Banner day: I’m responding for the first time to the Daily Prompt. Today’s is “snippet.”
So, there you go. Nope, not even a snippet of nudity.
What follows is a snippet of a short story of mine, my first published short story, which appeared in Carve Magazine many moons ago. (So very early aughts–even the second-person point of view.)
It’s funny to look back on a story I wrote while I was still in graduate school, before marriage, before kids, before the first germ of yearning to indicate I might want kids (and the responsibilities that include, often, sleeping clothed and ready as an EMT for the next cry or summons from your progeny).
The protagonist in this story–she is no heroine–is in a stage of life I didn’t know when writing this piece. (I’ve discussed before my penchant for writerly distance.) She has been married; she is the mother of a pre-teen named Cheryl; she has seen her body and spirit morph to become “mother.”
Until, one day, she arrives home to find that her daughter is gone.
And so, a snippet from “Sleeping Naked” by Rebecca Moon Ruark:
You never thought to make a deal that required her to be in the house by eleven, to be home from her friend Julie’s or your sister Judy’s place down the street. You’re surprised she’s not there. She’s always in the living room, six inches away from the television screen, which casts a blue hue onto her face, when you pull into the drive around ten-thirty after your shift at Lubrizol. Tonight you stopped at the Claridon Tavern before returning to your two-bedroom split-level in the allotments. You had two glasses of Chardonnay, and after, you left your old rusted-out Mustang parked on the street before walking the five blocks home. You were smart not to take any chances and drive it, you think, as you rest your head on the doorjamb. Ever since you dumped the town’s deputy officer, Steve, he’s been eager to land you in the holding cell for something, anything.
You stand just inside the doorway now, in the exact spot you were last week when Cheryl had forgotten to lock her door, and you came in and caught her sniffing rubber cement, inhaling a little too deeply for her to pass it off as curiosity. For a week she’d been diligently working on this poster board presentation on the circulatory system for Biology class. At the sight of her, you’d gasped for air, but got a mouthful of fumes instead. She must have spilled out half the bottle. You were shocked and instinctively you shut the door, like you’d intruded on someone going to the bathroom, but then opened the door again. You grabbed the bottle from her, and she smirked at you, sitting there like the Princess and the Pea on her bed.
“Give it back,” she’d yelled, desperate-sounding, as you walked down the hall to toss the bottle into the trashcan in the kitchen. Where do kids learn this stuff, you wondered. She called after you. “Bitch.” And you finally felt like you might blow up, like she just might be slipping out of your grasp. You sat down at the kitchen table and lit a cigarette to calm yourself, thought it through, and figured it was pretty harmless stuff, just surprising. Cheryl had always been such a good girl.
At least she’s never sneaked anything from your liquor cabinet, you think now as you walk to the kitchen to fix yourself a vodka and orange pop. You’re glad she’s not around to see you tipsy. No Cheryl. Okay, bedroom, no, living room, no, kitchen, no. You resist the drunken urge, as you plop down on the couch in the living room, to laugh, a nervous laugh you guess, and you leaf through an old Highlights of Cheryl’s to take your mind off of her. You reassure yourself that she will come in through the front door whining with excuses any minute now.
Didn’t Aunt Judy call you? We were practicing yoga moves. I can show you downward dog. You’ll be relieved, and for once it won’t irk you that your twelve-year-old wants to substitute not-dogs for hot-dogs and knows what seitan and tofu are made of. You mindlessly flip through the pages, and she doesn’t come in the front door. Part of you knows you should take logical steps toward finding out which friend or relative she’s gone to visit. You’ll do that. You’ll get your act together.
Does the mother get her act together? Does Cheryl come home?
Let me know if you’d like to read more!
Hope your day in the Rust Belt or wherever you find yourself is full of lovely snippets! ~
Rust Belt Girl (Rebecca)