Cleo's Dating Blog

Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

I am participating in a short story contest and honestly, I don’t even know what the prize is. I just wanted something to motivate me to write more creative fiction.

The contest is hosted by NYC Midnight and it is their 6th Annual Short Story Challenge. The challenge includes three rounds where each time you are given a prompt and time limit.

The first round just ended so I am sharing my story with you. Hopefully I make it to the next round! Let me know what you think :).

I was assigned to write a story with the genre of sci-fi, character of a babysitter, and event of a sale. Here goes!

Love,

Cleo

The Adventures of Big Mac Girl

A young girl unknowingly finds herself in the middle of a wild science experiment as an older man capitalizes on her insecurities. 

________________________________

They called her Big Mac girl. The truth was, she did not even like hamburgers, let alone McDonald’s. Unfortunately, the thing about bullying is that it need not be factual.

Every day she would come home from school and find remnants of melted cheddar cheese and Thousand Island dressing in her backpack. It made studying a sticky struggle and smiling an even greater one. “Where did these girls find the time for such ridiculing?” she wondered.

Yes, she was overweight. Some would even say she was extremely overweight. Growing up in a large family of large people, eating delicious food was what bonded the Bigg’s clan together. Fried chicken, lamb chops, spaghetti and meatballs, mashed potatoes, three-cheese baked mac and cheese, and blueberry pancakes were common dishes consumed before a day’s end.

“Mom, can I ask you something?” she inquired, while her mother stirred the lamb stew.

“You mean may you ask me something?” her mother replied.

“Yes, may I. May I go to a different school?”

Her mother stopped stirring and looked up at her daughter. With eight children, it was easy to overlook how fast each one was growing and how quickly they were finding their own identities.

“What’s wrong with the school you go to now?” her mother asked.

“I get bullied by everyone! I am called the worst names and am constantly cleaning condiments out of my belongings. Next year I will be in 8th grade and I want a fresh start. It’s not fair.” She spoke with a conviction her mother had never seen before.

“Sweetheart, anyone that makes fun of you is just jealous of the close-knit family you have. Their opinion doesn’t matter! The only other school in the area is that snooty, all-girls academy and I wouldn’t send you there even if we could afford it.” Although she knew her mother loved her very much, she was also very stubborn. This discussion was over, for the time being. “Now, eat your potatoes.”

One of the only things that made her forget about her lack of friends, lack of respect, and lack of a desirable physique was her physics class. She loved the complexity of the subject, the thrill of solving unknown variables, and how most kids in her class could not grasp the concepts. Plus, it did not hurt that Mr. Watson was the most charming, handsome, and intelligent teacher in the whole school.

“Hello class. Today we are going to dive into the concept of color waves. With the coming out of those new color television sets that can be purchased for your home, I thought it would benefit us all to know a little bit about how they work.” Mr. Watson smiled and she was sure that his teeth were glowing.

While he spoke, she took notes vigorously, sometimes to the point of getting a painful cramp in her hand. She fought through it.

He always looked directly at her when he was about to raise a question to the class, as if warning her to make sure she lifted her hand first. “I have a bit of a personal question to ask you all,” Mr. Watson chimed. “Our normal babysitter for the evening is sick and my wife and I already have tickets to see the new Charlton Heston movie. Would anyone be interested in babysitting? I would be deeply appreciative.”

She wanted nothing more than to be appreciated. Her hand shot up like rocket.

She arrived at 5:30pm sharp, just as Mr. Watson had instructed. She had brushed her hair and put on a little bit of red lipstick that she had stolen from her mother’s purse.

“So nice of you to be on time,” Mr. Watson said. Her cheeks blushed immediately.

She was nervous to meet Mrs. Watson and had no idea how old their child was. All she knew was that Mr. Watson had glowing, sparkly teeth.

Mr. Watson gave her a tour of the house and its quaint rooms. When they got to the back of the house, Mr. Watson stopped and turned slowly to face her.

“Now, this is my favorite room of the whole house,” he paused for a moment. “But, you cannot tell anyone at school that I showed it to you, okay? Promise me.”

“I pinky promise, Mr. Watson.” She would do anything to know what was behind that door if it meant bringing her closer to her favorite teacher.

