Writing Practice

A Good Start

    After the great views I got on my last short story, I decided to write another one to see how things go.  I hope you like it.  This one ends much happier than the other one too.  It comes from a prompt that jumped right out to me because I relate to it personally.  I hope some of you find you relate to this prompt too.

A Good Start

    “Do you really need all of that candy?” 
    “Do you really need to ask?”  She replied through a mouthful of chocolate.  
    “Oh, come on, Sadie.  It couldn’t have been that bad.”  
    “You weren’t there, Em.  It couldn’t have gone worse.  Seriously,” she shoveled another handful of m&ms into her mouth before continuing, “what is the worst thing that can happen when you run into your ex?”
    “He’s even more hot and you’re drooling chocolate?”  Emily plopped down on the porch swing next to her best friend and tried to sneak a few chocolate covered gummy bears but was swatted at.
    “Don’t take my candy!”  She scooped up her bags of various candied deliciousness and tucked them away on the other side of the swing, out of Emily’s reach.  “So many horrible things happened.  First off, I’m doing okay, right?”
    “Soon to be overweight, but yeah.”
    Sadie glared before continuing.  “Anyway, I’m not doing great, but I’ve been totally fine since we broke up.”
    “Yeah, yeah.  You died your hair, you reevaluated your life, and you changed all your lifelong plans.  I know all this.  What happened when you saw him?”
    “I was shopping for my mom at the grocery store and when I was done my car wouldn’t start.  So I called my dad for help, and you know how my relationship with my dad is, so we start yelling nonsense to each other because my dad is so weird and can’t have a normal conversation.”
    “And that’s when he shows up?”
    “And that’s when Oliver practically runs me over in this fancy new red convertible as he parks next to me.”
    “But yelling at your dad in your weird made up language isn’t the worst part?”
    “Oh, I wish.  The minor detail I left out was that I happened to be painting one of those scenes my mom wanted on her bedroom walls before she sent me out.”
    “You were wearing your hobo painter clothes?”  Emily started laughing uncontrollably.
    “Shut up!  It’s not funny!  I’m standing there dressed like a homeless rainbow with a broken down car that’s old enough to be my grandma, and I’m yelling Dadese into my phone.  He didn’t even say anything to me.  He just walked away laughing.”  She grabbed her bag of starbursts and continued to stuff her face.
    “What else?  You dated that guy for like a year.  He knows about your hobo painter clothes, your car, and your weird dad.  What made this so terrible?”
    She looked up from her candy bag with pain in her eyes.
    “He had a girl with him?”  She gasped and tried to grab for the candy again, being smacked away once more.
    “Not just any girl.”
    “Sydney Cartwright?”
    “Sydney Cartwright.”  She stuffed more m&ms in her mouth.
    “Why would he date her?”
    “Of course she’d go after him.  The only reason she tried to be my friend all junior year was to get her skanky grasp on him.”  
    “Are you okay?”  Emily recognized the hidden pain on her best friend’s face.
    “I don’t know.”  She fiddled with one of the candy bags.  “He was my first real boyfriend.  I planned my entire future around him.  It’s only been a couple months. I thought I was fine, but I don’t feel okay now.”
    “Sadie, when you guys broke up, you never really got sad about it.  You just kept hiding your feelings.  Like you said, he was your first real boyfriend.  You’ve never gone through a breakup before.  You busied yourself with school, and then your mom got sick, and I don’t think you let your emotions process what happened.  Now that it’s summer and your sister is home to take care of your mom, you have nothing to do and running into Oliver again brought up those feelings.  You can’t bury your feelings under,” she quickly added up the amount of candy Sadie bought, “three pounds of candy?”
    “Don’t judge me, Em.”
    “I judge because I care.  You guys had a great love story, it deserves a great ending.”
    “I don’t want to face him again because it makes me sad, and I just don’t like being sad.  Why would I want to feel sad when I have other things to do with my time?”
    “Says the girl with three pounds of candy that she won’t share.  Clearly you are busy doing better things with your time.”
    “I said other, I didn’t say better.”  After shoveling another handful of sugar into her mouth she added, “I have a problem.”
    “You have a problem.”  Emily so kindly confirmed.
    Sadie sighed and tucked the candy underneath the swing again.  “I don’t want to deal with these emotions.  It sucks.”
    “That’s the point of a heart break.  It sucks, but you have to let it run its course.”
