Tides of Affection

This entry was inspired by #Blogbattle – A flash fiction competition hosted by Rachael Ritchey

The writing prompt for week 27: Distance
My genre: Drama
Vote Here!

Looking Out Over an Ocean Sunset from, http://fredwasmer.com/blog-post-girl-on-beach-captiva-island-florida.htm

They shared a house, slept in the same violet walled room, and they were never closer. Gwen and Mandy, Mandy and Gwen, always together. Gwen had prettier hair. It shone red over deep brown in the sun. Mandy’s hazel eyes captured light, even in the dimmest rooms, and held your gaze. The girls whispered through the dark, childhood secrets, stories from fantastical worlds. Their barbies commingled, those dressed and bare, hair freshly combed or freshly shorn, nestled among doll clothes. Mandy still liked to play with Barbies when Gwen would let her. Mostly, they explored now. Gwen was habitually alert to new paths, abandoned buildings, or the sturdiest tree branch with a view of Kevin’s room on the next cul des sac. Mandy giggled about his sports themed bedding, his dirty socks lying about. Gwen shushed her. Laughter found them often; it never mattered about what.

The sign on Gwen’s door read, “Knock first, or suffer the consequences.” Did Gwen know she sounded like mom? Mandy seldom knocked. She kept her door open. They both chose green for the color of their own rooms. At the last minute, Gwen changed her mind to blue. It was a few shades lighter than Kevin’s room. Mandy stumbled over shoes and flopped on Gwen’s bed. Gwen did not look up or take off her headphones. She pushed a magazine toward her sister and wrinkled her nose at a picture of a shirtless Corey Haim. Mandy took the “Are You Too Goody Goody for Your Own Good?” quiz. She tallied the answers in her head. If she was “A Little Goody Four Shoes,” Gwen couldn’t see. Gwen looked over Mandy’s shoulder and pulled her headphones down. “I took that and got ‘You’re So Bad, You’re Good!’ So stupid!” Then, she slid off the bed, “I’m getting a snack. You want anything?” Mandy shook her head and watched Gwen walk away.

It was sophomore year of high school for Mandy, and she couldn’t have felt fatter. Even mediums were tight. Dad joked that Gwen would have to take Mandy’s hand-me-downs for a change when she went to college next fall. Gwen said, “Only if I gain that freshman 15.” Mandy hated them both. Perfect Gwen. She grew lean and swam fast. Her weekends were spent riding in the convertible with Kevin or shopping with her leggy friends. Mandy struggled in school and at home. She used to have Gwen to talk to, but Gwen felt farther away than when she spent a summer in Prague. Mandy became an expert on floors; the cream colored carpet at home, the gray marbled tile in her classrooms, the checkered tile around the toilet after meals. She wanted to be discovered, but there were no explorers in the house anymore.

Mandy watched the diluted black water swirl down the drain and towel dried her hair. She couldn’t wait for Gwen’s reaction! Phoenix said that if Mandy didn’t dye her eyebrows, she would have to fill them in every morning with eye liner. Mandy examined the box again, focusing on the caution to keep away from your eyes. She tossed the leftover bottle of dye in the trash. Her makeup box was pink and glittery; she had begged for it in middle school. With careful strokes, Mandy shaped her eyebrows, lined her eyes with a precision wing, and finished off with a bright red lipstick. She flipped her hair upside down to blow dry it. Grabbing her camera, Mandy snapped several pictures in the bathroom mirror. If her lips were too pouty, Gwen would call her fish face. Mandy wrote a long email to Gwen. School gossip needed to be revealed, gripes needed to be vented, and she wanted to share a poem with her sister. Gwen had called Mandy her “rock” and “the only thing keeping her sane right now.” They were several states apart, under separate roofs, and they cast messages through the distance concerning their young adult hopes, insecurities and trivialities.

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Tides of Affection

Notes on Banana Paper

Italian Alps - from Deviant Art

I found the notebook like one finds many things, looking for something else. Made from REAL banana fibre, it was a graduation gift from a high school teacher. Paging to the first entry, I was reminded of the pitfalls of my early writing. It was a brazen manifestation of self interest with the occasional showing of wit. I wrote about myself exhaustively. What I was thinking, what I was feeling, why did I think as I thought and feel as I felt. I would have tired sooner if I was a dog chasing its tail.

The first journal entry, written 15 years ago en route to Italy, began as follows:
“I thought about you a lot on the plane. I had a middle seat. By the window was a man returning to Ghana. On the other side was a very chatty woman who was returning to South Africa from Canada. She has a sister there with cancer. She told me an interesting story about a monk healer that was treating her twin sister. They were interesting people, but I kept thinking of you.”

Call it incomplete frontal lobe development, call it hormones, but I then went on for several pages about missing this young love and the details of my travel experiences. It described an almost lost luggage incident and a missing the bus debacle, wherein I was forced to wait an agonizing 30 minutes before catching the next one. I chronicled boarding the wrong connecting bus, which would have concluded my journey from Venice to Grado, my surprise at embracing a ham and cheese panini despite my distaste for ham, and finishing with a delightful accounting of how much it cost to use the internet.

If the people I had the unique fortune to be seated by were so interesting and willing to share their stories, where was my curiosity? I knew I wanted to write. I knew I would write best from my own experience. However, I was deaf to the voices, the stories, and the nuances of others’ lives, the lives which were more mature and captivating than my own at that moment. I must have believed I would remember. When you are young, you always think you will remember.

Toward the back of the same notebook, I had jotted some indecipherable notes about the woman whose sister was being treated for cancer by a monk. (I have persisted in a tendency to begin writing in the front of a notebook, and then begin a different line of thought from the back of the notebook, until they meet in the middle.) I know it is about the same woman, given the details. Beyond that, there is mention of borrowing money from the Chinese mafia and selling a priceless childhood guitar. For what? To return home? To repay the debt? If I ever want to draft a screenplay for the action B movie genre, I just might have to fill in those hazy details. In the mean time, I have learned to listen more and self obsess a little less, whether writing on pure banana fibre or just regular old paper made from wood pulp.

Notes on Banana Paper