Thursday, August 8, 2013

When the Glass Slipper Disintegrates by Trisha Schmidt

Trisha Schmidt is seriously one of the sweetest, funniest, most fantastic women I've had the infinite pleasure of meeting through Twitter. She amazes me at how thoughtful and kind she is. She is one of the first people I really interacted a lot with, and when I don't see her for a while, I really miss her. And not in a "oh I wonder how she is" kind of way. In the kind of way where my heart breaks a little not having her around.
Her talent as a writer is matched only by her wit and adorability. She makes me laugh every time I interact with her, and she also is there when I need a friend. I have her uni she sent me on my shelf and I never want to lose her friendship. Like ever.
So of course I invited her to write for this series. She was hesitant. She didn't really have the words and was in a slump, as writers get. But I had faith. And I picked the picture thinking she was going to do amazing things with it. And I was right. This story is so fantastic, so wonderfully creepy, sad, romantic...JUST EVERYTHING A STORY SHOULD BE that I have been just waiting to get to it. Oh...and did I mention? It has smexy times. Oh yeah. *fans self*
So, here is her contribution, in all of "it's awesome" wrapped in spectacular with a pretty bow and everything. Trisha.

The Memory Project (continued)
I leaned back on my bed, knees up with the scrapbook propped up. These pictures had an eerie quality to them. Almost surreal. I considered the title again: Things In Other Places. The thing that kept occurring to me was that these pictures didn't seem real, like they weren't from "here". And I didn’t mean here as in Louisiana. I meant here as in from "our world".
One thing was certain, the dark feelings I had earlier, I wasn't having anymore.
"Knock, knock," Jesse said, tapping on the door as he peeked in. His eyes rolled when he saw the open scrapbook. "Are you kidding me? I thought that was put away for good."
I sat up. "Well, I just wanted one more look at it. Besides, I was sitting here waiting on you. What did it hurt to finish looking at it?"
Jesse walked over to the edge of the bed, and sat down with one leg dangling on the side. He perched his chin on my bent knees. "Well, about an hour ago you were passed out cold for some unknown reason. I'd say that book of yours was actually hurting you."
"Yeah, but I don't get weird feelings from this anymore."
I flashed my narrowed eyes at him and for a split second, something happened.
Jesse must have seen something in my face because he sat straight and his eyes widened and he gasped.
I quickly averted his eyes and turned my head to the window, blinking frantically. Then it happened again. The only thing I could compare it to was a glitch in a computer screen, a hiccup in my vision. It was like, the world turned into some 1940's television screen, pixelated and without color; but as soon as I could pinpoint the strange anomaly, it disappeared and my vision seemed to right itself.
I glanced down at the page before me. As much as I hated to admit it, Jesse was right. This scrapbook was affecting me, and not in a good way. But I also knew, I had to keep looking at the pictures. They compelled me to.  Then the realization hit, they did tell a story. And somehow, it was linked to me.
(to be continued)

When the Glass Slipper Disintegrates
By Trisha Schmidt

She knew the day was coming. She had to answer for taking a life. When you’re given a set amount of time, there’s a clock ticking down the hours, minutes, seconds in your head. Tick, tick, tick, tick. It seems to get louder and louder until she realizes that she is leaning against her arm and the real ticking is her watch by her ear.
Lenore checks the time. Still another twenty minutes of class left. It’s hard to concentrate this late in the year with graduation looming. And then there’s the shift. Leaning down to her backpack, she pulls a black and white photo from her binder. Four pairs of vacant dolls’ eyes stare out of half-naked bodies lying in a large pot. She tries to smile at the varying levels of nakedness, but instead goes back to thinking about time. The date June 20, 2013 written in shaky handwriting stares at her from the back. Glares at her is more like it. Lenore pushes the thought out of her head. Time may be wearing down, but she can’t dwell on it. Why ruin the time she has left. She quickly shoves the photo back in its hiding spot.
