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Bethany on Fiction

Mike is an amateur writer working on building a hopefully compelling story. He lives in The Village of Lakemore, Summit Country, Ohio.

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Beth sat down at their kitchen table with her laptop and a large glass of iced tea. She opened a Word document and typed her name at the top, Bethany Candice Anderson. She stared at the blank page, and the page stared back, almost mocking her in her dreams of literary stardom. A door opened and closed. Beth's mother, Cathern, came into the kitchen with a couple of bags. Cathern looked over at her daughter.


She asked, "So what's the word… what's going on… what are you up to?"


Beth peered over her screen more at the bags than her mother. She looked back at the screen, not answering her. Cathern pulled out squash and fresh spinach.


Cathern said, "Bethany, it's not nice to glare. Now I asked you a question."


Cathern walked over to the table. As she walked, Bath moved her laptop so Cathern couldn't see the screen.


Beth said, "It's nothing… a school assignment… really it's nothing at all."


Cathern replied, "If it's nothing, then there would be nothing to see and no reason to hide something that's nothing… now just show me."


Beth started to complain when she realized she had nothing to hide, so she turned the laptop around, showing the screen with her name and nothing else. Cathern looked the blank screen over, trying to find a way out of her parental medaling.


Cathern said, "Wow, lots of progress… I hope this isn't due anytime soon."


Beth, in an exacerbated tone said, "Mother."


Cathern replied in a mocking tone, "Daughter."


Beth looked back to her laptop, "I'm writing a short story for a contest… But I'm having a hard time getting started… I don't know where to begin. I don't want to do something overly cliché, but I also don't want to do something no one would want to read."


Cathern said, "Start by looking at what you're reading now. What holds your interest?"


Beth picked up her phone.


Cathern said, "What have I told you about doing that while we are talking… it's rude."


Beth, in an exacerbated tone said, "Mother."


Cathern replied in a mocking tone, "Daughter."


Beth rolled her eyes, "Mother, how do you expect me to answer you without being able to look up my answer?"


Cathern replied, "Well daughter, I would expect you to remember what you are reading without having to look it up. I mean, it should be memorable. How can you not remember the book on your nightstand?"


Beth smirked, "Book? Mom, paper, and plastic are dead… And ruining the environment. I read everything, using my phone and eBooks."


Cathern put her hands on her hips in a disapproving mom pose, "Bethany, you are trying to change the subject. If it's something you don't want me to know, then tell me now before I find out on my own, and you find yourself grounded."


Beth rolled her eyes, "I don't want to write about vampires or teenage drama."


Cathern looked at Beth's phone, "Twilight again? You know there are plenty of other books out there."


Beth took her phone away, "I haven't finished it yet."


Cathern replied, "But you've watched every one of the movies multiple times."


Beth looked at her phone, "Yes, but the books are different, less awkward staring and less Stewart. I want to do something different."


Cathern realized she was on the edge of getting angry for no reason.


She said, "They say you should write about what you know."


Beth rolled her eyes, "Yes, but a story on homework and dance class would be boring. I don't have a life worth writing about. I'm not allowed to do anything fun. Woo a story about tenth-grade Trigonometry, how exciting."


Cathern rolled her eyes, "Bethany, we are not going back into the dating thing again, you are not allowed to date until you can drive yourself home."


The room went silent for more than a few uncomfortable seconds.


Beth finally said, "OK, whatever. I don't care about that anyway. I just don't want to write about something stupid or boring."


Cathern looked back to the dinner she had just started hoping to find a way back.


She asked, "How about Sci-Fi, your father has all those Sci-Fi books and movies?"


Beth replied, "I don't care about all that Mister Spock on the bridge of the Millennial Falcon fighting the Jedi over the Matrix crap."


Cathern did her best to fight back a laugh, "Please say that again when your father gets home."


Beth smiled, "I guess I could write about going on my first date?"


Cathern closed her eyes, "Yes, you could as long as this story can wait until you're sixteen."


Beth, in an exacerbated tone said, "Mother."


Cathern replied in a mocking tone, "Daughter."


Cathern said, "You could write about your family, how your grandfather… or his father…maybe your grandmother and how she went to college."


Beth said, "Yeah, for about a month before she got married and stopped living. Mom face it, we are boring. The most exciting thing to ever happen to our family was the day you almost got on a jury, almost."


Cathern put her hands back on her hips, "young lady, there is plenty of things you don't know about your father and me… Stories that would keep you awake at night wonder just who we really are."


Beth smirked, "If you mean the pot, we already know all about that… I mean, really mom, you still have your pipe up in your room in your memory box. Let's face it Mother, both you and dad haven't done anything interesting or unplanned since you got married a thousand years ago."


Cathern said, "Not everything was planned. Let's just say there's a reason your brother's name is Brandon Thomas as in broken Trojan."


Beth made a disgusted face, "Mom, I don't want to know about that."


Cathern looked to the door, wondering where Brandon was.


She said, "don't tell your brother I said that. He's already angry about that whole videogame thing."


Beth thought about what she just learned.


She asked, "Wait, does my name workout to be broken condom?"


The kitchen went silent for a long second.


Beth finally broke the silence, "OK, whatever, I wish I could forget about it, and none of this helps me find a story."


Cathern said, "You could do something topical, or I don't know horror?"


Beth looked away, "Topical can be hard, the whole identity politics thing makes it hard to write about something you're not… I can't write about being African American or LGBT, or I don't know. It's hard to write when there are so many things you're not allowed to write about. I mean, could you imagine if some old white guy were to write about us… I mean really, that would be terrible."


Cathern said, "There would be no fiction if people only write about their daily lives and what they know."


Beth quickly snapped back, "Then that whole write about what you know thing is garbage. I mean, think about just how messed up Stephen King's life would be if all his stories were based on his life."


Both Beth and Cathern looked at each other for a second, and together they broke out in laughter.


Cathern said, "Beth, I know you can do anything you want if you are willing to put in the work. Find a story that excites you no matter what genre it is and write about it. Don't let others tell you what to do… Unless that other is me because I still get to tell you what to do."


Cathern went back to fixing dinner, leaving Beth at her laptop. Beth watched her mother as she made her quash noodles. Cathern was slowly turning her family into vegetarians one meal at a time without coming out and declaring them to be vegans. Beth looked to her laptop and typed, "The Accidental Vegan."

Question from Me

© 2020 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron

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