the world & words of a new york city writer

gretchen is a writer in new york city

Category: short story (page 7 of 19)

the wish of a curse

Namaste blog tribe

Once upon a time this was “published” in a land that no longer exists, in a galaxy far… far away.

Enjoy. One day it will be a book, and what not.

I love you.

The Wish of a Curse

I agree to be hypnotized. I believe going deeper might slow my tapping foot. My left foot is always the first thing to unfold. My face gives nothing away.

Tennessee says horrible things about me. She waits to hear the clang of my car door after work before she starts talking. She tells everyone in the office that I fucked the Marketing Director to get promoted. I hate my job.

Tennessee doesn’t know my problems. I hope she finds comfort in the lies she spreads. When I go home and cut myself, I don’t think about things like this.

Tennessee wears short skirts with frosted pink lipstick. She turns everything into an innuendo. She makes jokes with men that turn my stomach, because I know their filthy thoughts. And I want to tell her, but she’d never believe me.

No one ever believes me. Continue reading

public transportation

public transportation

He has a low voice with a sound that rolls syllable waves down the back of her legs when he says things like “Speak to you soon…” It leaves her with weak knees and new hope, makes her turn her head.

The mysterious pair is permitted two ten minute walks a day. To and back from the bus station. They arrive in the city every day from opposite directions. Each bus stops at the depot on the nose of 7am and departs at 4pm. Ten minutes away is a block of skyscrapers where they each disappear for some hours, awaiting the ten minute walk back.

He wears glasses that he takes on and off when he talks to her with no ability of looking up longer than three sentences. She likes them on. Mustering up the courage to tell him this, she tends to miss in the range of fifteen to twenty-four percent of what he says.

One time when she planned on making her declaration, she tripped over chattering teeth to reveal, “You have really long eyelashes.”

He tried to hide the width of his smile during his reply. His bottom teeth are crooked; it makes him feel self-conscious.

“Yeah, I know. They always brush against my lenses.”

She blushed and replied “Oh, really? Everyone must tell you that. I bet everyone says that to you.” She twirled one of her waist-length locks and felt sick over saying something ordinary. She didn’t want to tell him ordinary things.

He liked the way it sounded better when she told him. When she spoke, it sounded like wind chimes. It sounded like something he could listen to every day.

“I mean… no one’s told me that for a long time.”

She usually stops for a double espresso during their walk. Each time this happens, he falls back to let her step ahead. Her lead only lasts the eight steps it takes for her to make the left turn into the Greek café that “… has the best coffee.” He knows it’s eight steps because he counts. She moves like water running down an icicle on a warm winter day. It’s never quite the same and will stun you in the capture of a sunray.

They aren’t interested in the other’s bus route.

She’s fascinated by his glasses. The next time she stumbles over confessing her preference, she might ask to try them on.

She’d like to know what he sees.

“What do you think?” he queries shaking her back to the moment.

“I’m sorry… I missed what you said…”

Stuck on the last stop.

bloody girl

“Girls bleed from their things you know.”

Troy Klover has buckteeth and tomato cheeks. He spits when he talks and is shoving chubby fistfuls of Ranch Doritos into his mouth. If his mother knew he was eating Doritos at the bus stop for breakfast, I bet she’d yell at him. Our moms have been friends since we moved to the neighborhood last year. We have the same grade four teacher.

“I don’t really give,” I tell him. Troy thinks that what he learns in the back of the bus makes him so smart. “You’re stupid.”

“Am not. I’m smarter than you. My mom told me all girls bleed, she says my little sister Amanda is going to and that you will too.”

On the bus Troy tells all the boys in the back that I don’t believe him. They laugh and make crying noises at me.

Twisting the two long braids that my mother wove earlier, I pretend I can’t hear anything.

When my parents fight at home, I can usually not cry if I focus hard on something – like staring at the ceiling.

“Bloody girl!” screams a boy from the back.

Last week my teacher Mrs. Mercy called my mother to say, “Madison looked distraught during the pledge of allegiance this morning, is everything going ok at home?”

When I returned from school that afternoon Mom was working in the garden. She threw her rake and marched toward me in a way that made me take three steps backwards.

“What did you tell them at school this morning Madison?”

“Nothing,” I said focussing my eyes on Mom’s green gardening smock.

