Short story writing challenge #1 — New York Lemonade.
Hello and welcome to my creative writing journey! My short stories will be approximately 500 words and show the beginnings, middles, or sometimes endings of a story. The rest can be filled in using your imagination. This first snippet comes from a writing assignment, five little words, from an awesome online writing course that I took with author Carol Anne Shaw, which I highly recommend – Serving Up a Story. Carol’s assignments opened me up to the world of short stories and inspired me to attempt this writing project of mine as well.
The five words that I have to use in my story: sparrow, lemonade, thunder, twenty-three, imperfect
It was so hot that day that Julie couldn’t even hold her lemonade without beads of condensation coating her knuckles in an icy bath. She nearly dropped it, but managed to catch it in both hands, its comforting chill the only relief she had felt all day. Twenty-three years. That’s how long she had put up with the New York City heat and she hated it. Twenty-three. That was also the age she’d been when she’d had Sparrow. When the most imperfect circumstances brought forth the most perfect being she had ever met. He had practically lost his shit when she suggested the name, Sparrow. He’d looked at her like she was crazy. But she’d been persistent. What could he do? He owed her.
At the time Sparrow came cheeping gleefully into the world, he’d been drunk. Not just a little buzzed. No, he had been so plastered out of his mind that he’d tried to rob a deli with a rubber chicken, buck naked. When the police showed up he proceeded to vomit on their shoes and run away. And no, they didn’t catch him. The thing was. He had been a track star. Hence, Julie falling for him in the first place. She’d always had a weakness for elite athletes. He was so fast that he’d ran his way straight from high school to the Olympics. He could have been a world champion. But, he just couldn’t handle the pressure. He always cracked. Always.
“I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I can’t!” Sometimes he was so like a three year old, which Sparrow had been at the time. She’d stood there with her jam covered daughter in her arms as her tears fell into Sparrow’s red curls. She felt tiny tears on her arms and hugged her little ray of hope tighter. Even he had cried but she had been unmoved. She hadn’t even moved when he packed one tiny bag and kissed his daughter goodbye. Twenty-three months. That’s how much time passed before he came home with a suitcase full of mea culpas and excuses to fill five more. That’s also how long it took for her to forgive him. Not Sparrow, though, who leapt into his arms the moment he came home and hugged him as if he’d only been away for a weekend. It was just her way.
She looked out again at the dark clouds and felt the thunder before she even heard it. It crashed so loud that she felt like her heart was exploding. She gasped and the glass slid unceremoniously from her hand, smashing into tiny pieces at her feet. “Well, that seems about right,” she laughed and then the rain hit. So hard and so fast that she didn’t even have a moment to get inside before nature’s shower cleaned every drop of sweat from her body in one fell swoop. Her mood changed in an instant. “God, I love this city.”
Look for the next short story on Tuesday, November 20th. Thanks for reading!