Hi, darling. (I feel like the short milliseconds in which you have become acquainted with me has given me the ability to bestow such a sentiment unto you. I also feel that it has made me comfortable enough to reveal one of the most sensitive parts of my existence: my stories. For a large portion of my life, I have been writing. Not very well, if I may add, and I’m still learning right now as I proceed to fit a whole paragraph into one frail set of parentheses. It used to be my favorite hobby before my family finally got cable and internet. Before I was entertained on a weekly basis by the wacky antics of the Kardashians, I propped my feet on my large, broken-down desk and typed dozens of pages on my Gateway computer. If you’re not familiar, Gateway is kind of the Paris Hilton of the computer world now. If you don’t get that obscure reference either, I can’t help you, 13-year-old girl from Michigan. Anyway, I recently decided to go through some of them and the process was as painful as watching Avatar: The Last Airbender movie. But since it’s 12 am and I have nothing better to do, I’m going to insert a little excerpt from one of the stories so you, dear nonexistent 13-year-old girl from Michigan, can get a little cheap entertainment. I’m thinking of posting a whole bunch of them because I think holding in bad things from your past causes you to go slowly insane. So here’s the first one. It’s actually not that old. In fact I last updated it last August. The really bad stuff I wrote when I was 8 is locked on my Gateway computer which takes forever to start up and makes weird noises when it finishes. Much like Paris Hilton now *cue laughter.* So I leave you with this which is, I promise you, almost as cringe-worthy as my earlier work. Read and feel better about your own writing. Read and feel better about your own life. Read and laugh. At the story, at me, whatever makes you happy. Read and give this post a like *cue wink.* Read and be merry!)
I entitled this story Marigold, after one of the lead characters. I haven’t touched it in a while but I believe it was supposed to be about a man who leaves the city for a while and settles in a small town for whatever reason where he meets a girl. They fall in love and blahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
But I didn’t get to that yet. The story is supposed to be told in flashback and opens with him returning to the small town and trying to contact her again. I have not edited any part of this recently. Everything you read was last virtually touched 8/28/2013 at 8:11 pm. The only things I did were cut it off (this is the first seven of eleven pages) and delete a few paragraphs in the beginning.
Madison’s Diner stood at the end of the road. I’m not sure if Madison still runs it (or is even alive) nor do I know if the building still exists. However, it would not surprise me if I got the unfortunate news that it had crumpled to the ground years ago and its debris is being cleared to make way for a shopping center. In its heyday, the pink-neon sign displayed on the side of the road could be seen from miles and furniture –seats, tables, and counters—glistened with exaggerated cleanliness. The flowered wallpaper added so much soothing comfort that fitted perfectly with the décor that you almost forgot or overlooked its outdated fashion. Customers roamed in and out in crowds; on the wall a picture of a vice president was hung to commemorate his visit to the diner. The waitresses, including Madison herself, were young, pretty, and smiling. Not to mention incredibly talented; food was cooked with such creative precision that one would choose their apple pie over a whole dinner at the Russian Tea Room any day.
On this day that I had come back, the once-acclaimed restaurant had since fallen from its fame. The neon lights dimmed, furniture dulled, wallpaper yellowed, business declined, and while the service was still friendly, the workers had too lost their luster.
I entered through the screen door and by doing so alerted the welcoming bell hanging overhead. Heads turned towards me for a second and then back at what they were doing. I half-expected an excited “hello!” from one of them but it never came.
The smell of fresh coffee and pie hit my nostrils first, making my stomach grumble anxiously. I picked a seat next to the window that picked up most light from the sun and waited patiently for a menu.
“Hey there, stranger.”
I turned and faced an aged Madison Maloney. She had caked-on make-up and adorned a tiny pair of glasses one usually see on librarians or disgruntled old ladies. I guess Madison had become a cross between the two.
“Ms. Madison, you look lovely. As always,” I greeted happily, delighted by her comfortingly familiar voice.
“And you too Sir Ian Worthington,” she replied, mocking my overly-formal tone, “Now what can I get you?”
“Some information; and maybe some pie, if you feel so inclined.”
She scrunched her nose and pushed her glasses up closer to her eyes. Then Madison looked me up and down as though she wasn’t sure who I was. From behind her, waiters shouted orders to the cook who made things sizzle and pop in the kitchen. They were the only noises that filled an all-too-quiet scene.
“What kind of pie? What kind of information?” she asked with her eyes pointed towards her notepad. She tapped her pencil against it inquisitively like a detective in an interrogation room and I was the suspect.
“Lemon? Cherry? You know best, surprise me,” after flashing her my most endearing smile, I added, “And I’d like to know… about Marigold?” I whispered the last word, like it was a secret I was too nervous to share.
