11 01 2011

When I was young I lived Chatawa, in a small, rich town in southern California. I always felt like if you looked at it from a plane it would be golden spot just sitting on the west coast of North America. I imagined that everything would be flat compared to it because the golden bubble was so tall that it made everything else look tiny. All the signs for the downtown area were in gold writing, even the Seven-Eleven sign. The central drive, Ojai Avenue, lined with palm trees. I can recall driving down that drive, passing the boutiques, the fancy restaurants, the golden Seven-Eleven.
I loved Chatawa up until the age of thirteen when I decided that I no longer wanted to live in a town that gave me everthything I wanted. I no longer wanted to live in constant safety. I wanted to experience something different, something crazy, something that no one in this town had ever heard of. And I would be the first! I decided that I would steal something from the golden Seven-Eleven. It’s kinda symbolic in a way. It’s probably the most innocent Seven-Eleven in the whole world and I was just about to take from it, i was going to plant to seed of evil into that Seven-Eleven. I hated it’s innocence. I hated my innocence. So I stole a pack of Big Red gum. I hate that flavor of gum. It’s spicy and runs out of taste in five minutes but the fact that i stole it made it the best pack of gum I had ever held.
I proudly walked down Ojai Avenue. I looked at all the people around me. They were all the same but I, I was different. I had something that they didn’t. It was as if I had this knowledge that no one even came close to understanding. I turned onto Carney Drive, my street. I had lived there my whole life but for some reason everything looked so different. I had this adrenaline that I had never experienced before. It pulsed through my veins. I could feel it, I really could. It felt like sand-sized balls were bursting everywhere in my body.
The soft rumble of a car grew loud as it approached me and then it slowed as it neared to my walking pace. I looked to my left. It wasn’t the type of car you would see in Chatawa. It was black and small and had dents and was rusty in some places. Inside the car were piles of junk: clothes, a baseball bat, boxes. And the man inside was like nothing I had ever seen before. His eyes were so red and he looked just so, so dirty. A limp cigarette hung from his lips.
“Hey, little girl,” his voice was dry and cracked.
My heart jumped. I was scared. He was something else. But then I felt those little pops again. They started to rush faster and faster. I loved it.
“Hey, I’m talking to you. Didn’t mommy and daddy teach you to not be rude?” The cigarette swung with every word that he pronounced.
“Yeah?” as I said this I realized how wimpy, how innocent it sounded so I added, “what do you want?”
“I want you to get in the car.”
I thought about this. My instincts were telling me to stop. They were telling me to run. I could see my mom and dad looking at me and waving their finger telling me not to talk to strangers and never to get into the car. I could feel the Big Red pack burning in my pocket.
“What’s it to you?” I asked
“I lost my dog. He’s a puppy. Real cute. Blonde and soft. Like you. I want help finding him is all.”
The popping was stronger and stronger. I could almost hear it.
“Yeah. I’ll help you find your dog.”
“Well you gotta get in the car.”
He stopped the car and reached over to swing the passenger seat door open. I never sat in the front. As i got in the car an uncontrollable instinct caused me to jolt back and recede a little but it was useless because he was already grabbing my wrist and pulling me in.




One response

13 01 2011
Mister Fischer

This is an interesting tale. On one level, it seems like a moral tale: it’s a slippery slope once you start doing wrong. On another level, though, it seem to be much more than that. It’s about wanting danger, even if it’s dangerous.

You might consider making the ending more ambiguous. If the girl gets punished at the end (by being forced into the car), the story’s moral seems a bit heavy handed. But if she retains some control, we’re less certain that her choice of danger was a terrible mistake. Sure, what she did was dangerous, but perhaps it will be OK. Perhaps danger might be OK. If she’s punished (and punished so quickly after stealing only one pack of lousy gum), the story ends up seeming far more simplistic than it really is.

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