Sunday, April 19, 2009

For And About Q ...

I have this friend. She sends me studies and short stories from time to time. I tell her that as a writer she is a far greater artist than I am. She doesn't believe me. Here's a sample of her work. What do you think?


She had an unfortunate face. Too symmetrical and smooth of skin to be ugly; too fused in an expression of distress to be pretty. Not that the visage mirrored the inner affect. No, she looked the same whether bursting with joy or ready to jump. A distress borne of facial features passed genetically, parents to offspring. A rare combination of her mother’s saucy pout and her father’s bedroom eyes—the features that made them such an attractive couple, somehow, when combined produced an unpleasant melange. One had to study her for a moment or two to determine if she was in fact, going to be placed in the “pretty” or “ ugly” column. Two days before he marries her and he’s still not sure.

They sat opposite. He studied her face, as he often did, looking for the answer to the knotted question in his intestines. She studied the menu, trying to decide on a noodle dish from the photos displayed. The server came over and she began to interrogate him. “Which are the skinniest ones, dragging noodles or cutting noodles?” He winced, knowing she would never eat anything considered “fat”, whether due to caloric content or shape.

“Okay…so dragging noodles then. In soup. Chicken, not pork…okay? No pork.” She said this last statement as though the young Asian server were her aged Aunt Mim, hard of hearing and slightly demented.

He ordered the same, less of a problem that way. She was speaking to him but his eyes were fixed on her features, still trying to decide…

“Dan! Are you listening to me? We need to decide now, right now. Blue or black?”

He had no idea what she was referring to, having long ago conceded all matters pertaining to The Wedding to her. “Um, black I think.” Could be they were going to have a black car, black cake or black priest…he didn’t much care.

She punched numbers on her cell phone. He continued to study her face. As she talked her lips formed vowels and consonants somehow remaining in a perpetual pout. This should be good, he thought. That’s what the supermodels have, and the strippers he occasionally patronized before she clamped down on his recreational time. A pout is good. But somehow on her, it was the pout of a petulant child, not of a sexy siren.

Nose: small, straight, upturned. Cute. The kind of nose any plastic surgeon would be proud to display on his “after” page. Eyes: blue. No, grey. Maybe kind of green. Hell, what kind of fiancĂ© doesn’t even know what colour his betrothed’s eyes are? Blue, definitely blue. But a smokey blue, like the haze in the bar after the lights come on.

But then there was the shape. No, maybe the shape was okay. It was the way they were aligned on her face. Yes, that was it. They sloped up at the inner corners, in a pleading, dismayed way. Always disappointed; always wanting more.

Those eyes. That’s why they were engaged. A year of dating. She was nice, but it was more that she was easy---not in a sexual way, although that wasn’t really a concern, but more in that she was like him. Same background, same circle. Nothing complicated here. He would have been content to continue with the weekend dates, the hot, sweaty release in his car or her parents’ house after they were asleep. But those eyes. They pleaded for more. And every time he looked at her he got the message that he wasn’t man enough, or mature enough….

So marriage it was. He thought his concession to marry would make those eyes turn up at the corners, stop demanding, pleading, judging.

“Dragging noodles in chicken soup”. The food arrived.

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