Annie and Christian – ReDeux

So, I have an idea! But first I must digress. I took a break for a while, obviously. What can I say? My kids (and spouse – he’s a teacher) got out of school in mid-May and it’s been a whirlwind summer. I’ve got tons of new family travel adventures and staycations under my belt now that need to be posted over at my fourspoke.com website. It’s been fun times!

Back to my idea. As we wrap up this summer season, the gravitational pull of the fiction world is slowly gathering me back into its orbit. I’ve been thinking a lot about finishing this story of Christian and Annie that I never fully got to explore. I was scared away by the fast pace and inevitable reader judgement that was sure to come from hammering out something so quickly, but I also realize that I really do finish projects better under pressure. I think I would like to finish it, and I would like to finish it publicly. I am going to use this space to write it in chunks like I did for the beginning of the A to Z challenge, but I have decided on a few rules:

1) I am not going to worry about doing it alphabetically.

2) I am going to use this space as an un-edited, purely artistic space to get my story written. This means that it will be rough and will have typos and other editing issues, but I am going to try really hard not to care. No word processors – just dumping my words right into the posting window!

3) I am going to finish the rough draft by the end of the year.

4) Once it’s all finished via blog posts, I am going to collect all of the pieces and actually edit/rewrite it.

5) I will release a final version in the end. I’d really like to explore e-book options and see what’s out there.

I know I had a few people following me in the beginning and I would love you to stay on the journey with me! I can’t promise that the final, edited story will be the same as the one that’s going up first – in fact, I’m sure it’ll be quite different in the end. I think this will be a fun project, though, and I am looking forward to moving it along. Thanks for bearing with me.

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A to Z: High as a Watertower

I am currently taking part of the April A to Z Challenge! During this month, I am writing a single story, building each day off of the previous one. To get the story from the beginning, start here and work on up…

Annie and Christian each invested $15 so Annie’s aunt could pick them up a decent bottle of whiskey. They went to the store beforehand and stocked up on their favorite snacks to share – Sour Patch Kids, Almond Joys and Spicy Cheetos, and Christian picked up a celebratory pack of cigarettes even though neither of them smoked. It was a day to splurge.

A steely gray water tower sat prominently at the very edge of town and Annie had always wanted to climb it. She could imagine herself up there, the world a soft quilt spread below, a patchwork of houses and hills stitched together by rambling charcoal highways. She loved heights. They ascended the ladder, Annie in the lead because she couldn’t contain her excitement, and Christian determinedly behind her because he wouldn’t possibly let her do it on her own.

As they reached the top, Annie walked gingerly to the far rim and looked out across her city. It was everything she’d imagined, and it was here that reality finally hit her. These streets would no longer be hers in two days’ time. She had finally arrived at all she’d been working toward. Her Greyhound route was mapped and almost finalized. The money from 2 years worth of working was in an envelope at the bottom of her backpack in her aunts house, and her last days of school and work were finally finished. Tomorrow would be a day of tying up loose ends, purchasing that ticket, and packing her meager bags. It was really time to start the next leg of her journey, and the entire world was spread before her. This world, the world directly in front of her. It was liberating and daunting at the same time, and a small piece of her felt a little empty at the thought of leaving it all behind, although she would never admit as much. She wondered if that emptiness would have been there just a couple of weeks ago. She felt a rustle at her shoulder, and turned her head to gaze into the eyes of a smiling Christian.

“Okay, dreamer. Let’s get this party started! What do you want first, whiskey or Cheetos?”

“Cheetos, duh,” she smiled as she grabbed the liquor bottle and twisted the top, “never drink on an empty stomach.” She took a small sip and grimaced, then passed the bottle.

Christian ripped open the Cheetos and handed them off. “This stuff is awful,” he croaked as he took a swig of the bottle. “I don’t know why anyone would drink it unless they just wanted to get wasted.”

“I think that’s the point. And it’s not that bad. C’mon! It’s Grad Night! We’re here to celebrate, don’t make me regret bringing you, you square!” Annie took a healthy swig and motioned for him to take the bottle and do the same. She made her way to the center of the tower and lay down, arms and legs splayed wide as if she were going to make a snow angel.

He took another deep swig, then followed her lead. As he eased his body down next to hers and gazed straight up, he was not prepared for what he saw. Billions upon billions of stars seemed to fill the night sky – more than he though possible. Just moments before they had been looking out over the indigo horizon and the stars hadn’t even registered on his radar, how could he have missed something this brilliant? It was gorgeous. He had never noticed how many layers were in the sky, how far away and intangible some of the stars seemed to be while some seemed so close. It was a metaphor for his life in many ways. So many layers, so many complexities and unknowns. So much beauty, but just out of reach. It made him just a little sad.

