Talent Show: Day 26 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a story about a character that is not going to miss their kid’s talent show.


 

Of course they were stuck in traffic. Of course. This couldn’t just for once be easy. Lacy slammed her hand into the horn. She never honked at people, but laying into that sound scratched the frustrated itch under her skin. The were going to be late. Jack yelled from his car seat that the horn was too loud. When she stopped honking, he told her it doesn’t make the cars move.

He was still in his ballet stuff, because she had this scheduled down to the minute to make sure that everything was covered and that they got to the show on time. She wondered if maybe she and Jo had taken on too many foster kids.

Jane never did anything outside of school. Lacy had gushed so much when she told her that she had signed up for the talent show that the quiet twelve year old turned red. She had offered to help her practice or whatever she needed, but Jane said she wanted to do it herself. It was going to be a surprise.

The cars started to inch forward. Her phone started ringing, but she hit ignore without looking and put the phone on vibrate. Nothing was going to distract her from getting to the show. It was probably Jo wondering where she was. Mike’s basketball practice ended earlier and was closer than ballet, and Lacy was sure there was no traffic for Jo (who was supernaturally lucky with these things). Anyway, she was pretty sure she would just start screaming about traffic right now if she answered the phone. Glancing at the time, if they started moving at speed, they would only be ten minutes late.

The phone buzzed in her bag. Damn it, Jo, I’ll be there as soon as I can.

The cars were moving and then moving at speed. Lacy whipped around a couple of them and got to her preferred 12 miles over the limit. The cars in front of her broke open more, and she pushed up to 20 miles over. She was getting to this show.

The parking lot looked stuffed, so Lacy didn’t even try to find a closer space than the back row. Jack already has his straps undone when she opens the door. She popped him on the ground and told him to hurry. Her phone was buzzing again. Jo! Stop it. I’m here.

Jo was at the door talking to another mom when she sees them and waves. Her hand abruptly stopped, and she looked confused. Lacy stopped in front of her.

“Where’s Jane?”

“What? You brought her.”

“No. I brought Mikey. You were … Wait. Who was supposed to get Jane?

“SHIT.”

“Jack, go inside and help Mike save our seats.”

Lacy pulls out her phone and looks at the missed calls. All the house phone. “I forgot -”

“We forgot -”

“Can you call Jim? I’ll call Fred. One of them has to be home, right?”

“You call home first and tell her -”

“Yeah.” Lacy dialed and listened to the longest set of rings. “Come on come on come on. Pick up.” Voicemail, shit.

“Jim’s already got her. Jane, that smart little sucker, already found herself a ride.”

“I am a terrible terrible mother.”

“Yeah, you are.” Lacy punched Jo’s arm harder than playful. “Ow. I was just kidding!”

“We owe Jane a big something.”

#

Mike and Jack ran into Jane’s room and jumped onto her bed. “Hey! I was sleeping!”

“It’s first Saturday! What are you going to do today, Jane? Huh huh huh?” Her foster brothers started Jane’s First Saturday Talent Show Breakfast after she just made it to the school one. Jane did a number from Wicked, and the two of them decided she needed to do more. She was always at their recitals and basketball games.  Jane wasn’t a morning person except on first saturdays.

Pancakes wafted from the kitchen. Lacy and Jo always made her favorite for this day, guilt still playing in their eyes for forgetting to pick her up. She was still a little mad, but suddenly she felt a lot more noticed in the house, more a part of it. So that was something.

She got out of bed and slipped on her costume they bought her after that night and went down stairs to put on a show.

Old Friends: Day 6 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt from Elizabeth S. Craig was to write a story about an old friend needing to stay and what talking about old memories would affect main character. And all of this to written in an hour!


Jackie swiped the fob over the sensor and heard the door unlock. She checked her mail: junk, junk, junk, magazine she needed to cancel, and knitting catalogue to remind her of all those unfinished projects sucking up dust next to the television. She tossed it all in the trash, and then reached back in to grab the magazine. Might as well add it to the stack of the unread.

Up the front steps and around the corner, she flipped her key set and grabbed her apartment key with her teeth. She adjusted everything in her arms so she could actually get into her place.

“Hey, Jax.”

“Shit!” Of course, everything fell and scattered across the hall; her life was a slapstick comedy.