He smiled. She melted.

He opened the door. The room was so dimly lit that she could hardly see three feet in front of her.

He grabbed her hand. “We have to go down some stairs. Be careful.”

As he led her down the stairs, her heart raced, but mostly just because they were holding hands.

At the bottom of the stairs, they rounded the corner and arrived at a fluorescently illuminated room that looked a lot like a laboratory and smelled a lot like a pet store. There were small cages all along the walls and as she looked closer, she noticed that there was a rat in each one.

“These are my children,” Mr. Watson said proudly.

He must have noticed the perplexed and slightly disgusted look on her face because he immediately started to explain the purpose of this rat-room.

“Do not be frightened. I’m a scientist after all. I am in the middle of an extraordinary, ground-breaking discovery. Don’t you want to be a part of that?” He looked so deeply into her eyes that she thought she might faint.

She nodded, slowly.

“Good. There are instructions on each cage and each child has their own personality, just like your brothers and sisters,” Mr. Watson explained. “The Mrs. and I will be back before you know it, so make yourself at home, have fun, and get to know my children. Just make sure you do not leave this room. If all goes well, I will have a special treat for you when I return.”

He squeezed her hand, smiled, and left the room closing the door behind him. “What have I gotten myself into?” she thought to herself.

For a long time she stood in the same spot, frozen. Then, a loud clatter came from the cage marked “D” as the rat behind bars began to ferociously claw at the cage.

Her skin crawled but she inched closer to cage D.

Rat D must be fed every 10 minutes. Use the food in the blue container. Failure to do so can lead to extreme aggression.

She turned and noticed a row of red, green, and blue containers to her right. She ran over and scooped out a mush that looked a lot like soggy French fries mixed with peanut butter. Rat D gobbled up the mush and then succumbed to an intense food comma.

She almost giggled. He was so chubby that it was cute.

Feeling more comfortable, she walked around the room, looking at the “children.” All of their instructions had something to do with feeding.

Rat A must be fed every two hours. Use the green container. Rat C must be fed only once a day with food from the red container…

At the end of the row of cages was a small door attached to an odd, dome-shaped machine. It must have only been about 5 feet tall and had the numbers 2-0-1-2 written on the front.

Getting hungry herself, she sat at the desk in the center of the room and searched the drawers for something tasty. Perfect, she made a Ritz Crackers discovery! She continued searching the desk out of curiosity and came across some unmarked bottles of pills, pages of handwritten notes and charts, and money. However, it was not the nickels and dimes money that she was used to, but money with Benjamin Franklin on them! “Mr. Watson must be rich,” she whispered.

Just as she was finishing up her snack, she heard the sound of footsteps and Mr. Watson’s unmistakable laughter.

“How is my favorite girl doing?” he asked as he quickly walked around the room, examining his children.

“You did a great job!” Mr. Watson was very pleased. He got down on one knee so he could speak to her on an equal level. “It’s time for your special gift.”

He reached into the desk and pulled out two Ben Franklin’s. She could not stop thinking how many Coca-Cola’s or gummy bears she could buy at the market with that kind of cash.

“This is two-hundred dollars. The cool thing about this is that we can trade it for even better things. For example, I discovered a small pill you can take that allows you to eat whatever you like and still become skinny. Doesn’t that sound nice?”

Did that sound nice? It sounded like her dreams just came true! She could go to school and not be bullied and still eat her mom’s amazing cooking. Miraculous!

“To get the pills is simple. All you have to do is take this money, go to a secret store, and trade the money for the special treats. Then, your life will never be the same!” Mr. Watson was a great salesman.

She smiled. “What store do I go to?” she asked, innocently.

Now Mr. Watson sprung to his feet. “Let me show you.”

Once again, he took her hand and led her to the dome-shaped creation in the corner of the room. “You are going to a place called Los Angeles in 2012. Everyone in this place is skinny and wears size 0 clothing. The sun always shines and people stay young and beautiful for a very long time.”

“That sounds nice, but I am not going to fit in,” she confessed.

“Nonsense. After these special pills, you will be a movie star.” Mr. Watson knew just the right things to say.

