Elizabeth: February Short Story

Unexpected street signAs we’ve talked about on the blog before, it’s important to keep creating (whatever your art), even when things are challenging; maybe especially when things are challenging.

This month I’ve been continuing to try and make sure my daily writing time doesn’t get completely swept away by deep dives into the internet news vortex or extra hours at work, though my success has been varied.  I looked up at work this evening and realized everyone had gone home long before me and then got distracted by the evening news when I got home.  Obviously, I my “focusing on writing” still need some practice.

Anyway, as I mentioned last month, I’m posting a short-short story once a month as a way to make sure I keep writing.  Today’s story is based on an idea from an old writing journal, along with a set of random words.


* * *

Unexpected Encounter

“The leaden sky wept.”  The speaker paused, raked the room with an intense gaze, and then exited the makeshift stage.  The audience sat in confused silence for a moment before bursting into what Lucy considered totally unjustified applause.

As she rose from her seat and headed towards the reception area, she turned to her friend.  “The leaden sky wept,” Lucy echoed with disdain.  “Four words.  That’s not a poem.  Hell, it’s barely a sentence.”

“Are you kidding?  It’s Minimalist Poetry.  It’s fantastic!” Frances, her very pregnant, very best friend practically vibrated with the fervor of the newly converted.  “I can’t believe we’re in the same room as Robert Masters.  He’s the premier minimalist poet.”

“I can’t believe you dragged me out of my apartment to hear a sentence,” Lucy replied, scanning the mingling crowd as she snagged a glass of champagne from a circling waiter.  “Thank God they had the decency to provide alcohol or this evening would have been a total waste.”

“You need to get out of that apartment.  It’s been months since Frank left.  It’s time for you to pick up the pieces and move on.”

“I didn’t realize there was a broken-heart timeline.  Apparently I didn’t get the official rule book.  I’ll check Amazon when I get home.”

“Joke all you want, but it’s time for you to take your life back, maybe go on a date.”

“I’ve dated.  It didn’t work out.  I’ve moved on to other things.”

“What other things?  You’ve been hiding in that apartment for months.”

“I haven’t been hiding,” Lucy replied, stung.  “I’ve been busy.”

“Doing what?”  Watching NCIS reruns and memorizing the plot lines?”

“I’ve been working.  I have a job, remember?”

“There’s more to life than a job.  You need to get back out there.  Meet people, do things.”

“My manuscript is due on Friday.  I need to be at home writing, not trapped here with minimalist poetry and life advice.”  Lucy drained the last of her champagne, set the empty glass on the tall table to her left, and started toward the door.

Frances grabbed her by the arm.  “Oh no you don’t.  You promised you’d stay for at least an hour.”

Lucy glared, but Frances refused to back down.  When it came to a battle of wills, Frances’ winning streak reached all the way back to kindergarten.   “Okay, fine.  One hour, but no dating.”

“We’ll see about that.  Now give me your purse.”

“What?”  Lucy held on to her red leather clutch.

“The baby is standing on my bladder and I don’t trust you not to cut and run while I’m in the restroom.”  Frances held out her hand.  “Give me your purse.”

Lucy widened her eyes and feigned innocence.  “You don’t trust me?”

“God, no.”

“Fine.”  Lucy handed over her purse and pointed Frances toward the restroom in the corner of the room near the stage.  While she waited, she liberated another glass of champagne from a passing waiter and surveyed the crowd.

“You look trust-worthy to me,” said a deep voice from somewhere behind and slightly above her.

“Pardon?”  Lucy turned toward the man who was standing on the other side of the table to her left.   Unlike the rest of the suits in the room, he looked relaxed and comfortable in jeans and a worn flannel shirt.

“I couldn’t help overhearing your friend’s comment earlier,” he said with a smile.  “You definitely don’t look like the kind of woman who would sneak out when someone’s back was turned.”

“Oh, I absolutely would.”  She returned his smile.  “Thanks for the vote of confidence though.”

“I’m Matt,” he said, “and you’re . . .”

“Lucy.”  She looked him up and down.  Kind of cute.  No horns, no cloven hoofs, no wedding ring – not that she was looking.  “So, what brings you to a minimalist poetry reading?”

“Work.”  He pointed to the camera on the table next to him.  “I’m covering the event for the local paper.  You?”

“My friend tricked me into it.”  At his raised eyebrow she added, “She promised there would be cupcakes.”

“Ouch.  So you’re not a big fan of Master’s work?”

“I’m afraid he’s to cutting edge for me.  I prefer poems with lots of words and rhymes.”

“Words and rhymes are so yesterday.”  Matt pulled a pen out of his pocket and wrote something down on a napkin.   “I was so inspired by his work I’ve written my own Minimalist Novel.  Want to hear it?”

“By all means.”

He struck a pose and recited, “For sale, wedding gown, rings included.’

Lucy laughed.  “Sorry, I think Hemingway beat you to the punch on that.”

“Ah, well, good thing I have my photography to fall back on.”  Matt picked up his camera.  Speaking of that, duty calls.  It was nice talking with you.”

“It was nice talking with you too.”  Lucy was somewhat surprised to realize that she really meant that.

Before he left, Matt handed Lucy the napkin.

“What’s this?”

“My phone number,” he said with a smile.  “In case you change your mind about that whole ‘not dating’ thing.”

Lucy watched him walk away and was definitely tempted.  Frances still owed her cupcakes though.

6 thoughts on “Elizabeth: February Short Story

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Elizabeth! I’m glad you’ve found a way to keep your creativity during these interesting times in which we live.

    • Thanks, Nancy. It has definitely been a challenge to figure out how to mix my current political news focus with continued creativity, but I’m trying.

  2. So fun! I love the mini-story inside the story. I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway, but that Baby Shoes six-word poem always kills me. Did you make this up? Perfectly in keeping with Hemingway!

    • Thanks Michaline, goad you liked the story. The 6-word story that’s in the story was something I made up years ago. I just found it recently, which is what triggered this particular short story.

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