Sunday, June 25, 2017

Front and Center

In Fall 2015 I took English 372 Creative Writing: Fiction at Southeastern Louisiana University with Dr. Richard Louth. It was my first class taken after I decided to get a BA in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing. It shares top billing in the classes I've taken so far, with the other one also taught by Dr. Louth.

For the final that semester we could bring our laptops because there would be a writing portion. I brought mine. I had found out during class that I don't write as quickly as I thought I did nor as quickly as I used to. So bringing the laptop helped me greatly. We are only allowed two (2) hours for the final.

The writing portion of the final consisted of a picture with a few pieces of information given by Dr. Louth. It was a head shot of a blonde woman and a brunette man. The information given was they were both attorneys, they were at a wedding reception, and her name was Sharon and his name was Mark. We concentrated on dialog for a large portion of the class and this was a dialog test. We had to give each person three (3) pieces of dialog.

Because I had my laptop I was able to write quickly, and therefore more than what I would have done with just a piece of paper and pencil. I wrote a piece of flash fiction.

Then, in Fall 2016, I decided to edit it and submit it to the Manchac Review. The Manchac Review is the literary magazine for Southeastern Louisiana University. It was accepted, and the magazine has finally been printed. I get to pick up my copies on Monday. Yippee...

Now that it has been published, all of the rights revert back to me and I am free to publish it on my blog. Here it is below. I hope you enjoy it. Please leave me a comment on what you think of the story.

Thank you...

Front and Center
by Brenda Birch Gallaher

Sharon’s smile was fake and she knew it. She was so sick of attending wedding after wedding after wedding, and it was never her turn. Here she was, forty years old, and never married. In her twenties and earlier thirties she was always in the bridal party. Now she was just an invited guest, but it was her own fault. As an attorney she worked seventy hours a week and had just been made a partner in her law firm. She was quite sure the job just wasn’t worth it anymore.
“Okay,” Leslie, the bride, said. “Everyone get together in front of the water fountain. I want one big shot of everyone.” People slowly gathered in front of the water fountain; mostly in couples.
Really, when will it be my turn? Although it was a beautiful July afternoon with soft willowy white clouds passing overhead with a light breeze, Sharon groaned in her head. She kept the fake smile plastered on her face.
At six foot tall, Sharon always stood in the back of any group photo. For once, she would love to stand in the front. In every group photo she had ever had been in, showed only her face or face and shoulders. She moved to the back of the group. A man taller than she was joined her.
He extended his hand. “Hi, I’m Mark. I’m the groom’s cousin.”
Sharon’s hand fit nicely into Mark’s. This was unusual because she had large hands. “I’m Sharon. The bride is my first cousin, once removed.”
Not only was Sharon tall, but to Mark she looked like a Greek goddess, with her light blonde hair and pale blue eyes. Sharon was the opposite of Mark.  He had dark brown hair, deep blue eyes and a dimple in his right cheek.
“I’m glad to know there is someone to stand with at the back of the group,” Mark said. “I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being the tallest person and having to be in the back all the time. For once, I’d like to stand in the front, or even sit on the ground in the front.”
Sharon’s mouth gaped open. Did I just hear him correctly? Was there another person who hated standing in the back, like a forgotten broken toy? She gulped. “I know exactly what you mean. Ever since seventh grade I’ve had to stand in the back. It’s like I’m being punished for my genetics.”
Mark’s laugh was so loud, everyone at the wedding turned to look at him. He and Sharon ignored the others. “That’s exactly what I said to my father. His response was to tell me to grow up.”
“Did you tell him that that’s what the problem was? You had already grown up above everyone else’s height.”
“Yes. -- He grounded me for a week for being smart.”
A laugh escaped Sharon. She liked this man. “I guess I should tell you what I do for a living before we go too far. A lot of people are turned off by it.”
“You’re a pole dancer at the local strip club?” He bounced on his heels and smiled with only the left side of his mouth. He dug his hands deep into his pants’ pockets.
Sharon’s smile dropped and her eyebrows tried to reach each other. Then his smile broadened, and it made her think of an elf about to cause mischief. She gasped anyway. “Uh, no. I’m an attorney. I work 60-80 hours a week, and I just made partner.”
Mark threw his head back this time when he let out his loud roaring laugh. It made Sharon’s smile return. “I’m an attorney, too. I run my own one-man firm helping the less fortunate.”
“So you rarely do anything spontaneously?” Sharon sighed.
“On the contrary. One time, I suddenly had four days off, and I hopped the next open seat to Edinburgh, Scotland. It was the best trip ever.”
“I haven’t done anything that spontaneous. The best I could do was skipping school to go shopping.”
Before she could say anything, Mark grabbed her hand, pulled her around the group of people gathering for the picture and pulled her down on the grass in front of everyone. Her frilly dress flew up as she went down, but she didn’t bother to straighten it. “Here we will sit and be front and center,” he said as the impish smile returned.
Leslie gasped. She bent over and patted her cousin on the head. Sharon looked up. “What are you two doing? You need to be at the back of the group.” Leslie’s eyes were wide.
Sharon sat up a little straighter, “We’re tired of being relegated to the back of pictures because of how tall we are. For a change, we will be in the front of the group picture.”
“Everyone look at me please!” The photographer made his final adjustments on his camera.
“Never mind,” Robin, the groom said. He took his bride by her hand. “Let them sit there.” He pulled his new wife to his side and wrapped his arms around her waist.
“I’m going to count to three, so everyone get ready,” the photographer said.
Sharon and Mark looked at each other, put their heads close to one another, and smiled big for the camera.