Saturday, December 9, 2006

Mother of all Memes...The story continues...

Mrs. Chicken at Chicken and Cheese started a collaborative fictional story early this week and already the story is getting really good. I'm game for a challenge, especially if it's a writing challenge so I threw my hat in the ring to participate. If you think you'd like to try your hand, shoot her a comment!

Here's the story thus far (with authors noted):

(by Mrs. Chicken @
Chicken and Cheese)

I thought I saw him at the grocery store. It was raining that afternoon, and he had an umbrella. The red and white triangles that made up his portable shelter partly obscured his face, but I caught a glimpse of his eyes. Those eyes. Huge, blue and empty.

When he left me I remember searching their vast cerulean expanse for some sign, some flicker of love. It rained that day, too. Why does it rain when you lose someone you love? My tears left him unmoved. I don’t know why that surprised me.

The baby kicked in my cart and I let my gaze fall on her face. Her father’s eyes stared back at me. Green eyes, warm and full of life.“Mamma?” she said. “Mamma!”

(by Binky @

The question-turned-exclamation jarred me out of my reverie. There was pressure in my temples and behind the hazel tint of my colored contact lenses. "Mamma's here," I cooed. My voice was a manufactured kind of soothing. I leaned in and brushed a kiss over Bethany's forehead, where a drop of rainwater hung like the tiniest Swarovski pendant. Its chain was made of fine blond locks.

"What do you think, baby girl?" I asked as I pulled her into my arms. "Is it time to go home?" Her searching legs and center of gravity found all the right contours as she settled atop the jut of my hip. I tugged at her coat until the hood framed her face, then I stepped into the rain. A small deluge of water streamed off the curve of the lowercase "o" on the Save-A-Lot sign and landed at the back of my neck. I could feel the tag from my shirt sticking sharp and soggy to my skin.

I sighed against Bethany's face and tried to avoid the bigger puddles on our way to my twenty year old Civic, which was miraculously close. One row over and three cars ahead, I saw a familiar red and white umbrella spanning the gap between an open door and the driver's seat of a rusty 4Runner that had to be as old as my own piece of junk. The guy I'd mistaken for Paul sat sideways and watched the rain as he talked into a cell phone.

(by Tony @
Creative-Type Dad)

Hastily reaching into my purse holding Bethany firmly, I could faintly hear the sound of his voice. His mumbled words were almost too reminiscent of Paul’s. The way he laughed as he said “Gouda” into his plastic phone brought back imagery of the two of us, sitting together last winter on the living room floor, sipping Merlot watching “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. Occasionally Paul would jokingly burst out vocabulary in his comedic English accent – expressions like “Don Perignon!” and “Caviar Dreams!” oh, how I loved Caviar and that faux bear skin rug.

With keys finally in hand, stumbling to open the rusty car door, I could sense this stranger's stare against my cheek. His phone chatter abruptly ended and I could hear the sounds of squeaking cowboy boots crushing the wet pavement.

(by Occidental Girl @ The Occidental Tourist)

My mind was suddenly full of so many thoughts vying for my attention at the same time that I couldn't think straight.

It can't be him, I thought, no way. What would I say? What do I look like? What am I wearing???

The answers came in rapid succession: It could be him, it's okay if it's him because I'm not angry anymore; I could talk about my fulfilling life that I've enjoyed since knowing him, like this beautiful child I created with someone else, without him; I look like shit but since I'm too hard on myself in general, I probably look just fine; men - especially Paul - don't notice what women are wearing unless it's nothing at all. Then, they notice.

When you coincidentally encounter someone you loved once, a long time ago, the traitorous mind tends to retrieve only the good memories and leave the battles and frustrations out of it. This leaves us to wonder what in the world we ever thought was wrong and maybe it was a mistake to end the relationship. After all, doesn't every relationship have ups and downs? Ours certainly did. It was passionate, without a doubt, but in every area: the loving AND the fighting. It was when the fighting overtook the loving that we fell apart. I wonder if he ever thought about all of that, even now. Paul didn't seem to notice many thing unless they were stark - naked or otherwise.

And yet, here he was - maybe - coming over to talk after all this time.

I took a deep breath, then turned around.

