I Wouldn't Have Minded



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Audo

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(accidentally posted this on a friend's account, so posting it right, now)

On the anniversary of your boyfriend’s death, your girlfriend craves pie. Mourning must have an expiry date, you tell yourself when you find her swaying in the kitchen to Tegan and Sara’s “The Con”. Latara’s Pilsbury Doughboy apron swishes with her body the way it would when your mother wore it. The way it did when you tried to tell her about you and Nathaniel and the shit you did, the shit you felt. You remember how she became more interested in hoarding Woman’s World coupons than listening to your confession. Remember the thick black licorice smell on your dad’s dismissive grumble before he turned the television to Saturday Night Live and considered you just another throw pillow on the couch. Remember his stubble scratching your shoulder when he passed out while you watched commercial parodies for home maintenance products that you now own.


Latara’s ginger hair is pinned in a loose bun and stray strands whisk around her face as she dances to the beat. The pie cools on the stove top while she cleans up. When she notices you she brushes the hair our of her eyes with the back of her hand, smearing flour along her cheek. She smooths out the wrinkles in the apron protecting her vintage red dress and smiles into the sink.


I made pie. The kind my mom used to make when we were little.


You sit down at the table wearing nothing but gingham boxers and contemplate whether you should be upset she’s making pie on a day like today. But you never told her what today was, so instead you fake a smile, stretch, run your fingers through your bed-head and note that the song’s on repeat. The pie is burnt around the edges.


Is it vegan?


You had turned for her, even though your fondest memories with Nathaniel were filled with shoving sticks down snakes’ throats and tearing minnows apart on camping trips.


Of course it is.


She sets the cooled pie on the kitchen table. Her stilettos click against the tile as she gathers two plates, forks and a pie knife. Latara hesitates before cutting the pie into two slices. You recognize the plates from the dish set you bought together when she moved in. Back when you thought you should have something that belonged to both of you.


Eat.


Your fork breaks through the dark crust with a little effort.


You look cold, she says.


Balancing the fork between her fingers, an elbow propped on the table, chin against the heel of her palm, she takes you in. You scratch your neck with the handle of your fork. After another bite you flash a grin. And though you try and resist it, you end up thinking about the night you came out to Latara and how the next morning there was pie then, too.


A little, you say. I think the heat might be busted. Shivered all night.


You could have held on tighter.


Didn’t want to wake you.


I wouldn’t have minded.


Pie’s great.


I wouldn’t have minded.


You reach over the pie to wipe the flour off her and she burrows her cheek into your palm. When you return to your slice you make a point of eating the most charred bits.


Maybe we should call the heat guy, you say.


Yeah. Maybe.


She rubs her ring finger, stopping when she sees you notice.


Oh, I, um, I almost forgot, she says. I need you to get the groceries today. I want to make us that Coconut Curried Veggies dish and we’re out of red kidney beans.


Okay.


Oh, and I’m pregnant.


You resist spitting out the burnt pie resting on your tongue.


What d—


I really need those kidney beans.


La—


So, please don’t forget.


She rises from her chair and brings her dishes to the sink. The water runs and runs down the drain. Her shoulders are rigid and her hands grip the counter. Rapid breathing is masked by the sound of the music and the faucet. After fixing her hair she turns off the tap.


Your fork scrapes the edge of the plate. You never liked the pattern.


Eat, please, she says.




You buy three cans of red kidney beans though the recipe calls for two. On the way home you change course to the bay next to the grocery store. While you do up the buttons on your toggle coat, you try and forget the conversation from earlier in the day — all the talk of things you’re not ready to deal with. Keeping it. Ending it. You push past it; head to the beach. The bay keeps various sea creature fixtures near the playground for children to play on: a giant blue whale, the twisted body of a green Ogopogo disappearing and reappearing through the sand, and a large red octopus with a hollowed out body for kids to sit in, perfect for hiding. Your back against the whale, you look up at the sky. Summer nights sleeping on the trampoline with Nathaniel, you made up constellations together. Grinnus Major, he said. Pathway to Neverland, he said. You pull one of the cans from your bag and hurl it against the road and hope for an explosion but receive only a pathetic thud.


