Thursday, October 8, 2009

Draft 1: Summer Short-Short


It was summer -- I know because it was the only time I ever visited my Uncle Menas and his wife Etta. I imagine that with names so glittered, they were destined for a wooden stage in a shadowy blues night club with old-fashioned microphones like the ones Sinatra would sweep from left to right. Aunt Etta would come out in a crimson bedazzled dress fluttering out down about her ankles; and she would sing a song much richer than her own voice could do justice. The crowd would find the contrast savagely melancholy and her voice, raspy from years of smoking away her nervousness and paranoia, would bump up against the most human parts of your divinity. Uncle Menas would sit behind her, wrenching the tunes from the tight strings they were locked in, all the while with his eyes closed, his whole body transfixed in its duty of medium for the melody streaming out.Together they would pitch the little blues club, perhaps with a name like Starlite, back and forth between dysphoria and delight.

The actual life of Uncle Menas and Aunt Etta could not begin to live up to my elaborate fantasy. My uncle worked as a television cable installer and my aunt, if I am remembering correctly, had no job at all. Still, I can scarcely recall her ever being at home. On the morning of her funeral, I would hear my mother and her sisters talking about the fact of her being a druggie and a thief. I remember her as a woman that would have been pretty except for some thing was always awkward. Her lips were very dark, and she sought to enhance this by wearing even darker lipstick, mauve was her favorite. Being that her lips were also large and in a permanent frown, her mouth seemed to me like that of a clown. Her skin was smooth and all one color, I can't recall a birthmark, scar, mole or blemish anywhere on her, at least the parts I saw. And she was always rubbing herself down with something: sweet smelling lotions, oils, creams. Her skin shone everytime she stepped outside into the fierce light of the summer sun.

At the end of the school year, my aunt and uncle would choose which of their siblings' children, which wasn't many, would come stay at their house for the summer. This particular summer there were five of us; Drew, Uncle Menas' son from a previous relationship; Dale, Aunt Etta's son from an abusive relationship; Charmain, my Aunt Karen's (Uncle Menas' sister) excessly prissy daughter; and Kadiann, Aunt Karen's other daughter, who I suppose to polarize Charmain was by nature a tomboy. We are all various ages, I was 13, Drew was 12, Dale was 16, Charmain was 14, and Kadiann was 13.

I did not get along with Charmain, in fact no one got along with Charmain, save for her sister and that was only half of the time. Drew, Dale, and Kadiann spent most of the time playing video games in the basement which was where all of us would rather be. It was an entertainment center set apart from the rest of the house, you could be as loud as you wanted without disturbing anyone upstairs, which was especially great at night because we stayed up until three in the morning almost every night yelling back and forth and laughing. The basement had a miniature fridge, a bathroom, stereo, and the home computer. Drew, Dale, and Kadiann hardly ever left from down there. They hogged everything, especially Dale, I didn't care so much about using the television because I could always watch television upstairs in another room but I could never use the computer. Dale was always instant messaging girls and fussing at anyone trying to use it.

I was always the odd ball, or so I felt. Of course Charmain was on her own as well but that was because she choose to isolate her herself. Everyday she would get up and go sit out on the porch with a radio Uncle Menas gave her and listen to music and paint her nails all day long. I realized towards the end of the summer that she did indeed make friends, with the guys stomping up and down our block many years her junior. Charmain was pretty, in a monotonous way. She had fair skin, light brown hair, which she styled as adult-like as possible. Sometimes Aunt Etta, if she were home, would offer to curl or krimp her hair. She offered to do me as well but I just remember looking awkward. Charmain had the eyes of a feline, green and maple swirling together. If she happened to style her hair with enough gel that her hair appeared darker, her eyes would become hypnotic, commanding attention away from any and everything around. Charmain was a very well developed 14-year old. She flaunted about in short shorts and midriffs. Somedays, she'd sun bath on the porch in her bikini flipping through a magazine with her sun glasses about her head.

Workshop/Further Revision

Questions for revision include whose story it should be, Aunt Etta's, Charmain's or the narrator's? As of now, everyone seems to be competing to be the prime focus of the short. Is there a way to mesh or relate their stories beyond the fact of everyone sharing a summer together? Also, the title, I am well aware it sucks what to do with it is the question. I thought I might call it Aunt Etta, if it were her story, if it were Charmain's or the storyteller's I'm not so certain. Perhaps if I continue writing with Aunt Etta as the focus, at least that would take care of two things.

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