Thursday, July 22, 2010
This meme is brought to you by The Red Dress Club.
Writing prompt: Randomly choose four numbers between 1 and 10. Use the corresponding story elements to write a story.
My numbers and corresponding story elements:
3 – Recent high school graduate
4 – Restaurant
7 – Middle of summer
2 – A secret needs to be told
Here is my first attempt at fiction writing for YEARS – probably since about the mid-90’s during undergrad. Here goes!
Jackson sat down with his family and best friend at his favorite restaurant, The Chophouse, to celebrate his high school graduation. His hands were trembling ever so slightly and sweat was beginning to form on his upper lip as he prepared himself to reveal a secret he had been keeping from his parents. With graduation under his belt, there was no time to waste. He had to tell the truth of what he’d been planning his entire senior year and steel himself for the cursing and damage that could come. He felt he could handle general cursing and damage, but he dreaded more the inevitable disappointment from his father and the drunken silence of his mother.
Having his best friend, Colin, by his side was at least a witness in his favor in case things got really ugly. Jackson was relieved to have him there.
What should have been a celebratory, light hearted dinner was shadowed by a feeling of impending doom. Jackson was so sick with worry that he didn’t even notice that others at the table were not exactly cheerful. Jackson noticed that his sister, Carolyn, still had not arrived. She was late, as usual. He didn’t want to have to wait for her. Besides, Jackson thought, the news may go over better without his obnoxious, holier-than-thou drama queen sister around.
The waiter arrived. “What would everyone care to drink?”
Jackson’s father, Roy, started to speak but was quickly interrupted by Jackson’s mother, Patricia.
“I’ll have a glass of your house red, I don’t care what kind – Cabernet, Merlot, whatever,” Patricia said as she continued to look down at the menu and nervously fidget with the necklace around her neck.
The waiter looked pained. “Ma’am, I’m sorry. We do not have a house wine. There is a wine list…”
“Just whatever is your cheapest glass of red,” Patricia grumbled, adding, “for Christ’s sake.”
The whole table had fixed stares on Patricia as she continued to peruse the dinner menu, seemingly unaware of the tension she had caused.
The waiter turned to Roy. “Sir?”
Roy slowly turned toward the waiter and said, “Um, yes, a scotch and soda. Whatever kind of scotch. Whatever.”
Jackson looked at the waiter for his turn, and his voice broke slightly as he spoke, “Just water is fine for me, thanks.”
Colin followed suit. “Water. Thank you.”
“Well! Am I glad high school is done, and I made it through! I’m a graduate!” Jackson exclaimed, seizing his moment with a little too much bravado.
The rest of the table stared at him.
Jackson continued on, unable to stop himself, only selfishly caring about the relief that would hopefully come once he had his secret out in the open. Once this secret was released, he could get on with getting as far away as possible from his crazy family.
The words continued to gush out of his mouth, “Mom. Dad. I have some exciting news for you! You will be so proud that I have learned so much over the years. I have been able to independently plan for what could only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime GROWTH OPPORTUNITY! I have adventures ahead that could shape me as a person, expose me to the culture of the world, and open doors that I never even knew existed! I have been saving my money! For years! I have been saving my money, and I…”
Here, Jackson paused. The waiter brought the drinks and set them down in an uncomfortable silence. Patricia and Roy immediately began drinking.
Jackson smiled and looked around at the table, trying to sell his idea as irresistibly genius.
“I get to travel Europe for a year!” He rushed on with hardly a beat between breaths, “Don’t you worry about anything! I have it all planned out. I have paid for my flight, and I’ll be staying in hostels – now I know that sounds bad – but I Google’d it all! Hostels really are safe and the most affordable way for me to get the most of the entire experience. Heck, maybe I could even find a job and stay on longer than a year. I can’t even imagine what kind of opportunities could come up! Imagine, your son, the WORLD TRAVELER!”
Patricia softly said, “What about Stanford? Your father’s alma mater?”
Jackson nodded his head in a serious fashion. “Yes, yes. Stanford. I won’t be going to Stanford. Yet....But, Mom! Dad! Stanford will be there when I get back, I can ask for acceptance to any college any old time!”
Roy sputtered out some of his scotch and soda. “Are you actually not even accepted into Stanford?”
Jackson darkly realized that this was it. The moment of truth. He had to deal with the anger and disappointment and anything else that came of it.
“No. I have not been accepted into Stanford. I’m sorry. I lied.” Jackson said.
He braced himself for what was to come next. Jackson’s friend, Colin, just sat, watching the scene with a mixture of horror and excitement on his face.
Patricia looked at Roy then looked back at Jackson.
“That…is…the…most…FLIPPING FANTASTIC NEWS!” Patricia shouted with a big smile on her face. “Oh MY GOD!” She shrieked. She jumped up, bumping against the table, so she could give her son a hug.
Jackson was shocked. Speechless. He stood limply while his mother awkwardly hugged him. He looked at his father.
His father looked…relieved? His father was smiling, swirling his drink around. Then Roy called over the waiter.
“Sir! Did I mention that we are CELEBRATING?! Please, bring out some champagne!” Roy exclaimed.
Patricia noisily sat down laughing and guffawing. “Roy! Did you hear that?! Our boy isn’t going to Stanford after all!”
Jackson looked at his friend, Colin, as the waiter brought the champagne to the table. Colin looked at him and gave him a puzzled expression. Jackson had never experienced so much dissonance in his life. He should have felt elated, relieved! His parents were happy with his smart and independent planning. They actually “got” his speech! Instead of joy, Jackson felt, well…disappointed. Did his parents not care about his future?? Did his parents WANT him to tramp around in seedy, cheap hostels, where he could quite possibly become the main character in a real-life horror film or some other ungodly tragedy? What the hell was going on here?
Roy could only reach across the table and smack his boy on the shoulder. “That’s great, Jackson. I’m proud of you. Go out there and get ‘em! See the world! Ha!”
Jackson looked to his mother. Patricia began rambling on, “Oh, Jackson, we’ve been so scared to tell you what’s been going on! What a relief! Your father was fired from his job! Yeah, yeah, can you BELIEVE IT?! Fuckers! Anyway! There was just NO WAY we were going to be able to pay for Stanford. No way. We didn’t know how we were going to break it to you. In fact, we don’t even know if we’ll get to keep the house! Ha! But, now! Now that you are going to EUROPE, and you are staying in hostels? Oh, this is just fabulous! We don’t have to worry so much! Maybe we’ll get to even keep our house!” With that, Patricia downed her first glass of champagne and started to pour another.
Roy said, “You’ve saved up enough, son?”
Jackson stopped staring at his almost crazed, half-drunk mother, and looked at his father, “Yes, Dad. I have it all taken care of. Like I said.”
“Yippee!” Patricia exclaimed. She lifted her glass and motioned for everyone to do the same. “To Europe!” They all clinked glasses.
At that moment, Jackson’s sister, Carolyn came rushing to the table.
“I’m so sorry I’m late! Argh, I’m always late, I know, I know, the traffic, and the…” Carolyn stopped and looked at the table. She saw the shocked, confused expression on Jackson’s face. She saw the sheepish, holding-back-a-smile look on Colin’s face. She saw the snockered expressions on her parents’ faces.
Patricia shouted, “Honey! Sit down! Your brother just shared some VERY EXCITING NEWS!”
“Ahhh,” Carolyn said nodding her head knowingly. “He finally told you he was gay and escaping to Europe with Colin, his lover, all these years?”
Jackson shifted in his seat nervously and cleared his throat. “Um, yeah, about that…”