You Be The Judge: Short Story For Esquire

Ladies and Gents, I just started a short story and I must stick to the title “Never, Ever Bring This Up Again” about a childhood trip to California.  I won’t disclose the full story but it involves a child standing in an inch of urine in the dirtiest gas station restroom.

Is this a good start or should I start again?

Never, Ever Bring This Up Again

Alisa M. Ben

There was something about Uncle Bo’s oldies music that felt like flashlights were shining all around in my insides.  Aunt Lou and Uncle Bo were kind of like those people in musicals when they would break out into song at the exact same moment.  It was a long trip from Oklahoma to California but they packed enough Chubby Checker, Fats Domino, and Jerry Lee Lewis to get us to Santa Fe, New Mexico, before listening to the same song twice.

The sun reflected off Aunt Lou’s transparent pink sun visor and hit my eyes when she turned from the passenger seat to look at my cousin Crystal and me in the middle seat of the van.

“I chew my nails and then I twiddle my thumbs,” She sang along to Great Balls of Fire and gestured with her hands for us to join. “I’m real nervous, but it sure is fun, C´mon baby, you’re drivin’ me crazy..”

“Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!!” We busted into song.

My uncle played the steering wheel piano and I watched the crow’s feet in his eyes become deeper in the rearview mirror as he laughed.  Crystal was in junior high school and wasn’t as delighted as I was by the impromptu concerts.  She tried real hard not to smile and adjusted her yellow jelly shoe, while I finished the song with our aunt and uncle but I was just a third grader.  I stuck my feet out straight to impress Crystal that I too wore jelly shoes, red ones.

“When did you get those,” She took the bait.

“Mom bought ‘em for me for the trip.” I beamed and continued to swing my feet.

“You’re a copycat,” She rolled her eyes at me.  “You always have to get what I get.”

“No I don’t,” I defended myself even though it was true.

“Yes you do!” She snarled.  “Just like the leg warmers that I had first and you got them for Christmas!”

“So what,” I argued.

“Imitation is the highest form of flattery, sweetheart,” Aunt Lou chimed in.

“Yeah meditation is the highest form of flattening,” I repeated.

“Im-i-tation and flat-tery,” She enunciated.

The July warmth of the desert sun through the large van windows highlighted the blonde baby hairs on my tanned legs.

“Ew, shave those things already,” Crystal pointed.

I looked at my legs that she was pointing to and embarrassment bubbled into my face and I felt like crying.

“Oh Crystal leave her alone,” Aunt Lou defended me. “She’s too young to shave and besides there’s no need for it.”

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