Long, deliberate silences where one of the things that he loved about Annie. They could be in their own worlds together, the need for words unnecessary. In the two weeks they’d been hanging out, he felt she understood him better than anyone had. She didn’t have expectations. She didn’t ask him for anything except his presence and his confidence, and he gave her his trust, too.

In the silence, Annie wondered what Christian was thinking about. She appreciated their silences together, and felt that these were some of the times when they understood each other the most. She loved that he seemed to value her whims and her occasional rants. She loved that he was game for almost anything, and that he seemed to respect her voice and her thoughts when she wanted to share them. He was someone she could share with, for there hadn’t been many given to her in life.

“What do you think?” She asked.

“It’s brilliant.”

“Christian?

“Yeah…”

“Thank you for coming with me.”

He scooted just a little closer, and wrapped an arm around her head. “Thank you for spending it with me…Annie?”

“Yeah…”

“I’m going to miss you.”

She wondered what he meant by it. Her heart hurt thinking about leaving this, her only friend ever. She hoped that was all he meant, too. Her stomach flipped at the thought of him trying to kiss her. The thought had never crossed her mind until this moment, and she was afraid it might ruin everything. But maybe it would make it easier leave town and leave him behind. She sighed.

“I’m really going to miss you, too, Christian,” but she couldn’t leave the thought behind. “You aren’t going to try to kiss me now, are you?”

He stiffened. “No, why? Do you think we should?” Christian hadn’t thought of this. In fact, he hadn’t thought of kissing anyone, ever. He knew it was abnormal behavior for a young man his age, but he’d had an abnormal upbringing. With Annie, he had found an unlikely eleventh-hour ally, one he was afraid to lose, but not because he wanted to get in her pants. He would just miss this random easy friendship.

Annie felt stupid. “Christian?”

“Yeah…” He was afraid of what she would ask next.

“Are you gay?”

“No. I don’t know. Maybe?”

“Because I still like you, even if you don’t want to kiss me and you like boys. Especially if you don’t want to kiss me.”

“Gee. Thanks for the confidence boost, Annie. Where are those damn cigarettes? And pass me that bottle!”

Annie wrapped her arms around him as he sat up, and laughed heartily. They stayed up until dawn, bantering as they had for the past 10 days, passing the bottle back and forth and smoking a few cigarettes for good measure.

 

 

 

A to Z: Grad Night

Over the next week, Annie and Christian slowly but surely built up their friendship. They ate lunch together almost everyday. They learned that they both had an affinity  for papaya, leftover pizza, and chocolate covered bananas. They equally hated diet sodas and strawberry milkshakes, but while Christian was a fan of vanilla, Annie would only drink chocolate. Annie was a Virgo and Christian was a Leo, which meant, according to Seventeen Magazine, that they were completely incompatible. Annie was the youngest child and Christian was the oldest, which meant, according to People Magazine, that they’d be perfect together. Annie had spent much of her life fending for herself; her mother had been in and out of prison since she was young, her father had disappeared from her life before she could even remember and her brother had gotten locked up four years prior, right when she’d started high school. Thankfully she had an aunt and a grandmother around who let her sleep at their respective house when she’d needed it, as long as she could bring her own groceries and contribute a little to the household.

Christian, on the other hand, had spent much of his life taking care of other people. He was the oldest of three brothers. His dad had been deported when he was 10, effectively making him man of the house. His mother worked two full time jobs to keep a roof over their heads, though she insisted that Christian only work minimally so he could finish high school and get his diploma. It was up to him to set the example for his brothers and keep them in line, and he did a good job with it. His grandmother lived in town, but his grandfather had passed away. She enjoyed her independence and didn’t want to give up her own apartment to squeeze into the Santos family’s two bedroom house, so he made sure to check up on her a couple times a week and help her with groceries.

When graduation rolled around, they decided not to go. Christian’s mom had to work, anyway, and though she was extremely proud of him, she really mostly cared about the diploma. Annie didn’t have anyone who cared at all to watch her walk, so she decided not to waste the money. Neither of them wanted to expend the energy or the money to attend Grad Night celebrations at the amusement park with the rest of the school, so they decided to celebrate together.

