12 August 2010

"Petra" #Fridayflash


 Photo credit: alvimann from morguefile.com

I first saw her when I went to the drive-in. The place had girls on roller skates and satin red shorts. Her hair was long, black, and straight. She had blue barrettes pinned above her ears, of which were festooned with an array of hoops and dangling crosses.


Her legs were perfect, except for a bruise on one knee. I accepted the ice-cream float she brought me, told her to keep the change and watched her backside as she glided away. On the radio "Just Like Heaven" filtered through the haze of cigarette smoke and the tinny music the drive-in played over the dented and rusted speakers above.


The next day I went back and ordered another float. She came out again, her icy blue eyes blinking in surprise when she obviously recognized me. She had a cut on her right cheekbone. A little thing, but I took it in observation and sipped on my drink thoughtfully when she glided away on those old-fashioned roller skates to serve another customer.

On the third day, I asked her for her name. She smiled. Her name tag said "Mindy" but I knew the deal with these places. I drew on my cigarette and gave her the best set of puppy dog eyes I could. My eyes drifted to her left upper arm. Three bruises, each the shadow of a large finger marred her perfection. She was almost milky white. The bruises attempted to sneak up under the hem of her sleeve. Her lip was pierced on the side. She toyed with the silver ring before answering.

"Petra," she said finally, like the answer to some great enigma and was gone, her long black ponytail streaming out behind her. Her wind was bubble gum and patchouli. I started the car, and parked in back. My float melted as I watched for hours. Customers came and went, and every so often I could see Petra. She was a diamond in a sea of river stones. I sipped on the root beer and vanilla ice cream mess and thought of her scent.

The lights went out promptly at 11. The girls were picked up by husbands or boyfriends, or departed in a tiny, affordable battered cars. Petra stood alone at the end of the curb, before sitting down to open her little purse for a smoke. Something made her look in my direction; a blue Chevelle out by the Dumpster, blue smoke wavering in the wind. She rose to her feet and walked towards me.
 Photo credit: msquanna from morguefile.com


"I should call the cops," she said, standing just out of reach at my window, not looking at me.

"You should leave him," I said before flicking one of more than a dozen butts into the night breeze. We both watched the amber arc die in a hiss on the damp pavement.

"You don't know what you're talking about."

"You told me your name," I said, moving to take off my seatbelt.

"Don't--" she said, looking around us. "He'll be here soon."

"Good. Let him come." I got out of the car and towered over her diminutive figure. "Petra." I liked saying her name. I liked that the word meant her, in her soft white skin and icy blue eyes. I loved that she existed and stood her with me even though I scared her.

Rebel country music swelled in the distance, along with the unmistakable sound of a Flowmaster exhaust set. She blinked hard, one tear escaping inky lashes.

I went to the trunk, opened it, and loaded my rifle as a brown 4x4 Silverado pulled into the lot.

31 comments:

Eric J. Krause said...

Excellent story! I have to wonder, though, if he'll be better for her in the long run. She's in a bad situation now, and needs to leave it, but will the narrator turn out to be better? An interesting thing to ponder. Enjoyed this one a TON!

Michael Solender said...

Why is it that girls like that end up with jerks? I hope he gets whats coming..perfectly told...

jdanetyler said...

This is amazing, Carrie. I love what you showed here, and how you showed it. Fantastic and brilliant.

A well-told vignette. Great work!

Karen from Mentor said...

Loved that she was:

"a diamond in a sea of river stones"

to him. Could see/smell/taste this story Carrie. Wonderfully done.

Tony Noland said...

Tight, potent and electric. Great writing, Carrie.

Laurita said...

Totally engaging story. Really liked how the end toyed with the reader, let out just a little more of the string.

Laura Eno said...

It leaves me begging for the rest of the story and yet it is perfect as is for me to fill in the blanks in my own way. Excellent!

Linda said...

Great story! He gave me the heebie-jeebies from the get-go. Where is Petra now? hmmm, I wonder. Peace...

G.P. Ching said...

Yeah baby! Nothing better than a beater getting beaten and that's the ending I'm going with. Loved the emotion in every detail of this. Brilliant writing.

G.P. Ching said...

