There’s something going on in the blogosphere. Can you feel it? Fiction is flying hither and yon today thanks to the Blog Short Story Project. The brainchild of Bryon Quertermous and David White, this project is now in its 3rd year.
The rules for the short story this year are:
1. no more than 1000 words
2. topic must have something to do with blogs or blogging.
I’ve decided to give it a go, though I haven’t completed a short story since high school. I’ll admit I’m feeling a bit like my posterior is hanging out of a car window on this one, but it’s good to stretch as a writer — even if there’s a breeze.
Here’s my tip of the hat to readers who love cat stories and to those who don’t.
The Cat’s Meow
The one constant pleasure in her drudge of a life consisted of ScreamIt.com. There, she let everything fly: the rape, the anger at men, the affronts, her sucky job. It didn’t matter if anyone commented. She just needed to get it out, to use the real names of the countless people who’d hurt her, to shame them.
Cinnamon-laced soy milk steamed in the cup by her elbow. Her fingers snicked the keyboard, refining her post. If Rick ever read it, he’d die. Good. He deserved it.
Pico, the neighbor’s cat, thumped through the pet door. He jumped on the table, purring and nuzzling her angular face. She felt a connection with this scuffy animal, a kind of love. Pushing back her chair, she went to the mini-fridge, opened a bag of grated cheddar — kept especially for him — and put a handful on a plastic plate. Pico curled around her ankle, a thank-you before eating.
"Are you my knight in shining armor?" She babytalked to him and then mumbled, "What a crock."
Back to work. A strand of hair cut across her forehead in a black slash while she typed: I used to think still waters ran deep. That is, until I met Rick. His waters run still because there’s nothing there.
Yeah, that’d be a good hook.
Some men are blowhards. Some are puffer fish. Rick is krill.
She laughed at the weak joke and clicked on "Publish now."
Tonight she’d get rid of him. Sayonara. Thank goodness they hadn’t complicated things with sex. After one spitty kiss, she’d said, "Let’s take it slow. Get to know each other."
He’d bought it. She’d kept him out of her pants.
She stretched, her thin arms reaching toward the ceiling and then slowly coming down in an arc to the table. The computer’s two-tone signal brought her attention back to the screen.
One comment already. I’ve dated toads, but your’s sounds like pond scum.
She didn’t want to respond too fast, sound too desperate. But, why not? This could be fun. He’s worse than that. Pond scum feeds bottom feeders. Rick is like snot . . . no value at all.
At a library in another part of town, Rick sat at his laptop, a hand squeezing painful zits on his chin. Damn her. It’d been funny when she’d done it to other people. But this? Now? He sure wasn’t laughing.
A few hours later at dinner, he said, "So, what have you been up to?"
"Not much." They’d both ordered tofu rice bowls, doused them with tamari. She unwrapped the chopsticks and selected a chunk of broccoli.
"How was work?" He watched her ungenerous mouth.
Liar! She hadn’t gone to work; he’d checked. She thought she was so smart. Lies — the online wit, her fake identity. He’d tracked down the truth in minutes. Now, he released another snare. "What do you want to do later?"
"There’s no later, Rick." Oh, she loathed him, hated the piece of onion clinging to his lower lip. "We’re done."
"What are you talking about?" The practiced confusion on his face had taken most of today’s lunch break to perfect.
"After dinner, you’re going to drive me home and . . . then . . . we’re through. Finito. Kaput." She stabbed the tofu, feeling powerful, in control. "Or, I can call a cab right now."
No! That won’t work. "Please, Claire, don’t run off. I’ll drive you home. It’s no problem." He shook his head, hoping to convey sadness. He wanted sympathy — if she was capable of it — not disgust. "I just need to wrap my head around this . . . I had no idea."
"I need to go to the bathroom," she said.
He’d counted on it. The packet of white powder opened easily, its contents dissolving into her green tea.
Twenty minutes later, she said, "I don’t feel very good."
"Let’s go." He helped her out of the restaurant. She stumbled near the car. Leaning her against the vehicle, he unlocked it, folded her into the seat and buckled the belt. "Snot, huh?" he said. "We’ll see who’s snot."
Soft, regular breathing accompanied him into her driveway. Drapes and curtains in the neighborhood hid the good families, eating around happy kitchen tables, unaware of his plans. After finding the key, he slung her over his shoulder and quickly went into the basement apartment.
So this was where she lived. One room. How pathetic.
He bent over the dirty futon on the floor and undressed her quietly. Sneering at her tiny breasts, he stepped back to gloat. His foot hit a plastic plate. A strip of orange sprang to the top of his tennis shoe. He knelt to sniff it. "God, you’re such a fake. All this vegan crap and you sneak cheese at home."
His throat felt scratchy. Probably the dust. He rubbed his eyes and congratulated himself on what he was about to do. Water. He needed a drink. With a cup, he sat in her chair and considered the computer. Tomorrow, she’d be horrified. His throat tightened with excitement. He’d pose her for maximum embarrassment, upload the pictures to as many porn sites as he could. She’d be dealing with it for years.
God, he itched all over. What the hell? He was breaking out in hives! A cat? She’d never said anything about a cat.
His throat continued to close. He’d left his EpiPen in his windbreaker. In the car. Running up the stairs and out the door, he made it to the driveway before falling to the ground, eyes bulging, fingers digging into the gravel until they were bloody.
In the morning, her neighbor screamed.
She peeked out the window. Rick’s dead eyes stared back. Pico stepped over him on the way to greet her.
Here are the links I have so far (don’t forget the ones in the intro paragraph of this blog)