Gee’s Story

I am hesitant to post this here. This is a story about being an essential worker with mental illness. Although it is set in a grocery store, it doesn’t reflect my personal experience working at my job. This is fiction, and not intended to be taken seriously. I love my coworkers and I am very, very grateful to be working right now with everything going on in the world. With that being said, read on!

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I’ve shared a lot of my nonfiction here, but you may not know that I also write poetry and fiction. In the spirit of shameless self-promotion, I thought I’d share some of my other genres here.

This is a short story called “Shopping” that I wrote for my senior creative writing class when I was in high school. The assignment was relatively simple: write a 1-4 page short story about anything except suicide, drugs, or romance. These caveats existed because my teacher was tired of reading depressing, cliche stories. While my story has a romantic element, it met the parameters, and my teacher encouraged me to submit it for publication. It appeared in the print edition of Teen Ink, and won that month’s fiction contest. (Teen Ink is a great publication for young writers, however, be warned of their copyright guidelines. Taken from their submissions page:  All materials submitted become the property of Teen Ink. By submitting your work to us, you are giving Teen Ink and its partners, affiliates, and licensees the non-exclusive right to publish your work in any format, including print, electronic, and online media. However, all individual contributors to Teen Ink retain the right to submit their work for non-exclusive publication elsewhere, and you have our permission to do so. Teen Ink is copyrighted by the Young Authors Foundation, Inc.)

“Vacation” and “Change of Hands” also appeared in Teen Ink’s print edition. I wrote them during my sophomore and junior years of high school, respectively. Looking back on them, they seem a bit goofy, but they represent important parts in my life and my development as a writer. When I wrote “Vacation,” I had just picked up a copy of Charles Bukowski’s You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense one of my favorite anthologies of all time. Bukowski had a big influence on my poetry, and my copies of his books are well-loved. “Change of Hands” was my first formal piece of writing that reflected how I was questioning my sexuality. At the time, I was confused and ashamed, but today I am happy to report that I am out and proud.

“Silent Mode” was the first piece of writing I ever had published. It appeared in Crashtest Magazine, a wonderful student-run online publication. I wrote this poem during the fall of my senior year of high school, which was a rough time. I had a soul-consuming crush on my friend and coworker, who shall remain nameless. (You know who you are.) I misinterpreted his friendship for flirtation, and spent a solid six months infatuated with him. The culmination of our non-relationship was this poem. The night I wrote it, I told him my true feelings for him–over text. I waited an agonizing four and a half hours for him to text me back and very kindly say he wasn’t interested. I was crushed, but eventually bounced back. A few months later, I received an email that this poem was being published, so I guess something good did come out of it in the end.

And finally, for your reading pleasure, here is an excerpt from a short story I wrote titled “Animals.” It’s based loosely on my experiences with Zach. I hope to have it published soon.

“Hey, little sister!” Connor called to me. My brother was still in the house making lemonade, so he wasn’t there to glare at Connor for including me in the conversation. I barely heard his voice anymore over the allure of his rippled body. His muscles were hardened and tanned, and his hair was lighter every day. There wasn’t a single part of his body I couldn’t admire. Even his teeth were beautiful.

On the other side of the pool sat a beautiful girl made of colors. Her hair was a color of red I’d never seen before, like the inside of an orange peel, strawberries, and a sunset. She wore a blue bikini, and her nails were a pearly pink. She looked like the kind of fruit that would be just the right thing to eat on a day as hot as this, but she was too pretty to devour. “Hey, Karli! I’m Carly!” Her lips were like dancers. She laughed.

“Hi, Carly,” I said.

“Karli, this is my girlfriend, Carly,” Connor said.

“Oh my God, there’s so many Carlys!” Carly laughed. She tipped her head back, and the water in her hair seemed to sparkle. I imaged the entire rainbow was contained in there. I could see colors radiating from her, and she wore them all perfectly. I saw her colors leaking into Connor’s fingertips, bleeding into his skin and staining him. They were beautiful together. I imagined them as the sun-catcher that hung in our kitchen window, filling the room with rainbows and light while I stood stupefied, wondering why I couldn’t feel such vivid shades.

“This is my girlfriend Carly.” I wanted to sink to the bottom of the pool.