(by Meg @

"Hey." He practically whispered.
Oh. My. God."
Hi." Was it relief or despair?
"I wasn't sure you'd remember me."
"No, I..." Not Paul. Not Paul. Not Paul. Who the hell was it?
"Peter Johnston, I sat behind you in statistics freshman year."

Peter freakin' Johnston. I felt my pulse in my neck, and I focused my breathing the way I had 15 short months ago in labor. Not Paul.

Peter held his umbrella over me and the squirmy Bethany. Idle chat. Wife, 3 kids, new job, just moved into town, wife hasn't met anyone yet. Not Paul. Not Paul. Peter was bursting with the need to share his happiness, which allowed him to simply see an old acquaintance, not someone's former lover plagued by mere memory.

"Dinner sounds great, I'd love to meet Lisa and the kids."

With the baby buckled in and my door as close to closed as it got, I watched Peter close his own door. The rain rushed down the window and distorted the images. It blended the head and brake lights of the cars winding their way through the parking lot.

(by Bethany @
mommy writer):

The seven-thirty hour, the one right after dinner, is always the worst. Waiting for Daniel to come home, feeding and changing Bethany for bedtime, cleaning the kitchen. It's a nuisance and a routine all the same.

That is, until Daniel comes stumbling into the back door in nothing short of drunkeness.

"Hi honey," he chirped balancing himself against the cracked linoleum counter kicking off his shoes, "Sorry I'm late."

When isn't he late?

"S'okay," I look up from the over-used skillet I'd been tackling with a worn Scotch pad for the last 15 minutes, "Had a good time tonight?"

Daniel only tripped past my shoulder to the spaghetti, waiting in the stained Tupperware and fixed himself a plate of dinner.

It's just as well. I didn't have the energy to congratulate him on an obvious vaccuum sale. Not today. The office post-sale drinks in celebration are too habitual, if not an excuse. And it isn't as if he'd just made a commission worth writing home about. It was more like we'd be able to splurge on groceries. Or buy Bethany the expensive diapers.

"This is good," he chewed, spilling sauce to the edges of his lips. The edges I used to adore when he spent more time smiling.

"Bethany went to bed easily tonight," I said more to myself than Daniel. "For once anyway."

Daniel shoveled another tangle of noodles into his mouth. He was either too drunk to realize I was trying engage him in conversation, or plain ignoring me.

I rinsed the pot and placed it beside the sink where the drying rack should be, the one I was too lazy to take from the bottom cupboard. Patting my hands on the stretched blue jeans that hugged my legs for the last two days, I pecked my husband on the forehead and walked towards the bedroom.

Just before leaving the hallway, I called back to him, "Your nemisis, Peter Johnston is back in town. We're having dinner with him, wife, and kids this weekend."

(Heather @
Cool Zebras)

I paused for a moment just inside the bedroom door. Ahhh. There is was, the choked sputter of breath, then silence.

I allowed my thoughts to wander while I pulled on my well-worn flannel nightie.

Peter and Daniel had been at odds since they were five. Preschool battles over who got the first cracker evolved into teenage hostilities on the basketball court. B Squad basketball at that. If there was something they could compare, you could bet there would be a pissing contest about it.

I’d avoided both of them in high school.

I continued my bedtime routine and tried to ignore the clink of bottles from the kitchen. I pulled at the corners of each eye and slipped out my contacts. Even to me my eyes looked tired, my skin drawn. It has been too long since I’ve dyed my roots.

The woman in the mirror looked sad, but then one corner of my mouth started to twitch.

I loved that Peter had no idea that I married Daniel.


It's your turn Christy!

On Deck:
Mrs. Maladjusted
Desitin's Child
Tater And Tot
Word Girl

8 people like me!:

Mrs. Chicken said...

Wonderful, Heather! This is such a blast.

Bethany said...

Oh... you ROCK GIRL! This is SO where I was hoping the story would go! :-)

creative-type dad said...

Very nice!
I'm really liking the twist in the story-

Sandy said...

I bow down to you my what you did with the twist!

kurt said...

I would offer to add something, but I work at

Bonnie B said...

I love it!!!! What fun!!!

Betty said...

This can actually be printed on a hardcover one day! Good job Heather!

Damselfly said...

How fun! Can't wait to see what will happen.

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