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22 August 2013 @ 12:24 pm
LJ Idol Exhibit B: "Digging Up The Past"  
Digging Up The Past
LJ Idol Exhibit B | week thirteen | 1373 words
Grave

x-x-x-x-x

"This is the stupidest thing you've ever gotten us into."

I slogged behind Marcy, boots squelching in the muck while I tried to stay close enough to see the path ahead in the arc cast by her lantern.

"Oh, please," Marcy said, turning to glare at me and nearly clocking me with the bag she was carrying. "Whose idea was that godawful road trip in June?"

"That trip would have been fine if you'd remembered to put gas in the car." This was where Marcy and I always stumbled. The intersection of one person's plan versus the other's execution left a gray area that often ambushed us. I'd created the route and schedule for our visit to the Smoky Mountains national park, but only Marcy owned a car. Was it so wrong to think she'd pay attention to the state of the damn thing?

"This is for your project, Linda-Lou. Your Master's Thesis proposal is due in a week."

"Stop calling me that. And a week is plenty of time…" Though even if it wasn't, did anyone really think the answers lay in some dead psychologist's final resting place? "What do you expect to get out of him, anyway?" I asked. "Tortured moaning? Wisdom from the world beyond? 'Hello, ladies. Still dead. Thanks for stopping by!'"

"Will you shut up! What if he hears you?"

Honestly, this whole woo-woo side to Marcy's personality had gotten way out of control. It was one thing when we were kids, but weren't you supposed to embrace reality as you got older? Sometimes, I thought adulthood was still waiting for Marcy to return its phone calls.

"It's not too late to go home and watch re-runs of Law And Order," I said.

"True, but that's why you're a week from the deadline with nothing to show for it, isn't it?"

Marcy stumbled over something, and I ran right into her. "Ow!"

"God, the upkeep on this place is terrible. Look at these weeds! Though Allport should be right around here somewhere..."

It was cold and dark, and the air was starting to smell like rain. "Marcy," I said. "I do have ideas for my thesis. I just haven't chosen one of them as the focal point. But once I start writing, it'll go fast. I won't even need time to prep, I can just sketch an outline and fly right through it. You know how good I am at winging it."

"Brett Samuels," Marcy said.

Brett. Why did she have to throw him back in my face?

When we were in college, Brett was in my sophomore English class. Marcy somehow developed a crush on him, despite only seeing him from afar. We ran into him at an off-campus bar one night, and she asked me to go over and talk to him on her behalf. Since I'd never spoken to Brett before, I wasn't entirely comfortable with approaching him. Instead of conveying Marcy's interests, I apparently behaved so awkwardly that he decided I was mentally impaired or drunk, and that nothing I said could be taken seriously. Marcy tried to talk to him on her own a few weeks later, but all he said was, "You're friends with that weird girl, aren't you?"

She still hadn't forgiven me.

"You know he was probably a jerk, right?" I said.

"No, I don't know, Linda. I never got a chance to find that out."

She stopped walking, and slowly waved the lantern from one headstone to the next so that we could read the names.

"Gordon W. Allport" she said. "This is him."

I might have groaned a little, but at least now we could move on to the next phase of Marcy's scheme instead of wandering the cemetery for another couple of hours. I dropped my backpack next to Allport's marker.

Marcy snatched it up again. "Not right on top of him. Have some manners."

I rolled my eyes. "Marcy, he's dead. He won't care."

"Sshhhh!"

Fine. I watched Marcy mark symbols on Allport's headstone with a piece of black chalk and set out a blanket next to his grave. She lit four fat candles and lined them up along the edge, then placed her Ouija board in the middle of the blanket and turned off the lantern.

Yes, I knew this whole thing was futile and ridiculous, but my skin still pricked when we found ourselves in near darkness.

"Sit down," she said. "Let's begin."

How many sleepovers had we had as kids that started with the Ouija board and degenerated into us scaring ourselves awake half the night, or in raiding the kitchen for ice cream and getting busted by my Mom with a week of No Treats as punishment? That stupid game never led to anything good.

"Oh, Dr. Allport, most esteemed spirit," Marcy said, her eyes closed in concentration, "can you hear us? My friend needs guidance in choosing a thesis topic in psychology. Have you any insight?"