 

 

A to Z: Feelings

I am currently taking part of the April A to Z Challenge! During this month, I am writing a single story, building each day off of the previous one. To get the story from the beginning, start here and work on up…

Annie woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to tackle the day. She felt a little lighter today, dizzy with the excitement of impending graduation, and giddy from the droll interactions of the night before, though she was still somewhat bothered by Christian’s off-the-cuff sentiments.  She determined that if given the opportunity, she would expend just a little more energy working on being a friend instead of so singularly focused. Though it was a little late in the game, she hated to leave town this way, with only fleeting memories of herself as the girl who had no friends.

The first few periods came and went, same as they ever did. No grand opportunities came to her, no chances to help someone pick up dropped books or lend an ear, no one so much as looking her way. It seemed she had done a decent job of simply existing here, skating by without too many expectations. She was sitting alone under her favorite shade tree for lunch, a monstrous oak with rough, peeling bark and a trunk so wide she couldn’t even wrap her arms half way around it. She had recently printed out a map of the Greyhound routes and was beginning to discreetly plot her destined journey when she heard a rustle in the leaves behind her.

“Boo.”

She startled.

“Mind some company?”

Now was her opportunity. She feigned nonchalance as she gestured in a way that indicated he should sit. “Come on down.”

“Hey,” he lowered himself opposite her, folding long legs upon themselves more gracefully than she’d expected him to. “I just wanted to apologize for yesterday. I didn’t mean to be offensive.”

“Huh? You mean that friend comment? That’s okay. It wasn’t offensive, it just really got me thinking…”

“The friend comment? I meant everything except that! I was in a weird mood. I usually just don’t intervene so much, and then I said that you weren’t that pretty! I don’t even remember what I said about friends. I was just a little bolder than I usually am with everything. I think my adrenaline was up from that guy, and I didn’t mean to tease you so much. I hoped I didn’t make you mad!”

Annie’s cheeks pinked. “Christian, I am not offended that you stood up for me. I’ve been trippin’ over that thing you said about me not having any friends! You were right ya know. I’m leaving in two weeks and I don’t think I’ve ever made a friend in my life. It’s been about staying alive and getting out of here for so long that nothing else has mattered. I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

“Psh. You’re not the only one, chiquita. I don’t usually go out of my way for anybody. I’ve just got so many people and emotions that I’m trying to balance at home. I don’t have any energy left to even think about balancing somebody else. I just want to get done with all of this school stuff so I can get a 9-5 job and stop stressin’ about putting food on the table, ya know? Friends can only take you so far.”

“I dunno. It really got to me. I think I need to try. It seems like I’ve done a really good job of building up these walls, though, because no one has even tried talking to me today, except you. I’ve been paying attention. It looks like you, Mr. Santos, may have just volunteered to be my friend experiment.”

 

 

 

 

 

A to Z: Easy Friendships and Espresso.

I am currently taking part of the April A to Z Challenge! During this month, I am writing a single story, building each day off of the previous one. To get the story from the beginning, start here and work on up…

She turned to look over her shoulder. “Christian! Oh my God. I didn’t even notice that it was you out there! And now you’re cackling like an idiot and the whole bus is staring at us.”

“What, did you think it was some guy you didn’t even know, coming to rescue the poor damsel in distress? You might be good looking, Annie, but you aren’t that good looking!”

Annie socked him in the shoulder. “Shut up, you jerk! And thank you. I hope that didn’t hurt.”

“Ow! That’s how you repay my heroic knightly efforts? No wonder you don’t have any friends,” Christian was still chuckling. “Honestly, I’m glad I happened to be passing by. That guy was a fool and you could’ve really gotten in trouble. Do you always come home solo in the dark? It’s not very smart in this barrio.”

“I know. I don’t have too much of a choice, though. I’ve been at this job for two years and I haven’t had many problems– it’s not like I don’t know my way around these streets. Besides, times almost up! We’re graduating in 10 days! I put in my two week’s notice a few days ago.”

Christian’s eyes widened in surprise. “Really? Why? Are you going to college?”

“Nah,” Annie shrugged her shoulders and blushed, “just getting out of this town. I don’t really have too much of a plan. I’m buying a Greyhound ticket as soon as we graduate. I’ve been researching places, I just haven’t decided yet. I want to go somewhere far away and exotic. Maybe Nashville. Or Boston.”

“Nashville or Boston? Only white people live in those places, you know. That’s actually really cool, though. I don’t know if I’d pick Nashville or Boston as my top choices, but they’re definitely going to be real different than here.”

“That’s what I want! I want to go to coffee shops and drink espresso and learn how to play the guitar. Or go watch crab fisherman and see the autumn leaves. Don’t laugh at me. I’ve never told anyone this. In fact, I don’t even know why I’m telling you, Christian Santos! This is seriously so random! I can’t believe that I’m sitting here, spilling my fantasy world to you of all people. What were you even doing at the bus stop?”

