Lily and Jasper [Flash Fiction]

Lily pushed her sunglasses down over her eyes and stretched. The summer sun was beginning to set, and the tree she’d been lying under would soon be at the wrong angle to give her shade. That was alright, though. Her skin was hardy enough to withstand the evening sun’s rays.
A hiccough made her look down. Jasper’s eyes, almost impossibly big in his small, chubby face, were inquiring. Lily was fascinated by the way he always seemed surprised. Every burp, every laugh, every awakening seemed entirely new to him and full of excitement.
“Is that enough tummy time?” Lily asked. “Hmm? What do you say, big guy?” Jasper hiccoughed again in answer. Lily smiled and lifted him up into her arms. She leaned sideways and dug around the big bag her mom had helped her organize, trying to find the bottle. She discovered it tucked sensibly in an outside flap where it couldn’t spill over into all the bibs, diapers and wet-wipes that weighed the bag down.
Fussing a little, Jasper eventually latched onto the rubber nipple and – of course – looked surprised at the liquid that he was sucking from it. Surprise turned to pleasure and he half-closed his eyes.
“You look just like me when you do that, you know? Just like me. We both love good food.” Lily had decided before he was born that she would talk to Jasper just like she talked to anyone else. She wouldn’t raise her voice even one note into the high-pitched tones that her mother and sister used. Her mother thought she was being pretentious, but Lily didn’t care. She was going to give Jasper what she’d given up when she’d discovered, six months in, that she was pregnant. She was going to give him the scholarship she couldn’t use yet, the love that her parents had only sporadically given her, and the respect he deserved from the moment he was born.
The only thing she couldn’t give him was a father, and she hoped that one day she’d manage to fix that.

At the Diner

It was Halloween night, and fourteen people sat around one long surface made up of tables pushed together. They were a loud bunch, all talking and laughing animatedly, despite the fact that it was past two in the morning. They were elated. They’d just finished what felt like the greatest, best, most amazing and spectacular experience of their lives, and they weren’t likely to forget that night for the rest of their lives.

They were a variety – all shapes and sizes, both young men and young women – but what they all had in common was the sweaty, running make-up that none of them had bothered to remove. In loud voices, they yelled up and down the table to each other, congratulating a night well done and feasting on everything from pancakes to onion rings to spaghetti-and-meatballs. They were ravenous, having completed a feat to which they’d devoted countless hours over the last two months.

Anyone nearing their table would have been able to feel the warmth, friendship and fierce-if-fleeting love they held for each other in that hour. Even the tired waitress, decked out in forced-Halloween-uniform and looking tired beyond measure, smiled at the bunch, allowing herself to be patient with them and trusting that, distracted as they were with each other, they wouldn’t complain about the slow service.

It isn’t surprising that this group wasn’t the only one sitting at a diner at two in the morning after Halloween night. The booths were filled with pirates and princesses, butterflies and Peter-Pans, all of them young people on their way back from various parties. The surprising element was that of men and women well into their middle ages, decked out in elegant finery fit for an extravagant office party or dignified family event – and there were many of these at the diner that night as well, looking happy and content, conversing just as loudly and merrily as the young folk.

If the diner could have felt the happiness and excitement that was filling its tables and chairs that night, it would have sprouted wings and begun to float above the ground.

Voice and Tense

I realized today something that I’ve realized many times before, something which gets me more excited about college than ever – I need to learn how to write. What I mean is that I need to really study and practice in an orderly fashion, with someone to read my work and tell me that “this is good” and “this is bad” and “this needs some more work.” I love this blog, and I’m proud of myself for keeping it up – my track record on keeping organized blogs is disastrous, to say the least. The fact that I’m keeping this one up is due to my true devotion and love of practicing my writing.

But, as I was saying, I need to study and learn methods for it. The reason I realized this today was because I was spending my time at work, as I usually do, with trying to plan a new story. This new story is a sort of young-adult type thing, something that I decided to try after remember how much I love Sarah Dessen’s books. I started writing about my character from the third-person point of view, but after a page or so I realized that it sounded wrong. It wasn’t what I’d pictured in my head.

So I changed the voice, and tried writing her from the first person point of view: her speaking about herself. Once again, it sounded wrong because I was using past tense, and it sounded like any second she would be lapsing into current events. I realized that I don’t know how to write past tense but make it sound like the present, and not like the retelling of a story.

And so, whether or not I major in creative writing, I’m definitely going to take some writing courses when I go to college. I can’t wait!

On a completely unrelated subject – I find it highly amusing that WordPress, a blogging website, highlights the word “blog” as a misspell in its spell-checker program. WordPress is another word that is listed as misspelled.

Dear Diary

I’ve been looking up more writing exercises, and I found one in a list, which is now saved on my computer because it has some other really good and interesting exercises in it. The one that I found, and that I am now posting a beginning of, is this: “Keep a diary of a fictional character.” So, I present to you a not very original character, Lucy:

Dear Diary,

While I know that keeping diaries is quite out of style in this day and age, I have decided to begin one anyway. Oh, you might be surprised at my saying it is out of style – after all, how many teen-novels are there these days that focus on journal writing? The Princess Diaries are perhaps the most known of these, though they are not the only books to adopt this style by far. So, once again, how can I say that diaries are out of style? Well, for one, almost no one writes or keeps diaries for themselves anymore, and so in that perspective, you are unique. You’re not to be revealed to the eyes of the internet-surfing hordes. No, you are to remain, quiet and peaceful, in the confines of this book.

But I digress. The reason for my starting a journal, a diary, an imaginary pen-friend, is perhaps one that could be mocked at, and yet I shall confide it in you, my diary, for you are to become the ultimate confidante on all matters concerning my life. The reason, therefore, is that I am utterly, without a doubt, and presumably for the foreseeable future, friendless.

Why, you ask, is such a charming young woman, writing with such a fine and elegant pen, friendless? Well, Diary dear, I shall tell you the reason for this mortifying fact. I have been sentenced, but that relation of mine which I despise and abhor but have no choice but be commanded by as she is my legal guardian – I have been sentenced, I say, to study at a boarding school. Not any boarding school – the most prestigious of modern girls’ preparatory schools, that which is named “Pratt and Smith School for Young Ladies.”

Yes, Diary. I have been sentenced, in short, to live like a girl from the Victorian age, only without the glorious dresses and the height of sophistication being the making of tea with the correct amount of sugar. Oh no, I will actually be forced to study and study and study some more in order to get accepted in two years to such schools as Yale, Harvard or Princeton.

This brings me back to my being utterly friendless. I am still only on the airplane to Vermont, where this school resides in the middle of what can reasonably be considered “nowhere,” but I have had to leave every single one of my incredible girlfriends behind me. I know for a fact that we’re only allowed one hour of phone calls to home a week at P&S, and that will certainly not be enough time for me to talk to Sarah, Jenny AND Linda. If I’m lucky, there will be modern things such as internet at P&S, but who knows?

And so, Diary dearest, you are my only companion and soul mate as of now, and I hope that I shall be able to entertain you with my miseries and trials at this most hated of places. I now leave you fondly to put away my tray-table and buckle my seat belt, as we’re beginning our ascent.

With much love and fondness for your pages already,

I am yours sincerely,

Lucy