Welcome to another ‘writing sprint’ – feel free to join in, take a week to write your piece (no more than a couple of hours worth of writing effort required 🙂 and then share here in the Comments, or on your own blog and drop us a link here, so that we can come and check it out!) Don’t be bored, give it a go.
This week’s five words are:
sequestered pool lemon ablaze trot
This piece links to last week’s sprint and is another snippet from a book I’ve been playing around with for a few years – not sure if it will go anywhere, but a bit of a different style for me…
Friday 25th May 2007
Age: Two months away from lifelong spinsterhood (according to pretty much everyone I know)
Life Lesson: A few months on and boozy friends actually come into their own
“I don’t want to get back out there,” I groaned, leaning forward to top up my glass of wine, from the bottle on the coffee table. “I’ve been crapped on massively by Cupid and right now, I’d rather have vino and girls, than be searching for a guy.”
Becca grinned. “There are websites for that you know, if that’s how you’re feeling.”
“Thanks – sarcasm noted – but I’m not contemplating girls as a lifestyle choice. I meant you lot.”I waved my hand in their general direction.
Three sets of eyebrows raised at me.
“Ha, ha – don’t flatter yourselves, none of you are my type. You know what I meant: I just want to be on my own right now.”
“That’s all well and good,” Carolyn nodded, “but according to The Rules Revisited website, you only have a few more years of your twenties, when the love market is easy pickings. If you hit thirty and are still single, then you’ve got to really raise your game.”
“Thanks for the advice.” My eyes rolled towards the ceiling. “It’s very inspiring when it comes from my friend who’s been with her husband forever, met him in high school and is like, the sweetest person in the world.”
“Yeah,” Becca chimed in. “Kate can be a bit of a bitch and is sarcastic and bossy. This is not going to be an easy sell, even in her twenties.”
“Hey! I’m sat right here, you know?”
“Ha, ha. Add overly sensitive to the list as well.” Ally added with a smirk.
“Don’t you start on me, too! Call yourselves friends?”
“We are your friends, it would just be nice to see an indication of you doing something more than being sequestered here, festering at home with the dog or going out to work.” Carolyn looked to the other two for support.
I bristled. “I see you guys all the time, that’s not festering.”
“Yep,” Becca agreed. “But, unless you are actually planning on dating one of us, then…”
I smiled. “Look Bec, no means no, OK – none of you are setting my loins ablaze, I’ll be honest.”
She flicked a peanut at me, narrowly missing my glass but managing to hit the bowl of lemon and mint olives when it rebounded off my left boob.
“Who is your type, then? You’ll never meet anyone between work and home if you don’t get out there. You do want to move on, don’t you?”
I shrugged off Carolyn’s question, not wanting my Friday wine o’clock night to get so heavy so early. “I have moved on. That’s not what I need to do.”
“You’ve only moved on, when you’ve moved under someone else…You’ve not done that, have you?”
“No Ally, you dirtbag, I haven’t done that,” I told her. It’s not the only way to move on, you know.”
Carolyn nodded at me in agreement. It helped to have a nice girl in the mix.
Ally shrugged and finished her wine in a very un-ladylike slug. “Whatever. It’s the best way I know of.”
“That’s because you have the emotional depth of a puddle,” Becca pointed out.
“I have depth,” Ally said, frowning as she unscrewed the lid on a fresh bottle of rose. “My perspective is just a bit different to yours, that’s all.”
“Yeah sure – it’s just a different perspective.” I shook my head.
“Whatever,” Ally said again, as if that one word explained everything perfectly. “We’re not talking about me, are we? We’re talking about you not getting on with your life.” She waved her hand, like she was shooing away a fly. “So, Matt turned out to be a cheating dick head – that doesn’t mean it has to stop you living your life.”
“No, it doesn’t,” I agreed. “But, between the dick head and the slutbag – that’s what I’m calling her by the way – they’ve taken away the life I thought I was going to have. I should have been wedding planning and cake ordering around now, not getting drunk with you bunch.”
“Well, when you put it like that, it looks like everything worked out for the best!” Becca grinned.
“Too right. And I don’t even think it’s about Matt – I mean dick head – anymore… It’s just me: I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing and can’t be bothered with the trauma of blokes and dating.”
“Aw, I almost believed you then. But, no one can be that logical. Tell us something that proves you’re over Matt.” Ally said.
I chewed my lip, thinking for a minute. All of his things were gone from the house – along with some things that had been ours but that I couldn’t stand having around, like the bed. He’d also got the big TV and the sofa, which in hindsight, was probably not the best deal for me.
Not the best evidence, was it?
I’d also deleted all his numbers and contact information from my phone and laptop. Surely that would count?
Wait! “I changed my Facebook status – so everyone knows we’re not together any more!”
Becca shook her head. “Technically, you cheated – you deleted the status altogether – so you’re just nothing now, hovering in a relationship limbo where you’re not admitting to being with someone or single…just blank.”
“Damn you Becs! Why do you have a perfect memory when it comes to stuff like this?”
