were thin cotton, and she could feel that they fell off her heel as they walked. She wore three pairs, in layers, but the wetness soaked through. She scolded herself for not bringing an extra pair of socks, or wearing the wool ones her father had given her last Christmas. Jimmy was standing next to her, wearing a look of concentration like she wore seven layers of clothing. They were in a sheltered spot, behind the rocks. They had walked several miles, vulnerable to the fierce gusts of icy wind, blinded by the untouched whiteness of the snow. She kept looking at him, hoping he would remember she was along. It didn’t matter much though, she thought, because this wasn’t about human interaction. Then his look was shattered for a split second, a look of excitement present on his face, and then the expression returned to concentration once again. Fierce concentration, strength of the wind. She turned away from him and looked forward through the bushes. It was a mule deer. It was scrawny and a sick gray—almost pathetic looking. “Looks sick,” she said under her breath. He didn’t respond, just watched it. They didn’t touch their rifles.
She had reached the summit before him, breathing hard and smiling, looking across miles and miles of land—more mountains to the right and left and farther west, plains to the east, covered in a mild haze. They ate their lunches at the top—peanut butter and jelly, oranges, and water. She was in a rush to get down and slid down the shale with her right foot skating in front, collecting rock. It wasn’t a difficult climb by any means, but it was long—they say it is most dangerous coming down because you are so excited you don’t know how exhausted you really are. She slid down and fell into young spruce trees, with tough, pointed tips. The spruce cut her deep on the left leg, leaving a neatly lined bloody gash. It stayed with her for a while.
They sipped cheap wine and hugged, told each other how much they loved each other’s friendship. Listened to the same song over and over until they couldn’t stand it anymore, even though one still had not learned all the words. They went looking for an open store, but it was too late, so they pulled over next to the bridge instead. Stripped off their clothing impulsively and quickly…ran into the river without hesitation and stood there for a moment, dripping in the comfortable shock of freezing water. One rushed back out while the other stayed a moment longer. Then a car slowed down to get a quick show of the random commotion and the girls booked it to the car, and sped away, still naked and laughing hysterically.
I love to google “ice cream.” Sigh. Needing to eat more of the coconut brand than the cow’s milk kind. Stupid dairy.
Photo is mine. From the streets of Seoul, South Korea. I didn’t dare get near this creation…