Friday, January 4, 2008

The Cherry Blossom

This Week’s Theme: What is the first New Year's Resolution your character breaks? How soon? Why?

“It is too a sensible New Years resolution Tex,” she argued back, with a pout threatening to drop from her ruby painted bottom lip.

She was stretched out felinely across the dark green velvet like couch, that was as much out of place in the tropics, as it was in the one bedroom apartment. Placing her hand under her head she stared intently at him.

“And your resolution would be?” she challenged.
“I’m not making any this year Jos,” he replied nonchalantly, bending his lean body over to tie up the laces of his Doc Martens. “I broke every single one last year, plus a whole heap of other good intentions so it seems pretty pointless this year.”

Tex strode, in his jaggered masculine way, across the elongated room that served as a kitchen, dining room, lounge room and now her bedroom, since she’d moved onto the couch a few days ago.

“Let’s go.”

Swinging her long legs off the couch, she stood up readjusting her halter neck that tied both around her neck and across her breasts.

“I can’t believe that we’re going out for a beer on New Years Day,” Jos commented as they locked the back door and trekked down the squeaky back stairs of the apartment. The smell of Indian food wafted through the air.

“Bloody Bobby and Cheryl are cooking curry again,” Tex moaned. “Thank fuck we’re going out.”

Tex revved the engine of red Ford Tx3 like it had a bigger gruntier engine and pushed a cassette into the stereo with one hand as he reversed out of the driveway, steering wheel in the other. Immediately the Violent Femmes were blasting distortedly through the speakers. Tex crunched the gear stick through into first and sped down the short street.

Jos closed her eyes and wished for a moment that she wore a St Christopher medal, as each time she got in the car with Tex feared that it could indeed be her last trip. She went over her resolution in her head and convinced herself that it was a doable proposition. It had been almost nine months and at some stage it had to come to an end. The New Year seemed to be as good a place as any to say goodbye and steel herself forwards. She didn’t care what Tex thought of the resolution. It was her resolution, her prerogative, her life and her tortured feelings.

“I didn’t mean to bag you out about your resolution,” Tex apologised turning down the sound on the stereo so he could be heard.
“No serious Jos. I mean it. It’s your New Year too.”
“You don’t own anyone, I agree, but you own your feelings for them.”
“Sure,” he agreed, turning his head to smile at her. ‘We’ll go celebrate with a beer OK. Good riddance hey!”

There were no fights for car parks as they turned into Lake Street and eased into the closest space. The street was deserted – a shadow of its former New Years Eve self. Walking up the huge grand staircase that led to both the pub and the night club Jos felt free. This year, 1995 was going to be her year. She didn’t feel any guilt that her resolution had nothing to do with building bridges with her family that had fragmented like a cluster bomb in slow motion across the previous 12 months. She didn’t really care that she hadn’t resolved to make an effort to get along with her father, or to support her emotionally fragile mother, nor to nurture the delicate truce with her sister. This year was going to about her.

Handing over their five dollar notes to the busty chick in her little box office at the door of the night club, and holding out their hands for the ultra violent stamp perfunctorily doled out by the bouncer at the door, they were initiated into the confines of the night club for the first time that year.

“Huge,” Jos commented looking at the couple of people gathered at the main bar. “I feel like I’ve been washed up on the desert island of night clubs.”
“I thought we came to have a beer, shoot come pool and let me kick your butt at Daytona,” teased Tex, poking her the side.
She smiled a simple smile and was grateful for the umpteenth time for his no string attached friendship.

With beers in hand they wandered through the dark room which housed the pin ball machines and the Daytona game on their way out to the balcony. Two people sat driving the virtual race course, the sounds of the engines drowned out by the music. For a fleeting moment she thought she recognised the profile of the second driver and her heart skipped a beat. It was not possible she told herself. Including her and Tex, there were four people at the bar and these two guys on Daytona.

Taking a long swig of beer, she grabbed Tex arm and hissed loudly I his ear, as they walked past, “I think that’s Mac.”

Tex turned quickly to look and shook his head.
“It’s not,” he yelled into her ear and dragged her through onto the balcony.

Jos walked the length of the balcony and stopped to stare across the junction of Lake and Spence Streets, over to the Cherry Blossom Japanese Restaurant sign.
“The sign’s working,” she muttered, staring in disbelief that the sign was actually all completely lit and flashing in all the appropriate places.

