OriginalCulture: “With these People”

In 2013, OriginalTitle will be presenting her interpretations of contemporary short stories in whatever way such interpretations happen to emerge as a result of the inspiration on Writer’s ClubKL.

This week’s featured short story is “Girltown,” by Kate Wheeler and can be read here at Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading Archive. 


We meet at Graylee Park because at this hour, in this corner of suburbia no one cares what happens.  A collection of motley cars: borrowed, used and slick with the shine of newness, is assembled in the parking lot, my white Camero with T-tops included.  Someone’s already started a fire in the pit so embers glitter a small portion of the black blanket creeping into the sky.  Kyra grabs some of those cakey sugar cookies with the icing on them we just bought and the beer we stole from her parents out of the backseat.

“We won’t stay for long, OK?  Two hours tops and then we’re off to Matt’s,” she says and I’m learning like I’m always learning from her now.

“You told your parents you were staying at my house, right?”

“And vis-a-versa?”

“Yes,” I tell her but honestly I don’t remember whether I did and I don’t think they’ll notice I’m not there anyway.  I used to care that I would get caught.  Then I realized that as long as the police aren’t the ones who catch me, I’ll live.  We’ve been caught by other people’s parents plenty of times and nothing has happened.  But they don’t know us and don’t really care who we are as long as they don’t see us again. In all honesty, I could probably use a grounding.

She lights a cigarette and walks towards the patio.  I didn’t even know she smoked.  Maybe she doesn’t actually smoke, but you’d never know one way or the other.  She always seems like she knows what she’s doing.  I’m not cool enough to be her friend, but somehow I am if only for a short time.  Within seconds she melts into the other sepia-toned silhouettes of dusk.  It’s easier for her to melt in.  I walk to the edge and talk to the one person I know besides her.

The picnic tables shimmer with other plastic-covered, nutrition-free snacks and smashed or pierced cans.  We make believe this is dinner, that we’re sort-of adults meeting somewhere, drinking beer, throwing a football and having a cook-out without actually cooking anything.  When I’m here with these people, I always get this feeling like something important is supposed to happen.  Maybe something is, but nothing ever does.

Kyra’s already gotten into art school and I’m still waiting to hear back from State.  Everyone here pretty much has a purpose except those of us who are still “Wait-ers,” so I huddle together with my equals as if for warmth in the southern spring heat.   As usual, nothing happens because I spend most of the time avoiding talking with anyone so I don’t have to explain my future or lack of one since that’s all anyone talks about summer of senior year.

We drive an hour to some rich kid’s mansion whose parents are out of town and are greeted by jello shots.  It’s amazing how much we get away with.  Within minutes we’re in a hot tub and I’ve forgotten that we even started out at the park.  Kyra is the belle of the ball, blond, funny, and artsy-like but not so much it would annoy you.  She quotes Kerouac from Mexico City Blues, takes of her top and jumps into the pool.  Jim looks at me and asks, “Is she always like this?” and I say yes but I know she’s not.

In five minutes, Kyra’s parents show up against all odds.  They drag her out of the pool and wrap her up like a baby doll with a towel they ripped off some lacrosse player laughing quietly from behind his beer.  They scold her all the way to the car, but everyone can tell it’s because they love her.  She lights a cigarette on the way out.  Her parents rip it out of her mouth.  When she gets inside the car we can see she’s apologizing.   We all watch.  Invisible to them.  And wish we were her.

This flash fiction was inspired by the short story of the week.  Read OriginalTitle’s interpretation of “Girltown” by Kate Wheeler  at Writer’s Club KL!


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