    “I’d rather eat chocolate than face my problems.”
    Emily laughed, but stopped short when she saw the figure walking up to the porch.  “Um, Sadie?”
    Both girls sat up straight in the swing, uncomfortable.
    “Hey Sadie, can I talk to you?”
    “Why should I let you talk to her?”  Emily interrupted.
    “Oh, Em, I didn’t see you there.”
    “It’s okay, Oliver.  Em was just leaving.”  She looked pointedly at her friend.
    “Not until after I see how your mom is doing.”
    “She’s doing a lot better, but I’m sure she’s love to see you.”
    Emily slipped in the front door and left the two alone on the porch.  
    “Is something wrong with your mom?”  Oliver asked.
    “Yeah.  I guess you wouldn’t know, since it happened right after we broke up.  She has MS.  It’s been a rough transition, but now that it’s summer, Haylee’s back from school and she’s helping around the house.”
    “Oh, I had no idea.  I’m so sorry.”
    “Don’t worry about it.  It definitely could be worse, but the doctors are confident she’ll be able to return to normal life fairly soon.”
    “Well that’s good.”
    “Yep.”  And now it was extremely awkward.
    “So, can I sit and talk?”
    “Uh, sure, I guess.”  And they sat together on the porch swing like they had so many times before in the past year.  “So what did you need to talk about?”
    “Well I saw you at the grocery store today.”
    “Yes, I know.  You were with Sydney.”  Mentioning that name thickened the tension.  She was definitely a big reason they broke up.
    “Yeah, she’s been helping me get ready to leave for college.  She’s actually teaching me how to cook.”
    “That’s cool.”
    “Yeah, I guess.  See, the thing is, the more I spend time with her, the more I miss you.  Seeing you today in your painting clothes and with your car, I realized I missed it.  You love the simple life and you don’t care what anyone thinks when they see you like that.  Sydney is so different from you.  She’s the one who insisted I buy a new car just because I could afford it.  Seeing you with your old car made me miss mine.  It’s crazy, right?”
    Sadie raised an eyebrow.  “That’s nice, Oliver, but you’re leaving for California in like a month.  I don’t want a long distance relationship, you know that.”
    “Actually, I’m not.  I do start college, but Sydney convinced me to stay close by.  I’m going to community college.”
    “Really?  What happened to USC’s architecture program?  That was your dream.”
    “I changed my mind, I guess.”
    “Or did Sydney tell you to change your mind?”
    He shrugged but didn’t respond, which answered her question pretty clearly.
    “The point is, I want you back.”
    Hearing him say those words after the months that had passed in silence should have been the greatest thing ever, but instead she felt hollow.  His words were hollow.  “Oliver, what ever happened to Kevin?  He was your best friend.  Have you talked to him since we broke up?”
    “No, Sydney said he was holding me back.”
    She couldn’t hold back a laugh.  “That’s what I thought.  Oliver, you’re 18 years old.  You’re an adult.  When are you going to start acting like one?  When we were together, you couldn’t make a single decision for yourself.  You just went with the flow of what everyone else said.  And now all you’ve done since then is listen to what Sydney told you to do, despite what you wanted to do.  I have to thank you for coming here, because I didn’t realize how much I was still holding onto you.  I also didn’t realize how much I don’t want to hold onto you anymore.  You’re so shallow because you’ll do what anyone tells you to, just because they told you to.  You were my first real relationship, and you will always hold a place in my heart because you taught me so much about myself and what I want.  You taught me the kind of person I want to date, and coming back here reminded me why I do not want to date you.  Until you start to think for yourself, I can’t be with you.”
    His face grew serious and his mouth formed an “O”.  
    “What made you come here to visit me?”
    “My mom said something about liking you better than Sydney.”
    “Of course.”  He would never have come back on his own.  “It was nice seeing you again.  Good luck at community college.”
    She got up from the porch swing and walked away from Oliver, her emptiness, and her old self.  She wasn’t over him yet, but something had changed.  She really had been missing something these past few months, and trying to fill up that void with painting and three pounds of candy was not the answer.  For the first time in a long time she felt confident.  That confidence created a spark of hope.  That hope, while dim now, had started on a fuse toward a happiness she knew would ignite eventually and fill up the emptiness inside her.  It wasn’t a great ending, but it was a good start.

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