Thursday, January 13, 2011

January writing group

Another 30 minute writing session with the writing group. This month had a llama-themed prompt.

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My van smelled like llama. It's an odd observation, I know, but my dad raised llamas, and I grew up around them. They're ill-tempered, ugly, and, worst of all, smelly. It's a smell that stays with you and now my van had it. I took it to be a bad omen for the day and, in this, I unfortunately proved to be far more prescient than I could have imagined.
I couldn't sleep the night before. I kept waking to odd sounds and bumps, but, when I checked, the flat was quiet. In the morning I asked my roommate, Phil, about the sounds. He was up much earlier than me, a miracle in itself, and looked like he hadn't slept much the night before either. Choking on his coffee, he sputtered something dismissive and shuffled back to his room. Phil is an odd bird, and unaccustomed to mornings, so I thought little of his behavior.
When I got to my van, I discovered that some little bastard had siphoned my gas tank during the night sometime. The extra errand to fill up the tank meant I was late to work. My boss, a righteous asshole at the best of times, had little empathy and apparently even less mouthwash. His breath was atrocious, not unlike a llama's.
I'd forgotten my lunch, and was reduced to foraging in the vending machine. I worked my way through an undated bag of generic trail mix and decided a call to Susie would brighten things up. We'd been through a rough patch, but things were good now. Better than they had been before.
She picked up after a few rings and answered my vague, open-ended questions with terse, conversation-ending blips of sentences. When pressed, she explained that her mom was on the other line and she wanted to get back to her. I convinced her to call her mom back, claiming that I only had a few minutes of lunch left.
The problem was she wasn't talking to her mom. It was her ex, Mike.
I'd like to say I picked up on sublet clues in her words or attitude. I'd like to say that I received some revelation from the universe that something was amiss. I'd like to say it wasn't Mike, but her mother, but the truth of the matter was that Suzy was a barely-functioning member of our technological world. She was technologically challenged. She does not know how to change back to the other line on her phone.
So I listened to her spill out, in great detail, her side of our conversation. How whiny and dependent I had become, what a bore I was, etc. I, at first, tried to cut in, to explain that I was not, indeed, Mike, but as the details unfolded I found the opportunity to reveal myself getting smaller and smaller as my embarrassment for both of us grew greater and greater. When she dove into explicit details of my failing to fulfill her more carnal needs, I hoped my horrified silence would indicate a lack of interest on Mike's part and thus the end of the conversation. It did not. Her pause, followed by a long string of "Ohmygod" repeated over and over like a mantra of suffering led me to believe that she had figured out her rather large gaffe.
I hung up and turned off my phone, unsure of what else to do.
I told my boss I was going home. His anger was impressive, but ultimately wasted on my numbed state.
Getting back into my llama-mobile, I drove home on auto-pilot, just wanting the day to end. Perhaps I could wake up tomorrow and start over.
Reaching the flat, I noticed the llama smell was growing stronger. I put my key in the lock, which started a banging and shuffling ruckus on the other side of the door, accompanied by Phil shouting "Just a moment" repeatedly.
That's when my day really went to shit.

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