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Writing Fiction - Chapter 18
Here's where Chapter 17 left you...
“Yes,” I said. “Is this an apology?”
“No. It’s not an apology. I’m just calling to tell you that...”
This time I interrupted him. “If it’s not an apology, then I have nothing to say to you. Please give my love to SPOT,” Then I had said goodbye and hung up.
This time the phone didn’t ring again. I waited for a minute. And a minute more.
I thought about calling him back, but I had no idea what I would say.
Instead I made another pot of coffee and went back to work on my blog.
If it wasn’t for my daughter, I would have just abandoned the whole idea and crawled onto the couch with my BFF, the remote control. Actually, if it wasn’t for my daughter, I wouldn’t be messing with the whole blog to begin with. Actually…
I think the lack of sleep had made me too tired to figure out the whole what, where, why and who made me’s of my blog, so instead I plodded along figuring out all the screens. It was complicated. And very, very distracting. Finally, my growling stomach alerted me to the fact that hours had passed, but before I made myself something to eat, I told myself I’d write a little test post to see if I was doing everything correctly.
I clicked the button on my blog that said ‘new post’ and suddenly I saw a little rectangle labeled ‘Title’, so I typed the word “Hello” into it. A whole bunch of letters and symbols separated the small rectangle from a larger one. I told myself I’d figure them all out later and in the large rectangle I typed , “My name is Spike and this is my blog.”
I’d looked and looked at the screen with those words for a long time until I finally spotted a box that said “Preview”. When I clicked on it I could see my blog! I could see my blog with the green grass and the blue sky and just as I was trying to figure out how to make it so the whole world could see my blog, the phone rang again.
And now, Chapter 18 begins...
Not wanting to appear to anxious, and struggling mightily to hang onto my zen tranquility, I let the phone ring several times before I picked it up with a cool, "Hello."
It wasn't him; it was my neighbor. "Pearl?" she started talking without even waiting to see if it was actually me on the phone. "I am so, so, so excited to see you got a dog. A dog is such a wonderful companion. I was really so, so, so happy to see you are getting on with your life. I just told Myron that I was so, so, so thrilled and..."
"Hey, Millie, thanks for calling. I hate to cut you off, but I'm kind of in a hurry here."
"Oh Pearl, I'm so, so sorry. I just started blathering on, didn't I? Myron always tells me..."
"Millie?" I interrupted her again, somewhat impatiently.
"Oh Pearl, I'm so, so sorry. I just did it again, didn't I? Okay. Well. The reason I was calling was that I was thinking that maybe you would like to arrange a play date between your adorable little dog and my Princess. Princess gets so, so, so lonely and..."
I so, so, so didn't want to get into the whole Edgar/Spot crisis with Millie, so I interrupted her yet again, "I'm sorry, but I need to run. I'll call you back later," and I quickly hung up the phone.
It rang again almost instantly. "Millie," I answered, "I so, so, so do not want to arrange a play date with Princess right now..." I began, but, instead of my irritating neighbor, it was HIM! The jerk! The moron! The dog snatcher!
I knew this because he rudely interjected, "I can tell you for certain that I so, so, so do not want to have a play date with you OR with Princess OR with Millie. And how did you develop a stutter between now and the last time we talked?"
"What are you talking about?" I sputtered. "That was a private conversation! Mind your own business."
Seriously. What was with this guy anyway? He was all kinds of aggressive and nasty to me when he was obviously the one with all the issues.
I had just opened my mouth to tell him this, when all the sudden he let out a big sigh.
A sigh. Sighs are just ridiculously irritating, aren't they? "What?" I shouted into the phone, "Why are you sighing? What is WRONG with you? My husband used to sigh at me, too, before he..."
"Before he what? Left you? Divorced you? I can totally see why he would. You must be the angriest, most emotional, irrational person I've ever encountered. I'm just trying to explain about SPOT and you won't even let me get a word in edgewise..."
Screw zen tranquility. I hung up on him. And ripped the phone jack out of the wall.
What a nasty jerk! What a bully! Divorced? Angry? Emotional? Irrational? I was none of those things!
As I grabbed my coat off the hook by the door, those ridiculous dog poo pick-up bags, decorated in paw prints, fell to the floor. I slammed the door behind me and raged all the way to the car, prepared to burn some rubber and kick up gravel and dust as I sped out of the driveway. I didn’t have my keys.
Angry? Emotional? Irrational? I slammed my hands down on the steering wheel over and over again. What a jerk! What a nasty, horrible, terrible, disgusting man! Each word was punctuated by slamming my fists on the steering wheel. A small tap at my window diverted my anger for a moment. It was Millie. She was holding Princess in her arms and SMILING at me! Smiling, I tell ya. What kind of an imbecile doesn’t even notice another person yelling inside their car while attempting to beat the steering wheel to death?