You’d probably have better luck throwing it against a wall, you hear someone say.


A boy around your age watches from inside the octopus. He peeks his head out and then dangles his feet from the octopus’s opening. His short blond hair sticks to his skin and his bare chest is splattered with water.


Bit late for a swim.


I’m a bit of a mermaid, he says. It’s never too late.


You hear the sound of him landing on the sand while you retrieve the dented can. By the time you’re back at the whale, so is he. He wears mildly dry boxers and you figure he was skinny dipping. When he smirks he does it with a tilt of his head and, in the dim light radiating from the washroom complex, you see two parallel scars stretching from under his ear to near his Adam’s Apple.


How’d you get those?


It takes him a minute to understand.


Ah, he says. He runs a finger along the raised flesh. Those were gills.


Mermaid, eh? Not a merman?


He takes the can from you and inspects the damage.


You ever go cliff diving? He tosses the can up into the air and catches it with one hand. Again.


You snatch the can from him mid-toss and throw it against the road. Thud.


You remind me of my boyfriend, you say. Partly because you hope it will make him go away and partly because you want him to stay. His name was Nathaniel, you say.


The boy picks up the can. Chucks it toward you and says, funny. That’s my name, too.


No, it’s not.


Well, what’s yours?


Tristan.


I had a friend named Tristan once, he says. He was kinda in love with me.


No, you didn’t.


The problem is you don’t want it enough, Nate says.


When you look at him confused he points to the can.


You have to fucking want it to explode.


They’re just beans, you say.


Where’s your boyfriend, he says.


You let the can fall into the sand. The octopus’s paint is chipped and flaking away. When you grab it and climb inside, it rubs off in your palm. Nate follows you and lingers outside. What moonlight there is casts him in shadows. Looking at his silhouette, you can pretend he actually is Nathaniel and you’re back before he drowned. You think about telling him about Latara, about the letters you sometimes write to him even though they’d never be sent. Instead, you ask him if he wants to go on an adventure, like before. You can’t see the silhouette’s reaction, but you imagine Nathaniel would smirk and tell you there were still war monuments to draw on with sidewalk chalk, and walls to graffiti literary quotes onto.


Dude, are you okay, the silhouette says.


I have gone cliff diving, you say.


We could do something else, he says.


No, we can’t.


I thought you wanted to.


I do.


Then what’s the problem.


You’re dead, you say.


He laughs like Nathaniel would. Am I?


Yeah, you admit.


All the more reason to do it, then.


Outside the octopus you can hear the waves. It wouldn’t take much to seize the extraordinary. To live fast and die young. Cliff diving, skinny dipping, taking off. The ferry runs in a couple hours and then you and Nate could take the Trans-Canada and go anywhere. Buy a car like the one Nathaniel used to have and cling to the life you couldn’t lead instead of embracing the one you did. You considered the girth of the realm of possibility as the silhouette sneaks into the octopus and kneels down close to you. His skin’s frigid and wet and clammy and this isn’t how you remember it. This isn’t the boy who helped burn Woman’s World coupons when your parents fucked up. This isn’t the boy you helped pick glass off of his front lawn when he threw his parents’ sailing trophies through the window. This isn’t the boy who told you to live fast and die young, took your hand and dived off the cliff with. This isn’t the boy who never rose up out of the water.


Nate’s lips crash against yours and you feel a chill and start to shiver.


I wouldn’t have minded.

You push the stranger off of you.


No, you say.


Stop, you say.


You’re not either of them, you say.


He clenches his fists and you think you deserve it. You brace yourself for impact but when you open your eyes he is gone. You’re alone in the octopus when you hear a wet explosion. You clamber out and land on the sand and the beach is empty. The can of red kidney beans lies ruptured next to the giant whale.




