Mary Elizabeth

22 Mar

What is it about love that drives even the sanest person stark raving mad? When love is brand new, you walk around smiling like a lunatic, giggling to yourself, in a perpetual state of ignorant bliss, one heartbeat away from busting out in spontaneous song and dance. You’re so in love with being in love that you develop an obsessive compulsion to play matchmaker. You want everyone around you to share in your delusional joy—your sister, your boss, the guy who picks up your trash. It becomes your mission in life to guide them toward their very own happily-ever-after, even if they don’t want to go there.

The very second you fall out of love, you come violently unhinged, desperate to make everyone else just as bloody miserable as you are—especially the two-timing whore you used to be so goddamn giddy about in the first place. Committing murder suddenly doesn’t seem so repugnant. It’s appealing, even. You plot. You plan. You turn stalker. You become obsessed and possessed. Your head spins in complete circles as you spew green bile whenever someone mentions your ex’s name. Complete strangers look at you like you’re off your meds, exactly as they had looked at you back when you were fresh in love and singing from the treetops, except this time they’re slowly backing away, dialing 911.

But you can’t sustain the adrenalized hatred for long. Eventually, you crash. And then you go numb. As your body and mind disconnect, autopilot kicks in and you enter a state of suspended animation. The world loses its color. Food has no flavor. There’s no hot or cold, no hard or soft, no good or bad.

Everything just… is.

The world spins. Time passes. You barely blink. You breathe in shallow breaths. You don’t laugh or cry or smile or feel pain. You can’t sleep. Or, maybe you sleep too much. It takes every ounce of energy you possess to occasionally shower and go to work.

Slowly but surely, as the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, through innate self-preservation your sanity returns. A bird chirps, a brownie bakes, and you sense it. You almost feel normal again. So, you comb your hair, and take that first tentative step back into living.

You return phone calls, hang out with friends, go grocery shopping for something other than whiskey or ice cream. You let your guard down, run a marathon, join a garage band. You get a false sense of security that what had happened to you was a onetime thing—a fluke—a momentary weakness that will never, ever happen again. You’re smarter this time. Impervious to love. You flirt with the waitress. Ask her out. Take her home. But it’s all good. It’s just sex. Your heart is immune.

And then, when you least expect it, you gaze into a pair of baby blues from across the room—Bam!—your beige world turns Technicolor, and you’re cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs in love again.

For twenty-seven-year-old Nicholas Kelly, those blue eyes were hiding behind a pair of pink glasses perched on the button nose of a petite brunette who happened to be smack in the middle of a love-induced mental meltdown of her very own.

As the responding officer, he rolled onto the scene of the crime and paused to watch her under the flood lights of the Conoco gas station before climbing out of his squad car. She was full-on ape-shit, screaming like a banshee as she stood on the hood of a silver and black 1971 Chevelle SS, beating the hell out of the fully-restored classic with a metal baseball bat. She had the form and grace of a major leaguer, and the raw power of a woman scorned. Every hit was a home run. Glass shattered, metal crushed, and the poor sap who had pissed her off was forced to stand back and watch her destroy his manhood, one crack of the bat at a time.

Everything about her screamed perfection—from the braids in her hair that swung wildly, slowly coming undone, to the purple bra visible through her gauzy, white peasant blouse, down to her bare feet and matching purple toenail polish, she was perfect. She was tiny, elfish—adorable even—but she was dangerous. In a delicious kind of way. When she bent to smash the headlights, a trail of tattooed butterflies peeked out of the waistband of her shorts, fluttering up her slender, tanned back, and Nicholas came undone.

Aw, shit. He was in love.

~   *   ~

Submitted for this week’s Story Dam writing prompt, “Free Write.”

Ever have one of those stories that gnaws at the back of your brain stem, just dying to get out? Ever find yourself part of a writing group when this happens and you can’t tie that story in no matter how hard you try?

Us too.

So, let’s hope that you have one of these stories that needs to be set free!


14 Responses to “Mary Elizabeth”

  1. Carrie March 22, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    I enjoyed this…I just wonder of the order. I think it would flow better if we know who this story is about. Perhaps shift that initial paragraph introducing Nicholas up to the beginning

    • Donna March 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

      Ooh, I never thought about the timing of his introduction, but now that you mention it, he is introduced really late in the game. I’ll work on making it “Nicholas’s” story right from the very beginning and eliminate the vagueness. Thanks, Carrie! 🙂

  2. Morgan Dragonwillow (@MDragonwillow) March 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    I enjoyed the flow. I enjoyed watching and feeling some of his emotions as he went from crazy love to anger to numbing blindness. Very well written. I don’t know if you fixed it but I didn’t see a problem with the order. I just looked at the beginning again and I commend you for such depth of feeling. I know those thoughts and feelings… very courageous writing. Loved it.


