31 Days of Art, Day 13: Symbiotic

Today is the first day that I don’t have a full beginning-middle-end short story or poem to offer. Part of that was I spent most of the day cleaning and unpacking (still… I’ll be unpacking forever, I feel like). Part of it was the idea that the word “symbiotic” prompted came out… not what I was expecting. And I wanted to both fulfill the challenge of writing a finished piece a day, and also stay close to the idea of letting the words play and come out how they want to.

What started out as an idea that two people shared something that they would die without (the symbiosis in the relationship between the two of them and the thing), eventually decided that it wanted to be a darkly comedic plot about two polyamorous lesbians in a retirement community who share a special kind of luck… that then gets stolen from them. Hijinks ensue–or rather, they will if I ever get back to writing this. Will I finish it? Will Gerry and Linda get back their luck and have their revenge on Arnold, the smiling bandit? Will my kids ever actually go to bed when they’re supposed to? Stick around. Maybe someday I’ll know the answer to at least one of these questions…

Day 13 Symbiotic

It was Gerry’s turn to have the luck. She’d been pretty patient while Linda’d hung on to it for what had ended up being three weeks past her fair share. Gerry hadn’t minded. Linda had a younger man on the hook, Mr. Arnold Jefferson from two units down, and she’d wanted the luck to make sure she caught him.

Again, Gerry didn’t mind. Once she got the luck back, Linda would come home like she always did, like she always had. They’d been together since college, and Gerry had never been the jealous type.

Still, she was heading outside the carefully manicured lawns and had a ton of errands to run, and in this town, you never knew who was going to hack and cough and spit and not wear a mask. She needed the luck. What if she had another experience like the last time she was out, waiting at the drugstore for Linda’s prescription to be filled, and the lady in front of her just started coughing, her lungs going to town, the spray visible in the air—and nope, couldn’t be bothered to even cover her mouth with her elbow, let alone wear a mask like it said in the three or four signs the woman had to walk past just to get to the pharmacy.

Gerry knew she shouldn’t have let Linda talk her into moving out of New Jersey. The weather was better down here, but forget trying to find a good bagel, or just ask people to go out of their way to wear a little piece of cloth over their faces for ten minutes while they got a flu shot.

No, Gerry needed that luck. And her wife had had it a little too long now. If it wasn’t going to help Linda land that hunky fish, she needed to come on home and hand it over.

“Gerry?” Linda’s voice sounded as the screen door to the back porch opened and shut. By the waver in her voice, Gerry knew that she had bad news. Whatever it was, she’d be picking up two bottles of wine at the grocery store and a cheesecake. The kind with the strawberry jam drizzled all over it. Whatever put that waver in Linda’s voice was going to require cheesecake for the telling of the story.

The wine was for Gerry.

“Yes, Lindy Hop, I’m coming.” Gerry pushed herself out of the chair, trying not to think about how that was getting harder and harder these days. She headed into the kitchen.

Linda was already seated at the table, slumped, tears smearing her mascara. It looked like it might be a two cheesecake mess.

“He…”

“What happened?” Gerry asked, sitting down across the table. “Did he show up for your date in a red hat?”

“No.” Linda hiccupped, and now Gerry was really concerned. Linda’s hiccups could last for days. The only thing that could stave them off was—

“Wait, where’s our luck?” Gerry asked.

“He… he stole it!” Linda wailed and put her head down and sobbed.

“He stole the luck?” Gerry was confused. “How did he even—?”

This wasn’t possible. They’d found the luck when they first started dating their freshman year of college, passing it back and forth when each had a test, a paper, their coming out talks with their parents. Gerry’s hadn’t gone so well—they hadn’t really known how it worked back then, and, well, that memory required a third bottle of wine to revisit.

Linda wiped her eyes with one of the paper napkins from the holder shaped like a yellow plastic sunflower, then blew her nose in the napkin with a giant honk.

“Okay, tell me slowly, honey,” Gerry said. “How did Tall, Dark, and Denture-Free steal our luck?”

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