Her history teacher drones on, but she doesn’t hear the actual words. It’s all static. Time finally pushes forward and the bell rings. Lenore grabs her stuff and shoves out of the room. There’s something comforting about going through the motions of these last weeks, and yet, she can’t stop thinking about the inevitable.  
Luckily, distraction is quick in the form of a handsome face that is moving against the throng of people to greet her.  To Lenore, Fisher Perry is the kind of guy who makes the sun look dim in comparison. The sandy blond hair is always disheveled and his clothes are more of a uniform of shorts, t-shirt, short-sleeved button up, and Chucks. To even think about suggesting he try something different is nothing short of blasphemy and Lenore gave up even thinking about it.
He kisses her as the mass works their way around them to scurry on to class. Lenore can’t help but kiss him long and hard.  He finally pulls away with his eyebrows raised. Lenore simply smiles her biggest smile and bats her eyelashes. No need to cause worry.
The rest of the day drags on horribly. Even with Fisher and her best friend Quinn to help occupy her, Lenore can’t stop her mind from thinking. Sitting at their favorite after school diner, Lenore stares out the window. People come and go from the parking lot.
“Earth to Lennie,” Quinn says. She snaps her fingers to bring Lenore from her daydreams. “Where do you keep going lately?” It had taken months for her to answer properly to the new name Lenore, let alone being called Lennie.
Lenore pulls her attention away from the parking lot. “I don’t ‘go’ anywhere. I’m right here.”
“Sure. Your body here’s, but we aren’t special enough for your attention. I see how it is,” Quinn says. Fisher puts his arm around Lenore and rubs her shoulder. “I just have a lot on my mind. Graduation and all,” Lenore says.
“And a most important birthday!” Quinn grins and claps her hands together. She seems oblivious to Lenore’s cringe.  Lenore covers by turning back to the window only to gasp as she sees a familiar face staring back at her. The dark skinned woman looks the same age as the last time Lenore saw her nearly 10 years ago. Every wrinkle exactly the same. Fisher notices Lenore’s tension and leans toward the window to look past her.
The woman is gone. Lenore stares a moment longer before bringing her attention to Quinn.
She relaxes her face and refrains from checking the window anymore.
Fisher and Lenore drive in silence after Quinn is dropped off. She wants to tell him so many things, but knows he could never understand them. So much silence lately. It’s starting to suffocate her, but she has no words. There is nothing that can undo the deal made all those years ago. She rubs his knee causing him to swerve. He regains his composure and the two share a look and a giggle.
Taking a deep breath, Lenore finally breaks the silence. “Come to my window tonight.” She hopes the desperation she feels doesn’t come through her eyes or her voice.
“Lennie, we’ve talked about this. There’s no rush. We have all the time in the world.”
They pull up a few houses down from hers and he parks the car. Leaning in to cradle her face in his hands, Fisher searches her eyes.  She narrows them slightly to take the hide the edginess she feels.
“I know. I’ve thought about this a lot lately. I’m ready,” Lenore says. She runs her fingers through is hair. Its softness is engrained in her memory. Even though she’s not close enough, she can recall the smell of ocean breeze from all the times she has buried her face in his shoulder.
“You’re positive?” Fisher asks.
She nods emphatically. If her world is going to cave in and crumble soon, she at least wants one night with Fisher before it does.
“Okay, well, I have family stuff tonight. My mom’s all crazy because of graduation. Tomorrow?” He turns slightly to look at her as he speaks.
Lenore thinks a moment. “No can do. Grandparents will be around and there’s no telling how long they’ll stay,” Lenore says.  Florida waits for no auspicious events.
“Can’t they just see you next week? Grandparents live for that shit, don’t they?” Fisher voice lets his impatience show through.