My teacher asked my mother for permission to send me to the school guidance counsellor. Mom told me to tell the teacher that she and I “… had a talk when I got home from school and agreed I’m going to go to sleep earlier at night.”

It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed if you ask me. Our house is always too noisy to sleep.

“Bloody girl!” yells a kid with a lazy eye and a dirty face. “Madison McArthur! You’re a bloody girl! Ha ha ha!”

Our bus driver is thirty-two years old with blonde feathered hair. She always wears a black leather jacket with fringe and plays Def Leopard tapes. There’s a girl named Casey that wears Metallica t-shirts and sits in the front seat every day singing along. Sometimes when the boys in the back make too much noise the bus driver yells, “Knock it off now!”

I’ve noticed that she only does this when certain songs come on.

When we get to school I count hedges out the window as the back seat crowd makes their way past. They say things like, “Your pussy is going to bleed one day!” “It probably already does!” “Bloody girl!”

Troy is the last one in the pack. He’s been quiet since we reached the halfway point to school. That was when Danny Clemmins starting shooting mini spit balls at me through a Hi-C straw.

Troy slows down as he approaches like he’s going to say something, like he wishes none of this happened. My eyes are intently focussed on the maple trees that line our school parking lot.

I slide off the sticky brown bench seat as soon as Troy passes. Walking down the aisle closely behind him, my braids start to smell like his B.O.

Getting off the bus, Troy holds the silver railing to steady himself while moving toward the third step. It doesn’t offer enough leverage to brace the impact of my palms against his sweaty shoulders. He falls face first and skins his chin on the curb.

Immediately the shock silences him before he gingerly touches his chin and gets his first sight of red. “Waaaaaaaah!” he wails and I can still smell the Doritos on his breath. “You pushed me!”

My mother won’t be happy about the phone call she gets this afternoon.

I guess boys bleed too.

disregarded sect

disregarded sect

Gypsy sees road kill and says a Hail Mary. Death depresses her for different reasons than most people.

It’s because she knows there’s no such thing. It’s because she knows you’d never believe her.

I know you’ll never believe me. Please disregard.

Gypsy heard voices far before she was able to pronounce the word schizophrenic. She once read a definition for the term as “mental fragmentation”.

That didn’t really sound too bad to her.

She finishes whispering another prayer. She’s done this in certain instances since the words were drilled into her at catechism school by a cracked lipped wench who petrified the children.

Gypsy still recites the verse during certain rituals. This would spread a smile across her mother’s lips.

Roadkill. Ambulances. Car wrecks. Cow pastures. These are some of the times she repeats this address.

Gypsy stares blankly ahead, driving with half of her focus on the past.

She’s at the orphanage. Sitting in the front row of the bus. Watching an angry sister twist the key and cry, “See? I can’t start the car!”

“What do you mean?”

“The steering wheel’s locked!”

“Why?”

“Because God’s punishing us!”

Gypsy looks in her rearview mirror at the corpse of the half flattened squirrel. Her abdominal muscles tighten and flex. With no focus on the road her vehicle remains steady and straight.

She silently apologizes to the squirrel. No one should have to go out like that.

serialized. five of seven.

Clara is under the water again. Just beneath the surface.

Wrapping herself in the liquid salt embrace a few steps offshore, she opens her eyes to a blurry burn. It soothes her. It soothes because she can make sense of losing focus.

The last time she saw Samuel, her vision hazed in a similar way for a far different reason.

“I thought it would be best if you found out this way.”

Clara remains enfolded in ocean. Her cotton dress extends in twists and twirls beyond the elegant shape of her drifting body.

Is this what it feels like?

Turning toward the faint light of dusk, her thin frame floats above lapping waves. Half exposed.

She reacts to the grayness of the clouds and subtle caress of liquid ripples with sprawled fingers and a delicate smile. Clara’s smile has always been her most fragile feature.

He should have understood that.

Her amber gold locks shape a sail that is perfectly tuned into the motion of marine swells keeping her afloat. The only sound in her mind is stillness. The calm drift of her perpetually craved freedom.

Clara’s mother is concerned. The icicle shade of her knuckles gripping the steering wheel is the same as her cheek’s ghost tone when she first heard the news.

“Clara would never do that…”

Along the road she is driving are rocky faced cliffs leading into the ocean. Her windows are rolled down in effort to lower the boiling temperature of unmentioned history burning her veins.

photo: Under your sea by Jessica Tremp

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