It’s past dinner time. Latara sits at the kitchen table, the ingredients for the Coconut Curried Veggies strewn about the counter. Her eyes are red red red but you say nothing. She looks up at you and you hope it is relief you’re seeing but you aren’t sure. You apologize for being late but not much else. The music has stopped and you can see the leftovers of the pie on display in the pink garbage can.


It’s almost midnight, she says.


I know.


We missed dinner.


I know.


Her bun has half-heartedly come undone and her stilettos kicked off into a corner. Wrinkles persist in her vintage dress no matter how many times she tries to smooth them out. When she catches your eye you want to tell her everything. You fell in love with your best friend when you were ten and kissed him when you were seventeen. You told your parents that you liked both girls and boys and their apathy hurt you more than if they yelled. You took a risk and went cliff diving with him and you were the only one who rose up. You want to tell her all of these things and how fucking terrified you are — how it was easier when the only life you could fuck up was your own. But mostly, you want to tell her how you wouldn’t have minded either.


You don’t tell her these things.


Instead, you hold out the two cans of red kidney beans and you say, I want to help.


Latara doesn’t smile, not at first. She takes the cans and tosses an apron your way. You get started chopping the vegetables. Carrots. Broccoli. Celery. You mince the garlic while she gets the spices and condiments ready. Curry powder. Thyme. Black pepper. Salt. When you get ready to chop the onion she slips two matches between your teeth and tells you not to cry. You grin and almost choke on them and she laughs while you regain your composure. On medium heat, you saute the onions, then add the garlic, curry, thyme, pepper and salt and saute again. Then she adds the vegetable stock, rice, coconut milk and, finally, the red kidney beans. They poke through the milk and rice and mingle with the brash smell of curry. Right before you begin to stir Latara says your apron is undone. She pulls you close and ties the apron around your back.


You wrap your arms around her and you tighten hers.
 

KingdomKey

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My thoughts still haven't changed on this and I'm reposting what I said.

I'm at a loss for words. Quite frankly, I feel like I shouldn't even be reading this because, it feels real and personal even. If it is real, I don't want to know. Honestly, it was a privilege to even read this and beyond good. I wouldn't say this had a happy ending per se but, it feels like Tristan was able to stand on his two feet and deal with Latara being pregnant. It was overwhelmingly good to read and this was written amazingly so.
 

Audo

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Amazing.

Is that sufficient critique?

I'll write more later.

Also, your profile says you joined in 2015, but I remember the name from before that...
Thanks :3
Yeah, that was me.

That was pretty rad, man. How long have you been working on this? You don't have to answer if you don't want, but I'm curious. Either way, I really enjoyed reading through this!
Not that long. It was from my university class. It's technically the third draft of the story idea, but each draft was radically different from the one before it (due to prof's wishes) that each one is practically a completely different story. This is the first draft of the third revision, written in a few hours one night since it was due the next day. I haven't edited it since yet.

My thoughts still haven't changed on this and I'm reposting what I said.

I'm at a loss for words. Quite frankly, I feel like I shouldn't even be reading this because, it feels real and personal even. If it is real, I don't want to know. Honestly, it was a privilege to even read this and beyond good. I wouldn't say this had a happy ending per se but, it feels like Tristan was able to stand on his two feet and deal with Latara being pregnant. It was overwhelmingly good to read and this was written amazingly so.
This is definitely the best comment I've received on this story :333
Thank you, it means a lot to hear this!
 

Annoyance

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Just read this because I can't sleep, so I can't think properly enough to say more than I think this is my favorite somehow? I'll post more some time it's just almost 5 am and I hate myself.
 

Audo

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Thanks, lol. I look forward to the more :p
 

Annoyance

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So this was my favorite because of many reasons. Not only is it engrossing, and essentially as close to a page turner as you can get with these circumstances, but you feel everything. I feel for this character much stronger than your others I've read.
Your dialogue is written very well, and above that, you're unique. It gives a defined distance in a way that I think you portray very well.
 
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