“Not mine. Florida is more important. My birthday and graduation would just cramp their style as they say.” Lenore soaks her words with sarcasm.  What grandparents pass up the baby grandchild’s most important milestones? Hers. They tried to cover up further by saying they had been to all her cousins’ 18th’s and graduations. Been to one, you’ve been to them all. When she’s gone, maybe they will regret it. Maybe not. You can never tell with them.
“Ok, so Saturday’s out of the question. Dad’s got me on cleanup duty to prepare the house for the infiltrating relations,” he says.
“Infiltrating relations? Your dad has a vocabulary all his own, Fisher,” Lenore says while trying to hold back a laugh. He shrugs. Lenore should be used to the military speak by now, but there are still times when she has to wonder why Mr. Perry ever left since he seems to take it with him everywhere.
“Sunday?” he asks.
They remain quiet as each seems to be working out the details in their head. Lenore smiles first and Fisher reciprocates. Sunday it is. Planning takes away some of the excitement for her, but the countdown looms so a little is necessary. She’s like any other girl who wants her first time to be perfect and romantic. She knows this is silly, but she still hopes for a dream. Like the dream she got to live these 10 years. That’s not too much to ask. So maybe she should strive for almost perfection. Almost perfection is acceptable. It’s reasonable.
The rest of Lenore’s week goes on much the same—dragging on. Every morning she wakes up and puts a big red X on her calendar to mark off the days. Each day one closer to June 20, 2013 which is circled in black
With great precision so as not to damage it, Lenore is constantly pries the doll picture in and out of her binder. Its black and white stillness casting a spell on her. Nothing in the picture has changed even though she keeps expecting to see something different when she pulls it from its special place. Hoping is more the word. Lenore has nightmares where the old woman speaks to her, warns her that her time is almost up. Other than that, she has had no other warnings. Will everything just go poof? Will she even know what has happened until it is over? Even after that, will she remember? So many unanswered questions fill her mind that it is hard to concentrate on mundane things like class.
With all the preparations for graduation keeping everyone busy, Lenore can think about things like leaving Quinn. Loveable, sweet, misguided Quinn. When Lenore is gone, who’s going to keep her head on straight? Lenore’s eyes start to glisten but she swallows hard and fights the urge. She is not going to let this stop her from enjoying her last days.
As Sunday approaches, Lenore’s thoughts switch to the fact that she will no longer be a virgin. Making matters worse, sitting with her grandparents while thinking about how the deed will go down is not helping her mental image of her first time. Her luck, she starts thinking about her grandparents while she is with Fisher. Ew. She tries to replace the images in her head with puppies and rainbows and unicorns. Anything to not let her mind drift to more sordid affairs. Trying not to think about it makes her think about it more and a smile inches up her lips as she sits in a restaurant with her parents and grandparents.
“Earth to Lenore. Lenore, are you listening to a thing we’ve said?” her grandmother asks. She is clearly irritated that Lenore would not cherish this time with them since they’ve cleared their traveling schedule to squeeze her in. Silly Lenore to waste this precious time when they are here for her. They spent most of dinner discussing their travels around Europe and what they’ll do when they get to Florida. Most likely, they want her opinion on which beach they should laze around first.
Lenore tries hard to hide her annoyance at the daydreaming disturbance. “Yes?”
“I asked if you planned on declaring a major right away or if you’re just going to continue to be lazy like you have in high school?” Lenore stands corrected. They’ve finally decided to focus on her to belittle her. Great. This night cannot end soon enough.
She can feel her temper rising . She tosses her napkin on the table, pushes her chair back, and forcefully stands. "I hope your plane crashes. Have a great life,” Lenore says before rushing out of the restaurant to the crisp night air. She looks up to find that the stars are nonexistent with the glare of city lights. No one comes to check on her. Her parents are probably apologizing yet again for her being the big disappointment that she is. She got decent grades, but they weren’t straight A’s. She was on the Student Council but she wasn’t President or even VP. She didn’t have a list a mile long of extracurriculars. Fisher was not a boy with an impeccable pedigree.