Yeah baby! Nothing better than a beater getting beaten and that's the ending I'm going with. Loved the emotion in every detail of this. Brilliant writing.

Bukowski's Basement said...

I love the feel of Americana in this... Heck I love the entire feel of it, Carrie...

Gracie said...

Another perfect one. Smooth. I'm going with a happy ending for Petra, too.

Brilliant and excellent.

rexscribarum said...

Good job, Carrie. I thought for sure Petra's current guy would turn out to be more than the narrator bargained for--something supernatural perhaps. The ending you gave us though is just as good, since it leaves us wondering. I have to agree with Eric that a guy who's willing to go that far for a girl he barely knows might not be the best choice for that girl, no matter how much the other guy deserved it.

--Travis

Sulci Collective said...

First story I've read this week and already I know it's going to be the best. Not one word wasted here and what an evocation of a human life you provide. Each little morsel of her lyrically and metaphorically rendered like an artist's portrait: scent, alabaster skin, the contrast of the bruises "each the shadow of a large finger".

Simply wonderful.

Marc Nash

afullnessinbrevity said...

There is a great balance in the girl's fragility and vulnerability and the boy's chivalry.
Adam B @revhappiness

Cathy Olliffe said...

"bubble gum and patchouli"
Says so much about the girl - youth and exoticism all mixed into one fascinating package.
Your descriptions are excellent but what really shines in this piece is the story.You catch us from the get-go and never let us go.

alisonwells said...

Wow, extraordinary, excellent, fabulous writing. Beautiful description of Petra from his point of view, would have liked to see it go on, sign of a great piece.

Marisa Birns said...

Yes, one can just see Petra rolling skating away, her long black ponytail swinging. And the bruises.

You definitely know how to describe in a vivid, knowing way!

Last paragraph gives us an answer, but leaves so many questions.

Wonderful, Carrie.

ganymeder said...

So her stalker is going to kill her abusive boyfriend. Somehow I fail to see that as an improvement for her. No wonder she was crying!

Wonderfully descriptive writing, but you set the story up for more... So get writing! :)

Rebecca Emin said...

This is really intense, and I would love to know what happened next. As others have said, the narrator does not seem much of a prospect for future happiness. Beautifully written.

J.C. Montgomery said...

I hate coming in after so many have commented. What's left to say?

Is I worship your mind and story telling ability too creepy?

Hmm, maybe I'll just keep lurking in the background and stalk you. Nah, still too creepy.

Oh well, you're stuck with me, cuz I'm hooked. hehe ;-)

Pamila Payne said...

Loved this. As others have said, this is really well written flash. You got to the meat of the story, set up the tension and left us with a satisfying yet open ending. You're a champ.

Valerie said...

Don't stop there! I want to see some mayhem. Maybe it's the devil in me... ;-)

John Wiswell said...

I knew you wouldn't let this drive-in stay ice-cream sweet. Good ride, Carrie.

Jason Coggins said...

Alright, this is what we want heroes who are heroes. Not some introspective excuse but a someone who sees a wrong and packs enough heat to do something about it. Oh yeah.

Rachel Blackbirdsong said...

Great story Carrie. I love the way you built up both characters with descriptions of place, scent, etc. Very evocative, because you leave us off before something bad is about to happen and it may not turn out well for the protagonist. Then again, why is he carrying a baseball bat in his trunk?

Chance said...

This story really grabbed us in the first few lines and pulled us into this small glimse of the characters world


good stuff

Deanna said...

One of your best Carrie. I love this description: "She was a diamond in a sea of river stones." That says so much. And I like how you left the ending for us to imagine. I imagine the jerk is a coward, (most jerks are), and that he speeds off acting pissed, leaving Petra to start a new life with the narrator. But he ends up being just as possessive.
Okay, I'll quit writing the story. :) Thanks for a wonderful read!

Christian Bell said...

The writing in this quite smooth, and the details you give us are just perfect. You pulled me in right from the start and kept me engaged right until the end!

Icy Sedgwick said...

I love your descriptions, I can see all of this happening. And poor Petra. The narrator seems a tad unreliable but at least he seems to appreciate her!

Chris Chartrand said...

Carrie, this is just another example of why you are so cool.