10 minutes to write about 1 of 3 scenarios in Novel Writing Workshop on Wednesday. This was my piece. Handwritten, 10/15/14.
“Ma, I told you. He was nice.”
“I’m just asking. So, was he cute?”
Cheryl’s arm shot out, held the phone at full reach in a fist and shook it as she exhaled below, trying to compose herself. She threw herself back, feet up on the expensive yet hideous floral printed couch – another gift from her mother she despised. She returned the phone toher ear and the other hand to her forehead, clamping back impatience.
“I don’t know. He was fine. I mean, today.” And suddenly, she couldn’t stop herself, words pored out. “He ate like a pig, though. You would not believe it. Nearly lost my appetite. I mean, I could just see it in 25 years: me, two porker teenagers, and Mrs. Miller with a beard. I just couldn’t!”
She guffawed, hoping her mother would get in on the joke about the neighbor’s nephew that had happened to move to the same town as Cheryl recently.
Her mother’s voice was steely.
“My goodness, Cheryl. Mrs. Miller is a kind woman. You’d be lucky to get some of that. And we both know that looks fade. How were yours in this little picture?” she clipped, and then exhaled into the receiver. “It’s not like you’d know, though.”
“Know what, mother?” her hand was back on her forehead, bracing for whatever that could mean.
“How to keep a man that long.”
“Ah! There it is!” Cheryl roared, slamming her hand down on the flimsy Ikea table her roommate had bought.
Her mother kept talking over her.
“Well, I mean, if you want to keep going after these hulking lookers, and keep getting dumped for the next hot thing, that’s fine, if that’s what you want. I’m just trying to look out for yo-“
Cheryl paused her toothy assault on her lower lip to cut this off. “Ma! Cameron was like, a hundred years ago. And you are right! That is also porcine behavior! Whatever. All men are pigs. It’s not my fault.”
“You have no values, yet come up with ridiculous expectations. You don’t understand that this Romeo crap is never gonna happen. You have to train them. I regret ever reading you and your sister a single fairy tale! You’re just as desperate!”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, ma. You got dad wrapped around your pinkie, and it’s marital bliss.”
Her father never spoke much, and ferried himself from a job he seemed to loathe, to his wife’s to-do list, anything to keep her mom from nagging him. I feel ya, pops, Cheryl thought.
Her mother sputtered and then came out hot.
“Well, at least I wasn’t 90 before I gave my mother grandchildren!” she exploded. “I mean, would you rather that I have wisted my life away, waiting for a prince – royalty which has never visited South Rionick, New Jersey, I can assure you , or would you rather I brought you into the world?”
“Mom, I’m working on my career here! I’m trying to take care of myself so I can be free! I mean, look at Aunt Tessa. Three kids by 21, no degrees, no career, hubby leaves. She’s destitute, times are hard, step uncle Phil – her prince – is an asshole. I don’t do princes. That what you want for me?”
A concession hung between them. In the tense silence, Cheryl straightened her Vogues on the coffee table, counting higher in her head, resolving to wait her mother out.
“Well, just tell Mrs. Miller you had a good time,” her mother chirped finally.