A while back K told me about an on-line writing group; a website called Write on Edge. I subscribed to the blog and started watching the writing prompts they offered. Everything, at first glance, seems so vague. The word limits are always too small. We all know brevity is not my forté.
The most recent writing prompt was one word; flavor. Four hundred words or less, either fiction or creative non-fiction. I told K, “I don’t like it. It’s too vague.” She told me I should just give it a try. So I did. What follows is my first ever submission to this writing group, in the shadows of which, I have lurked for months.
I don’t think it’s very good (go figure) and it seems really contrived, but what the hell. It’s not like I’m going to get a grade for it. So here you go…
It took him a long time to open up. Months of silent car rides, open-ended questions answered with a vague “I don’t know”, and doubts about what the relationship was accomplishing for either of us. I began to contemplate giving up. Maybe he didn’t need me. Maybe he didn’t need anyone or maybe he needed something I wasn’t providing and someone else could. Could I walk away? Should I walk away? After all, I had met my initial commitment.
Walking away just seemed wrong, so I stuck it out hoping to see something change. I reduced the amount of time I spent with him; it took a lot out of me and I didn’t feel connected. Half as much time would have to suffice.
I don’t know when it changed. One day it was suddenly obvious; half the time wasn’t enough. He wanted more and I wanted to give him more. A new schedule. More time. Different days. Dinners some weeks. He lit up at the notion.
After the second dinner when he returned home he told his sister all about our outing. “And he had five Diet Pepsi’s” he told her, excitement in his voice. That’s when I knew he was watching. Picking up on everything. He sees all that I do. I have to be constantly aware, vigilant about the example I set. But I don’t mind.
I try to show him a good way to be, but it’s hard when what I want to show him is something different from what I am. I know he’s following my lead. I should eat better; drink more water. But I love the flavor of Diet Pepsi. It’s my one vice. I’m completely addicted. The sweet, refreshing, cola taste. It’s the first thing to enter my mind when the all important, “can I get you something to drink?” is asked.
He talks to me now. Still a lot of “I don’t know”, but there’s much more than that now. Stories about school. Stories about friends. Stories about playing video games. But he talks. And when I taste that sweet, dark elixir, I’m reminded, once again, that our relationship matters; that he needs me and I need him.
And that tastes pretty damn good.