“Sorry, sorry. Let me help.” The woman started to pick up the papers closest to her. Making as neat a pile in her hands as she could.

“Prissy?”

“I go by Cilla now. But yeah. How are you?”

“What, what are you doing here?”

“I’m not gonna bullshit you. I need a place to crash. My whole … situation fell apart (I don’t want to talk about it), and I just need a couch for a couple of days to figure something out.”

“But how…”

“I called your mom. Well, actually, my mom called your mom. So I’m here. I won’t be in your way, just need a roof over my head.” Cilla – the name did not yet go with the face – had finished picking up her mess and was looking expectantly at Jackie.

“Yeah, yeah.” She fumbled with the lock but eventually got the door open. “Come in. You hungry? I was just going to order a pizza. There is a great little place that delivers a few blocks away.”

“Sounds good, except I don’t have any money at the moment, so I’ll need to throw it on my credit card.”

“No, no. My treat. Don’t worry.”

“I don’t feel good about that.”

“I was going to order it anyway, so just … it’s fine. Let me buy you dinner.”

“Okay.” Cilla paused. “You got a nice place here.”

“Thanks. I’ve been here for seven years I think, so collected some stuff and slowly, you know, put it together. Sit.” Jackie gestured to the couch. They sat there. Jackie looking at Cilla. Cilla looking everywhere but Jackie. Jackie turning to look out the window onto the fire escape. “Can I ask what happened?”

“Um, we aren’t really friends like that anymore, so I’d rather not talk about it.” Jackie was hurt. They’d been inseparable in high school, and now she was good enough to ask for a place to crash but not good enough to lend an ear. Prissy always told her everything. “Let’s talk about happier times, when I wasn’t begging for places to stay and waiting for my mom to wire me cash.”

“Okay. What’s a happier time?”

“Well, since it’s us here, how about that time we snuck out and destroyed Jason’s yard for him calling you a bitch.” Jackie laughed.

“I was a bitch though!”

“Yeah, but he said it like it was a bad thing!” They both giggled. “I think his parents are still find plastic forks in their yard.” The giggles had become cackles. “He deserved every single one.”

“Definitely.” She remembered that feeling of being two against the world. Prissy couldn’t stand that Jason made Jax cry.

“Remember how everyone always thought we were together; that we were hiding it? They thought they had discovered some big” she opened her eyes wide on the word “secret and kept trying to get us to admit it.”

“Did you keep count of the number of times they dared us to kiss?”

“I didn’t have to! That was your job.” She laughed again. “How many was it?”

“I have no idea anymore. A lot, definitely.”

“It would have been more if someone in this room hadn’t started asking for truth.” Jackie’s jaw tightened just a little bit.

“Yeah, well, the kissing got to be … uncomfortable for me.” Her heartrate stepped it up; she had just opened a door to questions she never thought she would have to answer.

“Uncomfortable how? I thought it got way easier every time someone said it. It was so expected.” Cilla knew. There was no way she didn’t know.

“I noticed you got more flippant about it.”

“And you got more … Oh. … Well, this is uncomfortable.”

“Luckily I haven’t yet ordered the pizza, so I am going to do that and when I get back, we can talk about something completely different please.” Cilla sat there, thinking, while Jackie ordered a pie. “They say they’ll be here in 45, but it’s probably going to be like an hour, hour 15. I hope that’s okay.”

“Jax -”

“Actually, it’s Jackie, now.” She nervously laughed. She didn’t know what was on the other end of her name.

“Jackie,” Cilla was nearly whispering and staring at her hands, “is that why you left?” She met Jackie’s gaze, and she was suddenly 16 again and they were Prissy and Jax, having one of their deep conversations about life and everything good and bad and complicated and wonderful and terrifying.

“I left for a lot of reasons. That just made it clear that I had to leave. It flipped a switch in my brain and it wasn’t a game anymore. You don’t just tell your best friend who clearly isn’t into it that you are in love with or whatever it was. you hardly admit to yourself that is what it was.”

“Because of me.”

“No, because I was suffocating there. I was … I couldn’t be me there. You were like the only person I felt like … You didn’t have expectations of me, but that … that was just a toxic subject. It wasn’t you. I … You were great. I just had to get out.”

