I'm posting for 60 days straight, leading up to my early December birthday, and I'm making the time to write on behalf of slain UCC Professor and aspiring novelist, Larry Levine.
I wrote this little slice of fiction while traveling Monday night, and this brief vignette was written purely as an exercise in observation, with the intent to bring characters to life as quickly as possible.
Both screens gleamed bright white and proud in the dim airplane light, without concern of who could see. Or perhaps both passengers wanted attention: compliments on the kid sports shots, questions about the wedding candids.
Kid Sports was clearly a traveling businessman, late 30s, perhaps early 40s. Probably mid to senior level at a Bay Area tech company.. Given the quantity and average quality of the photos in his bright stream, he was one of THOSE dads … experiencing his tween daughter’s sports through a DSLR viewfinder. Perhaps a David, Michael, or John. With a Gail, Kirsten, or Cathey at home, feeding the tween daughter dinner after pickup from practice. Probably another there was another child, a sibling for Soccer Girl.
But Beth’s bitterness and isolation forced her to look away from Kid Sports and his photos. She didn’t want another reminder of what she so desperately wanted and didn’t have. She focused up the row to the other beacon of light. Proud Wedding was older, Caucasian, perhaps early 60s, sitting next to a distinguished silver haired fellow, presumably the husband of 40 plus years. The wedding photos on the screen were like thousands that have come before. An impossibly young and naive bride and groom - mid 20s, maybe - looking stunning in their finery. An ode to naivety, possibility, and the future. The festivities leading up to the big day involved some outdoor activities which featured canary yellow Camaro or Corvette compete with a racing number.
That they were amateur car racing enthusiasts angered Beth more than Snappy Shutter. Much more. She knew people had their hobbies, their diversions. She’d been told time and time again that there were few like her. Intellectually she understood this but the waste still infuriated her. In this case the waste was a three-fer: car racing further depleted natural resources purely for an idiotic pastime, was incredibly expensive, and all that time spent did zip, zero, nada to improve society.
We are such an arrogant, entitled culture, she thought, and not for the first time. Beth emitted a small sigh, closed her eyes, felt for the round metal release, and leaned back to quiet the anger at Proud Wedding, at Kid Sports, and, if she was honest with herself, at her foolish weak sister, Addict Annie.
Who was also staring at an Apple screen. But no wedding or kids for Annie. She was snapping, typing, making a face, snapping, then typing some more. Her latest fixation was the new guy from group. Dan or Ken. Something short and masculine. They’d flirted. Well, she’d flirted and after some initial hesitation, he played along. Especially after teasing him with ‘a nipples erect under a too small tee’ shot. It wasn’t the first time she’d snapped one of those selfies, certainly wouldn’t be the last.
She had no idea why she did half the things she did. Didn’t really want to know this Dan or Ken. Didn’t care about his kids, looming divorce, struggles at work. Just wanted to flirt, play, hopefully hook up before the end of the week. Then move on.
To be continued (perhaps!) ....