Sep 17, 2009 by

Fourth Fiction Challenge 5

Round 5 Challenge: Incorporate this image into your next passage of no more than 500 words. You can interpret this challenge as you see fit.

*click on the thumbnail to see a larger image

It’s lame how relationships only go so far anymore. Liz’s asexual boyfriend broke up with her. He needed “space to figure out his life,” which was such a teenage breakup lie that I laughed over the phone when she told me. That didn’t help. I felt bad so I took the F-train to Fort Greene to see her.

It was the usual post-breakup healing session of red wine, red eyes and ragging on boys. I told Liz to be choosier. I said, “Your first mistake was picking a younger boy. Always go older.”

I barely ever visited Brooklyn so the next morning I went for a stroll. The brownstones reminded me of the Upper West Side but hipper and less upscale. I found a cozy coffee shop called Tillie’s where I started reading the *must read* Liz gave me, Female Brain.

A tall brownhaired boy came in and sat on the stool beside me. He had the latest Time Out, the sex issue: “your guide to getting off, in every borough.” Please.

He smiled when he saw me looking at the cover. So sleazy. I was wearing my red skirt and he kept glancing from his Macbook down at my legs. That and at every girl’s bum who walked by. He tried to be subtle but it was so obvious.

Finally, he leaned towards me and with this cocksure grin said, “Female Brain… Sounds like complicated reading.” You could tell he thought the world of himself.

I said, dryly, “Very.”

“Maybe you’ll share one of its enigmas with my uncomplicated male brain?”

I was so fed up with these self-assured outgoing alpha boys. They were always only after one thing.

After a pause, I said, “Women have a larger hippocampus, which is responsible for emotion and reading expressions…”

He was staring at me and nodding earnestly, like I’d said something riveting. It was so transparent.

“…Our brains evolved that way to help us detect danger from larger, more aggressive cavemen. For example, my female brain is telling me to sit somewhere else.” I grabbed my latte and purse and relocated to a table at the far wall.

Our neighbors had witnessed the diss so he didn’t stick around long. I didn’t feel bad. I watched his bum on the way out.

I returned to my reading. When I looked up, a man was sitting opposite me at the table beside mine. He was cupping his coffee, staring into space.

He must have been ten or fifteen years older than me. There was a brooding contemplation about him, a combination of intensity, sorrow, intelligence, worldliness and despair. He had a slight lazy eye, which accentuated his haunted expression. The eye seemed to look right at me, or more like through me, but he was so consumed in his thoughts he didn’t notice me. I couldn’t tear my gaze away. This was no boy. This was a man.

In that moment my hippocampus knew it. He was the one.

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  1. Watch out she doesn’t end up like Ron (Olaf’s main character) 😉

  2. lol. that’s still not as bad as being in corey’s shoes (utah’s main character)! yikes.

  3. Giggling. Go the larger hippocampus (which is shaped like a seahorse and thus gets its name!)

    Reminded me of a time I met a guy called Nathan who introduced himself as a chick magnet. So I introduced myself back as “an arsehole magnet” … and he didnt’ have a whole lot ot say after that.Boys!

    I like the distinction between boys and men – my mother used to call them kindergarten boys.
    Snappy dialogue and a good twist at the end which will surely keep you in the comp Tess. Think you’re on the way to perfecting the vignette snap shot your story is perfect for.

    • lol thanks jodi! high five on the arsehole magnet. i’ll use that if a boy ever pulls that line on me (or i’ll say “what a coincidence, i’m a magnet too. that explains why you repel me.”) i love shooting down the cocky boys. it’s always good to remind them just how insecure they really are 😉

      • Agree with Jodi, somehow you always manage to turn on some switches but, at the same time the style, is not quite right yet – but its coming.

        From the smaller, more logical, male hippocampus I can’t help feeling that ‘arse-hole detector’ might have been more appropriate!

      • Honestly – I was never good at it Tess. It was just that one time. Perhaps why I remember it so vividly. I’m always struck down with being unable to find the right words and then formulating a cracking come back two hours later. Fat lot of good then.

        Good luck in the coming vote.

        • i know *exactly* what you mean jodi. Do you think trisha really would have come up with that diss on the spot if she didn’t have time to think about it and write it down? 😉

      • The “smaller, more logical, male hippocampus?” You might be right about the smaller bit but I’d rethink the logical part! I haven’t met many logical boys in my time. lol That’s just what you boys say so that you can keep keep yourselves in all the big positions that require “logic” like president, CEO, scientist, etc. etc. etc. !!!

  4. It seems as though you are starting to hit your stride. I hope you keep up the momentum of this piece. Good call on the lazy eye.

