Saturday, March 1, 2008

"Mary Travis, Winner'

When it comes to writing, I think of myself as a bricklayer. My stories build paragraph by paragraph--with time in between to step back and puzzle over their construction.
I regard my daughter, on the other hand, as a virtuoso. She sits at her computer and plays the langauge like music on a fine instrument.
Here's an excerpt from one of her latest short stories. It picks up as the main character, a spinster, embarks on a blind date arranged by her busy-body sister.
"The man's name was Graham – like the cracker! – Joan had cheerfully informed Mary. He was a payroll specialist at the insurance firm where Joan worked, and Joan had arranged for Mary to meet him at 7 p.m. at the diner down the street from Mary's building. It was already 6:30, and Mary could hear her sister's voice rattling around her skull:
Wear something nice! But not too nice. Wear your smart tweed coat, not your schlumpy wool one. For god's sake, wear nylons. If he brings flowers, act surprised, but not impressed.
She sighed before the vanity mirror as her eye dutifully noted every wrinkle and sag. One bristly hair had sprouted below her chin on the left side and she'd been rubbing a finger over it for two days now like a worry stone. She pawed around in the drawer for tweezers.
It was true, Joan was right, it had been a long time since she'd been on a date. The man at the library, Monsieur Amway as Joan called him, didn't count. She used to color her hair in the sink once a month, but she saw now in the mirror that the brown had faded. It was not so much that she'd gotten older, though that much was clear, but that she'd stopped thinking about such things. Her days carried her as if a piece of wood in a creek, from job to home, from book to book, from couch to bed. She had plodded without seeing where she was headed. And isn't that what you wanted? Your freedom? Or did you want a husband like Joan's and separate beds and the same stories over breakfast? Or maybe you just planned on dying alone?
Where she was headed, she supposed now, was to recreate some awkward Coke-with-two-straws high school date."

1 comment:

Elizabeth Caldwell said...

Arrgh! where can I read the rest?? I want to know how the date went!