Our fingers rested on the planchette, waiting. I noticed there were no crickets chirping. That was unsettling.

Actual fear wasn't new to either of us. Marcy had stayed with me all night at the hospital nine years ago, after my Dad had been in a serious car accident. I'd held her hand last February as she waited for a home-pregnancy kit to tell her just how much trouble she was in. We'd been through a lot together, some of it utterly nerve-wracking…

"Oh spirit of Dr. Allport, can you help us?" Marcy pleaded again.

This wasn't anywhere near as scary as the worst of our anxious moments together, but it was creepy and it was stupid, and I'd had enough.

Marcy gasped as the planchette began to move. F…I…

It swung from one letter to the next.

G…U…R…E…I…T…O…U…T…Y…O…U…R—

"You're doing that, Linda! Stop it!" she hissed.

"I don't care, I said this was dumb! It's the middle of the night, and we're out here—"

A siren whooped, and I froze.

"See, officer, I told you there was someone here," a wheezy old man's voice said. "They're desecrating the cemetery!"

"Now wait a minute," Marcy began.

A police officer stepped out of the shadows and reached for my arm. "I'm afraid you ladies and your black magic will have to come with us." He pulled me to my feet, and gestured for Marcy to get up, too. "You're trespassing on cemetery grounds, and defacing headstones and markers is a punishable offense."

I gaped. "But it's just chalk. It'll wash right off."

The officer shook his head as if he didn't believe us. "Pick up your hexing stuff, and let's go." He guided us along another path and out an overgrown side entrance, where his partner waited with their vehicle.

Great, this is just great. WHY do I let Marcy talk me into these things?

Moments later, Marcy was squirming and fuming next to me in the back of the police car. My pessimistic imaginings conjured up visions of our mug shots splayed on the front page of the local news section. That was the last thing either of us needed.

"Okay, this is officially the stupidest thing you've ever gotten us into," I said.

Marcy kicked me. "I was doing it for you. And you could have said No, by the way."

"You never listen when I say No, and then you always get mad!"

"I do not." Marcy looked out the window, her posture stiff and unforgiving.

This whole mess was so typical. We kept replaying the same misadventures, with different window-dressing and consequences from one time to the next, but the screwed-up dynamic was always there. Sometimes I was Marcy's victim, and sometimes I was the one railroading her into some ill-fated plan, but it didn't matter. Our partnership was still the common thread in most of the minor and not-so-minor failures each of us had been through.

The topic for my Master's Thesis proposal suddenly permeated the layers of denial and habit in my brain. How could I have been so stupid when it had been sitting right there in front me for the past fifteen years?

Co-Dependency In Friendships.

Because for that topic? Oh, yeah—I could write an entire book.



If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it here. There are only 10 entries this week, so I encourage you to read them all!

 
 
Current Location: In your attic...
 
 
 
☾witches on August 22nd, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
loved this!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 22nd, 2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Apart from the up-until-2am, I had a lot of fun writing this one. :)
☾witches on August 25th, 2013 07:50 am (UTC)
Hee <33
definitely one of my faves this week :3
bleodswean: heartbleodswean on August 22nd, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
I have no idea what sort of contest you're writing for...but this is utterly delightful!!! Really fast, really fun, and totally relatable. I loved every word!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 22nd, 2013 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yay!

This is for therealljidol, where there are generally weekly prompts and it becomes a Last Author Standing kind of situation. People typically write original fiction or non-fiction for it, which gives you a real chance to stretch yourself.

We're down to the Top Ten, so the competition is pretty fierce at this point. But I realized that I hadn't written a lot of humor involving original female characters, OR explored female friendships much. What a great opportunity to try that out-- I got really attached to both of these two women, especially when paired up in their semi-disastrous antics. :D

Thanks so much for reading this one!
Desireex_disturbed_x on August 22nd, 2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
I love friendship dynamics like this and their banter was hilarious. I really want to thank you for coming up with this, lol. It was awesome.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 22nd, 2013 10:37 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I've written a lot of male friendships in fanfic, and even a few for Idol, but I realized it was time the women got a turn. Especially a situation like this one, where they've been friends for such a long and yet are still working out some of their issues. ;)
Pr0n Swansonacalculatedname on August 23rd, 2013 01:33 am (UTC)
A topic near and dear to my heart... the topic of topics. And yes, they often do come out of nowhere at the damnedest (belated) times.