    • thks chris! it took me a little while to notice the lazy eye. it’s subtle but once you notice you can’t stop looking at it. makes me kind of wish i could do that!

  5. I love the dis, the larger hippocampus, and the fact that she watches his ass on the way out. Not so sure about her taste in men, though!

    • now THATS a diss! lol

    • Not sure that this larger female hippocampus is necessarily an advantage – needs to be balanced with a good male one – working as a team.

      Also liked that line “… his bum on the way out.”

      As to her taste in men – well that depends on what he’s like.

  6. best ‘rising to the Challenge’ of the week. excellently set up.

    queued up a Hall & Oates hit after reading this one.

  7. !! maneater is one of my anthems! thx tony, your comments are totally hilarious. i almost choked on my wrap while reading your comment on nora lol (literally)

  8. Enjoyed this much more. In fact, this is the start of your story. The opening tells us as much about your character as the earlier date scene did, but in a shorter time frame…..and we get straight into the meeting Mr Right. A little overwritten in places, the guy’s description mostly, the line ‘a combination of intensity, sorrow, intelligence, worldliness and despair,’ seems to much telling and not enough showing. Give the reader the details of the face that create this effect and let us infer the emotions at work. A much better effort this week though. Hope we see you in the next round.

  9. Wow. Well done, Tess – NOW I’m interested!

  10. thanks heaps guys! dan you’re totally right about the show don’t tell advice on the facial expressions. i guess i just got carried away with the description… or more like got lazy (eye) 😉 i’m super thankful for the feedback. it’s like my art crits-sometimes tough to stomach :( but that’s how you grow as an artist :)

    love how readers will pick the next challenge. so far my vote is for annabones suggestion. (it was tough with all the choices… lol)
    let’s go people! share with the rest of us. i’m sure you’ve all got ideas brewing!!

  11. Auggie

    now tess, you know i don’t hold any punches in these comments. and i gotta say, this is great. and my male brain says that if you’re tired of the dating the dumb masses of the big city, then come see me down at the beach.
    and danny boy powell, i actually agree with you on this one.

  12. 😀 i’ll keep it in mind auggie. i generally don’t date boys with red claws for arms. they always grip too hard and never let go 😉 lol!

  13. “No offense, but ya’ll REALLY prefer reading about red-skirted airheads trying to get laid in NY rather than about Frank’s obscenities?”
    Voters: what a bunch of twats you all are.” -annabones

    mwAAHH this coming from a girl who’s almost topless in her avatar and who’s still on her round 3 writing… talk about desperate!! you probably don’t need the “no offense” there unless you were trying to be ironic or something. i guess the annabones is because you always have a bone to pick.

    way to insult the voters. i guess anyone who doesnt have your view is stupid. you sound like some my girlfriends … bitchy half the time because they’re so unhappy and defending a-holes the rest. but i luv them anyway. they’re just unhappy. that’s why they’re so bitchy. maybe you just need to “get laid.” pfff, girls.
    by the way, thanks eros :)

  14. Lol.

    Actually, Tess, I’m fully naked in that picture. And no, my averse reaction to the public’s choices so far has nothing to do with my sex life. In fact, it’s exactly because I get so much satisfaction from my personal life (both in the vertical and the horizontal) that I don’t really care much for your washed-out version of Sex and the City. Your story’s been told in a million different platforms and ways. I just would’ve rather read Tuck’s story. Or Igor’s. Or Fido’s. I think that people who don’t feel the same way I do lack vision, originality and sense of humour. And I’m not apologizing for feeling that way.

    But clearly I stand alone in thinking this way. Maybe it’s just that I don’t relate to the trials and tribulations of not being able to find love and sex (or either kind) in a big city?

    As for your response to my criticism: for a NY artist, you sure have a lot of growing and toughening up to do. Deflecting, and throwing cheap shots about my avatar and speculations about my life won’t make your writing any more interesting.

    In any case, I’d be very open to you surprising me next round with something truly inspiring. So enjoy your immunity, and I look forward to reading your next entry.

    • amazing! you say *i’m* taking the cheapshots when you call me an airhead and everyone who doesnt think like you a twat??

      i’m happy to hear you’re so satisfied with your personal life. it’s just SO apparent in your comments recently lol.

      • Don’t be silly, girl. I’m not calling you an airhead, I’m calling your main character an airhead. So unless you are writing an autobiography, none of my comments were personal 😉

        • oops! maybe you *should* call me an airhead after all! lmao

          i just wrote my entry. you “inspired” me in this one. hope you like it 😉

  15. seldom seen

    easy you two. why not discuss the various hues of kelp? i know there’s at least one fellow reading who knows all about that and can guide you both.

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