She tapped on the window again.
Since my car wasn’t running, I had to open the car door. “Yes, Millie?” I forced out with clenched teeth.
“Princess and I saw you out here, Pearl, and we just wanted to tell you that we are both so, so, so excited about our play date with your precious new friend! Say bye-bye, Princess,” and with that Millie waved Princess’s perfectly groomed little paw at me and walked away.
I sat for a few long moments. What was that? What had just happened? Was Millie blind? Had oven cleaner fumes finally fried her brain? And honestly, you’re not going to believe this but I swear Princess had pink nail polish on. The dog. The dog had pink nail polish on. Seriously.
Exhausted once again from just trying to get through one lousy morning, I trudged back to the house. My life was pathetic. I was ridiculous. I was old and fat and tired and mad and lonely and fat and old and…. I guess you get the point.
I thought about the dog thief. He’d said I was an angry person. I didn’t use to be angry all the time, but maybe I was becoming ‘that woman’. You know the one? Tight lipped, bitter, with lipstick bleeding into those lines radiating out from her mouth? The kind of person that can only crack a grudging smile at someone else’s misfortune?
He’d told me I was emotional. I swear I didn’t use to cry at the drop of a hat, or laugh hysterically at a unfunny joke. I didn’t.
And now that I was thinking about it, maybe he had something with ‘irrational’. Do rational people go to the store in their slippers? Try to beat the steering wheel of their car to death? Lay on their kitchen floor trying to commit suicide by tears? Become attached to a mangy, scroungy dog in five seconds? Is any of that rational?
I went back into the house quietly and walked upstairs. Opening the doors of my nightstand, I pulled out all the books about grief and stacked them neatly on my bed. I picked up the first one. The back jacket of the book had a serious looking man with big, sympathetic eyes. I hated him. I ripped all the pages out of his book and tore them into little pieces. Scattering them across the vast expanse of my bed, I felt a moment’s satisfaction in the ‘vowel and consonant confetti’. I picked up the second book. It was one of those time-line books. You know the kind: lose 30 pounds in 4 weeks by following these six simple steps? Well, this one was, “Recovering From Loss in 6 ½ Weeks in 13 Painless Steps.” Yeah, yeah, whatever. I began ripping out those pages, too, and then I stopped myself. Angry? Emotional? Irrational? I stuffed the surviving books back into the cupboard and ran down the stairs.
After shoving the phone cord’s plastic thing-y back into the wall, I was relieved to find that the phone still worked and, when Spot’s dad answered on the first ring, I blurted out, “What’s your problem anyway?”
He sighed again. “Lady, listen. This is complicated, but I’ve been thinking a little bit. I was wrong to take Spot like that.” He made a funny gagging noise and stopped. “Are you okay?” I asked him. “Yeah, I’m just trying to tell you that I’m, I’m, well…s…s…sorry. Okay? There! Yeah. I’m sorry. That was really nasty of me.”
His confession caught me off guard for a moment, but then the self-effacing, manners auto-pilot my mother, God rest her soul, had installed in me since birth kicked in. “That’s okay. I completely understand,” I said.
Silence hummed over the phone line. And hummed some more. And then, when I couldn’t stand the silence any longer, I blurted out, “That’s so not true. It’s not okay. It was horrible. Really cruel. I don’t understand why you did it at all. AND I’m really not an angry, emotional or irrational person. I just…”
The silence hummed its uncomfortable tune again. I tried to continue, “I just, just…well, I really just bonded with Edgar and…”
His voice interrupted me, softly. He sounded almost gentle for a moment, “Lady, listen, I get it. Listen. Ummm… let’s have coffee and talk this over, okay?”
I started babbling, “It’s kind of late in the morning for me to have coffee…sometimes when I drink more than a cup or two I get all jumpy and…”
“Alright, okay. Breathe,” he said, “I’ll drink regular, you can drink decaf…”
“Well, you know decaf doesn’t mean no-caf, it means…”
I shut up.
He sighed again, “Yes or no? You can drink water, I don’t care. I just wanted to tell you about Spot? If it’s too much, though, we can discuss this another time over the phone. Or we can just forget the whole thing.”
“Water it is.” Then he named a coffee place I’d seen quite a few times on a busy downtown street. I’d never been there. My husband had always been outraged at the price of fancy coffee, so we’d never gone. Not even once.
I started thinking about everything that had happened with Edgar/Spot in such a short time. I was really curious how this guy was going to justify his horrible behavior. You’d almost think he was…
I had no time to ponder possibilities, though. We were meeting for coffee (and water) in less than two hours and I still had to try and find something I could sausage myself into beforehand.
To be continued, Tuesday, January 11th.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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