Women in a Windowed Box

Last evening I did two things worth noting here. Earlier, before the sun had set, I took my daughter to gymnastics. Much later when it was dark and cold but not nearly as windy I sat on the front porch tapping out yesterday’s 1000 Day entry on my phone.

Knowing I’d already missed my normal morning writing window, I carried along my writing notebook thinking I might find some inspiration in the parent-stuffed sitting room. I did, but I denied it. My notebook sat open in my lap for several minutes; the pen dangled above the page like the feet of the recently hanged hover over snow. I wasn’t shamed into tucking the pad away under my metal folding chair and reading my book instead. I was daunted and scared.

My plan had been to do some character sketches of the folks in the room. I rarely find myself in public spaces crowded with people and able to write at the same time. I should have drooling for this chance, but it caught me off guard how real and diverse the women there were.

Mary Ann sat to my right. The white running shoes she wore were trimmed with pink. They had been bought specifically to go on walks in the evening, but Mary Ann’s rubenesque build told the truer story: she wasn’t unhappy with how she looked. Sure she needed to be healthier, but being a wife and a mother held primary sway over her schedule and at the end of the day there just wasn’t time for her own things. No matter how much she swiped at her phone she wasn’t truly torn away from trying to locate her kids int he crowded gym.

Nancy Cutter buried herself in the corner past Mary Ann. Her black hair reflected the blue-tinged flourescence of our viewing box which contrasted her black knit sweater which absorbed that same light. Her skinny jeans ended in a pair of cowboy boots—not her for-the-farm pair, but the house-and-church ones. But she was in town with her daughter Casey, so she pushed her sunglasses back over her head like a headband. Her husband, Ben, joined her later. He wore an improbable pair of boots that had laces, a zipper, and a buckle around the back yet managed to seem genuinely Western. His hair was cut like he golfed and hit Nancy in his spare time—only twice and he promised never to again.

Ben crowded the blonde hole behind him. Whoever she was had turned up late, immediately spun the walled chair around, and put on her best 1000-yard stare to drill past the tweens on the uneven parallel bars and to her son on the vault for 45 minutes.

Which brings us to the lesbians. I don’t know how lesbians are in your town, maybe they’re always French-kissing and holding hands walking down the lane like it’s all OK, but here in Oklahoma ours are polite. They marry men who don’t know, but would be irreligeously turned on if they did. In public they act like real close friends, but when two women sit face-to-face and side-by-side in two folding chairs for an hour, when their hands brush each other’s thighs over and over, when their hair is pixie-cut and bed-headed like that woman from Top Gun, a fella just knows. And whats up with sandle boots with cuffs?

I’m running out of time so I’ll summarize the last two women: unapologetically loud and psychologically youthful grandma and her I-played-softball-in-college daughter. Both with long hair in a generally short-haired room.

Oh, and I plotted Charming a little later that night.

605 words on day 730

Fueled by The Sartorialist


It feels like some sort of exercise day. I have a handful of pictures of well dressed Europeans from The Sartorialist. I could do some character sketches.

At first you might think Tom was a well-dressed longshoreman or a transplanted pirate with his full brown beard and woolen pea coat. He stands a hand span above most other men you know but he’s not overly broad for his height, so you’d never think ‘mountain of a man’ in your head. His voice pitches incongruously high and soft for his size. You want him to bellow; you want him to roar and be gruff and bearish and dumb, but he won’t. Tom’s a librarian.

Well, Tom’s not a librarian, he’s the librarian.

If Tom is a librarian masquerading as a seaman then Collin is a coke addict, rapist, and killer pretending to studentry. From his short-collared Oxford shirt to his blue knit vest and skinny jeans he looks safe. He looks like he might join the boys on the pitch later for a bit of field hockey. The worn jean jacket he dons in the Fall softens his bony frame and drapes more like a sport coat. Eventually his clothing can’t distract you from his scrawny chin, unslept eyes, and Clorox-whitened curls. His black eyebrows sweep too far back toward his ears and never arch happily.

225 words on day 695

Dead Dragon; Dame


At first Jessica Matthews clung to the sword for fear the beast was not yet dead; she might lose her grip if it rose up again. The rest of the world filled her consideration in stages and her focus softened to allow for the things around her which weren’t a dragon. Her desperate grasp on the pommel was technically shoddy. Her knees were in the snow and cold. Sweat and snow-melt soaked her torn tights; each time she exhaled a chilly breeze ran between her body and the still-hot scales of the dragon. She didn’t worry it’s blood would stain her limited edition Schepacz t-shirt, but the thought of ruining her leather duster slapped her with dread. She stood.

A movie scene of boys drinking the blood of a newly killed deer.

A clear solution—tears she supposed—pooled in the corner of the dragon’s iridescent eye. The liquid appeared tinged with purple or may have only seemed that way because of the eye’s swimming hues. It was shot with a tendril of red blood which acted more like a crack through granite than one liquid in another. Jessica touched the surface with a single finger then dipped in two to get more of a taste. She expected the tears to be salty, but not sweet as well. And they were. [a little more here]

Finally removing her left hand from the pommel of her borrowed sword she wedged her fingers into the pocket of her denim cut-offs and pulled out a bottle of contact saline. She squeezed the bottle till it made several wispy wet-air noises and she was certain it was as empty as she could get it. She squeezed it and far shut as she could get it and dipped the tip into the dragon’s tears. She capped the bottle once it was full, stuffed it in her shorts, tugged the sword free, and walked away from her kill.

319 words on day 692