Tuesday, March 08, 2011

IndieInk Writing Challenge: "Hungry Heart"

The fine folks at IndieInk.Org have begun another rondelet of Writing Challenges, wherein various and sundry bloggers (and, one must admit, there are few people as sundry as bloggers) issue challenges to others and are in turn themselves challenged. My challenge will reside here when my compatriot completes it, and my challenge, from the selfsame luminous Ms. Boorn, is "if you could have a day to do anything...".

I'm going to once again attempt a Tim Duncan style bank shot here. Rather than write literally about my perfect day (which would involve 20 hours of sleep, probably, followed by a meal and four hours of watching Ken Burns' "Baseball".), I'm going to take it as a fiction prompt. Not what the author intended, I'm sure. But things seldom come out as we intend, do they?

I emphasize once again, for those who may or may not be related to me, that this is fiction. Made up. 100% not true. Never happened.

The story is called "Hungry Heart".

"So what do you want to do today," she asked, looking at the ceiling. Her voice was thick with sleep.

"Same thing I want to do every day, Pinky," I said, my voice also raspy, looking at her out of one eye. "Try and take over the world."

She chuckled.

"No, really. It's your birthday. You're not working. We should do something you want you want to do." She cleared her throat. I understood what she meant, but the question still didn't make any sense.

She half turned towards me. Her body was between us. I reached my hand out, brushing her belly, touching her thigh. It was slightly prickly.

"Oh," she said, sounding grave and serious. "Oh, uh, no. I can't. No. Not...not now. OK?"

"Sure," I said. I ran my hand up and onto her hip.

"Besides, we can't just do that all day."

"We could try."

She chuckled again. "We'd have to eat."

"We'll order in," I said calmly.

"I'd have to pee eventually," she said lightly, stifling a laugh.

"I'll change the sheets," I said.

She laughed, coughed, and cleared her throat again.

"You're too funny. What do you want to do today, really? You won't have many more days like this."

I felt the word hit me like a slap. The thought of that shadowed my every move. "We could go see a movie."

"I can't get comfortable in those seats." She yawned and stretched. I watched the fabric strain as it was pulled taut.

"We could go shopping."

"You hate shopping."

"We could go shopping for books." I knew, even as I said it, I would feel too guilty to buy anything more expensive than an issue of "Rolling Stone".

"That isn't real shopping. Besides, my feet hurt when I stand up for too long."

"I can think of something that doesn't require any standing at all."

She giggled. "We already discussed that."

We were quiet for a minute. A car went by outside, the bass from their stereo audible through our walls. The car pulled away down the street.

"What do YOU want to do," she insisted, pushing herself upright. I rolled onto my back.

For months, that question had been as theoretical as "how are you going to spend your lottery winnings?". It doesn't matter what I want, it only matters what I have to do, I said silently. Want? I want to get a stack of CDs and a change of clothes and start driving west, singing along with Bruce Springsteen songs until my voice gets hoarse. I want to get away from need, from obligation, from guilt and money and fear and returned check fees and that sick feeling I get now when I look at her. I didn't know where to go, but the need to leave was so acute it was almost physical, vibrating in my limbs like a virus. My heart thumped loudly for a minute, then was quiet again.

She walked across the room, toward the bathroom, her stride ungainly and slow, her question hanging in the air between us. I saw her in profile, the person she was now and the person she was becoming all at once.

"How about I spend the day being with you?," I asked her back as she opened the door.

"That sounds awesome," she said, the smile in her tone as she shut the door without looking back at me. It clicked shut firmly. I looked up at the ceiling.


  1. This is pretty intense! Great post!

  2. "I didn't know where to go, but the need to leave was so acute it was almost physical, vibrating in my limbs like a virus."

    Whew! Man. This was painful in the best way possible. Well done.

  3. I was hooked even before the story started - because of your Tim Duncan reference. I want to know more about what's going on between your characters! Great story.

  4. I suck at fiction, so I love when someone does it well~

  5. "It doesn't matter what I want, it only matters what I have to do, I said silently."

    I remember living in that space. Very well written.

    Apropos of nothing, the word verification was sperm.

  6. Fantastic piece. You left me wanting more through the entire thing - all the way to the end.

  7. Thank you all. This was hard to write- hard in the sense of unpleasant. I didn't like this character, so it was hard to construct.

  8. This is amazing. It left me wondering what was going to happen next..

  9. Boy, talk about feeling torn in two and putting it into words. Incredibly done!

  10. which character don't you like? because i found myself really disliking her. very, very sad.

  11. Marian- That interests me. I find the man repellent. What don't you like about the woman?

  12. i don't like that she is rejecting him and that he can't talk to her about his feelings. which strike me as real, honest, not repellent. but they don't stand any chance if they can't talk about that and he accepts her rejection. that's what i get!

  13. I had to first get over your intro paragraph: "wherein various and sundry bloggers (and, one must admit, there are few people as sundry as bloggers)" before I could get into the post itself, :)

    The ending, spending the day together as she walked out the door--wow! Terrific!

  14. Marian-

    That's interesting. I was focused on his desire to leave her as being repellent, but you're right- she's not dealing with him straight, either.

  15. he doesn't strike me as actually wanting to leave her, just as expressing worry and anxiety. and she is glossing that over, and he is not telling her his truth, and she is rejecting him sexually. this is a deep sad mire for these characters to either wallow in or find a way to climb out. so there!


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