In the interest of putting myself out on a limb (something I'm not generally a fan of doing when it comes to my "creative" writing) I have decided to post a piece of writing I did in class sometime during the past couple of months. It is most definitely fiction. I have never been to Chicago.
I call it "No Ketchup." Don't ask me why.
“Yes, mustard and onions. No ketchup.”
Dave picked up the Diet Coke that Sam handed him.
“Here you go sir, mustard, onions, and ketchup.”
“No ketchup. Absolutely no ketchup,” said Dave. It bothered Dave that Sam couldn’t remember how he liked his hotdog. He had been coming to the same cart for 5 years now, ever since Sam had rolled up in his denim baseball cap and undersized ‘Harvard’ sweatshirt. It was little thing that bothered him, really. Like how Sam had never gone to Harvard.
Dave cracked open his Coke can and winced. A tiny sliver of blood rose up to the surface of his thumb. He sucked on it.
Damn, he thought. He had a stack of proposals to sign.
He stood in front of the elevator, watching his reflection in the mirrored surface as he waited for it to hit the ground floor. Someone had scratched a smiley face into the stainless steel.
“Probably some frigging kid-intern,” said Dave’s boss, beside him.
“Yeah,” Dave said. He smiled. It had been an intern. Dave knew this because he given the kid the paperclip after a late night at his desk. He smiled again.
It was a week after the smiley face night that his mother, Margery, had been readmitted to the hospital. The cancer had spread to a new part of her body. The surgeons, unwilling to operate on her, had told Dave and his father that Margery would have to remain in the hospital for observation. At the time, Dave struggled to withhold a snarky comment.
When the elevator doors finally binged open, Dave decided he could use the climb up the stairs. Seventeen floors would give him time to breathe.
“I think I’m dying,” was all that Dave could manage as Katherine from HR asked him how he was somewhere near the sixth floor.
Good lord, Amy was right, thought Dave. I need more exercise.
“Want me to hold the door, Dave?” said Fred from the elevator bank.
“Thanks,” said Dave as he manoeuvred himself into the elevator beside Fred. Dave didn’t think the smile on his friend’s face was necessary.
Dave sat down at his desk, the huge square window lighting him from behind like Jesus. His wife hated when he joked about things like that.
Hmmm, he exhaled through his nose.
He clicked his mouse awake and the tiny hourglass appeared as the computer geared itself up for what was coming. Dave clicked on the email he had been writing. “Mom,” the subject line read. “M-A-R-K,” Dave typed into the address box. The computer supplied the rest. Dave thought that it was worth waiting the extra three seconds for the computer to boot up so long as it continued to read his mind.
Dave ran his tongue across his teeth. He tasted mustard and onions and the metallic tang of the paperclips that he had been playing with all morning.
This stuff brings people together, Dave told himself. He clicked send.
Message failed, his computer told him.
“Resend,” Dave answered back.
The phone on his desk rang. Line two.
“Hello? Hello, Mr. O’Donald? It’s Dr. Hamilton.” Dave wiped his hand across his mouth, bracing himself. He always braced himself.
“Your mother has suffered a blood clot,” the doctor told Dave. “She’s stable now, but your father is asking to see you.”
As Dave rushed out of the fifteen storey office building, his red tie choking him in the Chicago wind, his computer pinged a response.