1) Muse’s directive: “Write about someone who is pretending to be someone or something that he is not.”
My little brother Cal and I were best friends despite the fact that he was in the third grade, and I in the sixth. People were shyly jealous because Cal is cool. Not jock cool. Cal cool. He made his own genre, and kids were awestruck since most were just beginning to spell personality with an “I”.
The art museum is to blame for our schism. When Mom announced her plans that ill-fated Saturday morning over vegan pancakes, I stifled a groan and angled for a compromise.
“So can we go for ice cream after? Marble Slab’s right next door,“ I proffered casually, as if rebellion weren’t hinging on her answer.
I bit back the grin threatening to betray me when Mom’s face contorted into the grimace of one who’s just unwrapped a diaper to find dijon surprise. She thinks sugar is a gateway drug for cocaine. It turns out, drug addiction is a chance she’ll take if necessary to to impart a little culture in her children.
At the museum, I endured Cal’s meticulous analysis of every placard by imagining what the women with the pained expressions were saying to the exhibitionist cherubs. Mystery Science Theatre-style.
“Watch where you point that arrow. Have you seen him without that loincloth?”
“Whatever it takes, Cupid. This chastity belt is ridin’ up.”
I left willingly, eager for my sugar coma. Cal had to be evicted from the premises on threat of grounding. He was never himself again. He became…artistic.
Our grades share recess, but that Monday he didn’t meet me at the seesaws. I was obliged to wander around looking for him. I knew he wasn’t in detention. Teachers aren’t immune to Cal cool. I found him by the jungle gym and immediately wondered how hard it is to divorce your brother. Cal was on all fours, hobbling around in the grass with his nose to it. He snorted and grunted and pawed at the turf with hands that were curled into fists. With a tight hitch in his upper lip, he stretched his neck way out toward a dandelion. He emitted a sound that was like the mooing of a cow, except with that unique Cal-flare, that I was sure all the doggies in hearing range would be imitating by Wednesday. His tongue shot out of his mouth and curled, pink and limber, around the unsuspecting dandelion. He wrenched his head back, decapitating the weed without remorse. He chewed sloppily, emitting the loudest slurp-smack ever recorded in the 4th grade at Harper Middle. The occasion was second only to the soundtrack of the whole lunchroom on Spaghetti day.
With my face in my hands, I turned from the scene, resolving to use this disaster to illustrate for my Mother, for once and for all, the dangers of a diet free of dairy, and rich in culture.
My words fell on deaf ears, and so this story ends with my brother, fallen from grace and headed straight for drama club.
2) My current word count for my novel is: 13,646/30,000.
3) Muse’s next directive: “Write about a noise– or a silence– that won’t go away.”