Thursday, October 25, 2012

Week 6 - "I know I'm Supposed to Keep This a Secret, But..."

This will be a very short paragraph today. My main focus is finishing my novel.

The plane lifts off the runway and into the air. The person next to you turns and quietly whispers in your ear, "I know I'm supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone."

My Creativity
The plane had just taken off, and I was trying to get comfortable. Unfortunately the plane had been overbooked, and I didn't end up with a window seat like I'd requested. I guess that's why people pay  the extra for guaranteed seating. To make matters worse, I didn't get the aisle seat either. I was in the middle.

They guy by the window was already snoring and the person on the aisle wouldn't stop fidgeting. I put in my headphones, leaned my seat back, and closed my eyes. Even though I am a frequent flyer, I have never been a good passenger. No, I am not one of these people who drinks to get through a flight, nor do I get agitated. In fact, if you were to see me on a plane, you wouldn't even know that I was uncomfortable being in the air. My irrational belief is that my fear keeps the plane in the air. Yes, the minute I start to relax, the plane will hit turbulence and remind me to be afraid. I truly believe that if I stop being afraid, the plane will fall from the air.

So there I am trying to get comfortable and hopefully fall asleep, so my mind will stop talking to me. Just when I think I am about to drift off, the women beside me on the aisle starts to poke me. At first I think that she is simply trying to get comfortable, so I ignore her. As she continue to poke, I sigh heavily. The next thing I know, she takes off my headset. Before I have a chance to respond, her mouth is up by my ear.

I can feel her breath as she says, "I know I'm supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone."

You can only image how quickly that got my attention. My heart started to beat faster and the blood drained from my face. I looked at the woman who now sat with a huge grin on her face. She didn't look like a terrorist. That's when it occurred to me that I had no idea what a terrorist was actually supposed to look like. I cleared my throat and reached up to press the flight attendant call button.

She pushed my hand down before I reached the button, "Did you hear me?"

I smiled back; the last think I wanted to do was engage in this conversation. The problem was, it didn't seem like pissing her off would be a good idea.

"Yes," my voice squeaked out.

"So, don't you want to know what I know?"

Did I? Did I want to know that there was a bomb on the plane or a crazy gunman aboard? Would it be better to just die in ignorance? Now that the question of a secret was out there, of course I wanted to know. How else was I going to relax.

"Do I?" She just sat there with her silly, child-like grin. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and replied "Sure".

She giggled. This crazy woman actually giggled before telling me the plane was going to crash and my life was over. Of all the seats on the plane, how did I end up in this one. I was afraid, very afraid. Could my fear keep the plane from crashing?

She leaned in closer, "You're boyfriend has two seats in first class, and he as soon as the seat belt sign goes off, he is going to come back here and propose to you."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Week Five - One Memorable Night

Note: Sorry I am a week late. I've been trying not to get sick and also getting ready for my time away.

While at a bar, your high school sweetheart approaches you and gives you an unexpected kiss on the lips. This causes you to have an intense reaction that will lead to a very memorable night - but not for good reasons.

My Creativity
Standing by the bar, I was watching the ladies dance. It was just a matter of figuring out who would be my mark. After making eye contact with a girl for most of a song, I decided to approach her. As I left the bar and headed towards the dance floor, I was abruptly stopped. Next thing I knew, I was locking lips with my high-school sweetheart. We'd dated for two years. At the time I thought she was the love of my life; I'd even thought about proposing. Instinct took over, and I found myself kissing her back. My one hand instantly cradling her face and the other on her back. Just as suddenly as the kiss started, it stopped. She pulled away and slapped me across the face.

I stood there dumbfounded. A small group of onlookers had now gathered. Had it been a guy, I would have hit back. I stood there, my mouth gaping open. A very obvious erection was starting to swell in my pants. Was it the kiss or the slap that had turned me on? Did it matter?

I flinched as she took a step towards me. There was a strange fire in her eyes. I saw passion and pain. Perhaps she was waiting for me to reacted. As I went to pull her closer, she slapped me again.

"How could you?" she screamed over the music.

"You kissed me," I replied, trying not to let me mixture of anger and lust show.

Small pools of water were filling her eyes. Unable to see her cry, I redirected my view. Maybe I could still catch the eyes of the dancing girl. Although she was still swaying to the music, she was certainly not paying attention to me. Sensing my stare, she looked up and shock her head. Well, hocking up with her was out of the question.

"Look at me," she paused. "Look at me," she hollered.

Tears where now streaming down her soft, pale skin. She looked so vulnerable.

"What?", I yelled back. "What do you want from me?" I paused. "You left me."

She seemed to be shacking. "I know," she answered softly. "We were going different ways. It was the easy thing to do."

"Easy for you."

"No, for you." Her head slumped down, and her shoulders heaved. "You were going to university. You had a scholarship. I couldn't be the one to hold you back."

"You're crazy if you thought it was easy for me," my voice continuing to be a little too loud. "It was selfish."