Nice multi-layered interaction with the prompt. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 23rd, 2013 07:11 am (UTC)
I had originally planned for these women to visit a dead author for guidance on writing, but their dynamic drove the conclusion of this story to a slightly different place.

That's one of the things I honestly find most surprising about fiction: having the characters take your story where they want it to go rather than whatever you thought you intended to do.
cindytsuki_no_bara on August 23rd, 2013 04:07 am (UTC)
i giggled a bunch of times while reading this - it's funny and a little ridiculous and the girls' banter is so much the way long-time girl friends talk to each other, and the resolution is perfect.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 23rd, 2013 07:16 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it!

Does it seem strange that even though Marcy has some obviously annoying traits (as seen through the narrator's eyes), I still find her hilarious and pretty darn awesome? She's a "dance to the beat of her own drummer" kind of person, and while I sympathize with how her choices affect the narrator, there's just something about her style of "Blah-blah-blah. Grab the lantern and let's go" that cracks me up.
adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on August 23rd, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
My daughter and a friend got busted for loitering at a park one summer. This story kinda reminds me of that. It was a co-dependent relationship.
AW
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 24th, 2013 06:50 am (UTC)
I was surprised at how many places have laws making being in cemeteries after dark illegal.

Did your daughter remain close to that friend, or did they eventually part ways?
adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on August 25th, 2013 01:40 am (UTC)
They parted ways. It was for the best. AW
alycewilson: falling down rabbit holealycewilson on August 24th, 2013 05:15 am (UTC)
Wonderful story-telling! I love how you subverted the expectations: a Ouija board in a cemetery, with hex symbols would naturally lead to some bad juju. Instead, it comes off as a very real, believable piece. In fact, I had to double check your tags to confirm it was, indeed, fiction!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 24th, 2013 07:30 am (UTC)
As soon as I took the prompt, I knew I wanted the style of the story to be the exact opposite of it. These two characters, and their history of adventures and disasters along the way, were a lot of fun to write. They just seem fated to fall into trouble when they least expect it, too.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, and leave such nice feedback!
alycewilson: Alice underwateralycewilson on August 24th, 2013 12:09 pm (UTC)
You always leave such good feedback, I tried to raise my game a bit. :)
lriG rorriMlrig_rorrim on August 25th, 2013 04:00 pm (UTC)
I loved every minute of this! Your characters are super believable, and the dynamic between them that's at the heart of this thing is fantastic fun (from the outside, anyway - I have NO doubt it gets frustrating from the inside!). Every little detail in this makes it feel real. Awesome!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 25th, 2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you-- I'm so glad you liked it!

I felt about these two that a lot of their misadventures would fall under the category of, "You'll laugh about this later." Those experiences make for vivid anecdotes down the road, but they are never fun at the time. :D
favoritebeanfavoritebean on August 26th, 2013 10:39 am (UTC)
I truly enjoyed this story, if only because it sounds like something some of my friends would do or try to talk me into doing with them.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 26th, 2013 04:39 pm (UTC)
I was always afraid of something like this myself-- a friend nagging me into doing something that seemed stupid and pointless at best, and then wound up getting us into deeper and wholly unanticipated trouble! Because isn't that the way it goes? Murphy's Law is always lurking in the background, waiting to pounce. :O
alien_writings: Stories to Tellalien_writings on August 26th, 2013 05:45 pm (UTC)
Murphy's Law -- friendships so aren't immune! At least she has a thesis topic now?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 26th, 2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
These kinds of shared disasters often make for great stories afterward, but any Murphy's Law situation is no fun at the time!

Plus, as you pointed out, there IS a silver lining. Well, at least for one of them. ;)
MamaCheshirecheshire23 on August 26th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
I don't know why, but the "you ladies and your black magic" just made me laugh and laugh. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 26th, 2013 11:17 pm (UTC)
You can tell there's a lot of supposition going on in the minds of the officer AND the guy who reported the women being there.

There's nothing like overreacting to make a bad situation worse, is there? :O