“Hey, what’s wrong with spilling it to me? I’m not laughing at you. I think its cool, for real. I had no idea that you were such a dreamer. And I was coming home from visiting my abuelita. I go to her apartment to check up on her a couple times a week after school. You’re lucky I meant to get on this bus! You would’ve ripped a hole in my jacket if I tried to get away! This is my stop, though, so you’re going to have to give me up now.”

“All right, prince charming. Thanks for coming to my rescue. I’ll see you around.”

“Hey, it was really nice talking to you. Stay safe. Maybe we’ll run into each other again before you fly away from here, bird.”

And with that, Christian dismounted the bus and left Annie contemplating the random events of her night. She had friends, didn’t she? Wasn’t he just teasing her? But as she thought about it, she realized that he might be right. Sadly, she hadn’t put as much energy into building friendships as she had into putting up walls. She’d always thought it was too draining to talk to people, and scary to let them too close. It had been easy and even nice talking to Christian tonight. Maybe it wasn’t to late to make a friend, after all.

 

 

 

 

A to Z – Desperate Times

I am currently taking part of the April A to Z Challenge! During this month, I am writing a single story, building each day off of the previous one. To get the story from the beginning, start here and work on up…

Her feet slapped the pavement as she scurried quickly along. She didn’t want to move too fast and draw extra attention to herself, but she wanted to put as much distance between herself and the greasy creeper as she could. As she neared the faded blue bench that designated the bus stop, she risked another quick look behind her. Creeper-guy was still following her. She only hoped that the bus would be along quickly because she did NOT want to be stuck waiting with this guy. Unfortunately it didn’t seem plausible that the bus would come before he had enough time to catch up to her. She exhaled slowly and did the only thing she could do; she sat down on the bench to wait.

Within minutes, creepy creeper caught up and sat down next to her on the bench. Annie pretended he didn’t exist as she pulled a book out of her bag — the one weapon she always carried with her to drive away unwelcome chatter from random weirdos. As she opened the tattered book, she again felt the unsettling prickle of his eyes on her.

“Hey, bonita. How you doing tonight? Headed back home?” Creeper rasped. She ignored him and buried her nose deeper into her book. “Heina! I’m talking to you. You don’t want to talk to me, beautiful? I bet I could give you something you like. Leave you begging for more…”

Annie promptly lifted her head to glare at the dirt bag. “In your dreams, pendejo,” she said flatly. He laughed as she stood up and threw her book back in her purse. She took a few long strides toward the road and turned her back to him, wishing desperately that the damn bus would hurry up.

“Ah, I like heinas with a little fight! Come on, chiquita, I just want to have a little –”

“A little what, puto?” a new voice interjected. “A little fun with the girl?”

“What, she your girl? Come on, man. Mind your own damn business.”

“She is my business, and now you’re in my business, puto. Get your ass off that bench and get the hell out of here before I make you more of my damn business, cabron.”

Annie turned around just in time to see Greasy Creeper stand up and spit on the ground in the direction of the newcomer. This guy was not going to back off. His eyes were alight with fire and hate, challenging the newcomer. By the look of Newcomers posture, he wasn’t going to back off, either. Shit. She was going to have to think of something quick. She didn’t even know who this guy was and he was going to get his ass kicked because of her.

Just as Annie reached for the newcomer’s arm, the high pitched squeal of the approaching bus sounded. With a fistful of his jacket she turned and yanked him toward the door. Adrenaline pounded in her ears and her stomach, and she was so wound up that it didn’t even occur to her to drop his arm. Before she knew it they were both on the bus and he was laughing loudly at her shoulder.

 

A to Z: C is for Creeper, and Christian Santos

I am currently taking part of the April A to Z Challenge! During this month, I am writing a single story, building each day off of the previous one. To get the story from the beginning, start here and work on up… 

The Boy was an insignificant part of Annie’s life for a long time. So insignificant, in fact, that Annie couldn’t remember when she’d met him — not because they’d been so young but because he’d been irrelevant. He wasn’t irrelevant for any good reason; they both just tended to be the kind of people that kept to themselves. Nope, Christian Santos never did anything that would bring extra attention his way, never caused any kind of commotion that would make anyone take a second look.

