Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Just Some Things #5 : L.D. Lapinski.

This is the latest instalment in my feature Just Some Things!
In case you don't know, here's how it works...
I send a writer an individual email with a series of prompts from the '642 Things to Write About' book – chosen entirely at random most of the time – and then when I get the responses, I dedicate a post to them and their piece. It could be short, long, backwards, in another language, I don't mind. It'll be an adventure whatever happens! And they can use or ignore however many of the prompts they wish. 


When published on the blog, their piece will be put in first and then I'll add in a little piece beneath it, my response to the same prompt. I will always ensure mine is shorter and less prominent, obviously. It's all about featuring my fave writers.

Today my guest writer is the delightful L.D. Lapinski; unpublished author and co-creator of Shift_Zine, the new quarterly online YA magazine. We met through Twitter some time ago, and I can safely say she is one of my favourite online (and now IRL) friends.

Her prompt was: Introduce your long-time imaginary friend.

   ‘You’re going to do great.’
   Cherry plucks at her skirt, trying to stretch it down a bit. ‘It’s too short.’
   ‘Well, that was the one I saw in the shop, so unless you want me to start searching online…’ I raise my eyebrows and Cherry pulls a face at me.
   ‘She might think I’m a bit…you know.’
   ‘Cute?’
   ‘I’m always cute.’
   I sit on the bed and watch her check herself over. Cherry’s appearance hasn’t changed much over fifteen years. Her hair is longer, and her features are less cartoon-like now, but she’s always been rosy-cheeked with auburn ringlets. Even when I didn’t know what ‘auburn’ meant, she had auburn ringlets.
   I’m still not sure what ‘ringlets’ are, but she has them.
   ‘Have you thought about what you’re going to say?’ I ask.
   Cherry touches her headband. ‘I thought I’d let her speak, first. She might want to tell me something, or…’
   ‘What did I do?’ I ask, a smile creeping onto my face.
   Cherry snorts. ‘You told me I didn’t exist. As if.’
   I burst out laughing, because that’s so Me. ‘Yeah, well, you stuck around long enough.’
   ‘I had to,’ she reminds me. ‘You were hard work, Jess. You almost imagined me away.’
   The mood freezes over. ‘Oh.’
   She pouts at her reflection, then comes to sit next to me. There are cherries on her dress. ‘Will you miss me?’
   ‘Like a hole in a parachute.’
   ‘That means ‘yes’,’ she snuggles into me, and for a moment it’s like she’s real; I can feel the weight of her in my arms and on my chest. ‘It’s time for me to move on.’
   I shrug, because I can’t think of anything else to do.
   ‘You’ve still got a bit of me,’ she looks at my desk, my laptop. On it are drafts of the novel I’m writing, where a character has auburn ringlets.
   ‘Come on,’ I say. ‘We’ll be late.’

*

   We get to the milkshake bar three minutes late. I spot the girl immediately, sitting with her mum, nervously plaiting her fingers as she ignores the drink in front of her.
   ‘Hello,’ I say. ‘You must be Isabel?’
   She looks up, her freckles adorable against her bonfire hair. ‘Mm-hm.’
   ‘I’m Jessica,’ I smile. ‘And I’ve brought you someone you might like to meet.’
   Cherry steps out from behind me, blushing, and suddenly younger, and newer, like she’s had a fresh coat of paint. ‘Hello, Isabel.’
   Isabel waves shyly, and her mum looks as me. I nod.
   It’s going well.
   Cherry slides into the booth and a milkshake appears in front of her. ‘Hey, can you do this?’ she inhales and blows bubbles into the drink, making Isabel giggle.
   I feel a slip on my soul, like a tug at the heartstrings Cherry has plucked all these years, and suddenly she is gone, inside Isabel’s mind as she floats away.
   I fill the empty space in my head with sadness, for now.

*
L.D's Blog : Twitter : Instagram : Zine

Here is my response to the same prompt...

   I can hear my family, calling, searching for me downstairs. Their cries get more and more panicked, more shrill. Dad's running up the stairs, Mum's gasping repeatedly like she just cannot believe what's happening. Nor can I, really. My sister is a little more clued-in; she knows what will have made me do this. More specifically, who. I know it's her knocking on the door to the airing cupboard. I'm actually glad I've been found, the heat is stifling and my forehead is wet. My big, empty forehead. Empty? Naked? Naked. Part of my face is on show now, and part of my head.
   'Tess? You okay?'
   'Mmm,' is all I can manage. A whimper. I wipe sweat from my top lip.
   'Can I come in?'
   'Mmm.'
   My sister opens the door, and light pours in from around her head. Her not-naked head. 'What's going on, petal?'
   I know she's seen, though. She will have seen it downstairs, too. The patch of hair on the living room floor. That must have worried them – it worried me, and I was the one responsible. Or was I?
   I look up at her, and see her taking in my new face – more face, more visible. No fringe covering my eyebrows any more. I cut off the front bits, the strands that covered my ears, too. My hair is closely (and unevenly) cropped to about halfway back on my head now. My sister smiles sympathetically. Then Mum's and Dad's faces appear behind her, either side. They're less sympathetic – more shocked and upset. Understandably.
   I can only be honest. It's the real reason, even if they can't see it. 'Candy made me do it.'

*

If you'd like to be involved in one of these Just Some Things posts, email me at grace.latter@gmail.com.


(Perfect image by Kayleigh Causton illustration)

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