My, my, how the time flies. It seems like only yesterday I started up this blog with the intentions to kickstart my writing habit, and now here we are, 50 days into the year. I'm not sure I've ever gone this many consecutive days of writing at least 750 words a day. I can honestly say that I'm starting to feel stronger as a writer for having put in such consistent practice. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but I'm starting to believe that it will be possible to keep this up for an entire year, emergencies aside.
For the next fifty days I want to make a side goal of writing at least one post that is at least a full scene of a short story, if not a full first draft. I really want to start stretching out my limitations as a writer, and expose my weaknesses, in order to continue to improve. I would ask that you all take mercy on me, a lot of these first sketches are going to be pretty rough. When I put out a short story it is usually on its third or fourth draft, but these will be completely raw. I want to get into a mode where my mind is constantly cranking on new ideas, and this seems like a good way to make that happen.
So, with all this in mind, here is something I worked on today. Enjoy.
Rebecca’s phone alarm went off for the tenth time at 6:30 AM. Her eyes opened with effort. She reached over and turned off the alarm. For a couple of moments she laid in bed, staring into the morning glow of the bedroom. She knew that in half an hour she needed to be showered, dressed and out of the door if she wanted to get to school in time to set up her daily teaching plan. Today marked the half point of the school year at Jefferson Middle School, and the last thing Rebecca wanted to do was get up and deal with an endless barrage of first graders screaming, crying, fighting and pissing themselves for 18 more weeks.
It was the urinating that really kept her up at night. She had no idea how much errant piss she was going to have to deal with when she started teaching. It was certainly not what she had signed on for. It seemed like at least once a week one of her students would have “an accident” and she would have to do her best to compose herself as to not freak out the pour kid any more than they already were. She had to put on a smile, say that everything is OK - although they both knew that not to be the case - and get the kid into a bathroom. Then she’d have to go to the kid’s gym locker to fetch a pair of shorts for them to wear until the front office could call the students parents to bring a pair of pants to the school. In Rebecca’s opinion it should have been mandatory for all students to have an extra pair of pants in their locker in case of accidents.
What she wanted more than anything was a day off, where she could make her fiancé Kevin a nice breakfast when he got home from his job. She wanted to tell him how much she regretted taking this job, and how everyday felt like a grueling slot through the depths of her own personal hell. Kevin got home around eight, well after Rebecca was off to work. He would take a shower, put in a microwave dinner, watch a couple episodes of Sports Center and pass out, sometimes on the couch, sometimes in bed around 10 AM. By the time Kevin woke up, Rebecca would be reading a book, or on the couch watching whatever was the most innocuous thing she could find on TV and the two would exchange pleasantries for half an hour or so before he would get ready to head back into work, while she got ready for bed.
Kevin worked the graveyard shift as a security guard for a local warehouse/distribution center that online retailers used to store their product to ensure fast and reliable shipping. It’s the kind of place where you could find a bind full of pink, plastic dildos next to a shelf of newly printed Kings James bibles. Kevin spent most of his nights listening to sports talk radio stations that he would occasionally call in to when he wanted to express how spoiled and entitled he thought the modern pro athlete was, and that maybe these multi millionaires should work a couple of weeks of real labor before they complain about their contract situations.
The only real moment of excitement Kevin ever had on the job was when he had to chase down a couple of juvenile delinquents who cut their way through the compounds security fence, picked the lock on one of the warehouses side doors and starting sneaking around, looking for something to nab. Kevin saw this all unfold from one of the eight monitors in front of him, called the authorities, grabbed his nightstick, jumped into his golf cart that had the word “security” written in big blue letters on the sides, and set chase. The sound of Kevin’s cart in the almost empty warehouse was thunderous, its whiny motor's sound echoed off the walls of the cavernous building, and the two young thieves grabbed what they could get their hands on and scrammed long before Kevin could catch up with them.
The security cameras would help the local authorities identify the wrong doers, who ended up being Freshman at the local high school. The items stolen included a box of AA batteries, two copies of the newest issue of Men’s Health, a waffle iron, and three blender bottles that are used by weight lifters to easily mix nutritional shakes before and after workouts. Both youths were given a year of probation, 200 hours of community service, and have been on their best behavior ever since. Kevin was given a $100 bonus for his vigilance, which he used to buy him and Rebecca two tickets to a Bucks/Heat game.
