Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An excerpt from "Something Real" (short story)

I need to run the sweeper again. I could see dust bunnies beginning to amass an army under my overstuffed chair. I stared at them because I was too afraid to look Bob in the eye. Bob—I cannot believe I dated someone named Bob. He stood in front of me, hands on hips. He pulled my face toward his. “You won’t even look at me?” His voice was curt and clear.

I shook out of his grasp and shrugged. “What’s to look at? You’re leaving, remember?” He laughed cruelly and said, “No tearful pleas to stay?” I looked at him then and beamed a brilliant smile, “I don’t cry over bartenders, Babe. Sorry. Now if you had been a doctor…” He shook his head, his frustration apparent in his stiff posture. “It’s always a joke with you. Always sarcasm—nothing is ever real for you, is it?”

Confusion furrowed between my brows. “I’m sorry; I thought that you were leaving me. Why should I be ‘real’ with a man who’s got one foot out the door?” Bob tensed—much more tension in his body and he would snap like a rubber band. I pictured him shooting across the room and ricocheting off the wall. I stifled a chuckle. Focus, I thought, pay attention. You should always pay attention when the person you love is leaving you, even if his name is Bob.

“I just wanted something real from you. I thought…I thought we could get married and you know, have a life together. But you won’t let me in.” Okay, I thought, that was funny. I busted out laughing. “Robert, I let you in all of the time. I let you in the bedroom, the kitchen, on the couch…” His jaw clenched and I knew he was furious. “Did you hear what I said, Amy? I said that I wanted to marry you.”

I laughed and leaned back into the couch cushions. I snapped at him, “Yeah, because men who want to marry their girlfriends always leave them. Sure. Why should I believe you? And just what is my big crime anyway—that I joke too much? Quick, call the Gestapo!” I laughed at him and his angry, bulging veins. He looked livid as he walked to the door. He picked up his overnight bag and reached for the doorknob. I sat up, arched my back like a cat stretching, purred at him like Eartha Kitt, and quipped, “What, no ‘thanks for the ride, kid, it’s been fun’?”

Bob looked at me over his shoulder. I watched the tension in him slowly ebb. A small wry smile lifted the corners of his beautiful mouth. “Thanks for the ride, Amy. It’s been fun.” I didn’t watch the door close behind him. I could hear the doorknob click just fine. I felt tears sting my eyes and I quickly wiped them away. I don’t cry over bartenders...


  1. “I don’t cry over bartenders, Babe. Sorry. Now if you had been a doctor…”

    Nice line!

    Your character "Amy" had a nice line in hard-boiled dialogue in general.

  2. Paragraph 1: his hands are on his hips. Paragraph 2: you shook out of his grasp. That type of thing can jar a little.