Ha! So I'm cleaning the study this morning and I unearth the piece of flash fiction below. I'm not even sure when I wrote it.
Anyway, I'm greatly amused because it prefigures in its own way a particular novel that everyone's reading this summer--even down to the use of a particular name there at the end.
(I'm more laid back than a lot of bloggers about warning people not to reproduce their work without prior consent, but I'll be quite blunt here: Don't do it.)
It messed you up for a good long while: Ben's parents holding you personally responsible, and why not, since he left a letter so poignant and detailed that no one but you cared that it was totally fabricated (maybe he thought you would be impressed with how convincing he could be, when he cared to try), and your parents shamed by your femme fatale designation. Someone placed Cliff Notes to Romeo and Juliet between the storm and front doors the morning of the funeral; for the longest while you believed that Ben had orchestrated that, too, as well as a whole host of plagues that would befall you when and if you regained your equilibrium.
You escaped to college when the time came, managed to concentrate long enough for a degree. You proved capable of self-support, sought with unerring precision the men women with half your sense would dodge or deflect, men icy and glazed, hardened like statuary. Your hands were so clean the skin puckered.
In time words that rolled and surged through your head like a stormy shoreline surf--He never loved you--He was only happy when you were unhappy--He was nothing but an angry, manipulative son-of-a-bitch--cease to be mere noise and spray; they become groundwater seeped deep in your soul, silent and laden with minerals. Your hands dirty, life bloomed around you, as technicolor and lush as a rain forest.
Yet there's a snake in every jungle, a coil of cobra, a hooded helix that hisses his name in the most unlikely places. Standing in the grocery check-out, your check filled except for the amount, your cashier stops scanning your items, calls to a woman leaving the store, an arrangement of baby's breath and carnations in her hands: "How's Amy?" Have you seen her?" The woman stops, swaying slightly in her heels. "I'm on my way over there right now," she says. "She's not doing too good." Your cashier watches the woman until she steps from the curb, then, before she returns to your cabbages, takes you into her confidence. "Amy's boy hung himself last night," she says. "Over some girl."
Hmmm. Should I assume the reader will supply a sibilant last name to Ben, or change his name to Sam or Steve?