He put a strange contraption on her head and straps on her shoulders and arms.

“After you get inside, I am going to push the green button. When the machine stops buzzing, open the door and you will be in my good friend’s home. Hand him the money and he will hand you a small bag. Then, go back inside the machine and push the yellow button that says 1959. Understand?” Mr. Watson spoke very articulately.

“Yes, I understand, Mr. Watson. Thank you very much for this gift.”

He pushed the green button. Everything around her began to shake wildly. She closed her eyes and prayed that this would end soon so she could get her present and finally be skinny.

As quickly as it had started, the shaking stopped and the air was quiet again. She took a deep breath and opened the door.

The room she arrived in was a lot different than Mr. Watson’s basement laboratory. Instead of inside, she was actually outside in a dirt courtyard. She could see palm trees in the distance. At least, she thought they were palm trees. Text book photos are not always accurate.

Instead of cages with rats, this area had stables with horses. There was an old man stacking hay in the distance. When he saw her, he came running towards her.

“Hello doll. You made it! We are so pleased. Do you have the money?” the old man had the most unusually young looking face, yet the skin on his neck and hands looked as old as her grandfather’s.

She was too afraid answer so she just handed him the two Ben Franklin’s.

The old man looked happy but, for some reason, his face struggled to smile. He handed her a brown paper bag that had Clenbuterol written on it.

“Do not take more than one per day. If your heart starts to beat too fast, just sit down and take a deep breath. Have fun cutie pie!” He turned and galloped off to his horse stables.

Before heading back, she looked up at the bright sky and felt the warm sun grab her face. This was her last moment as Big Mac girl.

She pushed the yellow button and was back in Mr. Watson’s laboratory in less than the time it takes to microwave last night’s meatloaf.

“I missed you,” Mr. Watson gave her a hug.

He took the bag from her and counted the white pills.

“Perfect. I am so proud of you. Let me see your hand.”

He placed seven, shiny pills in her youthful palm.

“If you want these pills to make you happy and thin, make sure you do the following,” Mr. Watson explained. She wished she had a pencil and paper to take notes. “Take one pill every morning when you wake up. Drink lots of water and just eat as you normally would, as much as you want! However, you may start to lose your appetite, but that is normal. Lastly, be sure not to tell anyone because then everyone would want these pills and I only have enough for me and you.”

She could hardly sleep that night. From this moment on, she was going to start saving nickels and dimes for a new, skinny-girl wardrobe. Her mom would no longer need to extend the buttons on her pants or buy her tops from the men’s department. Maybe she could even have friends at school and not eat lunch alone.

The moon was shining big and bright that night. As she laid awake, smiling and dreaming of a better future, Mr. Watson also could not sleep. He crossed his fingers and said a silent prayer, hoping that his favorite student would not experience the same fate as his first batch of rats did.

Additionally, the Mr. Watson of 2012 had trouble falling asleep. He had failed to share his secret with the little girl from the past. After a life of studying youth and physical beauty, no one was more qualified than him to share the experiment’s conclusion. Chasing physical beauty may qualify as a valid pursuit of happiness, but never would it amount to its acquisition.

 

 

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In case you did not know, I was the third prize winner of the Summer 2011 Elephant Prize for Short Fiction held by In The Snake Magazine (except I used my other name, for those of you that know it!). Anywhoo, here is my newest short fiction story to be entered in this Winter’s contest… enjoy!

xx,

Cleo

A Holiday Cheer Experiment

Depending on your stage in life, the holiday season can yield largely varying experiences. Follow this young woman as she experiments with new ideas, tests herself, and attempts to figure out what happiness means.

————

Every once in a while, the pain was too much. She would take deep breaths, running her fingers through her hair, but that only helped for a brief moment. She tried hanging upside down off her bed. She tried running around the block. She tried screaming in her car. Nothing worked.

She was in dire need of a cure although, as far as she knew, none existed. Her symptoms were vast and her injuries were substantial, however, only those who came close enough were able to see them. As with many illusions, she could pass for normal in a photograph or even pass as happy if viewed from a distance.

