Sunday, September 04, 2005

Flash Fiction Friday #6

We get the first line from JJ on Friday and create a short story due the following Monday. Come and join us!

This week's assignment: The most embarrassing thing...

The most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you. Jenny held the card out to me triumphantly. I took it and stared dumbly, my mind a whirlwind of confusion. The most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you.

Of course I would choose truth, and they had known I would choose truth, had known I’d be too chicken to choose dare, given the stories they’d circulated of their sleepovers. They’d probably arranged for me to get this particular card in this particular game. A test.

Keeping my eyes on the card, I rapidly turned over and then rejected one embarrassing memory after another, each too horrible to admit in front of Jenny, Joanie and Jillian -- the J Crew, as we called them behind their backs. What could I offer up to them as something only mildly embarrassing, something they wouldn’t deem blackmail worthy, something to charm them, soothe their savage beasts -- something they would buy?

I looked up just as Jenny and Jillian exchanged knowing glances. Jenny caught my eye and smiled sweetly. She stretched her leg across the circle and poked me with her big toe. "C’mon, Kay, surely you can come up with SOMEthing. Tick-tock!"

The white pants/bloody underwear in English last year? The Boy Scout/Girl Scout campsite French kiss incident? The time my mom showed up at a football game in red hot pants and white go-go boots?

I could feel my stomach tighten on barely digested cheese doodles and root beer floats. I gritted my teeth and clenched my butt cheeks to hold in a stinkyfart, which only caused my stomach to rumble menacingly. They were staring at me now, their patience waning, ready to pounce.

All right. Pay attention to detail, but not too much detail. Have faith in your characters. Sincerity is key. Ready? Okay. Now or never. Deep breath. Words came rushing out in a jumbled mess.

"My older brother, Chuckie is his name, he was born retarded. I mean, you know, literally retarded where he has that weird-shaped head and he doesn’t make sense when he talks and my mom wouldn’t let us call him retarded to his face because she said we should call him a Downs person if we had to call him anything at all and he smiles a lot and watches cartoons and Batman movies."

I stopped to take a breath. The J Crew leaned in as one. They hadn’t expected pathos. Good. I relaxed a bit, forced myself to slow down.

"Even though he’s a lot older than me and my younger brothers, he would still hang out with us when we were kids and try to play softball out back or go swimming. He loved RC Cola in the bottle and would beg us to walk with him to the corner store to buy one. Same routine every day: Mr. Sanders would open the bottle, hand it to Chuckie, and Chuckie would drink the whole thing right there in front of Mr. Sanders. He wouldn’t budge until he’d drained the bottle, no matter how many customers were behind him, just to hear Mr. Sanders say, ‘Good boy, Chuckie, good boy’."

Breathe. Just breathe.

"So one day Chuckie’s going through his RC Cola routine and I’m over by the magazines reading the new Batman comic and my little brothers are outside waiting for us and I don’t hear Chuckie leave. Next thing you know Mrs. Walpole, that lady who wears those funny straw hats, I’m sure you’ve seen her" –- Jenny nodded knowingly, atta girl Jenny -- "is standing in the doorway, pointing out to the road and yelling, ‘Mr. Sanders, look at those boys out there in front of your store!’

"I rush to the front along with Mr. Sanders, and there are Chuckie and Gary and Bobby standing shoulder to shoulder with their" –- I allowed myself to blush as I looked down, fumbling momentarily. J Crew inched in closer and demanded, "What? What?" I looked up and blurted out, "Their THINGIES in their hand, and they’re all peeing right there in the parking lot, trying to see who can pee the farthest!"

Jenny and Jillian screeched and fell backward with laughter. Joanie joined in reluctantly, her laughter a bit forced.

"Oh my god, what a Polaroid moment," gasped Jenny. "You poor thing," cooed Jillian, patting my knee. "It was just so gross," I said, covering my face and laughing.

Joanie waited for our laughter to subside before she asked, her eyes hard, "Yeah, and then what happened?"

I hesitated only for an instant. "Well, um, you know, I don’t really know because I ran around the building and hid behind the dumpster. A few minutes later my mom showed up and ordered the boys to get in the car. I ran all the way home so I wouldn’t have to be in the same car with them. Ugh." I shuddered for effect.

Jenny stood up and took a framed photo off her night stand. She sat down between Joanie and me. "My older brother Todd, good lord you wanna talk about gross. One time he was taking a shower…"

I smiled and nodded and gasped in all the right places. In like Flynn. What had I been so worried about? I caught Joanie studying me and I winked at her. She didn’t wink back.


At September 05, 2005 7:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be on the outside ofthe inner circle... girls can be so mean.

I don't understand the last paragraph's "In like Flynn." though.

At September 05, 2005 8:44 AM, Blogger JJ said...

This is good and really captures what I think the spirit of that moment was like, but why do so many of the FFF ladies write about junior high and high school? Is it that traumatic? I remember it as being a mildly annoying but daily event that got between me and hanging out.

At September 05, 2005 10:53 AM, Blogger Knitty Kitty said...

Very nice... I always feared that game at sleepovers!

At September 05, 2005 11:09 AM, Blogger Knitty Kitty said...

btw, i took your computer savviness quiz.. scored a 68, think I need some fresh air, maybe find some friends.... ack...

At September 05, 2005 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my name is Todd and I take showers too (ha, good one)

At September 05, 2005 5:24 PM, Blogger Jenny said...

Brought me back to the "sleepover days"---so glad they are over! Nice read--:o)

At September 06, 2005 11:16 PM, Blogger Monkey said...

I liked this. It is interesting how both you and Ubermilf wrote about these teen years. I think it's the simple fact that embarrassment is the bread and butter of the years between 12 and 17. I loved when she's thinking about the possible things she could choose... the blood/white pants. So much pathos in those years.

JJ... if I could erase those years, actually just 13, I might do it. Just might.

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