All The Write Stuff
As Barenaked Ladies would say, “Where does the time go when it’s not around here?” Yeah, I just quoted BNL. What?
For the last six years, I’ve wrapped myself in the comfort of a non-fiction Snuggie and it’s been a cozy, though somewhat sweaty, slice of heaven. However, I think it’s about time I shed it in favor of a slimming pair of fiction Pajama Jeans.
(Translation for those who don’t shop in the “As Seen On TV” section of CVS: I’m trying my hand—and pen—at YA, y’all!)
I took an amazing course at UCLA this summer with Amanda Gersh, author of The Summer of Skinnydipping, who taught me so much about the genre and inspired me to try something new with my writing. Sure, I have a couple of non-fiction book ideas percolating in my noggin and I very well could end up penning one or two in the not-too-distant future, but I’ve always been scared of writing fiction. Terrified, in fact.
Well, that shiz stops now!
As a way of ripping off the Band-Aid, I thought I’d share a short piece from my class. The assignment was to narrate an event from a third-person POV, so I chose to do a breakup scene between a couple of high-school seniors outside a Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt shop. Logically.
Keep coming back because I’ll continue to share work on here in the coming days/weeks/months, so please let me know what you think… As long as it’s glowing and positive.
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Happiness In Every Cup
by Leslie Simon
“Fine,” she sighed.
We sat next to each other on the curb outside Menchie’s.
There weren’t any tables free inside and Laura didn’t like to eat while moving. Something about getting motion sickness or having slow metabolism. I can’t remember. Wearing a sundress, ballet flats and her hair in a messy bun, she exhaled deeply while slowly stirring the Cap’n Crunch in her Peachy Keen yogurt. It was a concoction that made me wanna yak, but it was her favorite.
“Do you want me to get you something else?” I asked.
“Okie, well…” I trailed off and dipped the neon-green plastic spoon into the layers of chocolate sprinkles, Cocoa Pebbles, Sno-Caps and mini Reese’s cups that dressed a mound of banana yogurt. Methodically, I tried to get at least a centimeter of each topping on the spoon before it toppled over. Then, once I had successfully reached my mouth with zero spillage, I closed my eyes, sucked the spoon dry like a Dyson vacuum, and experienced a moment of pure bliss. I was in heaven until Laura elbowed me in my side and I was back in reality.
“Ohmygod, Teddy,” she gasped, eyes wide and utterly horrified. She kinda looked like that mom lady in The Conjuring when she discovers all those mysterious bruises on her body. “That’s gotta be, like, the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. Can you stop? Like. Now?”
I was mortified and wanted “the face” to go away as soon as humanly possible, so I shoved the spoon in the front pocket of my hoodie. Only after I brought my hands back out did I realize I was now without an eating utensil. Too embarrassed to reach back in to get the sticky spoon—which would surely be covered with pebble-sized, heather grey lint balls—or walk back inside to the napkin station to get a fresh one, I was now forced to sit here with a bowl of melting yogurt on my lap. Idiot.
“So… I’ve been thinking about Homecoming,” she said. The terror had left her face and she now looked like her normal agitated self again.
“What about Homecoming?”
“Well, do you think it’s such a good idea if we go together?”
“Of course I do,” I said, puzzled and a little bit louder than intended. “I mean, I did ask you. Usually, when one person asks another person to do something, that first person wants to do whatever that thing is with the other person. It’s, like, simple math.”
“I guess,” she paused, staring at the line of empty wheelchair parking spaces in front of us. “It’s just that I was thinking I might go with Chip Patterson instead.”
“Yeah, I mean, it kinda makes sense. His cousin is going with Tiffani. You know Tiffani. Not the Tiffany who’s on newspaper with me but the Tiffani who I play club field hockey with? Our dads work together? We went on vacation to Hawaii together with our families when we were, like, 8? Anyway, I was talking to Tiff and there’s room in her limo for Chip and me.”
She smiled for the first time all afternoon when she said the words “limo” and “Chip.”
“But you’re my girlfriend,” I said stunned, still wondering which Tiffany/Tiffani she was talking about.
“I wanted to talk to you about that, too.”
Laura placed her yogurt on the ground next to her and then reached back behind her head, untwisted the elastic holding her bun in place and shook out her long, dirty blonde hair. It was a move I’d seen her do a hundred times before. It was like she was taping her own Pantene commercial minus the lights, camera or action.
“So you don’t want to be my girlfriend anymore?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Wow, okay.” My hands were drenched, not because I was about to have a mental breakdown—which would’ve been totally justified, by the way—but because my yogurt mountain was melting and the container was sweating all over me.
She then put the band in her teeth, gathered her hair back into a ponytail, twisted it back around until it looked like a perfectly golden honey bun, and took the elastic out of her mouth so she could secure it back in place.
“Yeah, I’m really sorry, but I just can’t do this anymore,” she said, not looking the least bit sorry. “I mean, I first wanted to do this in August, but there was Lisa’s pool party. Then school started and I got distracted with classes and practice and that overnight at the Omni where my parents took the girls and me for my birthday.”
“You’ve wanted to break up with me for three months but you didn’t because you… you got distracted?”
“Pretty much,” she said, popping a single kernel of Cap’n Crunch into her mouth. “My schedule this semester is, like, so crazybrains.”
It was at that moment I felt something smack the back of my head. A second later, another ping. It felt like a rock or a pellet—and it hurt like a bitch. On the third direct hit, I turned around to face my assailant, but before I could get a word out, I got nailed in the eye with one last projectile: a stale yellow gummy bear. My attacker, a 10-year-old kid in a Westhills soccer uniform, laughed hysterically with his teammates as they high-fived each other. I yelped in pain and then ran through every expletive like a Tourette’s patient, which just made the boys cackle louder. However, it did manage to attract the attention of their coach, who gave me the stink eye and yelled, “Hey, pal! Language!”
I turned back around, rubbed my eye and waited for Laura comfort me. By the look on her face, I had a feeling I’d be waiting a long time.
“So, let me get this straight. You’re going to go to Homecoming with Chip Patterson?”
“Yes,” she nodded.
“And… We’re breaking up?”
“Yes,” she nodded again.
My eyes started to water. Mostly because of the gummy bear, but this conversation wasn’t helping.
“Well, it was nice doing business with you,” I muttered under my breath.
“What’s that?” she asked, leaning an inch closer, as if she was pretending she was interested in the answer but didn’t actually want to hear it.
Real Peachy Keen, Menchie’s. Real Peachy freakin’ Keen.