I wrote this short story when I was 14:
Here’s a piece of something. I don’t know what:
Angie rolled her eyes at her mother, not so much in the directly disrespectful manner of an average fifteen-year-old girl as out of expectation of what was to come. Another lecture of how life and kids were back when she was Angie’s age.
“But Mom, when you were my age, I bet you were already about 40,” she said, punctuating her sentence with a laugh.
Not that her mother would ever really tell her about her childhood. Vague lessons in life and generalities about time spent on a farm, in “the city,” and in an RV bumping around the U.S. were all Angie ever heard of. Somehow her mother always managed to avoid giving specifics by adding more generalities on top of the others, until she had built an entirely empty empire. When Angie was little she never questioned anything her mother said, but she wasn’t so easily fooled any longer and she wanted real answers before her mother passed away. After all, once the cancer defeated her mother, Angie didn’t want to be an orphan. There had to be some family somewhere. Somebody had to have driven that RV, right?
Her mother took Angie’s hand between her two frail ones and held it to her lips, pressing them gently to the back of Angie’s hand, as soft and yet strong as a hummingbird flutter. “I know what you’re thinking, Angie, and you’re right. We need to talk.”
My students would laugh at this following tidbit of a story, or shake their fists at me in anger. I always tell them not to begin their essays with onomatopoeia. Seriously, it tends to feel quite juvenile and often they cannot make it flow into their writing. It might read something like this: “Boom. That’s the sound the locker made when they boy slammed it shut in the hallway yesterday.” Agh! It makes me want to pull out my eyelashes one at a time, and it reminds me of Ben Stein’s character on The Wonder Years and in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Then I found an old bit of something I wrote back when I was their age (tenth grade). I do not teach creative writing though, just academic writing, so there is a difference. It’s not quite a masterpiece; however, I always was fond of this:
The Gate by Terree Klaes (That’s how I used to spell my name- you know, for create purposes)
Bong! Bong! Bong! Three a.m. “Where is he?” I kept thinking to myself. It was cold out and my whole face was getting numb. I hated meeting him in the park so early in the morning. Why couldn’t I just send him the money?
He had said a quarter to three. I remembered because he had called me at work. That was something he had never done before.
Once every month I would meet him by the entrance of the park, across from the clock tower. Never before had he been late.
I always felt like criminal, standing by the gate with a big brown envelope tucked in my trench coat. What I had done was nothing compared to what I felt like doing to him. Many times I had imagined him coming to the park for his money. I would pull out a gun and shoot him in the chest. Finally, I would be through with him. But I couldn’t take a chance on something like that. That could just get me into more trouble.
Why he insisted on torturing me, I couldn’t figure out, besides greed. I had paid back every cent of the money I took. The way I looked at the situation, it was over.
A shadow was coming up the sidewalk. At this hour, it had to be him. The figure walked past. An elderly woman.
Now he was a half hour late. Should I leave? I didn’t know. If I did, and he showed up, he could ruin me. But what if he just wasn’t coming? Then I would be at the park all night.
I had decided to leave the envelope with the money by the gate. If he showed up, he would find it. If not, it would be a nice gift for someone else. Just as I was about to set the envelope down, I heard footsteps. It was him. Finally.
We got into an argument about the price I should be paying. I was furious. I opened my purse, puled out a gun, and shot him in the chest. Then I ran as fast as I could with the money still in my trench coat.
Nobody ever found out who killed him. No one had any idea.
I was just thinking about how I also broke the rule I teach my students about not writing too many short, choppy sentences, and yet I had done it to create a feeling of impatience and frustration. I guess I like to apply the idea of, “you have to know the rules first before you can properly break them.” Not that this little story is perfect; I was only 14 or 15 when I wrote it. I’ve been trying to figure out if I should try to do anything else with it or just let it rest in peace.
I was looking through some old files on a flashdrive and found this story I wrote a long time ago for some sort of short short story contest. It did NOT win, but it made me laugh a bit, especially since I completely forgot I wrote it.
Always Wear Clean Underwear
I could have avoided all that trouble if only I had remembered to wear clean underwear. Mom always said, “Be sure you wear clean underwear. After all, you never know when you might get in an accident and you’ll have on dirty underwear. How embarrassing that would be for you!” Does anybody ever really think that will happen to her? Honestly, my problem wasn’t having on dirty underwear, rather none at all. Let me go back to the beginning before you get the wrong idea about me.
Yesterday was laundry day. The problem is that I left my delicate load in the washing machine overnight and by the time I realized my error, it was time to leave for class and my panties were still damp. I’m not the type of girl who feels comfortable going without undies, but I had little choice. I grabbed a pair out of the load as I transferred my delicates to the dryer, scooped up my book-bag, and was in my car in a flash. Having a car with darkly tinted windows can be a great advantage, and I used the opportunity to hang my panties from the little hook over the window in the back seat. This was great, as I had never actually found a use for one of these strange catches before. The drive to campus was about 45 minutes and I was hoping this would be long enough for my undergarments to reach a comfortable moisture level.
My radio was blasting as I sang along with “Tainted Love” on the 80’s station. Suddenly, the ring-tone of “The Imperial March” broke into my trance. “Hey Danni! What’re you up to?…. Of course I’m out of bed. I have class this morning….. Sure, I’ll swing by to get you, and Brianna….. See ya in a few.”
I cranked my radio back up and returned to my singing. I felt like the next American Idol in the comfort of my own car. Yes, I had become quite comfortable in my usual routine of my morning commute. I didn’t even mind the short detour to get my two best friends, and I had completely forgotten about my panties.
As I pulled up in front of Danni’s apartment, I saw that she and Brianna were out front waiting. They didn’t see me though, since they were talking to Cameron on the front steps. Cameron is a superior specimen in every way, and it is no secret that I’ve had a crush on him for about a year now. The problem is that I never seem to have the ability of making enough small talk around him to keep him in close proximity for long. I could have sat watching him for hours, but class was in ten minutes, so I honked the horn to get my friends’ attention. To my surprise, all three came strolling my way.
Brianna opened the door. “Hi Kat! Is it all right if we give Cameron a ride? His car won’t start,” she said, winking at me.
“Oh, sure. There’s plenty of room.” With that, Brianna hopped into the back seat, scooting over behind me. Danni told Cameron she didn’t mind sitting in the back, but he insisted he would sit back there. Once they were all in, I got the car back on the road. Danni was digging through my CDs when Cameron said, “I thought your name was Kathryn?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Why?”
“I just thought it was odd that your panties say “Angel”.
Smash! In my moment of shock and humiliation, the front end of my small sedan crumpled into the back of a soccer-ball stickered mini-van full of kids carpooling to school. The airbags had deployed. “Is everyone all right?” I heard myself asking, as if outside of my own body.
Once we all realized we were not only still among the living, but also mostly unharmed, we all got out of the car to check on the van full of kids. The side door on the vehicle opened and there was pandemonium as eight kids spilled out. Everyone seemed to have a cell phone in hand, and only a few minutes passed before the first cop arrived on the scene. The officer was taking my statement at the back of my car when one of the kids suddenly yelled out, “Hey, lady! Is that your underwear on the ground? Looks like it fell out of your car.”
Copyright by Terri Klaes Harper 2006