Monday, 9 December 2013

Alvy, a short story by Charlotte Hayden

You live in an area where your local prostitute often forgets to put a top on and shows off her blue string bra. You think you’re more familiar with her chest and navel area than your own. She wears sexy black PVC trousers and 5 inch heels. She seems friendly and she smiles at you (she doesn’t smile at the kids who shout at her and insinuate she’s a man). You think she may want you to join her on the game. 

*

You turn up at this birthday party and you realise that you are the only straight woman there and that these women have all slept with each other and yet, more importantly, they have all remained close friends. You cannot relate to their nonchalant attitudes. For you, there is something about someone seeing you naked which changes everything. If you stayed friends and went out for dinner, what if the cucumber slices reminded him of your nipples? And then he’d eat his dinner and remember back to the taste of your nipples whilst all the time trying to act cool. No you could never be friends with a lover. You remember Gloria from the Beautiful and Damned. Gloria said: “Husbands are so often ‘husbands’ and I must marry a lover”. This idea you understand. A lover brings passion and drama and colour and this is what you crave.  So when you turn up at this party, with all these seemingly calm, kind gay women and through casual conversation find out about their incestuous nature, you wish you weren’t so highly-strung (and straight) so you could be more like them and less like you.

*

“So she turns around and he’s right there with a knife and he says to her ‘Don’t scream, you’re too beautiful to scream’ and just as she lets out a tiny ‘Aah’ he STABS HER right in the throat and kills her and then he CHOPS OFF the top of her head so he can use the hair for his mannequins”.

You look at him for a reaction. You’re strangely fascinated by the opening to that film but you’re not sure if you told it right. He stares at you and for a brief moment you think you have him. Then he sarcastically says “wow”, looks away and takes a swig of his pint. Sometimes you feel like you’re boring him to such an extent that even if you were to gather all of your rage and scream at him, right in his face, and say something utterly outrageous...like you’re pregnant or dying or both (or something to that effect), then he’d just turn around, pick up his wallet and headphones and walk away from you like nothing had ever happened.

Despite his coldness you are ridiculously infatuated with him and it’s truly pathetic. You substitute his insults for charm, his stubbornness for loyalty and his cynicism for hilarity. He is as compelling, as honest and sometimes as downright crude as a Bukowski novel. You wonder if you want him because you know he will reject you. Lately you have grown to love rejections as each story you submit gets a whopping ‘DECLINED’ on its return. You start thinking of men in terms of writing and you think about parts you would like to delete (their terrible listening skills, their terrific approach at getting hideously drunk) and you replace these qualities with fantastic characterisation (the untouchable relationship between a mother and son) and an ironic or dramatic climax (a man’s ability to roll over and sleep soundly while you lay there awake worrying about your period, your mum or the water bill).
*

You hear mice in your kitchen. You run downstairs and you desperately ask two maintenance men, working on the ground floor flat, to help. One of the men is a fat and large nosed man with a gold tooth that protrudes from his mouth and unfortunately blinds you. The other bloke is a young and dirty chav with a thick Welsh accent. The older bloke says “Don’t worry my darling” as the young guy runs around your kitchen trying to catch and kill the mouse until eventually it can’t be seen or heard. The next day, whilst you’re at work, the maintenance men return to your flat to lay down mouse traps. You come home to find trays placed on your kitchen floor with sugar on them. You call the older maintenance man immediately and tell him you don’t understand how trays with sugar on them will trap and kill your mice. He laughs hard for a few minutes then explains how there is a glue on the trays so the mice will go for the sugar and get stuck and then you must “grab a big shoe and just WHACK it until you’ve killed it, my darling”. What an awful way to die, you think, as you wonder what to have for dinner.
*
It’s 11.30pm on a Friday night and you’re both sat watching Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and you’re just getting to the part where Alvy explains that life is divided into two categories; the horrible (e.g. terminal cases, blind people, crippled etc.) and the miserable (everyone else). All evening the vodka has been warming your throat and now, as he turns you towards him, the kisses warm your mouth and the hundreds of little fluttering butterflies warm your stomach.

*
You are painfully jealous of women who have glossy dark hair and blonde hair and red hair and bigger eyes and blue eyes and green eyes and sweeter dimples and higher cheekbones and better breasts and juicy bums and shaped legs which fill their jeans so well. And there are so many of these beautiful creatures and they are more articulate than you, more loving than you, more comedic, more interesting, more mysterious, exciting, effortless and stronger. You know that eventually he will find one of these angels and then pawn you off instantly to pay for her perfection. You are forever nervous about this.

*
If he’d told you he loved you, you would have felt like the happiest woman in the world. But he didn’t tell you he loves you and you don’t feel like the happiest woman in the world. Reasons why you feel unhappy today: Because he doesn’t love you and he never did. 


Charlotte is a 27-year-old English teacher, living in Cardiff. She tutors English Language and Literature to students at GCSE to PhD level. Charlotte has a degree in Journalism and a MA degree in English and Creative Writing and she's inspired by mostly American (usually realist) writers such as Raymond Carver, Lorrie Moore and Sylvia Plath.

4 comments:

  1. Loved it, Charlotte, and, yeah, too many young women still think they can edit out the parts of a man they don't like.
    I'm drafting a blog post about writing in the second person and will definitely linked to your story here

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  2. This is brilliant..so true. And you're right, I've given up trying to edit the bad parts of a man who clearly isn't that interested in me anyway!! Jams xx

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  4. Very funny story, with a well-formed ending.

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