wordwhacker: (NaNo 2002)
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Written for Prompt 198 - Year of the Pig over at [livejournal.com profile] tamingthemuse.

Trying to get back into the habit of writing every week. It's... taking some effort. I originally thought that I'd put some serious planning into this week's story, and then suddenly it was 3AM on Saturday and I had four hours left and dwindling patience. So I switched gears and gave myself about half an hour to just WRITE and see what happened.

And this is what happened.


Horoscope (flash, 947 words)


Dump your boyfriend.

Joanne's fingers rested nervously on the keyboard, ready to flick into action, but all she could think to write was Dump your boyfriend, Aries over and over again. So she did. She whacked the caps lock key and pounded on the keyboard. After a minute she stopped and took a long, shaky breath. There were a lot of typos on the screen; random characters had worked their way in. It was embarrassing. And now she was going to cry and she hated crying, so she forced herself to close her eyes and breathe and soothe herself by tapping the backspace button in a rhythmic fashion - tap, tap tap, tap tap tap, tap tap, tap - until she knew that the screen and her nerves would both be a beautiful blank slate again.

Then she opened her eyes and wrote a real horoscope for Aries, something about now is a time for making a change in your life; reclaim the day in a small way - and then Gemini to finish up her day. She always had trouble with Gemini, so she saved it for last.

Her cell phone was ringing. She wasn't sure when it had started, but it was near the end of the ringtone - still, she fished it out of her purse and flipped it open, knowing exactly who it was and what she wanted.

"Hey kiddo."

"Hey Jo." Connie was the kind of person that read and believed horoscopes. She was also the kind of person who shortened everybody's name to one syllable or sometimes even less if a guttural sound would do. "We on for supper?"

"Yeah, I'm just finishing up."

"What's my horoscope today?"

"You're going to find new love and win the lottery."

"Oh shut up. Don't tell me then. I'll be there in fifteen."

"But Connie, I still have to -"

"Get a shower, I know. I'll play with your kitty while I wait. Now get naked."

She was just getting out of the shower when Connie showed up and let herself in. She made a disgusted sound loud enough for Joanne to hear her.

"Gord out of town?" She yelled.

"Until Tuesday."

"Couldn't he take his reek with him?"

"That's a question for the ages."

She dried herself off and slipped into her bedroom. The sound of Connie alternately playing with Joanne's cat and laughing in that cackle-like laugh of hers echoed in the hall. It would have been a nice apartment if it wasn't for Gord - hard wood floors that were constantly dirty with his muddy tracks from the woods, windows that never stayed clean for his grimy paw prints all over them. Her bedroom smelled like him, or like his detritus - she wasn't sure what the difference was anymore.

Her hair was still wet and she was unreasonably angry with it. It was long - it had always been long - and when she pulled on her shirt it slapped down against her back like so many dead weeds.

Then she got an idea.

"You gonna dry your hair?" Connie asked when she came out of the bedroom, hair pulled back into a soggy ponytail.

She shook her head. "You're going to cut it for me."

Connie laughed. "What, need a trim?"

"A big trim." She brushed past Connie and went into the kitchen. Gord's papers were everywhere, oppressing every available surface like a kind of print plague. She swept a pile onto the floor and planted one of her kitchen chairs on top of it.

"You're kidding, right?" She was still half laughing. "I mean, Gord -"

"Loves my hair." Joanne didn't look at her. "I think I have some half decent scissors in the drawer with my knives."

She went over and opened the drawer, fished out the Cuisinart scissors Joanne had paid twenty bucks for on an uncharacteristic whim a few months back. When she'd first met Gord he had brought about a lot of whims. After a lull that had lasted the whole time they had been together - approximately a year - Joanne had noticed a recurrence, and for an entirely different reason this time.

"How short do you want it?"

Joanne looked her in the eye. "Really short."

For a second Joanne wasn't sure if Connie would go for it. She recognized that tension in her cheeks that meant she was caught in a thought. Then a giggle burst her out of it. "Okay," she said. "Let's go."

Joanne let a laugh bubble up from deep down. Her hands were shaking so she clasped them in her lap. "Do the ponytail first."

"Above or below the band?"

"Above," Joanne said. "I think I'll hang it on the doorknob when Gord gets home."

She felt Connie grasp the ponytail, and then that wet and dry slicing sound and her hair relaxed to touch the back of her ears.

Connie tossed the ponytail into her lap. She picked it up and laid it on the table, almost reverently.

"The worst is over," Connie said. "How far do you want to go?"

"I dunno. Just make it look like... me."

She started to cut. "You ever had hair that you thought looked like you?"

Joanne smiled. "There's a first time for everything."

"So what's the occasion, if you don't mind my asking?" There was a deeper question behind it. Joanne knew the answer; she was pretty sure about that now. But she wasn't sure yet if she was ready to say it.

"Does there have to be an occasion?"

She laughed. "Did your horoscope tell you to do it?"

It almost did, she thought, and then she remembered the schlock she'd really written. Something about reclaiming herself, or making a change. "Sort of," she said.

Maybe it was time for a different way of thinking, a new year, a different zodiac. An end to the year of the pig.

---


I have four writing-related goals for next week:


1) Brainstorm, outline, and write the weekly story IN ADVANCE so I can really sink my teeth into it.

2) Write a 15 minute story to flex my "off the cuff" skills.

3) Finish draft 2 of one of the stories I wrote last year.

4) Get a (very rough) draft of the review I'm writing finished.


And then party. Or, y'know, party in and around these things.
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