With a quick look up at me, she turned to walk away. Obviously leaving was her thing. I reached out to grab her arm, but at the last minuted decided against it. I wasn't going to let her get into my head. Almost in a trance, I was following her outside the bar. How could she still have so much power over me?

Thin snow was falling from the sky, and the wind was tossing around garbage from the littered parking lot.

"You can't walk away this time," I called after her.

She stopped and looked at me, "You really have no idea do you?" She no longer seemed to be crying. "You wouldn't have been able to handle it."

"Handle what? I thought you were coming to live near campus with me."

"I couldn't go anymore."

"We could have done the long distance thing."

"No, I had to let you go."

"It wasn't your decision to make alone."

Tears started to fall down her cheeks again, "You couldn't have handled it."

"Whatever." Cold and angry I started to walk towards my car. I wasn't playing silly high-school games.

As I went to open my car door, I turned to take a final look at the girl from my past. She was gone.

"Stop," she cried just as I was getting inside. "She would have changed everything."

"She? She who? Stop talking in circles. Lose the code."

"Your daughter."

I dropped down into the driver's seat. "My daughter," I whispered back.

"I found out I was pregnant shortly after prom. I knew you would have given up everything to help me, help us. I wasn't going to have a pity relationship. I wasn't going to ruin your plans. I..."

I'd stopped listening. "I have a daughter," I continued to say under my breath. "A daughter."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Week Four - Thank You for Punishing Me

You've been convicted of a crime, but the judge recognizes that this is your first offense. Instead of sending you to jail, he hands down an extremely unusual punishment. What's even more unusual is, after it's over, you come back to thank him. Why?

My Creativity
I stood there beside my lawyer waiting to hear what the judge would say. I'd just pleaded guilty to theft. It was stupid really. I was desperate to own the newest Gucci purse. I thought for sure it would help me get a job. I really wanted to be the editor of a fashion magazine. Now I'll be lucky to get a job at all.

"Please rise for your sentence," commanded the bailiff.

I stood beside me lawyer and took a deep breath. I think everyone in the courtroom was able to hear the pounding of my heart.

"Given that you voluntarily pleaded guilty and that this is your first offence, I don't think that a fine or jail time is warranted. Nor am I convinced that it will teach you any lesson."

'O'kay,' I thought. 'I can handle some community service.' I just hopped that it wasn't cleaning graffiti or picking up trash at the side of the road.

"It is unfortunate that greed and vanity got the better of you," continued the judge. "I believe that what you need is to learn the difference between needs and wants," the judge paused. "It is for this reason that I sentence you to spending three nights and four days of living on the street."

I remember looking at the judge and thinking that it must be a joke; perhaps I was being punked. Immediately my lawyer began spewing words about rights and humiliation; to be honest I'm not even sure what they were. I touched my lawyers arm, "It's alright," I whispered. "I'll do it."

I wasn't even given the opportunity to go home. I was stripped of my belongings, make-up, wallet, keys, and the likes before being dropped off at a homeless shelter. There was already a line forming in front of the locked doors. Apparently even homeless shelters had business hours.

The experience was nothing like I expected it to be. I'm not even sure that I could call it humbling or eye opening. There doesn't seem to be a word to describe the world I found myself in. I went from a promising business women to what felt like a begging street animal. In fact, there were times when I was even treated at such. People walk by without looking, or yelling at you to get a job. The odd person might drop you some spare change or offer you leftovers from their meal, but it seemed to happen less often.

Getting food wasn't the only problem. Apparently there are only so many beds available at the shelters; hence the line up on the first day. If you don't get there in time for a bed, you are left to find comfort on the streets. You can try your luck on a park bench or bus shelter, but you may end up spending the night in jail instead. I understand how that could be appealing to some of the regulars. There are of course back alleys and abandon buildings available, if you don't mind boarding with mice and various insects.

By the end of the second day, I would have done almost anything for a bath. I found myself in a gas station bathroom trying to bathe as best as I could. Without much soap, hot water, or space it wasn't easy. At least I was somewhat clean. In many ways it only mattered to me. People on the street don't judge one another. There are no pressures to explain yourself, to look a certain way or to act a certain way. It is about survival.

As I spend my time outside, I watched people. Always in such a hurry. Always on the phone. Living in a world where only they belong. How could I have been part of that world? On the streets, I met people other homeless people who wanted to help me; people who offered to share with me from what little they had. People watched out for each other. It was an actual community. In someways it seemed to contain elements of humanity, such as manners, that we seem to have lost.

I got through my time, because I knew that I would be going home. I held on to that hope. What hope did many of the others have? At the end of my sentence I went home to clean out my closet and my pantry. I was one person, why did I need so many extras? Before going to the homeless shelter, I stopped at the courthouse. I wanted to thank the judge for reminding me what life is truly about.

Note: Sorry that it is a little late this week. I decided to be sick. I would like to have taken more time on this story to have done some research on how the judicial system works and also to really understand what life in like for a homeless person. Without that research, my piece is missing a certain honesty to it.