She shrugged. “It’s a gift. Now, give us something else – the Facebook thing doesn’t count.”
I drank some wine and thought hard. Then drank a bit more. And then just a little bit more. Finally it came to me. I looked around the small group with a triumphant gaze.
“I deleted Matt’s mini-me off the Wii.” Blank faces, shot through with a dash of sympathy, stared back at me. Except maybe Becca: she was gazing at me with a pitying ‘you’re not a full shilling’ look. I pressed on. “You know what I mean: it’s the little guy that you build to go in the games for you. The Matt one kept popping up when I went on it to do that fitness workout thingy, and I hated seeing him looking all smug, walking around the white room. So, I deleted him.”
“Oh,oh! I know what you mean!” Carolyn exclaimed.
“See? It’s a real thing.” I said, pointing at Carolyn.
Becca still looked unconvinced.
“It might be real, but does it prove you’re moving on?” Ally was also sceptical.
“Well, I did make him fat first, then put him in a blue jumper and gave him stupid lips. Then I deleted him.”
Bec looked at the other two. “Does that count?”
“Well, it’s not as obvious as my way.” Ally pointed out.
Carolyn shook her head. “We’re not going to make Kate sleep with someone, just to prove she’s moved on!”
Ally huffed. “I’m just pointing out that it’s an easier way to tell, that’s all.”
“I’m still here,” I reminded them.
“Hush, we know. You’re always here – that’s the problem we’re trying to sort out.” Becca grinned at her own joke, before adding. “Anyway, I have a question.”
“What’s the thing with the blue jumper?”
I laughed. “He was a United fan, so would never wear blue. For anything. Ever.”
Ahhhh, right. I get it.” Becca nodded in understanding. “And you made him fat too?”
“Yes. Oh, and shorter!” I suddenly remembered. “He always made his mini-me much taller than he was really.”
“Right, I’ve decided.” Becca announced. “Although unorthodox, I believe that using the mini-me as an effigy -”
“A what-a-gy?” Ally looked blank again.
“I’ll explain later.” I patted Ally’s hand. “It’s a good job you’re pretty.”
“Anyway, as I was saying,” Becca tried once more. “Using the effigy and doing mean things to it, sounds vaguely voodoo doll-ish.”
“It does?” It wasn’t the way I’d been expecting the conversation to go.
“Yes, it does,” Becca confirmed. “And on that basis, I vote that it counts: you made Matt – sorry, dickhead – short, fat and wear something he would hate – then deleted him from existence.”
Carolyn turned it over for a few seconds before nodding her agreement. “It counts.”
Ally looked from one to another, then back again. “I still don’t get it.”
“It’s a bit like a metaphor,” Carolyn suggested.
“Did you even go to school?” Becca’s eyes rolled skywards.
I gave it a try. “I did mean things to something that looked like Matt, so it means I’m moving on.”
Ally shook her head.
I gave up. “Like I said, it’s a good job you’re pretty.”
“Fine. If they think it counts, I’ll agree with that. I just think that if you wanted to be mean to him, you should have kept the big TV and the sofa, then I wouldn’t be breaking my arse bone on this bloody bean bag!”
“It’s a Buddha bag,” I automatically corrected.
“AND you should have shagged someone too.”
“One step at a time,” I told her with a wink.
* * *
“Do we have to do this now?”
I sounded whiney, but I didn’t care – my head was far too wine-fuzzy to be looking at rubbish on a laptop at this time on a Friday night. After dodging the bullets early in the evening about whether I was becoming a Bridget Jones-style spinster (which I probably was), I thought I’d escaped further relationship interrogation.
Carolyn flipped open the computer and typed in a password to unlock it. “OK – ready – where should we start?”
Obviously I had not.
“What about MateMatch.com?” Becca suggested.
Ally shook her head. “No, no – the uniform one!”
“What about none of them?” I added, hoping they would take the hint.
“Come on Kate, it’s just a bit of fun – you don’t have to do anything more than look.” Carolyn re-assured me. She was still clicking away on the computer, busy at work whether I wanted to be her new project or not.
The three of them were now gathered around the laptop, their faces illuminated by the screen as they all eagerly began tapping on the keyboard and trying to navigate to their preferred dating website. Pushing each other’s hands away and heckling for their site of choice, they looked like a gaggle of witches brewing up an evil internet-dating potion.
I shook my head and closed my eyes. “This is going to be depressing,” I told no one in particular.
Ignoring the babble of the girls as they worked, I debated falling asleep: the dog was snuggled up on my stomach and I’d had a busy week at work. I didn’t even want to think about the number of unopened emails I’d closed my screen on tonight when I left the office – that would have to wait for Monday. Thinking of email mountains reminded me of something. “Oh, if you’re going to do anything awful to me whilst I try and enjoy my Friday night with friends, set up a fake email address first please – I don’t want loads of spam in my gmail account.”
“Do you want a fake name as well?” Ally asked.
“I think I’d like some new fake friends at this point. Can you get me some of those on the internet?”
