Mannequin Monday – I Never Liked You
Post #19 for Mannequin Monday. Join me as I dress the blank page. As I highlight others who drape the blank form with their words.
Today, a short story I like from Alex Kidman, titled The Beach. “Behind me, I could hear the noise of another bottle being opened and the bubbles of laughter I just had to get away from.”
And my story Remember Me. All about a breakup video a woman posts on YouTube. “I never liked you, Chase.”
This Week’s Story
Journalist and writer Alex Kidman posted on his website one story from his published collection Fifty Two.
A man walks along the beach at water’s edge. Alone. Moving away from something. Someone. “The only footprints are my own, quickly being swept away by the unrelenting tide.”
The man and a woman have driven for many hours for a reunion of old friends at a familiar beach house. By evening, he realizes he does not belong there.
“Behind me, I could hear the noise of another bottle being opened and the bubbles of laughter I just had to get away from.” He knows and likes the people at the house. Yet “This isn’t you.” “You don’t fit in.”
The man walks into the night. “The moon isn’t quite full, but it provides the only light shining down on me as I sit and stare at the endless churning nothing of the waves”.
He muses: “They probably haven’t even noticed.”
And then he considers walking into the ocean. “What would they say if they found me?”
And, “What would she say if she found me?”
He sits quietly. “The waves are now lapping at my feet, and I can see the stars above me. The waves seem inviting and warm, even as I can feel my feet getting numb from the cold water.”
“It would be so easy to just get up and walk into the waves, and forget it all. Forget Gary. Forget Keith and Amanda and Sally and that whole fucking lot.”
It would be so easy… “And then I see her.”
“In the moonlight, shawl wrapped tightly around her shivering shoulders, tears streaking down her face.”
And hope blooms.
This is a fine short story. Kidman sets the scene quickly, succinctly. A man simply walks away from the party. Finds himself alone on a night beach. Wonders what would happen if he just walked into the water. How would they all react?
Interesting how the author names everyone except the man and his woman friend/girlfriend. Those with names are “that whole fucking lot.” The story walks us steadily to what could be a somber end.
And then hope takes our hand.
Read the full story here.
My Current Writing
Here’s another example of my latest writing, a short story inspired by several YouTube videos posted by the COVID-19 homebound. I hope you enjoy it.
“I never liked you, Chase.”
The YouTube video opened on a young woman, early thirties, sitting in front of an upright piano. A firm declaration. I never liked you.
The room looked small, light coming from an unseen open window behind the camera, giving her face a too-bright tone. A simple blue couch lined the rear wall. A small table occupied one corner, with a tall narrow lamp, a gold tone cylindrical shade. Across the wall above the couch was a wire sculpture, a woman’s form. A pair of gray headphones sat on the couch.
The woman turned to face the camera. “Hello, Chase. Emily here. Remember me?”
A measured, even tone. She turned back, played a few bars on the piano.
“You remember me, right?” Still looking at the keys. “Your dinner date from two nights ago?”
Emily turned to the camera again. Stared for a moment. Broke into a smile. “This is my breakup video, asshole.”
She eased into playing Tegan and Sara’s “I Was a Fool.” Her voice soft. “Do you remember me…”
Quiet, simple, evocative of intimacy. While she played, she again turned to the camera. Stared hard.
“You do remember me, right? You took me to dinner. Our second date. I met you in front of the dinner club. You came directly from work. I wore my little black dress. You looked me up and down. You know, the elevator look. You shook your head, said, ‘That won’t work. Let’s get to Macy’s before they close.’
“You dragged me to Macy’s. Told the retail clerk to put me in a black pencil skirt with an ivory top. Pearl necklace. Fake, of course.”
Emily looked away for a moment. Spoke without eyeing the camera. “My black dress is still there, in a bag under the counter. I’m too embarrassed to go back for it.”
She turned to the camera. “I donated the outfit you bought me to The Salvation Army.”
Emily moved to Tegan and Sara’s “Now I’m All Messed Up. ”
“Why do you take me down this road if you don’t wanna walk with me?”
She spoke over the tune. “Check out what I’m wearing.” A red dress with a subtle white floral print. Loose fitting. Tied at the waist with a fabric belt. On her head a black scarf reined in her dark, unruly hair. “This is my favorite outfit, Chase. Comfortable. Not the pseudo-chic shit you had me wear.”
She kept playing.
“Like the earrings? My favorite gold hoops. What do you think? Just big enough for a hummingbird to perch on, huh?” A smile.
Emily continued playing the piano. “I don’t much care if you like this video, and I doubt you’ve watched this far anyway.”
She shrugged. Stopped playing.
Emily slowly turned to the camera. A tear sild down her cheek. She pointed to the tear. “This isn’t a sad cry.” She smiled broadly. “I’m moving on. So long.” She flicked the tear away.
“Remember me, Chase.” Emily reached off camera. Faded to black.