She wrote something on her notepad and waltzed back behind the counter without saying a word. I wondered for a second if she had heard what I said or if she was choosing to ignore it.
I didn’t have long to wonder because Madison came back in a flash with a lemon pie in hand.
“There you go, fresh out of the oven,” she leaned in closer and murmured, “I gave you his,” her scrawny fingers pointed to a grumpy-looking middle aged man seated at the corner of the counter, “Don’t tell anyone.” Madison gave me a little wink and handed me my utensils.
“Uh, Madison? Wait a minute!” I nearly shouted at her but stopped myself; it came out as a raised whisper.
Still, she ignored or didn’t hear me and went back to the kitchen to make another lemon pie for the seemingly irritated customer.
I sighed and decided I would talk to her in private later—after I finished my dinner/desert.
Inside the folded up napkin that wrapped around my knife and fork was a slip of paper that had been hastily torn from a notepad. I laid the napkin down and picked up the note carefully, cupping it in my hand so no one sees. I don’t know from whom I wanted to hide it from.
The note read, in a sloppily-written hand:
Ian, you know that Mari told me not to tell you anything. But I’m gonna because I’m a meddling nut. She’s in New York right now. She moved outta Sanford years ago, but you know that. I don’t know much more than that but here’s a number she gave me if I wanted to contact her— 212-887-5110. Glad to see you again. ~Madison
With that, I shoved the pie down as fast as I can, pausing a bit to take in its delicate deliciousness as it melted in my mouth. I cleared the plate in less than five minutes, I believe. Then I gulped down a cup of juice a waitress had brought me, on the house, and darted out the door. Of course, I remembered to leave a generous tip.
I looked over the counter, through the opening to the kitchen and saw Madison standing there, smiling at me slightly. She waved and gave me another wink. I returned the goodbye and swung open the bell-ringing door once again; for the last time.
Once I was in the car, my fingers speedily grabbed at my cellphone and dialed in the numbers on the note. Unfortunately, I was reminded that the service out there was awful and shoved it back in my pocket.
Instead, I rifled for some change and luckily found a few quarters in my wallet. There was a payphone on the side of the building that had become obsolete but amazingly still worked. Anxiously I dropped the quarters into the machine and waited impatiently. Those coins were the last of my change; someone had to pick up.
I imagined hearing Marigold for the first time in ten years. I was sure it would sound almost the same than it had when I first met her: sweet, excited, and full of brash anxiety.
It wasn’t Marigold. A man –a dazed and groggy man—was on the other line, greeting with me with the same amount of excitement as an overworked secretary.
“I’m sorry, is Marigold there?”
“Marigold?” There was a pause and I could hear some muffled rumblings in the background that sounded like hush voices and a hand scraping across the receiver.
“Maria is out for the week,” he said with a voice void of emotion.
“Do you know when she’ll be getting back?” I asked.
Another pause and more rustling in the background, “No, not really,” he replied, again, nonchalantly.
“Do you have any information about her whereabouts?”
“Who the hell are you? Some sort of detective or stalker?” he scoffed and promptly hung up the phone afterwards.
I hung up too, after a long while. I wanted to make sure he really did hang up and that I had missed my chance of finding Marigold that night.
The sun was still (barely) hanging over the horizon, pushed by an increasing darkness in the sky. My watch said it was seven but it was really approaching nine at night.
Whether I wanted to or not, it was time to head home.
A summer breeze swept past, bringing with it dust and a clutter of litter kids (and some adults) carelessly throw over from their cars. It offered a pleasant escape from the heat of the day that was surprisingly high for so late in the evening. It blew across and upward, towards a pale moon one could already see in the fading sky.
It blew her hair towards her porcelain face and wrapped her chiffon skirt around the back of her legs. Around her, dust lightly encircled but somehow neglected to stain her white ensemble: a loose button-up top draped over a long, feathery skirt.
She also wore an expression of disinterest which seemed to be used to suppress apprehension and (maybe, possibly) glee. That expression laid deadpan on a make-up streaked face. She had on too much eyeliner and lipstick than was necessary for a naturally beautiful face that was accented by high cheekbones and sparkling brown eyes. It was like painting over an art masterpiece with mud.
Above, the sky seemed to be hanging onto whatever color it had left. The pinky-orange was being pushed back by a dark, menacing gray. Light was minutes away from being completely diminished, save for the speck of moonlight and, later, hundreds of stars that sporadically dotted the sky on nights like that.
On the ground, we were being overshadowed with a lingering, dull blue with only a small glint of golden sunshine. She favored the light. Her skin picked up on the change in light and glowed against the darkening landscape.
Her name rolled so lightly off my tongue that it came out no louder than a breathless whisper.