“I’ll check Ebay for you, once we’ve looked at this stuff.” Becca replied.
“Thanks. Maybe I’ll keep you around, just for a regular dose of sarcasm and wit.”
“Cheers mate!” Becca seemed genuinely pleased by this, like being sarcastic was a desirable personality feature and it elevated her position in the group.
“OK, here we go, here we go!”
Ally sounded excited, so I guessed that UnifromDates.com had won out.
“Put Leeds in there for a location.” Becca told Carolyn – she had obviously won control of the keyboard, if nothing else.
“Maybe we should put north?” Ally suggested.
“Wow, I’m already feeling better about this – that you feel I need a region full of men to give me a chance, when a lone city would not do”
“It just gives you more to look through.” Ally replied, sounding like she knew what she was talking about. In fact, dating via the internet was probably one of the tamest things Ally would have used her wifi for… It didn’t bear thinking about.
I didn’t bother answering back. I was considering starting a long term relationship with the dark inside my eyelids…or maybe just an extended one night stand… A finger poke to my thigh rudely interrupted my daydreaming.
“Are you going to help or not?”
Carolyn sounded cross. I could take a little look, I supposed. “Give me a second,” I muttered.
“Don’t rush yourself,” Becca replied. “You’re not really missing much.”
“What do you mean?” Ally sounded mildly scandalised by Becca’s less than enthusiastic tone. “Look there – he’s alright…ish.”
“Well – an alright-ish from you Ally, surely that’s like a Prince Charming seal of approval!”
Becca and Ally were already bristling with each other and I realised that I would have to intervene. I sat up and swung my legs onto the floor, moving an unimpressed Millie from my lap, at least she could trot away and escape this. “Ladies, ladies – there will be enough perfectly strange men for all of you to choose from.” The last few mouthfuls of wine were sat in the nearest bottle, so I emptied it into my glass and took a sip.
“Great!” Carolyn clapped her hands and turned the laptop so that I could see the screen.
My eyes ran across the page, taking in the logo emblazoned across the top with a happy looking cartoon soldier and policeman linking arms with a faceless cartoon lady. Beneath the usual options for logging into your own account, chat rooms and forum pages were rows of profiles, most with pictures, although some still had the faceless, generic ‘male’ image issued by the site where no photograph had been uploaded.
“Where are the uniforms?” I asked, actually finding that I was mildly disappointed. Surely, on a site like this, your best profile picture would be of you in your uniform?
Becca leaned forward, squinting at the slightly grainy pictures. “Is that a paramedic?” She pointed to an image in the middle of the page.
We all leaned forwards (I was the fourth witch and had joined the others around the cauldron – I was obviously easily swayed by the smallest amount of peer pressure).
“Erm. I think it’s just a dark green jumper.” Carolyn spoke slowly, obviously giving this a great deal of consideration.
“What about that one?” Ally flicked a finger towards a blonde guy on the top row.
“He looks like he’s topless in the picture.” I shook my head. “What kind of uniform is that?”
“Maybe a swimmer?” She suggested.
“Not usually a profession,” Becca immediately chipped in.
“Oh! I know!” Ally grinned – triumphant. “He could be a pool life guard.”
I looked closely. “Well, underneath it says ‘Mark – Gardener – Manchester’ – so maybe not a lifeguard.”
“Part time?” She tried again.
I shook my head. “Probably not.”
“You know, most of these guys aren’t even in professions where you’d wear a uniform.” Carolyn was scanning all the pictures, reading the brief descriptions beneath each. “What’s the point in that?”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Maybe we should do something else if the sites are no good.”
“Nice try,” Becca elbowed me and pulled the screen around to face her. “We should just try a different one. I vote for MateMatch.com and then we can choose the perfect person for Kate.”
I flopped backwards and gave up, it didn’t bear thinking about what the three of them would agree on as a ‘perfect guy’… He’d be some kind of S&M, Disney Prince with the banter skills of Ryan Reynolds – I was going to be single forever. I drained the last of the wine from my glass and closed my eyes. Single. That didn’t sound too bad at all actually.
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I liked last week’s story but absolutely love this one. It’d be great if these do become episodic, however, they’re really too good to give away. The dialogue comes across as natural and had me laughing in all the right places.
Just to clarify, are you suggesting being sarcastic isn’t a good personality trait?
Here’s the link to mine: https://kinswahreflective.com/2020/04/05/prompts-short-story-patient/
In total contrast to your story, it’s completely humourless and will probably increase traffic to the Samaritans over the coming days.
Ha ha – being sarcastic is one of the best personality traits – I’ve included people in my zombie apocalypse plan purely on the basis they bring sarcasm skills – when the end is nigh, these are the things we should be protecting 🙂
I liked yours, but you’re right – quite dark – maybe you should push yourself to do something fluffy, just to see what it’s like?
If sarcasm became a key survival trait, I’d be confident of becoming Robert Neville.
I think I steered away from the dark side this week. Normal service will probably resume with the next set of prompts 😂.
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