Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Snippet #37

by Joy Renee

(part one; part two)

Crystal started separating her own belongings out and rummaged among a pile of bags looking for her own backpack. She found a woman's make-up kit that wasn't hers and near it a hair brush with long black strands in it. Also definitely not hers she grimaced as she raised her hand to her own tangled mass of baby-fine blond tresses. There was apparently more occupants of this room than herself and her 'friend'. She still could remember nothing of last night. In fact she wasn't sure if her memory of sitting on the beach with her lunch yesterday was really yesterday.

She turned to the maid and asked "What day is this?"

"Honey, it's Saturday morning."

"Is it still September?"

"Just barely. Must have been a rough night." the woman nodded knowingly at the basket full of empty bottles near the door.

"I guess." Crystal sighed. She turned back to her task. She needed to be prepared in case she was shooed out of here when the others returned.

She noticed a corner of a Polaroid picture turned backwards sticking up from a pocket in the lid of the make-up kit. Curious to see if it might be a photo of her room mates and possibly jog her memory, she pulled it out and turned it around and then almost dropped it.

It was a shot of herself and a woman with long dark hair and Latino features on the bed behind her. She was dressed exactly as she had been when she woke earlier--in a t-shirt and bikini panties. The woman wore matching bra and panties in a bright red. Crystal's eyes were closed, one hand cupped against one of the silky cups with long black strands of the woman's hair tangled in her fingers. The woman was bent over her nuzzling her ear, her eyes also closed.

Crystal shuddered in shock. She remembered none of this. It was just possible she had been asleep her hand cupped against the bra cup was also cupped in the woman's dark hand. She had never gone with a woman before and wasn't sure she would flatly refuse if the hour was late enough and her fear strong enough. But the picture was evidence of an audience and that was something she was sure she would have balked at. Let alone the taking of the picture.

She turned surreptitiously to see where the maid was and found herself alone in the room, the sounds of water running in the bathroom indicating she would be unobserved for a few more minutes. She reached into the pocket to see if there were any more pictures and pulled out two more. One was of the same woman and a black man with a high and tight hair cut wearing that Semper-Fi T and men's bikini briefs in olive drab to match the camouflage colors in the T. She thought for a moment that either she had taken this picture or there had been a fourth person in the room but then she noticed that the one edge of the picture was of the length of the muscular black arm which was apparently holding the camera aloft to take the shot.

The third picture was of her again. This time with the black man. Her eyes closed as before and her white-blond tresses intermingled with the long black ones of a wig. Probably the long hair of the Latino woman had been the same wig. Crystal was about to return the pictures to the pocket of the make-up kit when she caught herself. She could keep and dispose of the two of herself. But that would definitely mean she would have to be gone before her room mates returned and be faced with the need to find shelter for the night. The clock was ticking. Her hand hovered over the pocket.

Her mind flashed on an image of herself on a late September Saturday afternoon a year ago, sitting on the deck beside the swimming pool squinting against the bright sun as she tried to shade the page of her Freshman algebra text with one hand as the other raced over the notebook page doing calculations. How had she come to this? Where every day was a calculation of the odds of surviving another night?


Like last week, this one is hot off the keyboard. I'm working in an application without auto correct or spell check. I'm attempting to severely limit the impulse to edit as I work. I fixed a few glaring spelling errors and typos after pasting into Blogger but I'm going to resist a more thorough comb through of it. This is an exercise in distancing myself from the work and it seems to be helping. I chose this story because I am not as emotionally invested in its success as I am with so many of the other WIP. And because I can anticipate nothing in the story that will tempt me to detour off onto long research projects. All of the scene setting details are and will be from my own memory of working as a maid in a motel much like this one in Oceanside, California in 1979. And no, the maid in this story is not modeled after me. Nor is Crystal. Just want to clear that up.

2 tell me a story:

IanT 3/29/2008 5:17 AM  

Of course, the pictures were really faked, designed to mislead her; actually she's a secret government agent and her mind has been wiped by enemies of the state to prevent her from finding out that...


Nevermind. Don't know where I was going with that. :-)

Playing tricks with perception and memory are always fun for the reader. It's good to have a puzzle to get your teeth into; that you discover as the character discovers it.

(Have you ever seen Memento? A truly amazing way of revealing a mysery bit by bit...)

Anonymous,  3/29/2008 6:10 PM  

I know this is not based on you, but it is a slice observed from Life. I recognize that when I see it--no, perhaps you didn't know "Crystal" personally, but you were able to observe and extrapolate what she might have been thinking/feeling. Very powerful snippet--and makes me glad to be here in my comfortable house with my dog and husband. Thank you for that.

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