“I wish you would have told me. It would have been fine. I wouldn’t have let anyone do anything to you. You could have stayed. I wish you would have stayed. I think my life would have been better if you had stayed. You made me … I don’t know … stable.”

“I was only stable because I so conscious of being stable, of being. I was just trying to survive long enough to get out. Leaving wasn’t easy, and it didn’t solve anything. Leaving wasn’t the answer I was looking for”

“Why not?”

Jackie laughed. “I don’t think we are those friends anymore, Cilla.”

“Maybe someday we’ll get back there. And I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

“You’d have to stick around more than a couple of days.”

“Girl, as it stands right now, I’ve got nothing to give but time.”

Shame: Day 5 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt by Angela Ackerman is shame. Although the prompt focused on an action that makes the character feel shame, but I’ve always associated shame less with a single action and more as a collection of actions or thoughts (internal or external) that create the feeling.


 

He was the good son. He was not supposed to be like this. He was supposed to be successful and settle down and have a family and be the kid his parents talked about first when people asked how their kids were doing.

Hiding gave him an ulcer. He feared being found out and losing the most important people in his life. He feared not being found out, and the most important people in his life never truly knowing him.

His cure for fear was found at the bottom of a bottle, and when that didn’t do enough, in varying kinds of illicit substances. Anything to dull reality’s sharp edges. The self-medicating took a toll. He’d been fired, twice. His savings dried up. His plans and dreams and hopes withered.

The “I’ll tell them when it’s time” finally confronted him as a lie. He sat at his favorite barstool in his favorite bar, downing drink number four. His pain washed away after four drinks, and his instincts focused only on getting more drinks. A friend offered him some white pill procured with puppy dog eyes, a sad story, and a willing doctor. It went down easy with the rest of the gin and tonic.

He went to take a leak and woke up in the hospital. Bandages over veins where blood had been taken and a diaper where his underwear should have been. Brain still fuzzy, he had no idea what was going on. How had he gotten here?

A nurse came in, checked him over silently, and then said he could get dressed and go home. His confused look made her point to his pile of clothes on the chair next to him. “Don’t drink so much. You are wasting our time.” Her Irish accent scolding him about alcohol would have made him laugh if he wasn’t so close to tears.

The ride home was awful. He wanted to throw up the entire half hour but made it home and to the bathroom just in time. He crawled into bed and sobbed himself to sleep in the pillow. He couldn’t do this anymore.

The next morning, he barely ate, staring at his phone. He pushed aside the planning part of his brain and jumped in head first.

“Mom? Is Dad there? I need to talk to both of you.” He was already crying.

“Jake, is everything okay? Dad’s coming. Are you alright? What’s wrong? What happened?”

“I… Please don’t hate me. I have to tell you something, and I’m so scared.”

“We’re here. It’s okay. What is it?”

“…” He took a breath to calm himself down just enough. “I’m gay.”

The line was so silent he checked to make sure they were still connected. He couldn’t handle the silence and just cried over and over and over into the phone “Please don’t hate me. Please don’t hate me.”

“We don’t hate you, son.”

“We could never hate you. We’re just … sad.”

“But it’ll be okay. We love you.”

“Are you seeing someone?”

“No. I just have … I needed you to know. I’ve been running for so long, it’ll kill me to keep running. Please, just please don’t hate me. I know so many people that have lost their families. Please don’t make me lose you.”

“No. No no no never. Never, son. Look, we’re going to look for flights and come up there. Okay? We can talk and figure this all out together. Okay?”

“Okay. Yes.”

“I love you.”

“We both love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“We’ll call you when we have our flight details.”

“Okay.” His last word sobbed out, fear and shame bubbling up and out of his body. He thought about his friends with good coming out stories and flipped through his contacts.

“Hello?”

“Lace, I just came out to my parents, and they are coming to visit and I think it’s going to be okay but I really can’t be alone right now.” He raced out the words, just beating a new wave of tears.

“I’m coming over. It’s gonna be okay. You did it! Jake, you… I am so proud of you. I will be there in like 15 minutes.” He could hear her smile through the phone and allowed himself his own as he hung up. Tension he had gotten so used to suddenly left him, and he sprawled out on the couch, exhausted but suddenly somehow happy.