For a full blog post on my experience with Write Club, check out, http://www.jesstaywriter.com.
I can’t post the full story online because it would make the story ineligible to be published, but here is an excerpt including the ending.
The story so far…
Kylie is looking for her dad. She grew up with a mom and a mannequin that can’t speak but morphs into a television set sometimes. She gets into sexual relationships despite her better judgement because she’s looking for her dad and can’t seem to ever find him in the men she meets. The story picks up here after one of those episodes.
The story picks up…
I wandered through the soaked streets of the city not really knowing what to do. A cyclist almost hit me as I crossed the street without looking. She rang her bell at me. “Who taught you how to bike?” I shouted. “WHO? WHO?”
I didn’t know why I was the way I was – I needed to go back to where I’d come from, to that house where the mannequin and my mom lived. Where he slept in a king-sized bed beside my mom and she polished him with a cloth to keep his plastic shiny. I’d be able to see the way I’d been formed by walking through familiar halls, rooms where I’d changed from sloppy infant to sloppy kid to sloppy whatever I was now.
My mom picked me up from the train station, and she gave me a big hug, she rocked as she hugged me. “Are you okay?” She’s good at saying, “Are you okay?” like it really matters, the okay drawn out and soft. Like she spends nights staring at uneven plaster on the ceiling and the shapes it makes and worrying about me and all the trouble I might be getting into.
We went back to the house, but the mannequin didn’t get up to greet me. “He’s just in a mood,” my mom said. “You know he’s glad to see you.” I drank juice, and my mom made me toast, and then I sat on a chair in the backyard, looking at the sky. It was still full of clouds, ash grey, but it’d stopped raining. My pants got really wet because the patio chairs were drenched and I’d forgotten to wipe them down.
The mannequin opened the door and came outside, and he handed me a bowl of ice cream and nodded at me. He pulled out a rag and wiped down one of the chairs and sat beside me, his rigid legs jutting out in front of him. He didn’t transform into a television set, but he looked a little less like plastic, and even held my hand. It almost made me want to cry big dad tears that would cover the whole backyard with a monsoon of water, so that all the grass would be flooded, soggy and wet, and the mannequin would float away downstream. But I just ate my ice cream and went inside.
I woke up in the morning and for a second it was easy to pretend I’d never moved away from this house. But there was still a bruise on my arm. Two dark blotches joined by a yellowed patch of skin in between. Can a bruise be like a kiss? It’s more permanent than one, and the thought of this made me blue. I kissed my mom, and the mannequin drove me to the train station. When it was time to say goodbye, he turned his head towards me. I could see the texture of the plastic through the paint on his eyes, the bubbles and imperfections of cheap plastic poured into factory molds. For a moment, I thought he might know everything that had been happening to me in the city, that the night before was just one of many and that none of the men I met would ever be a real dad. All I wanted was for plastic to become skin, for electronics to melt away. I wanted to put my hands on the mannequin and feel warmth. I didn’t want to turn the TV mode on. I stayed silent, but I slammed the car door and then took the train home.
Sometimes now when I walk past windows or mirrors, I look into them and what I see in the reflection is this mannequin, or sometimes it’s a television set. I look back out from the glass with painted-on eyes. I say to myself, “Kylie, no, that can’t be, that can’t be – that isn’t you, it’s not the way it could possibly work.” But my voice sounds different when it comes out; it’s loud and crazy like something from a TV. “Kylie, be, you, the way, it could work.” And then another voice, this one from a sitcom, “Who taught you how to bike? Who? Who?” No, that plastic morphing thing in my mom’s house, he can’t be my dad. Dad’s still out there. I bet he’s looking for me too. He’s wandering ocean floors, catching fish with hands that also twirl baseball bats. He’s building me bicycles out of scrap metal, he’s writing me a how-to book on life. I swear I’m not making this up. I can show you my bruises, all of this is happening. He’s out there, my dad.