Day 218 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Start with the line, “You know how to make a splash.”
Shannon: “You know how to make a splash,” the guy sitting in the desk behind me commented before I could get up to leave.
“I’m sorry, I know I ask too many questions, but I want to understand. I came from a small town and our school was different. Apparently, participation isn’t normal over here?” I bit my bottom lip.
“No, don’t be sorry,” he shook his head. “It’s a struggle enough to get people to care, I think you made Mrs. May’s day,” he pointed over to her, with a big smile. “And yes, until the rest of the class gets used to this, you might want to slow down a little, but don’t stop. I like your questions.”
It felt good to hear him say that, but I couldn’t help but wonder, “You must have some too, or at least something to add. You could join,” I lifted a shoulder.
He got up and looked at me as he grabbed his book from the desk, “That’s the plan.”
Erin: “You know how to make a splash,” my boss encouraged.
“We are 8% higher in price than our competitor. Getting this business is impossible,” I challenged.
“You have worked her for 12 years Linda. I’ve know you enough to know that nothing is impossible for you.”
I knew that he was wrong, but I also knew that if anyone had that faith in my I didn’t want to prove them wrong. “We’re getting this account.”
Make a splash with your day’s writing.
“You sure know how to make a splash,” she sighed, taking a long drag on her eighth cigarette since I’d arrived. Lounging on the patio chair, she had on her stolen designer sunglasses, that useless sunhat that simply filtered the rays that met her head without changing their severity, and a red grin that didn’t fool anyone. Every time we were together, my sister and I, she humiliated me in some unique and entirely childish way, but not this time. I knew she couldn’t see me, and assumed I was wearing the horrendous emerald leaf bathing suit she’d picked out for me, but I was very much expecting to surprise her with my attire. “Come on, honey,” Tracy purred, resting her martini glass on the plastic table beside her dirty ashtray and turning in her chair even though she still couldn’t see past her glasses.
Pulling back the sliding glass door fully, I stepped through and shut it behind me with a louder crash than I anticipated; every eyeball in the yard snapped instantly to me and there was silence thick as molasses on the hot summer day. After a few painful heartbeats, I waved a hand in the direction of my sister’s neighbours and strutted proudly into the sunshine and in front of my sister’s tanned figure. When I was just past her, I dropped the pool towel I had in my hand and stretched like a cat in a sun spot until my sister finally noticed me.
“Elinor!” she shrieked so loud I couldn’t hear the obnoxious party music blasting through the speakers strategically placed around the yard. Turning to see her expression, I was met with a blotchy-faced woman pointing her sunglasses at me as she screamed at the top of her lungs, “You go put some clothes on right this minute!” I was reminded so terribly of our dearly departed mother that I burst out in laughter so severe I nearly fell in the pool. Still, no one else at the party made a since movement or breathed a word, as they were too stunned by the sight of their odd neighbour’s little sister in the nude.
When I finally caught my breath, I furiously picked up the towel from the ground, amid gasps of horror, and whisked past my sister while muttering, “You’re the bitch who brought that atrocious bathing suit into this war,” under my breath.
As I slammed the sliding door, feeling the ripple resonate through the house, I shut the blinds to distance myself from the party outside. Through the material, I could hear people starting up new, slightly-awkward conversations as something to ease the tension, but my sister didn’t join them; I’d bested her for now, and she was plotting her retaliation. Ever since I was born, we’d been at odds for the attention of those around us, though the feud had escalated since our mother became ill last year. After that, there was no making up for past battles.
I stalked up into the spare bedroom, where I was spending the week because my apartment had a large infestation of fire ants that were being fumigated, and flopped down on the once-expensive mattress that was now so deformed from years of use, it may as well have been mud and rocks. Staring at the dusty fan that spun at a mind-numbingly slow speed so as to not disturb the spider webs spiraling off the blades, I contemplated my next thorn to stick in Tracy’s side.
The door, which had a hole where the lock should have been, opened and shut as I studiously picked apart the corner of my towel. “Elinor, look at me, now,” demanded the horrible woman who I had the misfortune of calling my kin, “and at least put on the towel.” As the side of the bed depressed, I peered over; taking a short break from ruining what had been a nice cloth.
“What do you want?” I sneered, rolling my eyes back to the cheap ceiling fan.
With a deep sigh, Tracy asked a question I’d only ever heard the voice deep inside my mind ask, “What are you doing with your life?” She let the silence drag on so far past uncomfortable I would need to invent a whole new term for you to begin to understand. My eyes were shut by the time she spoke again, this time as though she’d gone through a cold and was just getting over it, “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I mean, I kept telling mom I was gonna be on Broadway or the silver screen, or even just television, but I’m nowhere near that. Now I’m just sitting in her house, eating her food, breaking up with any guy I go out with for longer than a month, and working a job at the department store that would have just killed her to know.”
Finally recognizing the nasal tone in her voice to be shed tears, I opened my eyes and sat up so we were closer to each other than we’d been in easily ten years. With a sniffle, I answered, “Well, I’m an artist living in a miniscule apartment that smells like paint thinner and weed because I’m sharing the one-bedroom with three other artists. I work in the café downstairs, and will likely never sell a single painting. You think you’re wasting your life; my plan is to literally waste mine,” I added, hearing the words I’d never spoken aloud like an echo in a dark cave. “Trace, you’re doing just fine, okay? You’ve got tons of time to be an actor or a singer or whatever you want; you’re still grieving and you have a seriously bitchy little sister who will kick your ass if you think you’re a failure. And that, big sister, is a promise.”
