Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Long and Winding Road

The current challenge from Patti Abbott's blog is to write a piece of flash fiction (less than 1,000 words) that included "a wedding cake in the middle of the road." The cake could be integral to the story, or peripheral. Here's my contribution; directions to the others can be found on Patti's blog on Thursday, June 4. Many thanks to her for providing these challenges.

The drawstrings weren’t right. The antiseptic luster of the red ties looked flat and artificial on the canvas. Betty thought it was a sad commentary when her painting couldn’t even look as lifelike as plastic.

The sketch was fine. A pile of kitchen trash can liners in the middle of a two-lane road. Proportion good. Perspective faded into the distance as it should.

The other colors worked. The road itself and its surrounding scenery matched up well with her previous efforts. This had given her trouble before—consistency from frame to frame—creating a mural from a series of individual paintings. Personal milestones, placed onto a highway symbolizing the journey of her life. Betty thought it was very Zen.

The birthing room at Citizens’ Hospital. The front of her first school. The back seat of a ’93 Cavalier, representing the loss of her virginity. A mortarboard for high school graduation. The ring Jeff proposed with. Their wedding shown by a cake placed in a bend of the road, signifying her new direction. The cake a little lopsided. “The Wedding Cake of Pisa,” Jeff called it.

Betty saw no need to depict when or how she found out Jeff was screwing Annette Schaeffer. Whether to show Annette’s face as she confessed, or Betty and Jeff’s bed, where he’d done God knows what with Annette for two years. Started six months after the wedding. A calendar maybe.

She’d thought long and hard, decided it was spilt milk. Move on. The best revenge is living well. If you’re not fit company for yourself. She had forty-seven clich├ęs pinned to the walls in the extra bedroom she used as a studio. They taught her not to dwell on the past. On things she couldn’t change. Take action and don’t look back.

Nail polish worked better than paint on the drawstrings for the trash bags. A lot of work was left. Drawstrings partially obscured by bags. The knots would be a bitch to get right. Using trash can liners to symbolize this point in her life not the brightest idea she’d had. Jeff only weighed 180 pounds. How was she to know it would take seventeen bags to carry him to the dump?


sandra seamans said...

I love that last sentence! I was so not expecting that. Wonderful story!

pattinase (abbott) said...

A brilliant use of detail. With a total surprise at the end. Thanks for playing this time.

r2 said...

What a twist! I didn't see that coming at all. Great story!

Iren said...

makes me think of the Deadbolt song with the line being at the store buying a hacksaw and a case of garbage bags.

Unknown said...

Great atmosphere. There's so much menace here.

Cormac Brown said...

Wickedly good.