10.15.2006

Writer's Digest Non-Winner: Me

Surprise! I'm not a winner! No big deal, I'll just keep submitting my crap until someone over there decides to like it. Here's my entry for a 750-word "My Story..." writing prompt. Writer's Digest gives the prompt and you write the rest of it in 750 words or less. You can view the winning entry at http://www.writersdigest.com/contests/your_story_previous.asp?id=245. The winning entry is witty, and my entry is dark and surreal and cycles over again. If you get through my story and want to ask me "What does it mean?" I'll probably answer you like any self-respecting English teacher would: what do you think it means? :)

Okay, without much further ado:

Mr. Garcia’s Operation

Seven days ago, I created a hole in Anthony Garcia between his ear and the top of his head. My hand brushed against the side of his face and stubble tickled my gloved hands. Adrenaline slung-shot straight to my brain, and I sucked in short quick breaths before letting it go, and Erin flashed me a deep look after the dull light dancing in my scalpel bounced against her face. Bleeps from the heart-rate monitor rose to 80 beats per minute then drummed down to a steady 60 beats. I wondered which smartass hooked it up to his, or her, heart.

I sunk the instrument into Mr. Garcia’s scalp as my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Puerta, draped in her Argentina flag floated through the room.

Now nobody will talk to me. At least nothing that isn't wasted air.

Clara repeated “Freak” over and over. She had a clear view of the door if she wanted to lift her head and look in that direction, but she stared at the man’s face instead. She was only moved by watching the disposable number-ten blade with someone else’s blood dried in a brown crust that I found in the hazardous waste basket. No need mucking up a good piece of steel when a crusty one would do. Mrs. Puerta morphed into my dead grandfather. He waved and left through a door marked “Exit.”

Erin raised her eyebrows and I imagined cutting her head open instead.


“Sweat!” I yelled. Shannon wiped my brow with a soiled tissue from his white-coat pocket.

A soft glow washed over the long metallic room. Humming from invisible rafters reminded me of the white noise of a television that turned to snow after the last early-morning show was spent. Inhabitants who lived in this room lined the walls with three inches between gurneys. Most lay beneath sheets of white a shade darker than the walls, floor and ceiling, and if I stared at them long enough, I expected puffs of life to lift the sheets, proving that someone had made a mistake.

Not dead! Save this one!

No puffs of breath, nothing, and Mr. Garcia who lay here like such a good boy, his eyes closed, his face a bluish-green had no idea that he was here. The humming thickened.


The slice of hard skin, flesh and hair now lay perfect in my hand. “There!” I said, holding it up.


Tom tip-toed to see the white of the man’s skull I exposed.


“Tom! How sick can you be?” I smirked. Not for long, however. My heart skipped and I took in a quick breath. The monitor registered erratic lines and the green digital number whirled to 116-beats a minute before it slowly came down to 99, then 85, then 82, then finally to an easy 56 beats. The digital read-out frosted over.

Erin and Clara snapped off their gloves. In the back, I heard a door open and shut.

“There’s no hope for him, is there?” said Erin.

Hope? I thought.

Clara and Tom looked at each other before turning to me. My mother came in, her face flickering like a television that wouldn’t tune into its channel.

“Hello, Mother. Care to join us?”

“Love to; what are we making today?”

“Hair Soup.”


Beep, beep, beep, BEEP, reported the heart monitor. Now a sucking sounded, as if fresh air swooshed into the spacious operating room, mingling with the hum of electricity.

“Tony, my boy; I am so proud of you! When you should be dead after that awful accident,” she said.


My friends dissolved, leaving me alone with my mother.

“My brave boy,” said my mother, who then leaned over and kissed me on my cheek, then the top of my head, burning me with her affection.


I leaned down, expecting to examine Mr. Garcia’s own seared spot that I had stolen, but I recoiled.

“Where’s Mr. Garcia, Mother? What did you do with me?”


“Oh, my boy!”

Below the hum and the fog of beeps were the whispers in English and Spanish, so faint and fleeting and confusing:

“Mr. Garcia needs to rest.”


“Not Mr. Garcia. Anthony. Tony. I need to be here when he wakes up.”

My eyes locked shut, and no matter how hard I tried opening them, they wouldn’t. Would I ever?

Seven days ago, I created a hole in Anthony Garcia between his ear and the top of his head.


My hand brushed against the side of. . .


Copyright 2006, Tracy Catlin

10.10.2006

Cheesehead lives here

Emily was quite upset yesterday because a little boy she thought was her friend had called her a cheesehead.

"I don't know why he kept calling me that, but he wouldn't stop!" she said.

I leaned in really close to her, wiggling my finger to come even closer to me. I turned my head and my eyes first to the left. No one listening there. Then to the right. No one listening on that side. I whispered, "Did you ask them if you were cheddar or mozzarella?"

"Or stinky cheese?!" said Dale, breaking the quiet.

She giggled and everything was okay. But we did talk about what to say if someone ever calls her a cheesehead again.

"I'll just say ... watermelon!"

I'm proud of my little cheesehead.