I’ve been going through some stuff I wrote years and years ago when I wrote and edited for a long-defunct e-zine called “Mosaic Minds”. I haven’t been able to access everything–I’m missing, especially, a short story I would love to read again–but I did find this little piece of short fiction from November 2004 that I find especially pleasing. I’m not sure how much credit I can take for it, really, as it came to me all at once, fully-formed. Anyway, it seems particularly appropriate just now, when I really should be focusing on my current work.
She wasn’t really a coffee drinker and the bitterness of it always surprised her a little whenever she did drink it. Curious that something that smelled so luxurious and inviting should be so off-putting when sampled. She was tempted to draw parallels between that and some of the other things—and people—in her life, but in the end that struck her as too trite and she dismissed the thought.
She had a deadline in less than two days and hadn’t written a thing. Not a single word. Well, of course that wasn’t strictly true—she had written hundreds, if not thousands, of words but had ultimately deemed them unsatisfactory and discarded them summarily.
Summarily. She said it again, hissing long on the “s” and lingering over each of the four syllables so that it ended up sounding to her like the name of a girl in a Southern novel, a girl in a gauzy white dress that molded to the shape of her legs as she leaned over the veranda rail in the late-summer breeze. She would be holding a mint julep carelessly in one slender, long-fingered hand as she called out to the young man walking toward her. Wasn’t a mint julep practically de rigueur for the girls in white dresses who spent their late-summer afternoons on wide verandas?
She could probably weave an entire novel from that one scene, she mused, supposing, of course, that she had even the vaguest idea what a mint julep actually was. Those sorts of novels were undoubtedly best left to genuine Southerners (a nasal twang, “gin-u-WINE,” played in her head, though that wasn’t at all the way the girl on the veranda would sound). West Coast journalists who had been reduced to writing restaurant reviews for an
independent weekly might do better to remember their relative station in the hierarchy of writers and just get the damned article written already.