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‘Til Death – Chapter One (1st Draft)

September 16, 2010

Spending the day combing through my works in progress, and, not only can’t I decide if this should be the short story that I intended to write or if it has the legs to be expanded into a young adult novel, but also, I can’t decide if this should be my next project either.  I also have a fun piece, currently titled THE WOLF & THE READER, which I have already written a chunk of as well.  Choices, choices, choices.

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THE CARD SHOP—THURSDAY EVENING, 8pm

When she turned 12 Lucy had changed her name to Luci. Then at 14 she’d added the heart over the letter “i”, but now, at 16, she was starting to worry that the name itself was a little… frivolous. Not that she condemned anyone else who liked being frivolous and she certainly thought of herself as being fun: she totally cheered for school team(s), painted her toes in bright pinks, and, since she’d started wearing them 4 years ago, she always made sure her bra matched her underwear. Still she was about to be in her last year of high school, after she got through this spring and summer, but still soon, and maybe Luci with a heart over the “I” just wasn’t her anymore. Unfortunately when she’d asked her Mom what Luci was short for, or who’d she’d been named after her, Mom hadn’t had any interesting answers–except that she could change her name after she turned 18 and at her own expense.

Thus foiled she was forced to sign her most recent love note Luci with a little heart over the “i”, even though it conflicted with the serious tenor of the message: How do I love thee? Let me count the –

Her pink sparkle pencil slid with a smooth sort of grip across the register tape. She always liked writing in pencil, not that she ever had to erase anything, but because she liked the sound of it. The register tape, pilfered from the register of the card shop, was streaked in red, though sometimes the warning lines were streaks of green or blue. The coloured streaks let the cashier know when the tape had to be changed, and since the end bits of rolls were thrown out, Luci had no issue with using the neat little rolls to pass love notes: specifically to her boyfriend Colby. When starting one of these notes, as she just had, she always made sure to draw the O in Colby’s name as a heart as well–she was really big on symmetry.

Luci had gotten the job at the card shop after the Christmas holidays, she would have preferred working at The Body Shop or Lush, but they weren’t looking for anyone when she’d been looking for a bit of cash. Having an extra excuse to be out of the house on Thursdays (5-9pm) and Sundays (1-5pm) was a bonus. Sundays, according to her stepfather, were supposed to be family days, and it did use to be that often she was the one who rubbed garlic powder all over the roast and made the gravy, but now she was a vegetarian. Well, she’d eat chicken if it was free-range and fish if it was certified Ocean Wise, but other than that, no meat. Despite his insistence, this no meat policy was not just to piss her step-dad off, but because she’s recently seen a bunch of documentaries that had really grossed her and her friends out.

Anyway, the card shop carried little cool gift things and great pens and pencils. Her latest sparkly pink pencil had a fluffy hair poof attached to the end where the eraser usually was. She’d done her nails, in study period, in sparkly pink to match this pretty pen, but she put on her wristwatch wrist warmers to add an ironic touch to her ensemble. She liked that none of the sewn-on watches (there were three on each knitted wrist warmer) displayed the same time.

Currently, the shop was dead, as it usually was on Thursday nights. She’d had her break, a fruit & nut bar and root beer (her latest fav), early before the owner went home for the evening at 6pm. She didn’t mind closing by herself, in fact, she liked the responsibility and the bits of organization that came with the task.

As she paused to assess the further wording of the love note, she was making up with her own love list to personalize the famous poem, a woman wearing Lululemon as a style, not just workout clothing, rushed into the store. Laden with multiple packages (at quick glance Luci estimated the woman was carrying close to $880 in paper bags) and carrying a large bouquet of white lilies, the woman stopped mid-store and looked about frantically.

“I need, I must have a card for a funeral or not a funeral, a pre-funeral. A card for the actual event of a death,” the woman all but pleaded.

Now the store was pretty simply laid out and the woman hadn’t even taken a moment to look around, but Luci dutifully glanced up from her note and gestured to a wall cards about halfway back the west wall.

“Bereavement cars. Past the thank yous, but before the birthdays,” she informed the woman, who quickly followed her instructions.

Luci noted, as she returned to adding more hearts to her note, that the woman, Vanessa, was actually a vague friend of her mother’s, probably from Pilates class.

Vanessa spared a couple of seconds to peer at the indicated section, but hesitated to even pick up one. Luci was always amazed how people made a big deal out of such simple things, and had decided it was because everyone wanted to be more important that they actually were and therefore infused their card selection with that performance pressure. Though, she waited until Vanessa actually spoke, before offering to help.

“But, but which one is the most popular one?”

Luci abandoned her note with a bit of a sigh, but was actually always happy to help pick out cards.

Crossing around the counter, she reached past Vanessa’s elbow and picked out a light blue card from the wall. Vanessa opened and read the proffered card.

“Unable are the loved to die, for love is mortality.”

“Emily Dickinson,” Luci enlightened with a satisfied sigh.

Vanessa thought about this sentiment for as long as she really could stand too–about 7 seconds–and then started distractedly fanning herself with the card.

“I just don’t know… what do you say to a mother whose son has just committed suicide? So sorry you weren’t paying attention? Oh, that’s awful of me… never mind,” Vanessa pressed the card back into Luci’s hands and exited the store in a rush very similar to how she entered.

Luci carefully returned the card to the wall and straightened a few others before she returned to the desk and her note.

Her cellular phone, neatly, but unobtrusively, tucked beside the cash register, vibrated. Luci ignored it, though she stiffened her shoulders the entire time it buzzed. She carefully re-rolled the note, now as long as her arm, back into it’s tight roll and tucked it beside her phone. As she did so she glanced down at the phone screen and noted that she had now missed 10 calls and had 20 emails waiting to be read.

Thing is, she knew exactly why everyone want to check in with her all of a sudden, but she wasn’t much interested is actually talking to anyone.

‘Course she wasn’t going to get away with that for very long.

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