The only time Kevin and Rebecca got to have any meaningful contact with each other was on the weekends. They did their best to make the most out of their time together. They would get a hotel room in Milwaukee, eat a nice restaurant and make love until the sun came up. They had always been a passionate couple, and in their relative youth that fire still burned intensely. Some weekends they would stay home and watch entire the entire series of a show on Netflix, only taking breaks to eat and compare notes on the show. Their favorite past time, however, was complaining about their jobs. Neither one of them expected their professional lives to unfold in the way it had. When the couple met at the University of Wisconsin five years ago they were both on track for careers in prestigious fields: Rebecca as an editor in a major publishing house, Kevin as a lawyer.
It wasn’t a complete a shock when Kevin failed to get into law school after completely his undergraduate classes. His grades were middling at best and he never really had a deep passion for the law, it just seemed like a sensible profession for him to strive for. It was not in Kevin’s nature to passionately pursue a career, he was always content with working side jobs in college and could have worked in a 150 degree smelting plant without complaining. He always had the disposition of a monk and if it was left up to him, they would both be in a tiny apartment living an almost monastic life. Rebecca loved how calming it was to be around him, and how these qualities would probably make for him being a fantastic father someday, but she worried about his lack of long-term goals.
The bigger shock came when Rebecca’s resumes to HarperCollins, Doubleday, Little Brown and twelve independent prints were all met with gracious rejection letters. She didn’t get one interview. This set Rebecca scrambling to get a teachers certificate in some attempt to salvage the next five years of her life. She knew that her mother could get her a job teaching JMS, because her mother was the Superintendent of the school district, had been since she was in high school. The idea of moving back to Jefferson was not one met with excitement, but they had been offered a place to stay; the house she grew up in. When her father died of lung cancer four years ago, Rebecca's mom moved into a smaller apartment and rented the house out as a secondary source of income. Now her mother wanted nothing more than to have her only child move back into the area and take on the profession she always knew Rebecca was destined for.
For Rebecca, this was like being sucked into a reality she never wanted by her mothers gravitational vortex. What other options were there? It was like the two of them had jumped off a cliff and the only soft landing was back into her mothers arms. Maybe this is why she had a recurring dream about endlessly falling through the air, picking up velocity, and - after what felt like an eternity - she could see the Earth become visible from below. She would always wake up just before making impact with ground, in one of the many cornfields that engulfed Jefferson. She would wake up in the middle of the night, realize that she was alone, and it would take her at least twenty minutes to get back to sleep. She would have this dream at least once week. Some nights she dreamt of urine. Some nights she did not dream at all. Most mornings, when she got up, life was almost too much t0 bear.
On that particular morning Rebecca called into the school’s office and told Liz, the secretary, that she had come down with a bug and would not be able to make it in.
“Aw, that’s too bad darlin,” Liz said. “You stay home and get better, if you need anything just call. I can come over and a check up on you over lunch if you want.”
“Oh no, that is hardly necessary,” Rebecca responded, fainting the best fake cough she could muster. “It’s nothing major, I just don’t want to get any of the kids sick. You know how easy these bugs can get passed around, especially this time of year.”
“Ain't that the truth doll!” Liz said. “This time of year my job consists mostly of keeping track of which kids are out sick and trying to find ways to get them all their homework so they don’t fall behind. You just get back to bed, we’ll have someone come in for you. Get better!”
“Thank you so much Liz. I’ll be in touch.”
Rebecca hung up the phone and got out of bed, not feeling the least bit guilty for taking a personal day. She hopped into the shower singing The Rolling Stone’s “Satisfaction.” Her plan was to drive to the local coffee shop, grab a latte, and get back with enough time to cook Kevin his favorite breakfast: pancakes with two over-easy eggs and four strips of bacon. She wanted to tell Kevin that this would be the last year of her teaching third grade English for JMS. She was going to go back to school to get her MFA. She was going to make herself an invaluable asset for a publishing house. She would was willing to do whatever it took to get her out of that God forsaken classroom that always smelt like cleaning products and the faintest hint of urine. She would tell her mother that she loved her more than anything, but she had to try to make a life for herself. When Rebecca got out of the shower she felt her soul cleansed of the last couple of years’ existential stench, and ready for a fresh start.
She had her fill of falling, it was time to get back up.