13 September 2010

field of dreams {or, the one short story i've written}

So I'm not really a fiction girl.  I like reading it.  You don't reference Jane Austen in your blog name if you don't like reading it.

But I'm not much of a fiction writer.  The idea of making up other people frightens me; I'm having enough trouble understanding the ones in my real life.

Here, then, is perhaps the only fiction you'll ever see from me.  Unless I lie to you, which I don't plan on doing.

It's a short story.  A really short story.  A ridiculously short story.  But I can handle made up people for under 1,000 words, it seems.


“Michael, Olivia. Olivia, Michael.”

She had been staring at her sensible shoes, an old Nine West model in navy. They were too practical, if too practical even existed for a true Midwest girl.

When her mom had bought the shoes for Olivia’s senior homecoming dance, she had said, “Those will be serviceable.” Serviceable always made Olivia think of the Great Depression and how farm wives made clothes for all 14 children out of three used flour sacks. That was serviceable, sensible, practical.

Navy Nine West low heels with a tiny bow from seven years ago were, at best, a fashion coup d’etat: it suggested that the Midwest with its Carhartt, denim jumpers, and appliquéd vests could direct the style of America.

Why had Olivia let her mama talk her into bringing these with her when she had moved to New York City? Why had she so easily fallen into the trap set up by the typical Midwestern argument?

“But, honey, you’ve barely worn them. You need to get good use out of them.” In Iowa, it was all about good use; life was good use. In New York City, it was all about the next thing, and things didn’t stick around long enough to get good use.

Olivia was wondering if anyone here knew that she’d bought her shoes in high school from Younkers, the department store non-Iowans don’t know about. They think it’s made up, like Farm King and Farm Fling.

When she heard Mr. McArthur introducing her again, Olivia pulled out the confident yet fake smile that showed too many teeth and that she always used around her boss.

“Olivia, this is Michael. Michael, Olivia.”

With an askance glance at Olivia, Mr. McArthur schmoozed his way back to the bar.

Olivia’s eyes moved from her own wrong shoes to the pair of shoes a foot from hers. Why do men’s shoes always look the same, acceptably the same? He could’ve bought his shoes in 1951, and it wouldn’t have mattered, not that Mr. McArthur would try to set her up with someone who was old enough to buy men’s shoes in 1951.

Michael had stuck out a hand to shake, and Olivia realized this a split second too late for the handshake to really be comfortable. She switched her drink to her left hand and grabbed his right, trying to extract her mind from Younkers and 1951.

“Hello, I’m Olivia. Oh, he already covered that bit, didn’t he?” She lifted her eyes just as she finished her Ode to Making Inane Comments.

And there was her future husband.

It sounds ridiculous, and she knows it.

Here she was, a successful, independent, sensible woman, a woman who graduated Magna Cum Laude from Grinnell College, a woman who had read 97 of the 100 Greatest Books in English by the time she was 21, a woman who could run six miles, walk the puppy, and make a no-fat, fresh fruit protein booster smoothie for breakfast all before 7am—here she was losing herself in the dream world better left to 15-year-old girls reading Seventeen.

Olivia saw herself standing next to him at the top of a Gone with the Wind-esque staircase. She was in the requisite black dress, a little thing from Prada whose price tag was anything but sensible and practical. They glided down the stairs and into the restaurant. The walls were mirrors, and Olivia saw the two of them reaching into infinity, an appropriate symbol.

Fast forward (so convenient how Olivia’s mind could do that and skip over all the dullness, the normalness of life) to Date #102.

Michael has brought her back to the restaurant with the graceful staircase and cascade of mirrors. They laugh, they eat outrageously expensive yet ridiculously small entrées, they talk about Deep Things.

Olivia can’t actually imagine this deep conversation because she knows nothing about Michael beyond that he has soft, hold-able hands, but in her mind she dazzles him with her wit and intelligence. He dazzles her with a Tiffany’s box.

Before Olivia can stop herself, she’s in Vera Wang white for the wedding. Here comes the bride. I do. Daffodils everywhere. No, maybe daisies. No, definitely daffodils—unexpected. An outdoor wedding. Blue sky. Sage green bridesmaid dresses. Who should be the maid of honor? You may kiss the bride. Mr. & Mrs. Whatever His Name Is. Happily ever after and a honeymoon to Victoria, BC.

Michael lets go of her hand. Olivia is back to reality, to the party in Mr. McArthur’s Park Avenue apartment, to Michael’s intellectual but sweet blue eyes, to his curly brown hair, to his just-crooked smile…Olivia has to stop her mind from running away into twin girls and a baby boy the image of his father.

“Mac tells me you’re from Iowa…”

Oh, no, Olivia thinks, here come the mocking questions about corn, pork, and however did you manage to grow up there?

“I’m from Iowa, too.”

Olivia about drops her drink. It was a match made in heaven.

1 comment:

  1. Loved the ficlet, but it was the intro to the ficlet that charmed the socks off of me. I, too, have trouble understanding the characters in my real life.

    So, now I sit here (sockless) trying to bang out a quick note of praise. Being the geek I am, the following is the best I can do:

    I have it on good authority that you are, indeed, as adorable as your blog-writing implies. Since I trust my source, I've awarded you +5 adorable points. (Redeemable for nothing more than bragging rights).

    Looking forward to reading more ...



Related Posts with Thumbnails