A Bit of Real Life, A Little Sad, Workshop Short Story

On the Rocks

Below is a short story I wrote for my workshop in my first or second year– ’06. We were practicing minimalist writing (which, despite what you see here, is my favorite kind of writing) and tasked to write a short with as few adjectives as possible. We wrote two or three drafts, cutting away extraneous details with each draft. Here is my final draft, which Alexandra told me resembled a piece by a famous minimalist author (I’ll keep the name to myself, but it was a very cool comparison).

On the Rocks

She let the squares of ice fall into the glass. She watched the cubes melt into one another. There was a breeze in the kitchen through the orange curtain. It stirred the scent of rum in the room like cologne.

She filled her glass from the bottle. It was not an economy size bottle. The liquid was dark and poured smoothly into the glass. She filled the glass as high as she could.

She replaced the bottle under the sink and carried the glass with both hands through the hallway. Her apartment was narrow and dark. The sound of her loafers was heavy on the wood.

In her bedroom the windows were shut. The night table by the bed was covered with watermarks. She set the glass on it while she looked for her pressure pills. She just needed a moment. She groaned as she settled on the bed. It squeaked on its coils. The news played on the television behind her.

She found her pills and drained the tumbler in a few large gulps. She took some long breaths, then stood. She crossed the mirror without looking at herself. She then quickly put a handful of red and white mints in her purse, grabbed her coat off the bed, and left for work. She sucked the first mint loudly as she locked her apartment door.
—-
She placed a dollar on the counter to pay for the lottery ticket. It was late and she only had a few minutes. People played the numbers behind her. She knew most of the faces. They’d dreamt the numbers or been given tips. She always played them the same way. The cashier looked at her hands while she counted her change. Then he smiled and told her to enjoy her evening.

They were about to close when she got there. The manager shook his head no, but when she waved and half-smiled he knew her face. When he let her in he said “Quickly, please,” and turned his back to her. He did not look at her when he rang up the purchases. His fingers were cold when he handed her the long black bags. His partner unlocked the door to let her out. He talked angrily to the manager in another language before the door was shut behind her.
—-
She needed to buy more cotton balls. She also needed more concealer for the dark circles. When she finished applying her makeup, she went to empty the trash. She set three garbage bags in a row in the hallway. She placed four empty glass bottles at the bottom of each bag, then covered each with a layer of bathroom trash. She finished with a layer of kitchen trash. Then she went down the elevator and through the basement. The back gate was heavy. In the darkness outside, she could see her breath. She put the bags in the middle of the garbage heap, then walked back around to the front of her building.

—-

Her office had a holiday party at a pub. Her boss was Irish and chose an Irish pub. They served all sorts of drinks there. She drank rum. She kept her hands in her lap and laughed at her boss’s jokes. She went to the bathroom a few times. Her coworkers talked to her politely at first. After they had a few beers they started dancing together. She watched them alone, from a booth.

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4 thoughts on “On the Rocks”

  1. Really moving. You are just so talented. I am trying to play catch-up on all I missed. The post about the deaf man was hilarious. Just the comic relief I needed tonight.

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  2. Wow! Interesting the lengths an alcoholic go to to get their fix. I understand the minimalism approach in your writing, but you still managed to create such a vivid picture on so few adjectives. This is great!

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    1. Thank you. Another personal story.. I may write another with a different angle about this particular relative. She had her issues but I loved her, and there was much more to her as a person than this disease. We’ll see.

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