She couldn’t remember if the neon sign had ever worked. It always had symoblised to her the fact that she and Mac were as dysfunctional as it got. While one bit was working fine, there was always something else wrong. Something like the fact Mac had had the same girlfriend as long as they had known each other. The same girlfriend he had complained bitterly about as they chatted casually on his back deck or lay naked next to each other fighting both direction of their desire. She didn’t have the energy any more to run with concurrent but diametrically opposed energy of their attraction – desperately wanting him, but desperately trying not to have him. Passion and desire laced with an viscose undercurrent of guilt and improprietory. Her new year’s resolution was to give up Mac - and this time it was final …

… Standing on the beach, in the moonlight holding his hand it seemed like the right thing to be doing, the right place to be and the right person to be with. At that moment, with the vision of Mac bouncing bare bottomed up the beach, as he urgently tried to tug his boxer shorts up from around his ankles, she couldn’t help but giggle a little. Sand and mozzies were a given if you were going to get naked on the beach at night.

“But who walks their dog on the beach at midnight?” Mac asked, his pale cheeks flushed in the moonlight.
“That guy,” she laughed, still feeling her bare breasts pressed into the blanket, racked with laughter, waiting for the lone dog walker to disappear further down the beach.

In the parallel universe that existed when they were together, the place and space where it was just them, New Years resolution didn’t matter. They weren’t needed. But that parallel universe dissolved the moment the car door shut behind him and he crossed the well known length of grass from the curb to his door step, dipping his head to keep his face dry in the drizzle that had begun on their way home from the beach.

With the thrill of the encounter still coursing through her veins she wasn’t regretful, as he disappeared and the front door closed behind him. But she knew she would be tomorrow and she knew she’d skip out on accepting the responsibility of it – just this once. She would not have done it, had it not been for the Cherry Blossom sign, the springs of pale pink neon blossom and the perfectly lit words; the row of lights around the outside illuminating in military style precision, one after the other – each one working. She’d tell Tex it was the Cherry Blossom sign and he’d understand, because he always did.

This short story expands on one line that is mentioned in this very old (circa 1995/ 1999 rewrite) short story

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Paul said...

Good luck to her then, but somehow...

Nicely written.

Paul said...

Got to agree with Paul there. She'll be back. They both will. Some things you just can't stop.

I think you captured the moment just right - I like that she acknowledges that the regret will come, even if she doesn't feel it in the moment.

Square1 said...

Unrequieted love, or maybe just passion. interesting take on the theme, Jodi.

I enjoyed reading this.

pjd said...

This is very real. I like a lot of the language and imagery, the sort of "walking through the deserted aftermath" of the new years day nightclub. I was unclear on a couple of things--when you say up front she'd moved onto the couch recently, I couldn't tell if she had moved in with Tex or if she'd moved from the bedroom to the couch. It took me a while, and during that time I thought maybe she and Tex were lovers and she was leaving him. Also, the transition at the ellipsis from the nightclub to the beach: I was unsure at first if this was a flashback/memory or if it was a fast-forward to a new scene. But I figured it out.

I get nervous when I see a long Fiction Friday entry, but I enjoyed this one top to bottom.

By the way, I think she does eventually leave him when the passion wears down. She knows it will eventually happen, but she's just not ready (yet) to give up that thrill.

Nicely written! Good start to 2008. :-)

cerebralmum said...

Like pjd, the transition threw me. I think I wanted to know what had happened in between. There is so much that could take shape from this. Is it part of a larger piece, or just the beginning of your characters' evolution? (Like I said, more please!)

There are lots of comparisons that could be made between the subject matter and the tone of what you and I wrote this week. Aren't we humans a foolish bunch?

Jodi Cleghorn said...

I agree pjd and cerebral Mum that the transition was badly handled - didn't want to write forever (as I had a one hour writing limit - while Dylan was off playing) but I think I've figued out a short and relatively easy hook to tie the start and end together.

I'm still struck by the amount of writings regarding resolutions with love/people one wishes to be gone from their lives etc.

And a little note regarding unrequited passion/love/lust ... when it is finally allowed to be played out - it ends!! But no huge surprise there.

Thanks everyone who has stopped by and shared their thoughts.

keith hillman said...

Story apart, that is a great piece of writing. I really felt I was there and had to shield my eyes at times! Terrific