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Creative Writing Assignment

I walk into the club and pay the lady at the door...while she takes my $20 and turns it into a $10, I look around: there aren’t a lot of people out here, so I can’t tell yet. It’s a pretty non-descript hallway, and I feel kind of embarrassed as I realize that I expected techno-bass-thump, flashing lights, cages hanging from the ceiling, maybe a smoke machine? coming out from the main room. Instead it’s just a lobby. No posters or anything.

Into the main room, and I can see that this is typically a dance floor…relieved to see rows of folding chairs covering the once-open space. This means there’s no way there’ll be dancing tonight, at least not until after, and it’d probably take so long to clear those chairs off the floor that I’d be long gone.

I order a beer – make my way to a chair in the corner and lay my things down on the chairs next to me. Lean back and look around: pretty empty so far. A few people milling around…still too hard to judge.

Then a girl asks if I’m taking all the seats, and I say no, please, sit!, and I know I’m trying too hard because it’s so obvious that she’s a (lesbian) and I don’t want her to know that I know she’s a (lesbian) and oh God can I move to another seat without it being too obvious? but that would be so rude so I sit further into the back of my chair and concentrate on the program.
But she doesn’t take the hint and wants to know why I’m here and have I been here before and I’m really short with my answers so she can’t mistake my interest for interest. Her name is Harriet and she’s been coming for a year, she likes coming alone, she just got back from hanging out with the kid she mentors in Anacostia, she works for a non-profit. I warm up to her against my will because she’s really nice and calm but I’m careful to keep my left hand with the ring on it visible in case she gets the wrong idea.

Get up to go to the bathroom and this place is filling up and now I am starting to see it. There is a “couple” two rows behind me, similar button-up plaid shirt, his hand on his knee, having a casual conversation and I try not to stare but oh God where am I and how did I let myself get here?? I am grossed-out and I am embarrassed and I have to pee…

…into the bathroom. There are other people in here but I can only see shoes and I relax for a second in the stainless steel quiet only to realize there’s no toilet paper! I see brown sneakers in the stall next to me: “Excuse me: I’m so sorry, but do you have any toilet paper over there?” I giggle in nervousness.
THE VOICE: Yeah, of course I’ve got plenty, hold on…
It’s a nice voice, a warm voice with a smile and acknowledgment at my mortification and then a hand pops into the light of my stall, a wad of toilet paper.
“Thank you!” I say.
THE VOICE: Of course!

Back into the club and I am waiting by the bar because I want to say thank you to THE VOICE in person. I’m standing next to a waiter and I’m sure he’s one of them and I study the side of his face, the smile lines at the eyes, the narrow hips, and I pray for him. I pray for God to heal his brokenness. Movement out of the corner of my eye and a woman walks out of the bathroom but it’s all wrong because she has short hair and cargo pants and she can’t be THE VOICE but I recognize her brown sneakers and the thank you lodges in my throat and I turn away from the smile she's softly issued in my direction.

After, I am driving home and I am alone in my car. I feel like I have survived a battle, like I have performed covert ops in enemy territory and I laugh at this ridiculous thought. I talk to God out loud (something I do a lot in the car and the shower), thanking Him for this evening: for my friends, for my safety, for my life which I hope is pleasing to Him. I fiddle with my wedding ring, so thankful that my marriage is the right kind of marriage. I ask Him to forgive all the people in that place; to forgive and heal them: because I'm sure they're perfectly nice and it's just too bad that they're all going to hell.


Phoenix said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry reading this one. Laugh because it's so true, that there are people who really think like this; or cry, because it's so true, there are people who really think like this.

It's a toss-up. Fantastic writing, fantastic twist.

Ray Manukay said...

Fun piece. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but I love the subtle irony that she herself is a lesbian and is still fighting her urges. Great stuff!

Rhino Overseas said...

Wonderful piece, Jen. You're a star, a gifted writer, clever and witty. You also know when something needs to be said and you said it.

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