Despite her lack of a medical education, she tried to diagnose herself. The reoccurring pain had been elevating over the past year. There were some large changes in her life- new job, new ex-boyfriend- but nothing that should have triggered a pain like this. She ate healthy, mostly got enough sleep, and loved to exercise. As a matter of fact, she was a bit of an endorphin junkie. Her tongue was the normal pink color, none of her glands seemed swollen, and her tear ducts were definitely functional.

However, if she was really honest with herself, she knew that the beginnings of the pain had always been with her, even when she was just a little girl. An aspect of her being had always felt misplaced, as if her insides were teeter-tottering.

She did not like the idea of drugs, despite giving in every now and again. She could not tell you the exact time but, at some point in her life, she decided that grinding your teeth and getting through the pain was much more meaningful than choosing to be numb. She often wondered if she was right.

If you ever saw her walking down the street, shopping at the supermarket, or driving in her car, it would be quite ordinary for you stare. She had a softly exotic look to her and a way of carrying herself that was comfortingly untouchable.

On this particular winter Tuesday, she decided a day of Christmas shopping would be a good distraction from her pain. “A little holiday cheer could go a long way,” she thought to herself. Today she would have no agenda. Today she would take life exactly as it came.

When traffic was the first thing to show up in her day, she accepted it. Looking straight ahead, she drove with a silent, submissive purpose. “I choose to be living in the moment,” she said out loud. She always heard people say that this was the secret to happiness.

She glanced around at the cars beside hers and could not help but feeling like no one was happy, as if no one knew how. She wondered where, if anywhere in the world, did most every person feel happy. She refused to believe that Disneyland was truly the happiest place on Earth.

A few weeks prior, a friend had told her, “When you isolate yourself from everything and everyone, this is when you will finally realize that you are indeed connected to everything and everyone.” She thought about this as she drove, trying to convince herself that she felt connected to something.

Arriving at her destination, it was clear that holiday spirit had barfed all over the trees and buildings. In her Newsboy hat, blue scarf, and black peacoat, she blended in with the crowd while also standing out.

Outdoor shopping centers are interesting. Where else can you walk without any destination yet not look lost? This is exactly what she did. Floating from store window to store window, she really did feel like a sugarplum fairy.

The air was too cold for frozen yogurt. Instead, she got some spiced apple cider to keep with the day’s holiday theme. She smiled. It was not exactly her most genuine smile, but she was trying very hard to enjoy the simple things in life. She had also heard people say that this was another secret to happiness.

She continued to walk without a destination. Although she found this concept comforting, she hoped that this theme would not leak into the rest of her life. Purpose was very important to her.

The walkway began to get crowded as she approached the pedestrian and automobile intersection. She was starting to feel the beginnings of a pain attack so she decked into a nearby café instead of joining the congestion. Her senses were hit by a rush of freshly baked gingerbread and warm peppermint. Warmth was truly something to be thankful for.

She grabbed a seat and sipped her cider, scanning the crowd around her. Voluminous laughter filled the corner of the café where a mother, father, and two small children sat sharing a slice of pecan pie. The father’s arm was gently wrapped around his wife who was intently telling a story to their two youngsters. She was very animated, using her hands and props and wild facial expressions. The kids were mesmerized. The father looked lovingly at his wife.

The elder daughter ran her fingers through her little brother’s hair and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. He wiped it off, acting disgusted, but all the while having the largest grin plastered on his face.

Maybe that was the cure she needed. She could not remember seeing anything this pure since, well, she was not sure when. This really was one of those movie screen moments. She found herself hoping that the father was not a drunk, the mother not a controlling bitch, and that they children would not grow up with self-esteem or depression issues. Regardless, right now their happiness filled the entire room and she could not help feeling like this coalition of people was what life was all about.

She left the café thinking only of the little girl’s wide smile and the father’s loving eyes. Holiday cheer really did bring out the best in people.

Parking her car and climbing the steps to her apartment, she finished the last of the cider and put her Newsboy hat on her bed. Silence filled the room. She could no longer hear the echoing vibrations from the laughter of the family at the café. The warmth she felt from before was no longer there.

