for camp nanowrimo of April 2016, I decided to write a series of flash fiction pieces that are tied together to (hopefully by their edited end) make a novel. It’s rock and roll, baby!
Like Teen Spirit
You are standing in front of your locker with your earbuds in place listening to Radiohead when someone yanks out the left one. You swing around about to lash out at the intruder, certain it’s Ramon, when you see that it’s Eddie Rodgers and he is standing there grinning at you like the athlete nerd that he is. He holds a pale pink rose out to you and you stare at it like he’s offering you a black widow spider.
“What do you want?” you ask.
“To give you this rose.”
You look from it to him. It’s a perfect pink rosebud. A normal girl would have squealed, hopped, hugged the stem to her chest, hugged him, and marveled that Eddie Rodgers, the star athlete had chosen her. You just look at it. It’s pink. Pale pink. A baby’s color. A girl flower if ever there was one.
The grin falls from his face. “What do you mean ‘no?’ It’s Valentine’s Day. Girls want flowers on Valentine’s Day,” he says as if it were a given.
You shake your head and look back at the flower and then at him, at his crestfallen features, at the full lips that droop slightly. “Not this one.”
“Why do you have to be so tough?”
“I’m just trying to get through,” you say so softly it’s almost inaudible.
“Through what? What’s so tough about your life? You know, we’ve all got crap going on.”
You shake your head; as if he would understand, if you told him. You notice your older sister, Daisy, standing with her back to her locker staring at you. She mouths something. She’s telling you to take the flower. She’s jerking her head and her expression and gestures are manic.
“I just want to make music,” you mumble, lowering your eyes so you don’t see your sister who thinks that you are a traitor to your gender because she would never have hesitated to take a flower from Eddie Rodgers.
“So nothing else counts? You don’t want to go out with me?”
“Why do you want to go out with me? I’m not your type.”
“I have a type?”
“Sure. Amber Foster.” Amber Foster, cheerleader extraordinaire, of the blonde hair, blue eyes, and lithe body who had made your life miserable since seventh grade when she went from being a friend to a definitely-not-friend after some cathartic epiphany graced her, but left you being a semi-pariah. Despite keeping your head down and avoiding interaction, she always found a way to get to you, to make you feel small. It was only later you realized you were letting her make you feel small, and that recognition changed everything.
Eddie stares at you, bright blue eyes wide. “You’re kidding, right? What makes you think she’s my type?”
“You’re a jock and she’s into jocks.”
“That’s what she’s into.”
“Huh. Good point.”
He is still holding the flower and you are feeling guilty enough to take it from him and then smell it, a gesture that seems to be what a normal girl would do.
“So?” he asks.
You glance back up at him. “So, what?”
“Will you go out with me?”
You trail your finger over the velvety pink rose petal so slowly not realizing how sexy that looks to a teenage boy who would love for you to caress that finger over something of his equally velvety and pink.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
He is still watching your finger stroke the soft bud and then he raises his eyes to meet yours, his cheeks suffusing with mottled red that makes him look younger, more naïve. His voice drops slightly. “Just once. We could go get pizza. You like pizza, right?”
You shrug. “Sure, but no meat.”
He grins and then you grin because he’s cute and there’s something about that smile with those high cheekbones and Caribbean blue eyes that makes you forget that he’s a nerd athlete and you’re a music geek. That he is naturally accepted and that you are as naturally excepted. A blush creeps over your cheeks and you feel a little inane when what you really want to feel is tough and untouchable and in control. This is what it feels like to be a regular girl, you think, definitely not Joan Jett. Vulnerable and suddenly shy and not tough, not you at all, at least not the you that you have tried to project.
And then a worse thing happens so suddenly you can’t react. He kisses the side of your mouth, and then disappears into the throng of students shuffling towards their classrooms, leaving you there, heart jumping, staring into the bevy of t-shirts that all meld together, wondering if this, this rose, this kiss, this moment and what it seems to signify, have just subjugated your long-term plan.