Hey guys! It’s Dana, back again for my final blog post. I have loved so much being apart of the Art + Deco team, and I’ve learned and grown so much in my time here. As seasons change, it’s time to move forward. This is not a goodbye, but rather a ‘see you later’!
With that being said, I felt it appropriate to wrap up my last blog post with an excerpt of my own writing. This is a short story I wrote earlier this year after a spark of inspiration and the cloud of writer’s block momentarily lifted from my mind. Whenever I share a piece of my own writing, I feel like I’m handing over a child of mine. I always have my apprehension but I trust that this piece will fall into good hands. Enjoy!
In her bathroom, Scarlett took several deep breaths. The clock on her phone told her only two minutes had passed since she last checked it. In an effort to distract herself, she looked up in the mirror, examining her reflection. Upon close inspection, it was slightly manic, wide eyes and raw lips – she had a habit of biting them when she was nervous. There was little time to attempt to compose herself, but Scarlett tried anyways. Momentarily, she left her phone and her worries on the bathroom counter and headed back into her room. With a heavy sigh, she starfished onto her bed and stared absently up at the ceiling fan as it traced slow circles above her.
Also on the ceiling were a few stray glow-in-the-dark stars that had been there since she had put them up years before. At five years old, Scarlett was desperately scared of the dark. For no particular reason, she had developed a nasty fear that only grew in its intensity as she began to imagine shadows as monsters and her furniture as dark, looming figures. After dozens of failed attempts at expelling the darkness to a tolerable degree that all ended with Scarlett climbing into her parents’ bed, her mom found a pack of 100 glow-in-the-dark stars for $3.00 and pasted them on in thick clusters above her bed. From then on, Scarlett slept peacefully in her room under her own small, fervent galaxy. Even now, only a memory of their former glory, the stars were a nostalgic comfort to her, a staunch protector of her childhood.
Spreading her left hand out from her body, Scarlett felt the familiar plush velvet of the stuffed toy that she had lovingly propped up on her pillow when she made her bed earlier that morning. Smiling fondly, she grabbed hold of its paw and tugged it into her chest, letting its floppy ears brush her cheek. Gerald, as the brown dog was affectionately named, was yet another relic of her childhood. More specifically, she had been on the peak of becoming a teenager.
Scarlett was 14 when she had her first kiss. That night, a Friday to be exact, she and Anthony from Biology had gone to the movies. They saw something innocuous and PG-13 as per the demands of their parents who had dropped them off and promised to pick them up promptly at 10. Thick in the throes of puberty, the whole date was made incredibly awkward. Anthony’s mom had only given him enough money to buy two sodas and a small popcorn and Scarlett had just spent her whole week’s allowance on the new Jonas’ Brother’s album. Anthony knew that Scarlett liked M&M’s on her popcorn and apologized profusely until he was red in the face and Scarlett begged him to please, just forget about it.
By the time the movie was over, which consisted of sticky, sweaty hand-holding, the two only had ten minutes before they were due to be picked up. Quickly, as if he was trying to get it over with as fast as possible, Anthony had leaned in and pecked Scarlett on the mouth. In typical adolescent fashion, their braces gnashed when they kissed and Scarlett’s hair got caught up in her lip gloss, but it was the most important moment of her young life. With five minutes left before pick-up, neither could bear the tense silence that followed the kiss, so they fled to the arcade where Anthony used the leftover change in his pocket to win Scarlett the plush dog that he dubbed Gerald. Although Anthony moved to the mid-West the next year, Gerald remained a symbol of that night, a memory that was more about her monumental transition into teenagehood and less about the boy she had spent it with.
The sound of her alarm – the tune of Marimba truly haunted her – broke Scarlett out of her reverie. Slowly, as if she expected a three-headed monster to be waiting for her behind the shower curtain, Scarlett padded slowly back into her en-suite bathroom and silenced her phone’s incessant buzzing. The alert told her that time was up, but the deepening pit in her stomach would not allow her to check the results just yet. Somewhere across town, her parents were at work. She had feigned sick with a migraine and got their permission to stay home, a-la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. However, her day would not be spent parading around downtown or driving expensive cars. Rather, she drove covertly to the drugstore the next town over, to ensure she wouldn’t run into anyone she knew. Self-checkout had been a breeze and before she knew it, Scarlett was at home, staring into the porcelain depth of her toilet.
On her 16th birthday, Scarlett had found herself in a similar predicament. As her birthday fell on July 3rd, most of her friends were gone vacationing with their families, leaving the possibility for a big birthday bash out of the question. Opting for a modest night in, she encouraged her parents to drive into the city for a date night and covertly invited over a few of her closest friends for a seemingly innocent sleepover. The trio raided the liquor cabinet in Scarlett’s dining room and watched reruns of the Kardashian’s until their lips were stained red with wine and their breath reeked of tequila.
