May 10th, 2011

Spare prose

I spent a lot of time writing and then editing this passage, only to realize I can’t really use it in the story. It’s sort of inane, but I still like it, though, so am posting here in case you might enjoy:

Gretta rarely went to women’s homes. The library gave her 6 to 8 hours a day with her all-female colleagues, so she didn’t need to follow them home to have all the conversations needed to about books and movies and what one might do with leftover hard-boiled eggs. She was always so studiously avoiding speaking of anything personal that she certainly would never have occurred to her to ajourn the conversation to a more private location. But she went to Danja’s house, in a pleasantly crowded part of town by the highway.
The houses were tall and tippy-looking like houses in cartoons, and the apartment buildings were all low-rises. Danja’s apartment was just like Gretta’s, except three girls lived there, and two of them had cats. When Gretta sat down on the futon, a cat jumped up and began to sneeze. It was a white, long-haired cat, and when it sneezed it shook itself and bits of fur flew off, giving the impression that thing was allergic to itself.
Danja said, “Don’t mind Haruki, he’s just trying to make you feel uncomfortable.” She handed them Gretta a glass of something red, and put a bowl of chips down on the coffee table. “It’s Kool-aid, isn’t that funny? I hadn’t had Kool-Aid since I was a kid, and then I saw it in the Metro and I thought, ‘Why not? It’s only pennies a glass, after all.’ Isn’t it good? I mean, I sort of bought it ironically, but it does actually taste good.”
“It tastes like sugar,” said Gretta. “Red sugar.”
Gretta took a single chip. The dust on it was brownish red. She put it on her tongue and tasted salt, smoke, something vaguely meaty. “What flavour chip?”
Danja went back into the kitchen and picked up a crumpled silver bag. “Chicken wing.” She seemed to flush. “Uh-oh, you aren’t veggie, are you? My roommate must’ve got these.”
Gretta put another chip in her mouth without thinking, but wasn’t sorry. They really did taste fine. “Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Not really. Not…as such.” Danja put a handful of chips in her mouth and chewed quickly, then more slowly. “Wow, these really do taste like chicken. How do they do that?”
Gretta shrugged.
“I was seeing this guy from the theatre program? …it was sort of weird? He had this thing with this ex that never really got sorted? And then he just he was doing this internship in France and…well, mainly stopped calling and emailing and stuff.”
Danja’s upspeak made Gretta nervous. Danja was always quite happy to admit that she had jammed the router, that she’d lost the address to the gallery they were going to, that her current series of photographs was sort of crappy. “I’m sorry.”
“Well, no, long-distance is always sort of fucked, I guess. You never know if you’re fighting or if your emails are getting sent to his spam folder or what.”
“I guess…I guess all relationships are hard,” said Gretta, not sure whether she was lying because all her relationships had been easy, or telling the truth because she had never had a relationship.
“Tell me about it. Forrest has this ex, Gabrielle? Oh, she was a giant bitch. Always coming to class crying. Our classes. She wasn’t in school. But she’d know where Forrest’s classes were and come knock on the door. The prof would stop the seminar and open it, and she’d be there bawling her eyes out.”
“That’s terrible.”
“Poor Forrest. The new girl, she’s all right.”
Gretta said quietly, “New girl?”
“Oh, I forget her name.” Danja had gone back to the chips, enthusiastically. With her mouth full, she added, “He met her online, one of them dating sites.”
Gretta was silent for a moment, thinking about the lunchroom at the library, the smell of reheated chili and perfume, the chatter about husbands and garbage day and recipes. Then she took a sip of her Kool-aid and reached to get one of the chicken chips before they were all gone.

3 Responses to “Spare prose”

  • AMT says:

    nice. spare nice.

    maybe we have already discussed this, but i tell my students in our ‘how to be a linguist’ class that one thing that has helped me is to create a document where i save my favourite prose that couldn’t make it into the academic paper one is writing at the moment? and then you can coddle it and love it and send it christmas cards, but not put it in the paper. … perhaps you can start a therapeutic writers blog called Spare Lovely Prose and everyone could contribute?

  • AMT says:

    also i notice i used about 90 pronouns in one sentence above. … i am the reason the comments section of your blog cannot be published in Spare Lovely Prose. sorry.

  • Rebecca says:

    AMT, it never fails to baffle and delight me that, after all these years on our diverged paths, we seem to, in some elemental way, have the same job.

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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