markwildyr.com, Post #65
Had quite a few comments on “I’m My Own Man.” Hope the flash fiction piece I wrote for this week generates as much interest. Here goes.
I lived a shallow, stingy existence in a deep, rich environment. For most of my eighteen years, I had imagined the time when I would leave my farm townhome behind for the wonderful life of a college student. That time was now, and it was nothing like my dreams. I had the scholastic part down okay, but the life eluded me. Everyone else was so cosmopolitan while I was… so provincial. In short, I didn’t fit.
My dorm mate, who was from Dallas, devoted one afternoon to me and then abandoned me for more interesting company. I spoke the language of tennis and was a fair left-handed player, so most of my free time was spent on the courts. I developed a few sports friends but no drinking buddies. Again, my fault. I didn’t drink and turned down the few invitations that came my way. My attitude was prompted by a father who—if he was not an outright alcoholic—was at least a dipsomaniac.
On a whim, I tried out for a minor part in a stage play. The character was an odd loner, and I knew how to play that part from the heart, so I was chosen. If a History major was adrift in a broader college milieu, he was totally asea in a Fine Arts setting. Once again, I was alone, sitting quietly while waiting to go onstage while other actors in the wings chatted about this and that. The names of noted playwrights and famous thespians and magnificent dramas flowed easily from their lips, drawing envy and an invisible but substantial curtain around me.
But I also heard other things… whisperings about this student or that professor. Snippets that occasionally set my ears to flaming. I absorbed a world I’d never known about—or at least dared to talk about—in my little town. And as I listened, I began to recognize some things. Why I was a loner when my spirit cried out for companionship. Why I was different from other boys I’d grown up with. Why I liked to stand in the wings and watch the play when this one boy—Robert was his name—was on stage. Robert with the tousled, curly brown hair and green eyes and shapely physique and manly grace. And I slowly came to understand the reason for my malaise. I’d spent my life denying who I was because it didn’t fit with the norms of my rural Oklahoma roots.
In all probability, Robert noticed the idol worshiper in the wings. He threw friendly greetings my way and encouraged me in the development of my role in the play. He included me in his comments and refused to be discouraged when I had no opinion on things he was passionate about. I reached the bone-jarring realization I was in love with Robert at just about the same time I learned he was in a long-term relationship with a senior basketball player. Crushed, I finished the run of the play, and despite accolades in the college newspaper, I abandoned the Fine Arts Department and returned to tennis.
There had been a few changes since I left, but most of the guys I’d played with before were still there. Some complimented me on my performance. Others simply smirked that I’d exposed myself to a fine arts environment. As usual, I ignored them all.
But one of the changes while I was absent from the courts was a transfer from a junior college named Randy. I took in his black, unruly locks, chocolate brown eyes, taut muscles, and broad smile and felt alive again. Not only that, but he talked to me, confided in me even.
One night, as we left the court after a set of singles, he halted and spoke as if he were choosing his words carefully. “Didn’t know a university would be so… so clubby.”
“Snooty, you mean.”
He flashed that devastating smile. “Yeah, that’s it. How come you’re not?”
“Because I’m different. I’m an outsider.”
Those magnificent eyes swept over me, leaving me weak in the knees. “Yeah. Heard you were in a play or something.” He frowned. “But you’re not a Fine Arts major, are you?”
“Nope History.” I shrugged. “It was just a one-time thing. Wanted to try it out, that’s all.”
He studied me so intently for a long moment that I began to feel squirrely, smelling the aroma of non-existent lilacs and hearing the chimes of silver bells--equally imaginary. “How about we go for a beer?”
I came so close, but my father’s image intruded. Such a fine man when he was sober, but a terror when he was drunk. “S-sorry, but I don’t drink.” Shocked by the look of disappointment on his handsome face, I hastened to add. “But I do like a strawberry milkshake.”
“Malted milks are my favorites. Let’s go.”
God bless strawberry milkshakes and malted milks—they led to such wonderful self-discovery during my freshman year in college.
Do you recall any such events back in your college days? I do. Hope you enjoyed the story.
Please take a look at my novels, Cut Hand and Johnny Two-Guns. Amazon permits you to read a short passage from the books. I also believe the STARbooks published River Otter, Echoes of the Flute, and Medicine Hair are still up. I sure would like to get the final book in the Cut Hand Series, Wastelakapi… Beloved, published, but it’ll take some help from readers to get Dreamspinner interested.
My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:
Website and blog: markwildyr.com
The following are some buy links for CUT HAND:
And now my mantra: Keep on reading, keep on writing, and keep on submitting. You have something to say, so say it!
Until next time.
New posts at 6:00 a.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month.