When I did a mental mic-drop, I rolled off the messy bed to get dressed in something slightly less revealing than nothing. I sifted through the first two dresser drawers that were full of tank tops and short-shorts because they were the first things I saw when I found out we’d be out of the apartment for a week. Throwing on a pair of stained denim shorts and a lime tank top, I looked to my sister with pride; I was now fully dressed and ready to take on the party downstairs. But she was just staring at her fingers as though she’d never seen them before and blinking slowly.
Groaning, I sat beside her, took her hands in mine, and whispered, “You’re right where you’re meant to be, I promise,” in as gentle and sisterly a tone as I could muster. It was these once-in-a-lifetime moments with Tracy that I could really feel the connection between us.
“Yeah, I know, I just wish she were here to tell me to go out there and do something about my life instead of throwing parties for people I don’t like or respect, but feel this ridiculous desire to impress. I mean, hell,” she looked at me with a half furious, half amazed face, “you going out there with no clothes on made them actually look at me for probably the first time since I moved back here. They don’t even know my name, and I let them laze on my lawn and pee in my pool. And for what!?” Here, I considered trying to calm her down, but the little sister in me decided better on it and she broke free of our loving moment to stare out the window at the people she’d always considered friends. Before I realized what she was doing, she slid the window open and shouted at them, “Get the hell off my lawn and get outta my pool, or I’m gonna call the police on your asses! Go mooch off someone else! Go on, get!”
Many lewd gestures were made by my sister, but I would wager that they were reciprocated by the party guests as a good amount of swearing reached my ears. After a few minutes of concerning noises coming from out the window, Tracy thundered from the room and I could hear her screaming at the top of her lungs like a crazy person. I felt horrible that I hadn’t stopped her from ruining her life, but any guilt I felt disappeared when she skipped back into the room with a permanent smile on her lips.
When I went down for breakfast the next morning, papers were strewn across the kitchen table and the computer was beeping anxiously at Tracy, who whistled as she cooked the eggs. Slinking in unnoticed, I snuck a peek at the computer to find a resume half-written and some community college acting course pages brought up. “Mormim, Emimor,” mumbled my big sis as she chomped a piece of stale whole wheat toast with mountains of butter smeared on it. Swallowing her mouthful, she grinned at me with bits of bread in her teeth and almost-sang, “I’m goin’ to college for acting and I’m gonna give out my resume at that theatre group. I think they’ve already got a cast, but they’ll be needing some fresh blood in a few months anyway, right? So, I gotta find some plays and stuff I was in in high school to put in that puppy,” she pointed to the computer with the other half of her toast as the eggs started to burn. Quickly scooping them out of the frying pan, and onto plates, she shoved one chipped dish into my chest and ushered me toward the table.
I put the platter down, returned to the stove to shut it off, and poured myself a cup of clearly-burnt and cheap coffee. After one tiny sip, I dumped half the bowl of sugar in and a good few dollops of cream before taking my seat at the cluttered table. Realizing I didn’t have a utensil with which to eat my eggs, I sighed, “Okay, so, you’ve got a resume started, that’s great.” For a minute I pretended to be enthralled with the half-page of double-spaced text as I inhaled as much caffeine as possible to prepare myself. “I’m not sure they’re going to care that you were a cheerleader for four years or that you read more of Shakespeare’s plays than was required by classes, though that’s particularly un-true considering you only read ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ because you had to do an extra credit assignment on it to pass English.”
Draining the remaining coffee in my cup, I silently rose to pour some more as far away from Tracy as possible in our parent’s tiny remodelled kitchen. When they first moved in, they vowed to take out two of the walls and open the whole thing up to the ugly living room, but it never happened. The year dad died of a heart attack mom was going to redo the kitchen again; some might say he died just to avoid the hell she put him through the first time. On this morning I wished with all my might that they’d done what they said they would and I could put at least a solid island between us.
“You’re probably right. And none of the plays have any reviews that counted; it was all about how the audience loved the whole cast or how the director was found passed out in the sound booth with half a bottle of expensive whiskey in his system,” she spoke contentedly, tapping away on the keys as I filled my cup with bitter-sweet caffeine. After a minute of rewriting, she looked up with a silly grin, “I suppose I’ll just have to take those classes, eh? And then I can make mom proud and you won’t have to kick my ass?”
I retreated to my seat with a fork in hand and we spent the better part of the morning figuring out how she was going to pay for the classes and how to spin her menial accomplishments as spectacular, acting-oriented endeavours. As it turned out, that was a pivotal moment in our relationship; me appearing in the nude at a party.
“You really know how to make a splash-”
“Oh don’t start Jacey,” Finn says.
Finn, as August, pales a little, “Oh.”
“I’m you,” ‘Finn’ states.
“And you are…?”
‘Nikki’ groans, then goes to the desk. After writing down names, they are placed on the couch. “Pick up your own name and tape it to your shirt,” ‘Nikki’ states, already wearing the August name tag. Everyone does so.
Rick finally comes out of the tech room to see them all with different names on their chests. He snickers.
“You think this is funny?”
“No, Jac- Josh,” he corrects.
“We obviously didn’t work together as a team.”
“As I mentioned, Finn didn’t help with that wave of water.”
“I was trying to knock her off her feet.”
“Yeah, well you also knocked half of us off the building instead!”
“Okay okay,” August states, “we all messed up. So let’s wait for this to wear off, then we’ll get a plan.”
‘Finn’ Jacey raises her hand, “We have school.”
The five freeze up, then Rick starts a fit of laughter that manifests until he’s holding his stomach.
“This is not going to go well…” ‘Josh’ Nikki speaks for everyone.