Sitting down, she grabbed a blanket to create the sensation that someone was giving her a holiday hug. For some reason she felt paralyzed, as if turning on the television, texting a friend, or reading a book would be too much effort. There she sat. Then, like clockwork, the pain swept in.

She laid down, realizing that seeing the happy family did nothing to cure her pain. She closed her eyes, longing only to feel numbness around her.

By popular demand, this is the sequel to my first short story, “An Underlying Discovery Within a Brief Moment.” I hope you like it!

<3,

Cleo

—————-

An Unpredictable Turn of Events

Circumstances quickly change when larger doses of pleasure are added to work life, new proposals are made, and the essence of true feelings are finally voiced.

—————-

Somehow, he convinced her to go on the business trip.

“I’m nervous about my press conference,” he confessed. “I need your good energy and smile to help me feel comfortable.”

She knew there was no way that this could be true yet, she liked the idea. Her mind wandered as she pictured herself, dressed in her most sexy business outfit, cameras flashing, and media attention all around.

“And what young girl doesn’t like Miami?” he threw in at the last moment.

“Do I have to decide right now at this very moment?” she asked playfully.

“No you don’t, but deep down you know that you’ve already decided. Going with me would be much more fun than staying here. Plus, you would miss me too much,” he said without flinching.

She flinched.

For the rest of the day, she weighed her options. She could stay in LA, in the comfort of her own single lifestyle, OR she could take a chance, a risk, and do something that not every girl gets the opportunity to do.

A few hours later, popping into her cubicle and standing uncomfortably close, he probed, “so have you decided yet Miss Cautious-about-everything?” He stared into her eyes.

“You would like to know, wouldn’t you?” she said in a sly tone as her lips gloss glowed beneath the fluorescent lighting.

He smiled.

“Fine, I will go with you,” she said much more enthusiastically than she actually felt.

“Great!” he exclaimed. “And I will get you your own hotel room so that you feel comfortable.”

She secretly sighed a huge sigh of relief.

The days went by and the time for departure to Miami approached. Three days of just him and her. Daunting. He had been floating around the office acting very excited for hours now and everyone else could tell. She could barely handle it. She was about to break. Why did he act like such a school boy sometimes?

He came up next to her and put his arm around her shoulder. He smelled of laundry mixed with french fries. “You should come over before we go to the airport and I will cook you dinner. I am a great cook. What do you want me to prepare for you? I love to barbeque anything and we could just talk and have wine and I could pet you,” he spoke so fast as if trying desperately to release all of his adrenaline.

She froze. This was not good. As if the trip was not scaring her enough, this somewhat romantic invitation to dinner officially freaked her out.

She covered her wince with a half-smile and stepped back, creating distance between them. “Um, I don’t know about that,” she voiced. “I wanted to just keep focused on business things.”

The electricity between them instantly changed, although he said nothing at first. He looked as though she had just thrown him a curveball.

She waited patiently for his response, knowing that sometimes all a person needs is a little, uninterrupted time.

“Yes, I understand, but I can’t help that you are the most beautiful thing in my life.”

She was floored, as usual. Clearly this was not just business to him. The universe must be testing her.

“Is it best if I just don’t go to Miami?” she asked politely and half-jokingly.

He took her seriously now. “Well, it looks that way, doesn’t it?” he replied with just enough sarcasm to put a bad taste in her mouth.

——–

Weeks would go by before another word was shared between them.

The silent treatment was difficult to swallow at first. She tried to reach out to him a few times to check in, but he was very short with her. “This is how it should be,” she thought to herself.

Meanwhile, her career did not advance nor retreat. Everything seemed very stagnant, as if waiting for the next gust of wind to blow her in any given direction. Little did she know that a can of worms had been opened and this was merely the first taste.

He dove head first into his work after she had rejected him. He was successful, charming, and generous. How dare she say, “No.” So many women would kill to be in her position. Focusing on his growing wealth, he ignored her existence in his life… at least for the time being.

 

I decided to enter a short story contest, but since it is going to take months before I know if I win or not… here is a preview for all my lovely readers! PLEASE tell me what you think =]. (keep in mind that this is fiction… at least mostly, *wink*).

xx,

Cleo

———–

The Underlying Discovery Within a Brief Moment

As a relationship flirts with the line between romantic and platonic, questions are raised, boundaries are tested, and the energies of two beings explore the idea of becoming one, despite unusual circumstances.

