Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Micro Fiction

I'm reposting micro fiction (just a slice of life piece) from way back when hardly anybody read my blog, because it will give you all something to read while I am busy banging away on my current project. I'm going strong, getting absolutely no sleep, but moving right along.

Day to Day

Dorothy sat by the window smoking and listening to the faucet drip, drip, drip, into the smelly sink. She didn’t fiddle with the handle to bring the dripping to an end because she was too busy exploring her newfound freedom, the freedom to ignore such things, the freedom to be lazy. Her over-achieving-anal-retentive husband Conner had unexpectedly keeled over and died a few months earlier, leaving her to her own devices. Leaving her free to toss dirty clothes on the floor of the bedroom, leaving her free to scarf greasy takeout straight out of Styrofoam containers. Leaving her alone. What Dorothy couldn’t get used to, what she hated most about widowhood, besides the obvious heartache of losing her other half, was being the one that had to make all the day-to-day decisions. Their son Peter handled the funeral arrangements, he had his father's knack for such tasks. Immediately after hosting a catered affair for friends and neighbors at his childhood home, he’d flown back to Baltimore, to his waiting family.

Dorothy had never paid the bills or balanced the checkbook, nor had she filed insurance papers or tax records. These tasks had never been her problem. Now they were.

It occurred to her, she wouldn’t be so idle, so lost, had she seen fit to form friendships with other women over the years, had she taken classes of some sort, had she taken up a fulfilling hobby. But she had done none of those things. Keeping house, raising their son, seeing to her husband’s needs, hiding out back in the tool shed to smoke, those were the activities that constituted the sum total of her life. Conner abhorred cigarettes, and filthy slovenly habits in general. It was inevitable that she go straight down the backward road to ruination without her good husband around to keep her on a straight and narrow.

Really, she needed to find something, anything. Someone to help her hold it together. How long could she stew in her juices? Fifty some years roll by, and there you are, alone, old, and at a loss about how to proceed. Taking a shower would be a good start, changing out of sweats and into something clean would make her feel better.

Showered and dressed, Dorothy reached for the phone book, looked up a maid agency, boldly punched in the number, and spoke with a pleasant woman about sending someone out to whip the house into shape. Then she hopped in the Jeep and drove over to Starbuck’s. Caffeine would help bring things into focus, jolt her into action. Dorothy sat in the back by the cream station, in a stained velveteen armchair, going over her options. She could: learn how to knit, write bad poetry, go back to school and finally get a degree in art history, study the Kabala, volunteer to read to elderly at the local nursing home, join some kind of women’s club. Or maybe she would try one of those dating services and find a man to replace the one she lost. What she needed was a computer. Conner claimed he didn’t have any desire to stare at a PC screen at home as well as work, so they had never owned one.

Dorothy purchased a laptop that very afternoon—an Apple McIntosh. Jeff, the affable young salesman, said the Mac had the easiest operating system. A new operating system was just what the doctor ordered. She’d be able to pay her bills online, the software would balance the books; the computer would make everything so much easier. Or so Jeff claimed it would. By the end of the week she had set up her own Facebook page, and had signed up for a dating service that promised to provide her with quality prospects.

Her first date was with an older man named Blake Simmons. They met at The Macaroni Grill, and he insisted that she order something called a Bellini, even though she would have preferred a glass of white wine. When she ordered fettuccini he insisted that the chicken scaloppini was better, but Dorothy did not change her mind. When the waitress returned Dorothy politely handed over the Bellini and said she’d prefer a glass of wine. Fancy drinks had never appealed to her. It turned out, Blake Simmons didn’t appeal to her either. Thank God she had driven her own car and was able to ditch him.

Dating became a vocation for several busy months. She lost a few pounds, bought new stylish clothes, and changed her hairstyle for the first time in years. Prospects shuffled through her life in a constant parade. LA was full of men looking for love: dentists, pool contractors, florists, musicians, actors, teachers, and one unemployed ex-contractor that had taken to bartending, a rumpled fella named Floyd. Dorothy took an immediate shining to him.

No matter, Floyd did not own a home of his own, and he lived with his ailing mother so he could care for her. No matter, he didn’t have much money, (due to bad business deals and a nasty drawn-out divorce.) No matter, he smoked like a chimney and turned out to be a the sort of slob that would kick off his shoes off and leave them under the kitchen table, the type of guy that drank milk right out of the jug and squeezed the toothpaste tube from the middle, a person that saw no reason not to leave the toilet seat up or to replace an empty toilet paper holder. No matter. Dorothy didn’t mind at all.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.


staceyjwarner said...

This was interesting...I felt jolted out of the story a few times trying to catch up with time or where she was at emotionally. At the beginning I thought she was happy that her husband had died by the narrator's description but then she seemd lost...with a piece like this it would be nice to ruminate a bit longer with Dorothy.

I hope this was helpful.

much love

L.T. Elliot said...

Thanks for sharing with us. I'm interested in knowing how it ends for Dorothy.

Tamika: said...

Nice twist in the piece that Dorothy began sounded happy at the lose of her husband. Great way to grab the reader.

Carla Gade said...

It was fun to read some of your work, Elizabeth. It's good to re-post blog entries. Shouldn't let the good stuff get wasted. Not that it's really wasted. But you maximized it's potential. That's a good thing.

So up in the middle of the night are you? Sounds like me! I like your writing loft picture.

Joanne said...

Seems like Dorothy and Floyd have a lot in common. Without someone there to keep these two in line, I fear the outcome!

Jan Morrison said...

Kept me enthralled! What are you working on now?

Nancy said...

LOL! I guess to each his own?

Helen Ginger said...

Doesn't sound like the perfect match. It would be interesting to see how it turns out. I think she's still trying to find herself.

Straight From Hel

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I don't see a shining future for this couple! :) Good job with the story. Hope your life-craziness eases up for you soon.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Tabitha Bird said...

Dorothoy certainly is a full blown character. Lovely story. All the best with your current WIP.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

This was interesting Elizabeth but I'd have to ditch Floyd too!:)

Sniffles and Smiles said...

What an interesting character she is...I'd love to read more about Dorothy...she is so real!! She reminds me of people I've known...I think I could join her for a cup of coffee at Starbucks! You are such an excellent writer...I loved being able to read this...I missed it the first time you posted!! Hope your writing is going well...and hope that you get a little relaxation worked into your life as well!!! ~Janine XO

lakeviewer said...

I've known women like Dorothy. She moved fast, didn't she?

Anne Spollen said...

Dorothy sounds like so many women I know...