red writing hood: hot mess

Happy Friday! It’s time for the Red Writing Hood meme over at The Red Dress Club. Here’s my response to this week’s wickedly fun yet challenging writing prompt:

Write a short piece of fiction about seeing an ex in the grocery store from the first person point-of-view. Instead of writing from the female perspective, we want you to write from the male perspective.

* * * * * * * * *

Nearly trembling, I navigated through the parking lot of the Grocery Outlet, clutching a six pack and a frozen pizza. I had tunnel vision. I could barely see what was right in front of me. I dug my phone out of my pocket and clumsily dialed my older sister’s phone number.

I hung up before it started ringing. I was in no shape to speak to anyone after what I’d just witnessed. It was only 9 pm and my hot mess of an ex-girlfriend, Laura, was completely inebriated and buying lots of wine. Just her and a man. At the Grocery Outlet that we had always frequented together, up until one month ago.

I’d evacuated the premises without being spotted by Laura. It helped that she was drunk. I couldn’t think of anything worse than being forced to meet her companion. I fought the desire to knock out every one of his teeth, even though I was the one who’d ended our dead-end relationship.

As I turned my key in the ignition, I spotted something in my rear-view mirror that made my heart flutter like a butterfly on crack. Laura’s obnoxiously orange car littered with a loud array of bumper stickers. And Laura was drunk. After two and a half years of sharing a bed, I knew what Laura looked like when she was inebriated. Even from a distance. The swagger, the overt affection, the lack of awareness or coordination.

Tiny droplets of moisture started to form along my spine. Should I mind my own business, drive away, and pretend I’d never seen anything? Or should I be a man and stop her? The former option was terrifying and the latter option was cowardly. Visions of smashed cars and tattered bodies clouded the rational area of my brain. I thought of what my sister, also Laura’s best friend, would say.

“Man up and grow some balls.”

Cursing myself for leaving the house that night, Laura for being reckless and myself again for ever loving her, I kept one eye on the exit door. Maybe the asshole she’s with will insist on driving her car. Doubtful, but I would hold out for any possibility that did not involve a face-to-face meeting. I watched her emerge from the store and climb into the driver seat.

Great.

I knew what I had to do, but I was frozen.

The orange beater car gingerly backed out of the spot. I had no other option but to follow her. Not because I cared, but because…well, I guess I did care. I didn’t want Laura to die. Or kill someone, unless it was her passenger. Or even get arrested. Not that I knew how I was helping by following her like a creepy stalker. On the spectrum of chivalry, I was in the middle. Not saving the day, but not running away.

My eyes shifted towards my phone for a split second. I looked up just in time to see Laura running a red light. Oh God. I had to do something before she caused an accident.  I was about one block behind her and Laura is not a slow driver, sober or drunk. I race through the suburban streets in my truck. Not exactly a limber vehicle. When I do catch up to her, I have no idea where I am. And I hate being lost. I start honking and motioning for Laura to pull over.

She does not.

I don’t know whether I was pissed to be on this adventure or scared for her life. This is why I had to leave this woman. She was always making me crazy.

This was the last time.

I called her and demanded she pull over. She didn’t say anything on the phone, but she pulled over and stayed in the car. So, I got out of mine, she rolled down her window and then I knew.

Laura was definitely sober.

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25 thoughts on “red writing hood: hot mess

    1. I wish I had time to keep writing because I could have explained that a little better! Do you remember when I said he only saw her from far away? I wanted to show that he was being arrogant in assuming he knew her so well that he KNEW she was drunk even though he never got to see her close-up. And with a few people I know, it’s always in the eyes 😉

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  1. Visiting from the Red Dress Club. Great piece. Your main character really came alive and I was definitely convinced he was a man through your use of language and voice. Although, I thought the six-pack and beer reference was a little too obvious. And I agree with Kristin, who also happens to be my real life sister, how did he know she wasn’t drunk at the end?

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    1. Hi Lindsay, great to meet you! Here’s what I told Kristin:

      I wish I had time to keep writing because I could have explained that a little better! Do you remember when I said he only saw her from far away? I wanted to show that he was being arrogant in assuming he knew her so well that he KNEW she was drunk even though he never got to see her close-up. And with a few people I know, it’s always in the eyes 😉

      Glad you enjoyed it and hope it makes a little more sense now…looking forward to seeing more of you on the red dress club!

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    2. One more thing. I agree that the beer reference was too obvious. This is why I love the red dress club! I need people to critique my writing if I’m going to get better.

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  2. The eyes of a drunk are a dead giveaway if you know the person well. People you know look different sober than when they are drunk.

    You caught up the reader and never let go. You did a good job except for that one slip that’s already been pointed out. Overall, excellent. Roland

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    1. Exactly. Thanks for your comment and I am very glad you enjoyed. I suppose I could have pointed that out. Or else emphasized that he only saw her from far away. Here’s my new ending:

      I called her and demanded she pull over. She didn’t say anything on the phone, but she pulled over and stayed in the car. So, I got out of mine, she rolled down her window and then I knew. I had assumed too much and maybe I still cared too much.

      It’s always in her eyes. And this time, Laura was definitely not drunk.

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  3. Really great writing! I like the original ending personally. 🙂 I really liked how all we know about Laura is his impression of her and then at the end that comes into question. Really enjoyed it.

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    1. Thanks, Jessica. And I’m glad you liked the original ending. Always nice to hear. I write fiction every Friday, so I hope you come back for more!! 🙂

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  4. Loved this post. The ending caught me completely off guard, but in a good way. I just found your blog through 20SB, and I liked the elevator pitch you gave. I wish my blog had a little more direction. You seem to know what you’re doing!

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    1. So glad you found me! I just wrote the elevator pitch recently. You should write one for your blog too. Let me know what it is, if you do 🙂

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