Almeda Glenn Miller
Creative Writing 101
She’s back again. As I knew she would be. I had to commend myself, exhaling a small breath and smile as I put my coffee down to observe. Only living here for about two weeks, I had already began picking apart some of the apartment complex’s little habits. Once you live in enough of them, they seem to reveal themselves faster and faster to you. Perhaps I should have studied ant hills instead. But if I had, I would not have had the comparison to the career which I hold now, and would not have been grateful to be such an astute ant-observer, as opposed to a man who recreationally studies the habits of those in his surrounding living area. This thought sticks in my mind for a moment as I absent-mindedly wipe my nose. A Granville Market coffee mug sits patiently on the drawer, raising steam to the window ledges underside. My left hand keeps my old curtains slightly agape, letting morning sun partially slather my face as I watch her, thinking about ants. Perhaps I am not grateful for the job I have now? This cheers me up slightly. The imaginary ant-man has let me cross-examine my gratuity towards my profession. Or maybe it’s the fact that a slight breeze has just stirred outside, and her blonde hair, which had been motionless like a willow branch, now shifted and wriggled in certain places, unraveling with the same grace and whisper of new guitar strings, or unfurling sails of a tall ship. It certainly gave her the illusion that she had more hair than she did, which was already grappling at her waist. She must be grateful for the wind, I thought. The heat which was pounding the region showed no signs of relenting; Typical for a late August in Miami, I suppose. It was especially cruel to the giant, multi-coloured lollipop which she held in her right hand. Dripping its poor little life away, it was dissolving into sweet, sticky syrup for the hungered ants below then it was providing her with a morning treat. Though I couldn’t see her face, I could imagine she was dismayed by this as well. Given the condition and space of these apartments, her parents must be one of the better off if she was to have such a Disney-akin lollipop, with the hot pink lunchbox to boot. Or maybe they were just as hard off as myself, or worse, but wanted their daughter to be the little gem of a life they did not otherwise have. I opt for the first choice, personally.
A small hum of static from the kitchen counter announced that it was eight a.m. and was ushered in with a ‘yesterday’s favorite.’ A song from the mid 80’s I think, the same band that released the single ‘shout.’ Moping men with mullets. A brother duo. I tried to hold their scowling faces from some poster in my mind to the tune that was warbling away in the kitchen all the way to the living room, while she started impatiently batting at her legs to prevent the sweat from dripping over her long, navy blue socks. Leave it to a child’s logic to wear such environmentally apt clothing. Reaching for my coffee I almost hit a mug on the window ledge. I’m still not quite as familiar with the ‘psychic space,’ I guess we’ll call it, of this place. It’s only been two weeks or so. Coffee begins to slide down my tongue as she practically begins to quiver with impatience. Her cavalry has not arrived. Indeed, this is the third time hook of the brother duo song, I realize, so it must be 2-3 minutes late now. I swallow.
You’re out, of touch. You’re out, of touch.
A part of me wanted the wind to rise up, past its timid little breeze, and reveal that girl’s hair in its full glory, make it storm around her face in a golden fury as opposed to the tantalizing tendrils which the breeze merely lifted. This would take her by surprise, and as it did, she would drop her precious provisions. Her lollipop would smash onto the concrete, where the thuggish ants would brace against the wind and gravel to obtain the real prize, as opposed to the glue-like aftermath. The lunchbox would break open with a bark of shock, its contents flying into several various directions before being swept away further by the winds great muscle. And as all this happened, her clothes would ripple with a fierce alacrity, hitting her body with the insistence of a blacksmith, and she would whirl around in confusion, the sweat beads vanished from her legs, and I would catch a glimpse of her face, aghast with confusion and stricken by wind, in the middle of her own blonde sandstorm. She would dance around with iridescent shards of her exploded lollipop, rattling like seashells at her feet, and I would watch her as she commenced in hot pursuit of the maybe-broken lunchbox. A part of me thought this would be a beautifull way to start my morning, and everyone can use a small spectacle of beauty to start their day.
