Friday, August 20, 2010

What IS a Short Short Story? Read Loretta Lopez's Winning Example

From Alliance Summer Intern Rick Morgan:

As an intern with the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, I’ve read some great examples of teen writing, and this piece was one of many that stuck out for me. This two-page short short story thrusts the reader into the middle of a dialogue that reveals the past through subtlety and implication. The dialogue in this piece is coupled by an array of minor actions that give the two characters away. The man’s smile, most noticeably, is an uneasy attempt to cloud grief with a fabricated feeling of indifference. Perhaps the most striking aspect of this story is the writer’s use of metaphor. Take, for example, the sentence, “Rocío García Sanchez lives on his back; she is a heavy pair of wings that do not inspire flight.” Though it’s a short piece, a startling amount is revealed about the characters by the end. Their pasts are intimately felt, and their futures are left to your imagination.

(Loretta Lopez)

The cursive writing on his back tells a story of a late night full of loneliness and boredom.

I ask if he regrets it.
He sighs and wraps a towel around his wet body.
“A little.” His typical candor is absent. I feel I have known him for a long time after a few hours but realize that this conversation will be bounded by this afternoon. His scarcity makes the words that drift along the pool special. He probably will not let me know him for long so I ask questions eagerly in hope of remembering him vividly.
“Why did you get it done?”
“ I was just curious I guess.” His smile tells me otherwise. It meant something at some time, Rocío García Sanchez.
“Who is she?”
“An old friend. We don’t talk anymore.” His fingers play with each other, signaling that I should talk of something that does not make him dive into a distant and regretted past.
“Good thing it’s on my back, that way I don’t have to stare at it all the time.” He grins showing white teeth.
I have heard that name before, maybe whispered in hallways of our school, and maybe shouted through the streets in search of a girl who deserved to be engraved in swirls on rich brown skin.
His eyes grow sad for a few seconds, drifting towards the cool drops sweating down his beer bottle. The sun makes his skin beautiful while only making mine burn into a shade of uncomfortable red.
He takes a sip, distancing himself from the awkwardness I have created and I suddenly feel ashamed for trying to squeeze out the secrets.
The pool shimmers and I sink my feet into the tempting water, allowing him to remember the name in silence.
Rocío García Sanchezlives on his back; she is a heavy pair of wings that do not inspire flight. She keeps him on pavement, making his every step linger eliminating the leaps from his agile body.
Sometimes he can feel the cursive handwriting on his back, sore like the first day he wore her. He remembers that tingling pain too well, even though it has been a couple of years that he has grown out of that fifteen-year-old drunk on adrenaline and passion.
I take my feet, now wrinkled and bland, out of the water. The sun has faded a little, and slowly grey clouds start to appear demonstrating our lack of remaining time.
“You must have really loved her.”
“Love…I don’t even know what that means. Everyone says it all the time. I love your shirt, I love that show, I love you. What does it matter anyway? Maybe when it’s real you don’t have to say it.”
I smile at his words, and realize I have never been in love before and neither has he.

Loretta Lopez is a senior attending an American school in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her short short story was part of her Gold Medal-winning General Writing Portfolio.

Image credit, above: My Grandfather. Elijah Mlawsky. Grade 12. 2010 Gold Medal, Drawing.


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