Lenore’s grandparents and even her parents are proof positive that money can’t buy you real manners. At least she has her friends to keep her sane. Rather than have an awkward car ride home, Lenore opts to walk. The night air is a little colder than she would have liked but the walk should warm her up since she has about a mile to go. Seeing the last glimpses of the city that wasn’t big enough to rival New York or Chicago yet was too big to be considered a town would help clear up the anger left in her.
The ground was damp and there is that smell that only the lake after a rain shower could provide. She takes as deep of a breath as her lungs will tolerate. It is a little fishy and a little musty, yet fresh all at the same time.  She rubs her arms and scans the shops as she passes them. Skateboards in one window and a bike in the other. The next holds art supplies and framed work of local artists. A neon sign screams out into the night “Best Fish Fry” with an arrow pointing to the door.  The lakey smell is replaced by that of cooked fish wafting out the door as people entered and left the restaurant.
The rest of the walk is a blur as she makes her way home. When she gets outside, her parents’ car isn’t there. She could just go inside and wait for them, but she doesn’t feel like it so she keeps walking until she finds herself outside of Fisher’s house. It’s not late so she could easily knock on the door like a normal person. Somehow, being normal isn’t what she wants tonight. Lenore quietly creeps to the back of the house, making sure to unlatch the gate latch as noiselessly as possible.  Fisher’s room is at the back of the house and he will most likely be relaxing after family time. His father believes that a family should eat dinner together and then watch the news. They discuss what is going on in the world as bonding time.
There’s a part of Lenore that wouldn’t mind bonding time that didn’t require proper etiquette and gossip, but discussing world news doesn’t sound like a great time either. At least not with Mr. Perry who is very opinionated and thinks everyone should agree with his train of thought. She normally smiles and nods when she’s around him. He thinks she’s a dizzy airhead who wouldn’t know Iran from Egypt. At least they both agree that neither cares for the other.
When she gets to Fisher’s window, the shade is down, but the light is on. She takes a chance and taps lightly on the glass. Her luck, one of his parents will be in his room trying to talk him into the military or doing something else worthwhile with his life. Fisher has no idea what he wants to study in college. His parents, more so his father, would not hear of him taking a year off so it was decided that he would go the local state college. At least he can get some general studies out of the way. Lenore had decided the same to keep up the illusion that nothing was about to change.
Nothing happens inside so she taps a little louder. The second tap causes stirring inside followed by the quick zip of the blinds. The sudden movement makes she jumps back, covering her mouth to hide the laughs trying to escape. Fisher’s face is adorable as he first scrounges his eyebrows in and then grins the biggest grin she has ever seen on his face.
He opens the window just enough to whisper out, “What are you doing here? Why didn’t you just knock?”
Lenore bites her lip. How can she tell him that Sunday has come early? She tips her head and smiles hesitantly up at him. Their eyes lock on and they stay that way for minutes. Finally, Fisher looks at his bedroom door and then back at her.
“My dad has Spidey senses. There’s no way we can here.”
Lenore pouts with her eyes as big as the giant stuffed teddy bear he won her at last year’s school fair. It works 99% of the time so she hopes she can convince him to either let her in or to go someplace else. After dealing with her grandparents’ arrogance and negativity, anything would be a good distraction right now.
He points her towards the front of the house before heading out of his bedroom. She meets him expectantly in the driveway. His grin is huge as he squeezes her in his arms and lifts her a good foot off the ground.
“So dinner’s over?”
“As soon as my grandmother started, I stood up and told them I hope their plane crashes. Then I walked home, but looks like they’re still at the restaurant. I just needed to get away.”
He squeezes her harder before setting her down. “So,” he says now looking at the ground.
“So,” she repeats.
“Your house?”
“They will head straight to my room when they get home to remind me how much of an ungrateful disappointment I am. No thanks.”
“Near the lake,” he says.
“Rocks,” she replies.