But it didn’t happen. What happened instead was the predictable routine. Rolling up from the road huffing like some exhausted mastiff, the camp bus shambled into the parking lot. Patches of sunlight beamed off the smiley-faced letters with drawn eyes and smiles. For some reason the parking lot seemed to swelter an intolerable heat as it drew closer to the center of the parking lot. Even though I was comforted by air conditioning, it suddenly seemed as if the entire complex was enclosed in a dangerous furnace, or a rusty oven. It made me feel slightly anxious so I took another sip of coffee, brushing my nose as the black mug sidled over the right side of my face. The brother duo song was over and it was now ‘Back in the Saddle,’ by Aerosmith. Steven Tyler screeched to the little girl’s frantic half-skips to the towering bus, bouncing up the aluminum stairs, and I watched her with a silly satisfaction as the lollipop and lunchbox winked out of sight, her head bobbling down to the back-left of the bus to join her friends. She must have friend if she sat near the back. As the bus plodded around the parking lot, swinging back to pick up more children, or perhaps go to the ‘Camp Clubhouse!’ sanctuary, a reflection of light struck my eye and a slash of greens and purples flowed into my eye as I yelped in surprise. This, the heat that I thought I could not feel and the kitchens climatic guitar solo made my anxiety turn into a bewildered sense of claustrophobia, and I yanked myself away from the curtains, leaving my coffee to quietly converse with the ledge. Storming into the kitchen, I flicked the radios ON/OFF switch with an unnecessary crudeness. “Shutup you piece of s**t,” I half-yelled into its top, still shaking its fading-buzz of static in time to the remaining purples and greens. The heat and everything is enough without you screeching at me in my own house.”
The radio is subdued. Sighing leads me to rubbing my hand ruefully over my hair as I sit back down at the breakfast table, idly skimming the Classified section with a wary seagull eye. Miami writers have too much spunk and not enough flavor in the actual writing, I’ve found. This is my fifth paper and the excitable sense of gloating that seems to sap even the death section cannot be scrubbed from the ink as my fork fidgets with egg remnants still flecked along its teeth. While my living room window had been picked to have my sole curtain, light had flooded the kitchen rapidly since I had come in to reconcile with my radio, and now it stretched into the living room. It slid off of the back of my head as I hunched over the table, smelling the bland odor of cheap, light-toned wood and that tingling, burning sensation of gunpowder and blood and so much more. I straighten up and commencing to the counter right in front of the window, batting lightly at my head as I do this. My hair looks a reddish-brown in such strong sunlight, and I am reminded of the red-tailed hawks I once saw in parts of British Columbia as a child. I’m not sure if I like it more then my usual sand-brown hair, and as I glance at the cheaply manufactured table and its contents, I realize the table shares my hair colour. My long-held resentment blooms into a violently distaste, and I feel a taught snarl curl up in my lips as I turn back to the window. The fixed drone of the sink calms me down. A little noise around is calming, I find, as opposed to a muted, slightly-hot-despite-air-conditioned- apartment s. My bedroom, corridor and bathroom would all be spared as the left side of the flat was alongside a brick wall, but my kitchen windows held the view of a small park in them. I’ll have to go over there sometime, on a lethargic day where the breeze is better, and I can wear headphones with loud music blaring from them, conducting a symphony of seagulls and pigeons, surrogate fathers with ice-cream fed children with the smears of their delight still plastered around their mouths. When I first moved in I thought to go out of the way to buy curtains, since the heat slyly invaded with the rowdy sunlight, but I felt slightly privileged to be one of the lucky few with an actual view of something other then boiling concrete. I could endure.
I have a job interview in a few hours with Mr. Kermode. He is expecting a young, enthusiastic Gary Cornell who will only be to happy to oblige with the public schools new and highly anticipated 1st-3rd grade extension, and they are so enthralled to inaugurate their newly purchased staff, which will reflect their pride and dedication into the newly-funded program that Mr. Kermode will be the only I meet until the annual Christmas party, I’m sure. Going to the living room, I pick out a few chords in the key of F Minor which eventually shifted, rolled and tumbled over one another in the space of my badly-acoustic apartment like eighth-note sand dunes, into a song that I decided would be the sound of a wolf weeping over its slain prey in the middle of a crow-feathered black night, with the trees towering into the howls of anguished atrocity.
Later that day as I get up from the stiff leather chair and crack a charming school-friendly-but-still-adult- like- joke with Mr. Kermode and he shakes my hand with a bellowing laugh that scratches with gin and cigars, I think of the ants and I think of Bruce. They are still both waiting for me in the same places I left them, along with the heat, and the music, and the melted lollipops and smoldered buses.
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