———-

She had to tell him that she felt uncomfortable. Even as a huge lump formed in her throat and her palms began to sweat, she could not let this go on.

“This is all very new to me,” she began, as her blue floral dress started to stick to her sun kissed skin. Los Angeles can be so hot in the summer time.

“Sometimes I don’t even know what’s going on.” She smiled, trying to keep things light-hearted.

He always looked at her in the same way, just as he was now. Eyes completely engaged, but also hazy.

“You are so cute, you know that?” The words came out as if he could not hold them in any longer.

Once again, she was speechless.

“Let’s go on a walk,” he said. “I want to show you something.”

He grabbed her hand before she could answer, blind to the fact that part of her cringed on the inside.

They walked down the street, hand-in-hand, as cars hustled by. Various stores and shops adorned the sidewalk and people in every style of clothing were passing by on their way from here to somewhere else.

“This is my favorite little bookstore.” He said, finally freeing her hand.

Entering the store, they were hit by the scent of old and new books coexisting. There is nothing quite like the smell of books. Elated, her discomfort with the previous situation was forgotten, at least for now.

“Oh my god, I love it!” She had this glowing energy that was impossible to ignore.

Slowly running her fingers along the rows of books, she tried to soak in every element. A hopeless romantic, she naturally gravitated toward the poetry section and picked a book at random.

Flipping the pages and feeling their presence beneath her mint green painted finger tips, she stopped on a poem entitled, A Conceit. This poem was written by Maya Angelou.

Give me your hand
Make room for me
to lead and follow
you
beyond this rage of poetry.

Let others have
the privacy of
touching words
and love of loss
of love.

For me
Give me your hand.

“I could give you that, you know?”

“Oh no it’s alright. I’m sure I could Google all of these poems for free,” she said sparklingly.

“You are so beautiful. What I meant is that I could give you what is in the poem. When are you going to let me? When will you give me your hand?” He had a way of mixing sweetness with arrogance.

Just like that, a nice moment became awkward.

“But, I work for you… silly.” She added the last word to ease the blow. Men do not take rejection well.

Master of changing the subject, she picked up another book about traveling to Africa. “I’ve always wanted to go to Africa and play with the orangutans. Los Angeles men are good practice,” she joked.

He laughed. “Are you hungry? I’ll take you wherever you want to go,” he was not bluffing.

“How about Africa?” She loved to be playful.

He laughed again. “But I really must get going,” she interjected before he could speak. “I have a lot of work to do.”

“Yes, but do your work in my office so I can stare at you,” he played back, in a serious way.

“You know I can’t work when you stare at me.”

“When are you going to accept that we are soul mates?” He asked this question almost daily.

She laughed it off. “It’s late. I am going to work from home. I will see you tomorrow, boss.”

He walked her to her car and they parted ways for one more day.

 

It was a difficult dynamic for her to swallow. Her senses were always alert when he was around and her stomach always felt like it was holding its breath, as if the slightest movement could shatter everything she had worked for.

Even so, the oddest part about the entire situation was that she found herself thinking of him. She would often wake up to thoughts of him and look forward to the bombardment of emails from him that would start her day- except these emails were not work related, but “her” related. Was it his power and success that she found interesting? How could it be that he devoted so much time and attention to her when the rest of his life demanded so much?

She smiled at the unique role he played in her life, wondering if there were many others girls dealing with a similar dilemma. Maybe he was right? Maybe they were soul mates? Maybe age is just a number and nothing more? After all, his level of maturity did not match the number listed on his birth certificate anyway.

Driving home with the windows down, she let her mind wander. The allure of, “being taken care of” was undeniably enticing and common in this town. It is so Beverly Hills to be able to shop for anything you want and not earn a dime of the money being spent.

But no matter how much her mind liked to challenge her instincts, she knew she was not at all a true LA girl. Conformity was not in her life plan. As she buzzed by the perfect rows of palm trees in her aspiring BMW, affirming that to herself made her smile- a smile greater than any man or amount of money could give her.