A Writer Writes. Even Mediocrely. (That’s the phrase, right?)




Inspired by this afternoon’s conversation with my writing
group buddy, Jenelle, this story is based on pw.org’s Prompt:
Write a story that opens with your main character
doing something that is completely antithetical to his or her personality.

Having not written fiction in a long time, here is a cliché short story in
which little happens! Enjoy!

Ordinarily, she’d never have said such a thing, but once it
was done there was no unsaying it. The entire class, in their half-piano desks, turned; the professor, wearing tweed without irony, furrowed his wiry brows.
Orly tugged on the hem of her skirt, and sputter-mumbled
herself into rephrasing. “It – I – You’d asked what reason the main character
might have for delaying such an important meeting, and I just think – well,
based on the lascivious language the author uses elsewhere in the chapter – well, I just think she might
delay in order to … to masturbate.”
A student in the 2nd row who’d turned around shifted
his gaze to the guy across the aisle and raised his eyebrows in Groucho Marx
innuendo. The girl to her left, Wendy, simply stared, like Orly was a pop icon,
or on fire.
Into the silence, Professor Grant regained his composure by
flipping back and forth a few pages of the novel they’d been discussing, and
the rustling caught wind through the classroom as other students scoured their
books as well.
“Surely, Miss Elliot, we each have an interpretive reading, and
yours is quite … creative, but I see little evidence of your so-called
‘lascivious language’ in Motley’s prose. Perhaps you’ve confused our text with The
Interpretation of Dreams
The few students who understood snickered and made a few
last side-long glances toward Orly, now curving her spine low into the
molded seat, and consciously willing her foot to stop hyper-jangling as the class
resumed its course.
After class, she quickly descended the front ADA-approved ramp and
turned left out of the 6pm crowd toward the dusky brick buildings that
flanked the Commons.
“Orly!” someone called behind her. “Orly, wait up!” Orly
turned around as Mike Gordon hurried out of the mill of students. She paused to
mentally check that her skirt still faced forward and hadn’t edged around sideways
like it does, and ran her tongue over her teeth for good measure. “Hey, Mike,”
she replied, and turned back as he caught up to her, matching her pace, his
messenger bag thumping their rhythm.
“That was pretty lame of Grant to call you out like that. I
mean, I think what you said made sense. It’s too bad it’s just a bunch of
prudes in that class.”
Orly inwardly smiled, and, with more nonchalance than she
felt, breathed, “Oh, it’s no big deal. I mean, I should know by now to fly
under the radar with Grant.”
“Ha! Then who’d keep that class interesting?”
They walked along into the deepening darkness, the wan peach
of street lights punctuating their path until it T-d into Emerson Boulevard.
They both came to a stop on the same square of pavement and faced each other
for the first time that evening.
“So, I guess you’re off to the library?” Mike asked.
“Why would you assume that?”
“Because it’s where I always see you,” he said, looking
amused. “Books splayed open across the whole table like the bodies of Gettysburg!”
Orly laughed. “So that’s what you think of me? Some
bookworm, huh?” she teased back.
“No, no, it’s just I – I just meant…” At this, he finally
broke his gaze and watched a car pass. “No, I just thought maybe we could study
together sometime. I think you’d have a good influence on me, is all.”
“Well, Michael Gordon,” Orly said and turned, indeed, toward the library, “it’s about time someone did!”

2 thoughts on “A Writer Writes. Even Mediocrely. (That’s the phrase, right?)

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