    • Donna March 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      Thanks, Morgan! I’m torn on whether or not to rearrange the piece. The more I think about it the more I wonder if the problem is that it doesn’t work as a short piece. It’s probably fine as is as an introduction to something more, but as a stand-alone it’s not working the way I had hoped. I’ve played around with it a bit to see if I could find an easy way to introduce him earlier, but I haven’t found one yet. I think the problem is in the tensing.

  3. Diane (PandorazBox80) March 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    Wow. You got the insanity of love to a T! I actually quite liked the order of things. The vagueness of not knowing who was in love, or out of it, piqued my interest and made me want to find out what was going on. I am still curious about the title name. Is Mary Elizabeth the girl on the car? This seems to be the only option, but it’s not clear. Overall, great job! I’m hoping this is part one of more to come.

    • Donna March 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

      Thanks, Diane! And, yes, Mary Elizabeth is the girl. I got lazy when it came to naming the short. It’s how it’s titled in my hard drive. LOL I plan to write more on this one, but as of yet the story isn’t much more than an idea. I know where I want it to go, but haven’t plotted out the “how” yet.

  4. KC March 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    I loved that it was something that I could relate to, it hunk we have all been there at some point. I agree that I would like to have know that it was about Nicholas sooner, I was a bit confused whe he popped up. Others than that well done.

    • Donna March 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      Thanks, KC! 🙂 And I can definitely see how the late introduction is confusing, especially as a short piece.

  5. SAM March 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Oh for me, it was perfect. You broke down those emotions so well, at such a great pace, that when you finally introduced him it worked. I like that after feeling alll of that stuff,, he instantly fell for Carrie Underwood and her “Before He Cheats” temper (one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite singers, so yeah, you totally brought her to mind).

    I thought I subscribed to your blog. I wonder why your posts aren’t showing up in my reader?

    • Donna March 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

      Hi, SAM! I’m not sure why my posts wouldn’t be showing up in your reader. I do have to confess that I haven’t posted a whole lot lately. Only two in over a month’s time (yikes!) but maybe I have a setting wrong somewhere. I’ll do some checking to make sure it’s not something on my end.
      With your comment I think I’m sitting about 50/50 on whether the timing works or not. oh boy! It’s something I’ll definitely have to explore more when I sit down to expand the story. And, yes, Mary Elizabeth is inspired by the Carrie Underwood/Miranda Lambert kind of temper. She’s tiny, but she’s mighty! I wanted to write a woman with spunk and fire, and a man who’s enthralled by it. That’s about as far as I’ve thought this one out, but they all have to start somewhere. 🙂

  6. StoryDam (@StoryDam) March 24, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    You know what? I think the timing you all are talking about is fine, simply because this isn’t a full piece. Had this been an actually emerg… I mean story… (lol) Than I would agree with Carrie.

    If I were you, I wouldn’t change it until I developed the story more.

    Now the part that did get me was coming back to the depression levels so many times. Personally, I think that you paint a perfect picture after the first round of them. At “Everything just is…”, I was right there with you and had a full picture painted. Just my opinion.

    Aside from that, this is very good! Crazy little chica, eh? lol (And leave it to a guy to think it is sexy… we’re dumb.)

    • Donna March 24, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      There is a lot of depression in there. I’ll definitely tighten that up. Thanks for the suggestion! And I wouldn’t say guys are dumb for finding crazy sexy. Falling in love with boring is dumb. Crazy is invigorating. 😉

  7. Becca March 25, 2012 at 2:20 am #

    Hello Donna!
    This is an amazing piece!! I think the timing and flow are great. I find it interesting how you discuss the ups and downs of love in a more general way before jumping into the specifics of your scene. I love it! You have such a way with words, my fav line is, “…and Nicholas came undone.”
    I liked how deep into both sides of love you go with your descriptions. It really resonates. I know I’ve felt exactly that way too many times before. 😉
    Anyway, great job! Looking forward to more of your writing.

    • Donna March 25, 2012 at 8:02 am #

      Thanks, Becca! 🙂

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