Sunday, June 29, 2014

Flash Fiction: Bad Parents

PROMPT/CHALLENGE SUMMARY: I haven't had time to write much flash fiction lately, and I do really miss it when I get away from it. As I've said before, the little pieces here, because I can start one and be done with it that day (usually), give me a nice sense of accomplishment in the middle of the long slog of novel writing. Anyway, I've got a quick bit for you today. This piece comes from another of Chuck Wendig's Friday challenges. He asked us for 1000 words on the topic of bad parents. Well, that likely won't end up. . . revealing anything. Would you believe me if I promised my mother has never had liposuction? Her ringtone isn't The Imperial March either. At least, not anymore. ;-)
(Source: Chuck Wendig's blog)

Lainey dropped her phone on the desk and groaned. Then she put her head down next to the electronic harbinger of doom. The situation called for literal headdesking.

"What's wrong?" Daniel asked.

"My mother is reading my blog," she replied, her voice was muffled by the cheap wood.

"And that's a bad thing?"

Lainey rolled her head to the side so she could look at him. He was lounging across the couch sideways with one knee up, in what she called his "sprawling Adonis pose", thoroughly unconcerned about the impending shit storm.

How did he not understand this? "Have you read my blog?"

"Of course I've read your blog." He perked up in mock anticipation. "Is not reading it an option?"

"No." She straightened, wiggling her mouse to wake up the screen that had fallen asleep while she'd taken the warning phone call from her brother. "You're a nice guy. Nice guys are supportive boyfriends."

Daniel heaved a wistful sigh. "Damn, I knew I should have been an asshole instead."

"Assholes don't get laid regularly," she responded, though she wasn't really listening to him anymore.

The blog wasn't that bad, was it? Sure, there were a bunch of references to "Mommy Dearest", especially in the early stuff, but it wasn't like her mother was going to go back in the archives and read every post, right?

Shit. She totally would. Because though she was far too busy to help out on classroom cleaning days or pitch in at a book fair, but she'd spend weeks combing through her daughter's online space if she suspected there might be even one uncomplimentary reference buried in there somewhere.

She was going to find more than one. Shit, shit, shit.

"Bullshit," Daniel said, breaking into her panic. "Assholes get laid all the time."

"What?" She blinked at him, unable to remember the thread of the conversation through the haze of fear. She waved him off before he could explain and turned back to the computer.

There was nothing she could do about the early stuff. Maybe she'd get lucky and her mother wouldn't start at the beginning. She clicked through a couple of the more recent posts instead.

"Dammit," she muttered. "There's a whole scree from two weeks ago about how she gave me all my body image issues. That's going to be like six years of guilt right there."

Maybe she could just take down the worst posts? She could save the files and slot them back into the site in a few months, once her mother lost interest.

Daniel crossed the room and put his hands on her shoulders. "So you bitch about your mother online. What's the big deal? I thought you said you wrote so you could get it all out there."

"I do." It was important to have a space where she could virtually scream. Otherwise she might start doing the screaming out loud.

"So maybe this is a good thing." He squeezed, trying to rub away the tension gathering at the back of her neck. "Now she'll know how you feel and maybe you guys can start working out your issues."

She shrugged his hands away. "My family doesn't work out issues. We smile and pretend nothing has ever bothered anyone ever."

"That's just the public face of things. You're allowed to be unhappy in private."

"You don't understand. You had a happy childhood." She shook her head and checked off more posts to copy and delete. She'd been writing online for six years. This was going to take forever. "Besides, the internet is public."

"It's not that public. You blog under a pseudonym. It's not like anyone will know who she is."

"Like that will mean anything? Danny, I regularly call her a lunatic and an attention whore. And I blogged about the last two rounds of liposuction she had."

Maybe she should just delete the whole blog? That would be easier than seeking out individual posts. She'd lose all her ad revenue, but they could deal with that. The blog only helped pay bills in the really tight months.

Though if the site went completely blank, then her mother would know something was up.

"So? It's not like that's a big secret. Everyone knew she was recovering from those surgeries."

"Yeah, but we're not supposed to acknowledge it. Not even to her. She claims she lost all that weight at some freaking organic vegan yoga spa in the Catskills. She's going to go freaking nuclear. This is a disaster."

He grabbed her hand, pulling it away from the mouse before she could click the Delete This Blog button. "Lainey, you're twenty-eight years old. You don't have to hide your diary from your mother anymore."

She struggled against his hold for a minute before giving up and sagging against him instead. "Do you remember that Sandra Bullock movie I made you watch?"

"The one where her husband kept dying?"

"No. The one where her mom was a crazy alcoholic."

"Um. . . vaguely." He looked up at the ceiling, trying to remember. "Didn't they do a lot of stupid pranks back and forth until the sarcastic old lady kidnapped her and they had a scrapbooking party or something?"

Men. How could he remember every detail of a college football game that happened ten years ago, but take in basically nothing about one of her favorite movies of all time?

Whatever. It didn't matter. "Well, this is going to be like that. Only worse, and without Maggie Smith or the scrapbooking or the happy reconciliation at the end."

He grinned, still not seeming to take this seriously enough. "Okay, well, don't hit your phone on the counter like they did. You didn't get the insurance on it."

Right on cue, the Darth Vader death march blared from Lainey's phone, warning her of an incoming call from her mother.

She tried to swallow down her fear, hoping anger might take its place to get her through this. "No promises."

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