He was beautiful, really. One of those boys that was almost too pretty, with chiseled cheek bones and pretty lips. A mop of thick, black hair contrasted his ivory skin, and a small dimple rested in the middle of his chin. Annie remembered when they’d hit high school and he began to turn from a gawky, spidery thing  into something that more closely resembled a man. For a few months many of the starry-eyed girls who were swept away with daydreams of love and boys tried to get his attention, but he never acknowledged anyone. Quickly the attention fizzled and he melted back into the periphery, a brooding wallflower that garnered no scrutiny.

So it happened that late one afternoon, Annie had just finished her shift at the local fast food joint. It was ten days until graduation, and she was counting every one of them; In fact, Annie had just given MackDaddy’s her two-weeks notice and was presently daydreaming of flying to faraway places. She hated walking to the bus stop from here, it was a long walk and the streets were dreary and gray. A short cut lie through a parking lot behind a building on the west side, but it was dark and abandoned, and nightfall was quickly approaching. Against her better judgement, she decided to race the encroaching darkness and made a beeline for the lot.

She could feel the eyes on her before she could hear the footsteps. A slow prickle raised the hairs on her arms and her neck as she fought the urge to turn and survey the desolation behind her. She was more than halfway across the lot and she began to run, slowing down only as her feet hit the sidewalk on the opposite side of the boxy building. A streetlight delivered a soft glow into the glum twilight, and people scattered the street. She risked a quick glance behind her shoulder, catching sight of a greasy man who she’d served earlier at MackDaddy’s. He was a regular there and always gave her a weird feeling. He caught her eye and licked his lips, making no attempt to pretend he hadn’t been following her. She abruptly turned and hurried toward her bus stop.

A to Z: The Boy

Hi, there. I am currently taking part of the April A to Z Challenge! During this month, I am writing a single story, building each day off of the previous one. To get the story from the beginning, start here and work on up…

Annie was a smart cookie. She was book-smart in the way you had to be to make it through school, and she was street-smart in the way you had to be to make it through life. She was wary and cautious, more so than other folks her age, a trait likely attributed to a tough upbringing in an even tougher neighborhood. People often told her that she was going to make it far in life, not knowing just how literally she took this tidbit. Daydreams of exotic travels across continents regularly interrupted her thoughts at inopportune times, and she couldn’t wait to finish school in a few short weeks so she could load up her few personal belongings and buy a Greyhound ticket.

Annie was also smart about boys. Many of the friends she’d had since childhood hadn’t been as smart and wary,  carrying the not-so-subtle after effects of these boys in the forms of stretchmarks and toddling guarantees to never get out of the neighborhood. Annie would not jeopardize her pathway to freedom in the form of a boy. Or a girl, for that matter. She was pretty sure neither species was actually worth the pain and suffering she’d witnessed her friends go through in the name of love or lust. Nope, freedom and happiness for Annie was nothing more than quietly finishing highschool — a personal goal that meant she’d be the first in her family — and then discreetly hopping on that bus before anyone even knew she was gone. Her mom was currently indisposed at the woman’s facility a few hours to the north and her pops had been missing in action since she was three. Fighting with her cousins for sleeping dibs on the couch at her grandmothers house was getting old, and truthfully they’d be happy to have one less body in the tiny abode. No way was a boy jeopardizing her escape.

And then she met The Boy.

 

From A to Z – Meet Annie

Wow, April crept up! I joined this challenge a little while ago, and since have been caught up in various aspects of trying to grow as a writer. This challenge will be great, because it will make me write EVERY DAY. I am also determined to make it fun and creative for me, stuff that I WANT to write instead of stuff I’m trying to make money off of =) Sound okay? I hope to build a story, one piece leading to the next. I am already a day late — eek! Expect two…

Annie

Annie was an exceptional specimen, all sharp, chiseled angles with soft curves interjected in just the right places. Her face was a heart surrounded by a tangle of blondish curls that cascaded down her back and tumbled around her shoulders like a waterfall, and two pools of aquamarine peered out from under a fringe of dark eyelashes. Her pink mouth was full and soft and kissable, and the way she pouted with it gave one the impression that she used it often for expressly that purpose. It was this mouth, along with that unruly mass of curls and the soft, mocha tint of her skin that made many a passerby do a double-take, and alluded to her grandfathers African roots.

Annie was eighteen years old, freshly an adult with the world at her whim. She knew more than she should about the pain and torment that had a tendency to run rampantly through the darker underbellies of large cities, for she had grown up clinging desperately to that underbelly with hopes that she could grasp it tightly enough to avoid tumbling off and being trampled by the beast. At eighteen, Annie finally felt equipped to jump off without falling, and run like hell to put as much distance between herself and it as she could.