Reflections in the Water

Storytime, September 14, 2010 at 11h20

This is a short story I hurriedly wrote three years ago in San Diego, inspired by a billboard I saw on my way back to the hotel. Included here is its submitted form to a recent writing contest. I haven’t posted in so long, please enjoy this.

I was thirty-six years old when my wife died. Thirty-six, to the day. We met at sixteen, dated at nineteen, and married at twenty. I didn’t realize how impulsive I was until I met her. I proposed to her right here on this bridge, just all of a sudden one night. She took ten breaths, didn’t even move. It scared me to pieces. But then she smiled. Said yes. And I thought I would be happy forever. But tonight, and last night, and every night since she died, I wasn’t. Forever ended thirty years ago.

I stood on the bridge, hands deep in my pockets. Trying to ignore the cold was like trying to stop breathing. Not even my heavy coat could keep me warm. I had been there for hours and I worried that I was too late.

There were footsteps in the distance. They were quiet and nervous. It was her. She moved exactly like she spoke.

She took her time getting to the middle of the bridge, rested on the railing and stared into the darkness below. We stood a stranger’s pace apart and I couldn’t bear to look at her. She was so young, I had no idea what to say. Every word had to be perfect.

“I know who you are. I know why you’re here. Please, don’t do it.”

Route 12B

Storytime, June 14, 2010 at 03h37

Here it comes again, the 12B. Every day right before my bus. Always empty. Never stops. Some specific route, like the driver knows who gets on and where. It just keeps moving. I’ve watched it go by every day for four years. Today, it stops.

The brakes don’t screech like other buses. The doors are quiet when they slide open and it waits, motionless, for someone. But nobody does anything. Nobody notices. I walk over and look inside. The driver’s a hundred years old with a big white beard and drooping skin.

“You getting on?” he asks.

I ask where he’s going.

He shrugs. “Everywhere.”

“1375 Falconer Road?”

“That’s where I’m headed.”

I look at my watch. Almost nine. Traffic’s heavy this morning, the nine’ll be late. Big meeting this morning, can’t afford to be late for that. I step up and show my bus pass. He points to a sign that reads EXACT FARE ONLY. I hold my pass higher, maybe he didn’t see it. He shakes his head. “Pass ain’t good for this route. Exact fare only.”

The Ledge

Storytime, February 21, 2010 at 04h20

Written by Michael Lagace in December of 2007.

I started smoking when I was nineteen. Then in the seventies when all those ads came out saying cigarettes cause cancer, I quit. Cold turkey, just like that. Wanted to live to be nice and old, retired on a beach somewhere sunny. And now every time I light up, I think about that and laugh. Shouldn’t have quit.

I stopped looking both ways before crossing a street. Worst-case scenario is that I end up on a little hospital holiday, maybe with some insurance money. Not so bad. Sure beats waking up every day at the same time, taking the same bus to the same building to the same desk for eight hours, and do it all again. The only mail I ever get are bills and the only calls I get are from my parents. Did you meet anyone? Has Lisa called? Most times I lie, tell them I’m dating someone new. Tell them I’m happy.

Never really figured out when my life went down. Might’ve been college, might’ve been high school, might’ve been before that. I wasn’t dumb, I just never tried. People used to tell me I could be anything I wanted to be. It’s not true. Not everyone can be a doctor or an actor or this or that. No, it’s more like what grandpa used to tell me. The world needs ditch-diggers too. So that’s what I’ve been doing my whole adult life. Digging a ditch.

From Majestics

Storytime, January 17, 2010 at 06h55

Written by Michael Lagace, based on Alice Mattison’s “Two People Come Out Of A Building” writing exercise.

On a dreary September morning, two men in long, warm coats stepped out of Majestics, the country’s most renowned supplier of authentic magic, and into the swirling fog littering the street. Arthur, the taller of the two, with narrow glasses and a wide, well-kept moustache, asked his friend if he’d found anything interesting during their outing.

Mr. Starweather, who preferred to be called by his stage name at all times, reached into his shopping bag and pulled out a small box. It was plain and ordinary-looking; larger than a single di but smaller than two, with six sides all sparkling a peculiar blue.

“And what is that, exactly?” asked Arthur. He was very curious and poor at concealing it.

Mr. Starweather held the box up in his open palm. “This,” he said, “is a Sparrow Cube.”

The Big Interview

Storytime, January 7, 2010 at 09h17

This was for a short story contest years ago where I was randomly assigned to write a comedy about a personal trainer. Included here is its submitted form, without necessary revisions. Enjoy.

Polly Pennyworth didn’t review Malcolm’s complete Placement Profile before he came into her office that morning taking long, lunging strides with each step. Usually the firm’s receptionist kept all these things organized but they’d been without one for weeks and she still hadn’t found the motivation to do it herself. Now here he was in her office – the kind of man that exercised with every movement he made, getting stronger even when he ran his hand through his short, gel-set hair – and Miss Pennyworth was unprepared.

Since Malcolm had come into her office, she had become irritated, like an instant allergy to nitwits, and everything from her usually comfortable blouse to her unusually warm office was annoying her. Malcolm was no exception. She was anything but impressed by his well-defined physique, but found herself staring at him anyway, the same way anybody would stare at someone doing deep-knee bends during an interview. She opened his file up and spread the various papers around in front of her, doing her best to ignore the constant squeaking of his tight orange and black spandex.

“When you’re ready, Malcolm, we can begin.” Continued…

The Tic and the Toc in the Clock

Storytime, June 18, 2009 at 09h33

By Michael Lagace, written for young people on Jan 20, 2008.

My sister once told me what that ticking sound in the clock was. I thought it was something like a hammer moving back and forth to keep track of seconds, but I was wrong. It was dwarf-elves – tiny little people, the size of a ladybug, with little green hats and big black moustaches. Continued…

A Pale Undress

Storytime, April 1, 2009 at 05h01

This is the story that I wrote for a short story contest where I was assigned to write a ghost story about a wedding dress. Included here is its submitted form, without the haunting revisions.

“Well, ‘e’s down there somewhere. You jus’ keep on digging, aye, Tom, like you’re getting paid for to do.” Continued…