Monday, December 31, 2007

A Story

Somehow in our conversations with MandoNut recently a story I wrote in 1994 came up. He was impressed with it and asked if he could use it as the basis for a song. Last night he and I worked on song lyrics, and this morning I thought maybe you all would like to read my story.

I wrote it for a contest, and the first bit, in italics, was the story-starter they gave us. The contestants had to fill in the rest from their own imaginations. This is my effort, and it won the contest in my age bracket. Pretty cool, I say; and I while I'm tempted to edit it now, I'm resisting. Plus, I do think I was inspired when I wrote it.

Mark was lying on a dolly, examining the damaged axle of a Pontiac Firebird wen he was startled by a sudden "Hello? Is anyone here?"

"Yeah," he replied. "Under the Firebird."

As he scooted out from under the car, the first thing he noticed was her shoes. They had 3-inch stiletto heels and were the blazing red of a summer sunset. The shoes matched her dress to perfection, as well as the fiery Porsche in the driveway. Mark shook his head and grinned to himself. That kinda style sure didn't hit this neighborhood very often, he thought.....

"I'm looking for Mark Watson," said the lady. "I was told he works here."

"Uh, yeah, that's me," Mark said, wiping his hands on a rag. He was curious, but he spoke casually. "Whatcha got-- carburetor trouble? transmission? brakes?"

"Um, no, it's not the car. I have some important business to discuss."

Mark looked at her more closely, and now he could see she looked younger than he had first thought-- much younger. It was amazing what clothes and make-up could do. Now he was really curious.

"If you're Mark Watson, I need to talk to you," the lady-girl said urgently.

Mark glanced around. The shop was empty. He was here alone this afternoon finishing up a couple jobs for Monday.

"Okay, have a seat." He waved her to a row of chairs they kept for the muffler-while-you-wait customers. The girl tossed her hair smartly and sat down.

"Pepsi?" he offered, fishing some quarters out of his pocket. He handed her a cold can, and she took it, fumbling shakily with the tab. He helped her open it and she took a swallow.

"I know about you and your wife Marie," she said abruptly.

Mark was surprised and wary. The girl looked down at her pop can, twisting it in her hands.

"I've heard you two want a baby. And... I have one to give you."

Mark sat stunned. Questions buzzed in his head like a swarm of gnats. "But--but... How?--"

She gestured impatiently. "It's all worked out. Daddy's a lawyer and he knows. You just have to sign the papers and have them notarized and he'll do the rest." She stood up.


"I want to. You have to." The girl walked away, her heels staccatoing sharply on the concrete floor.

This is nuts, thought Mark. He paced distractedly, running one hand roughly through his hair, then both hands. Girls don't walk in from nowhere to give away babies. For one thing, babies don't grow on trees for the taking, or the giving. He and Marie sure knew that after trying for so long to get one, one way or another. It was especially hard for Marie, because she still remembered the baby she gave away.

The story reeled through his mind like an old movie: Marie at 16, pregnant, unmarried. It was still a vivid scar. Giving up the baby for adoption-- it was the best thing. But the baby, her baby, was gone. It might not have mattered so much, except it had turned out to be her only baby.

The clicking of the high heels returning brought Mark out of his thoughts. He turned.

"Here," said the girl breathlessly. She set down a baby carrier seat. "She's mine, but I want you and... Marie to have her."

Mark didn't move. The girl made an impatient sound and began quickly undoing the straps. She lifted out a pink flannel cocoon and handed it to him. "Take her," she commanded.

Mark obeyed. He looked down into a sweet sleeping face not more than a month or two old.

"The papers are in the diaper bag," the girl continued. "Her name is Ivy Marie." She paused uncertainly. "My name is Kimberly."

Mark stared at the baby in a swirl of emotion-- consternation, unbelief, hope, doubt. It just couldn't be. "Wait," he said. He heard a car door slam. "Wait!"

He ran-- carefully. But, with a flash of red the car drove away. Disconcerted, he stood helplessly.

In the end, he took the fragile bundle home to Marie, who was positively, unashamedly delighted, ecstatic. A Baby! At Last! It was providential. Who cared about the details?

Mark did, and he dubiously followed the typed instructions he found in the diaper bag. But it was all as the girl named Kimberly had claimed. Tiny Ivy Marie was theirs forever. And everyone said she looked just like Marie.

A week after the adoption was finalized, Mark was under a Chevy beating rust into his eyes. He shoved out to shake his head and he heard something.

"Mark! Mark!" It was Marie, holding Ivy Marie close and walking fast toward him. He was on his feet in a second.

"What's wrong? Is--?"

"No, no, the baby's fine-- but- I had to show you-" She handed him a sheet of paper. "A letter. Read it!" Her chin quavered and she began to weep.

Alarmed, Mark pulled her and baby Ivy Marie close and he read:

Dear Mother-I-never-knew,
Thank you for giving me the chance to have a home and family. I don't know if you would be proud of the way I'm turning out, I've made some mistakes, but that's not your fault. Thanks for at least giving me the chance to try. I know you'll care for my baby the way you would have cared for me if you could have.
Sincerely, Kimberly.


Marti said...

I'm glad that you're revisiting the desire to write. I seem to have recently gone through an art resurgence as well as one for poetry and nonfictional pieces. Considering the fact that other people are helped in unexpected ways by inspired expressions of creativity, it's not self-absorbed to pursue these things. Not only are we touched when people resonate with the thought behind the project, but we experience a moment of the fulfillment of the desire to bring forth something original that we inherit from our Creator.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Wow, that is lovely, I love the full circle ending. I also admire the fact that it wasn't all happy sweet, but bittersweet, just like real life. Are you going to give us the new song lyrics too?

carrie said...

What a neat story!!!!

Ornery's Wife said...

Sniff. that was awesome. I love stories like that, and you wove it so beautifully. Thanks for sharing it!