Sometime close to midnight, Scarlett was the first of her friends to stumble into the bathroom and onto her knees in front of the toilet. Her friends dutifully filed in behind her and gathered her hair up as she emptied the contents of her stomach into the toilet. Between heaves, her friend Georgia couldn’t help but wonder aloud isn’t there some rule about mixing light and dark liquor? and Casey shushed her with a menacing glare while Scarlett rested her sweaty cheek on the cool porcelain. Naturally, the other two followed suit shortly after, shoving Scarlett carelessly to the side as they dove for the toilet, and the three spent the next morning wallowing in bed with pounding headaches.
As a highlight reel of memories circulated through her head, Scarlett sat down on the closed lid of the toilet and tried to focus her breathing. From this vantage point, she surveyed the sliver of her room that was visible through the doorway. The pale pink on the walls, a color she proudly picked out when she was seven, the worn wooden dresser that had been a hand-me-down from her grandmother. On top of the dresser was a jewelry box that her mother had bought for her after she had thrown a fit in the department store. The bay window to her left was where she had sat as she broke up with her boyfriend of four months, and the bed where she had later given a part of herself to Mark, the new boy in her calculus class with the soft lips and kind eyes.
At the thought of Mark, Scarlett felt a lurch in her stomach. It was only fair that she check the results, if not for herself then for him. She hadn’t told him what she was doing on this day; in fact, she hadn’t spoken with him at all besides a text asking if he could please send her a copy of his math notes. All at once, Scarlett felt inexplicably young. Whether it was the trip down memory lane or the driver’s license in her purse that declared her newly 18, she wished desperately that her parents were here to hold her hand. The house was eerily quiet, the silence only broken by the neighbor’s dog barking outside and someone mowing their lawn down the street.
Her parents. Scarlett was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where the love was unconditional. As an only child, she didn’t have to worry about living in the shadow of an older sibling or losing the spotlight to a younger child. Her parents were happy to celebrate her good grades and successful extracurriculars. That being said, they had never had any reason to disapprove of her. By all accounts, Scarlett was a picture perfect child, until now. She couldn’t be quite sure that this wouldn’t change everything she had ever known. There was one thing that kept Scarlett from feeling completely confident that they wouldn’t throw her out of the house if she was pregnant.
At Thanksgiving the year before, Scarlett’s 16-year-old cousin Madeline arrived with a belly bump that could not be blamed on the enormous turkey dinner. Six months pregnant, her parents now found it impossible to hide the truth and spilled the beans to the rest of the family. No one said anything rude to her face; they weren’t the type to cause a scene. It was only later, after the rest of the extended family had left — including Madeline, who waddled off with a small hand gripping her belly — that her parents spoke in hushed whispers as they loaded the dishwasher. Scarlett could only make out a few words of their conversation, but what she heard was enough to have her worrying about what might happen if she was, in fact, with child. The words ‘shameful,’ ‘irresponsible,’ and ‘disappointed’ rang through her head like some kind of twisted mantra.
It wasn’t like Scarlett had done this on purpose. She had so much going for her that a child was really not what she needed right now. She was in her last year of high school, applying to colleges and scholarships, captain of the debate team. That being said, Scarlett couldn’t imagine getting rid of the baby; if there was a life growing inside of her, she wanted to nourish it. That much was clear to her after the last few days of constant over-thinking.
Shaking, Scarlett extended her hand, the chipped blue nail polish suddenly glaringly obvious, and clasped her fingers around the test. There was no going back after this moment. Like her first kiss with Anthony, this was going to mark her rapid transition into adulthood. She flipped the test over and took a deep breath before examining the results. There was no question as to how the test read.
Trembling all over, Scarlett grabbed her phone and made her way back to her bed, where she grabbed Gerald and clutched him to her chest as she scrolled through her contacts. As the phone dialed, she looked back up at her stars and prayed silently that they continue to protect her. Madeline picked up on the fourth ring. In the background, Scarlett could hear the dull crying of a baby. “Scarlett? What’s up?”
“Hey,” Scarlett swallowed past the heavy lump in her throat. “I need your advice.”
Seasons change: Check out our upcoming posts from our newest intern/blogger phenom!
I’m Dana, a recent college grad from Sonoma State University and newly appointed Social Media Intern here at A+D here to chat with you every Tuesday and Friday. I’m excited to be a part of and witness the publishing process through the lens of a boutique agency. It’s so cool to be a part of a publishing movement specializing in artistic branding and helping contemporary writers craft their written work. Here, we’ll chat about the books that are changing and shaping our lives! So, here’s the place to explore them, to let them out. You can just think of me as your modern-day Bridget Jones – the bookish version!