“We could go for a drive,” he says.
“Yeah, I could use a good drive.” After an hour of roaming, they end up by the park near her house.  They sit and stare at the quiet park. Lenore reaches for her seatbelt then stops. She reaches again, this time fumbling with the buckle.  Fisher copies her and unbuckles his seat belt. Her fingers graze the door handle. She shifts in her seat.
“Maybe we should get in the backseat,” she says but her voice is unsure. Fisher merely nods and starts to crawl into the back. Lenore tries to steady her breath before following him. They sit facing each other, but neither makes a move. Fisher looks back to the park. She can tell that he’s just as nervous as she is and lets out a little laugh.
“What? What’s funny?” he asks.
“Us. Look at us. Do it here, do it out there. Do we jump on each other? Do we move slow? If we were watching us, we’d be dying.” Lenore smiles at him and grabs his hand. She quickly puts it on her breast, and she can feel Fisher’s pulse is rising. They’ve fooled around plenty of times, but there was always that stopping point. Shirts off with his hand under her bra was as far as either had dared to go.
She bites down on her lip and reaches her hand down to the ever growing bulge in his pants. Her touch sends a chill through him that her body answers back. Keeping her eyes on his, she starts to rub his pants. The denim is rough against her fingers. He leans his head back and closes his eyes as she continues to rub.  His breathing accelerates. Her heart races. After a few minutes, his hand clamps down on hers to stop the motion.
“Did I do something wrong?” she asks. She is panting in anticipation.
“No, no.” He is breathing heavy.  “You were doing something very right. I, I,  I don’t want to finish just yet.”
It takes a second for Lenore to catch his meaning and she blushes. “Oh.” Reaching his hand to the side of her face, he grabs her and pulls her to his lips. This kiss is the most forceful she has ever felt. She feels weak. The world is spinning.
Slowly, carefully, she backs up enough to get her shirt over her head. Fisher takes a moment to give her the look. She nods and answer by pulling his shirt up and off. Even though she’s given him a silent okay, Fisher continues with caution. Lenore takes every ounce of courage she’s never used before and climbs onto his lap. She takes his face in both hands and kisses him hard. There’s a taste of mint on his breath. He is surprised at first but then kisses her back. Underneath her, she can feel how much he wants this. Her own body is buzzing with anticipation.
They gradually find themselves with him on top of her. His movements are clumsy and she tries to control the look of pain on her face, but she slips once or twice causing him to stop.  His movements get slower and slower until they find a rhythm together. Once the pain subsides, a new feeling takes over. It’s as if every nerve in her body is having a party. The feeling of moving as one is incredible. She maneuvers her body to be as close to his as possible.
They lay side by side afterward. Lenore breathes a happy sigh while Fisher runs his fingers on the edge of her jaw brushing her hair. After holding each other for what feels like hours, they get dressed reluctantly. They stay in the backseat, him holding her. Lenore finally feels the need to move and runs into the park toward the swings. Sitting opposite directions, they sneak glances at each other.  It has been the perfect evening. Headlights shine somewhere nearby spooking them back to the safety of the car.
They park down from her house and he plays with his fingers in his hair. They kiss softly over and over. Lenore knows there will be enough hell to pay for her smart comment to her grandparents, let alone staying out so late, but it was all worth it. Being that close to Fisher, feeling his heartbeat match with her own, it was calming. It made everything make sense, made everything worth it.  She finally, reluctantly, leaves his car and heads into her house.
While the week before went painfully slow, the next moves like someone hit the fast forward button. Everything is a blur of activity as classes ended, party invites are given and accepted, and graduation day finally arrives. Lenore’s parents take picture after picture before Fisher comes to pick her up. She and Quinn fix each other’s caps before taking their places in line. Her feet will not stop moving as she squirms in her chair. All the people make the high school gymnasium oppressive. Programs become makeshift fans all across the gym. She cannot remember actually hearing her name or walking across the stage, but with her diploma in hand, she knows it happened.
