As honored as I always am to be the one chosen worthy to pick a prompt, I very rarely ever provide just one, as I feel that the challenge host may also want a say in the matter. And this week Prof. SAM did just that, deciding to offer the Master Class 2014 students (2) of the (3) I provided as options (please click the link above to learn more about the prompts, and to play along).
We were told we could use either one or both, so you know that I just had to try for the latter. I also decided to take the Prof.’s lead and jump on board with the Inspiration Monday prompt (using “epilogue”) as well. I hope it all worked well in the end, and I do hope that you enjoy…
Unruffled, Carl smiled at me one last time, as he’d always done.
That smile, the very one that originally attracted me to him long before it ever turned into such a nuisance. The smile that used to arouse every last inch of even my soul, had since then become almost a standard bore to his condescension. His condescension not just to all men, but especially towards me. When first I realized that I could no longer look pretty for him, and attempted to become more learned in order to somehow compensate – to have more to offer – I read somewhere something to the effect of, “There are some people you like immediately, some whom you think you might learn to like in the fullness of time, and some that you simply want to push away from you with a sharp stick.”
Now what the somewhat naive author of this particular ideology didn’t realize, was that of these three options, the worst type – the very worst – was that of the unmentioned fourth kind, primarily those like Carl. Those who presented themselves initially as the former type, when in fact and over the course of time, proved to be truly those of the latter.
Carl was my first you see. And right from there, I should’ve realized the epilogue of this story. He was younger than I, but more experienced, and much more comfortable in his own skin. Partially as a result of his being a lifelong “team player,” he had no children to explain things to (as did I) and he had absolutely no qualms about publicly bantering his freak flag about, (as I sometimes – well, most oft-times – was fearful to do.)
Ultimately, he wasn’t really the one who called me out. But he, him and that damned smile, was the first one there, waiting to catch me when it happened. His scruffy beard, disheveled wardrobe and bookish knowledge, all played well into the role of the professor that he was trying valiantly to project early on in his career. And when he placed it all “just so” – again with that damned smile to wrap up the whole package – I found myself beyond smitten, finally ready to embrace and experience a truth about me left for years in the dark closet of my being.
We enjoyed a love together longer than I thought possible. Longer (and more passionately I might add) than I previously had experienced with any woman I had ever swore my allegiance to. It was a sort of heaven really, and I’m almost certain that ours might have even been a case of “happily ever-after,” had the accident not occurred.
I won’t tell you too much about it, as it is still painfully embarrassing to this day. Suffice to say, there was a lot of alcohol, a blustery night, one last joint, a menacing snowflake or two, and a 3rd floor patio with unreliable rails involved. My chances of survival were almost guaranteed at that height (though mom swore that my continued breath upon this plain was “simply miraculous,” and a sure sign from Jesus that all my recent “impure love” foolishness had to stop to prevent further punishment), but the visual quality of my upper body and face were seriously in doubt, as in the game of rock/paper/scissors, it turns out that hardened cold concrete always beats aged bone and drunken wobbly flesh. Carl wasn’t the one to blame for the fall, but this time he wasn’t able to catch me either.
The time spent in the hospital was lonely, although he did visit more often than most others would have, or did. But when he wasn’t there, the clock came to a standstill. And that sense of oppressive timelessness and stale air one day interrupted our latest visit, as I noticed that even when he was there, the second-hand ticks increased by only a fraction, the dust motes dragging but painfully slow against the windowed sunshine. I started to notice, that even when he was there the room was still empty, sans my self-loathing, his damned smile, and me. I started to notice, even when he was there, he continued to not catch me.
I suppose I’ll never know if his heart had simply given up and moved on, or if in my anguish I’d inadvertently pushed him out in some form or fashion. Regardless, I do know that by the end, his smile – that damned smile – the very one that had once wooed me into a near-frenzy, only now served to turn my previously astute soul into obtuse stone.
So I survived, much less attractive than before, and now far more alone. Deciding to live on in the knowledge that regardless the gender, lovers will only use you until they’ve taken their fill, before moving on. And regardless of what mom may say to the contrary, I will now forever feel that while I’m still technically alive, my ”miraculous survival” will not change my opinion that Heaven is an idea constructed by man to help him cope with the fact that life on earth is both brutally short, and paradoxically, far too long.
You aced it. Seriously. Everything fits perfectly within the story, which tugs at my emotions. I love-hate Carl with the same “dullness” the protagonist feels. Masterfully done.
Thank you so much SAM, though I must admit, I almost feel as if the protagonist in this instance *might* be providing Carl with too much of the blame and might need to revisit so we can hear his side…
definitely needs a revisit. There’s a lot more story here and you will write it beautifully.
Dude, you nailed getting all the prompts to fit seamlessly into your story, I’m highly impressed. Highly. That ending just clinched it perfectly for me.
Dude, I LOVE making you impressed =) Thank you!
A wonderful story combining the prompts. I really feel for your narrator. to the last paragraph is so sad.
Thank you so much Sarah =)
Sad. Sad and very real-feeling. Just the right amount of detail. Well done.
Welcome to InMon!
I appreciate your feedback Stephanie, and jumping in on InMon was my pleasure!
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The prompts fall seamlessly, in fact I wished they weren’t highlighte as that distracted from some great wording. The languor of the narrator is captured perfectly, together with his resentment and residual love for Carl.
If anything, I felt the story was a touch on the long side, although that might just be because I’ve been reading some super-short flashes before it, but I do think it could do with a bit of a cut. No suggestions for where, though – it’s the overall length not the quality of the writing I’m referring to.
I’ll tell you a secret – I usually (after my experience with several 100 word prompts), do limit myself to a set number of words allowable, as I do know that I’ve a tendency to run on (as indicative in even this response). But alas, this time I set myself up with no such parameters. I will try to ensure that I stick closer to that rule in the future, but only so that I can finally write the full length story that many feel I can without wasting words or reader’s time. Thank you so much for your critique, as it was a clear reminder of the path I must follow – you know – AFTER this response =)
Haha! Yes, I find the same. Editing is often how the story becomes more powerful as well as punchy, so it pays dividends, but for three prompts I think you might be allowed slightly more than 100 words…
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