She makes her rounds at the parties with Fisher holding her close. They circulate to chat with different friends, but they always find each other before long. There is little distance between their bodies.
And then it arrives, the night before her 18th birthday. Knowing that her parents would want to celebrate with her on her actual birthday, Fisher planned a romantic dinner. He made reservations at a fancy restaurant, at least fancy by their normal standards. He had saved up to make the occasion as special as she was. They eat and laugh. The pair holds hands across the small table tucked into a back corner away from the prying eyes of the other patrons.
Instead of taking her straight home afterwards, he takes her to a hotel room. “I had planned this to be our first time, but you kinda surprised me the other night. We can pretend it’s our first time.” His face practically glows and Lenore returns the sentiment with a soft kiss.
They repeat the performance from the night in the park. Having the awkward first time behind them, they explore more positions. Lenore even go of her shyness. She makes sure to keep the lights on as she wants to see his face. Her long hair is loose and hangs near his face as she slowly moves back and forth above him. She wishes she could take a picture of his face and frame it. So peaceful, so happy. Before they finish, Lenore understands why people really like sex. The wave that courses through her body causes her to grip the sheets harder than she meant to.
She drops her head on his shoulder and he laces his fingers through hers. Eventually, they separate. He stops her from dressing. “I just want to look at you. You’re so beautiful.”  Lenore fights the urge to use her arms as cover.
After taking her in, he lifts her arms above her head and dresses her. He gets dressed himself and they exit the hotel. The night is almost over as Fisher drops Lenore at her doorstep. The last few kisses are soft and sweet. His hair tickles her forehead. She gives him one last kiss on the keep before going inside. It was the best birthday she had ever had and the perfect send off for what was still to come tomorrow.
 She thought she had come to terms with what was to take place, but nervous energy suddenly hits her as she crawls into bed. She wants to liken her brief life to that of Romeo and Juliet except Romeo wasn’t dying too. Maybe it was more like Cinderella since Lenore wouldn’t exactly cease to be altogether.
Somewhere during the night, she falls into a fitful sleep. The picture of the dolls appears to her over and over again. The woman’s face she saw outside the restaurant fades in and out of view as well. When she wakes up, she already knows she isn’t alone.
The chair across from her bed that normally is strewn with clothes is cleared off and seated in it is the old woman. She watches as Lenore groggily sits up. She takes a moment to let her eyes adjust and take in the sight of the woman.
“Happy Birthday, child.”
Lenore gets up from her bed slowly and embraces the woman. Tears run down her face as she lets go.
“Oh, Hetty!” Lenore sits at her feet and leans back against the fragile looking woman. “How much time do I have?”
“You got ten years, that’s all you get. It’s time to go back.” Hetty does not move from her seat. They sit together with no words spoken. Time passes slowly. Lenore gets up and grabs the black and white photo from its normal spot. She touches the calendar on her way to seat herself back on the floor. All four dolls are still there. Two of the dolls stare up at her. She touches the second from the left before handing the picture over to Hetty.
“Will I. ..Will I…” Lenore can’t finish the sentence.
Hetty smoothes Lenore’s hair. “Hush, child. It will happen so quick, you won’t know what happened.”
Looking at the picture, Lenore whispers, "She was so cruel, even at six years old. I’ve missed you, nanny.” Lenore’s tears slow and she turns to look back at Hetty. “I guess I can’t really drag this on. Let’s just do this.” She turns back to face the bed. Hetty mumbles something that Lenore doesn’t understand, and she waves her hands in front of Lenore’s face.
The dull silver walls confuse her at first, but Debbie Dolly recognizes these walls. She didn’t miss the cool metal, the prison she was free from these last 10 years. Debbie wonders if such a drastic change is possible.  She stares at the dirty silver and hopes that Lenore can be worthy of the life Debbie left her.

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