★ ★ ★ ★
‘Made by a Lesbian’
I just ate wonton soup but now I smell rice—starchy fluffy white rice—from the kitchen. The server doesn’t seem to want to take my bill and my credit card to the register. Oh, he has a machine that he can carry with him. How clever. I need to leave before I order some white rice.
Now I’m at the coffee shop. This café has white chocolate dicks in its pastry display case. One giant one and many other little ones, like a papa dick and all his illegitimate baby children. The chalked sign for the dicks says, “Made by a Lesbian.” I order a latte and a bread pudding, though I am tempted by the chocolate dicks. I’m waiting for my lover to text me back. He lives in a different city, a different state. I don’t see him very often. Partly because he doesn’t exist.
Actually, I’m waiting for my kid to swim her ass off. After the soup and coffee, I still have fifty-five minutes to wait until practice ends. This morning, in the car on the way to school, I asked her what she thought of her brother. Her brother has been dead for about fourteen years. I recognize the inappropriateness of this question, especially in the morning, but sometimes, I just need to know. Sometimes I want to talk about stuff other than homework—real stuff.
I have to take this kid to her dad’s tonight for the mid-week visit. Per the divorce decree, he should pick her up and drop her off for their dinner, but I guess I’m nice that way. I guess.
Now I’m listening to this audio book in the car, waiting in the parking lot of the city pool. The narrator speaks for the deceased author: You are just writing, writing along and then bam!, you’re writing about something else entirely. That bam! is like my life. Last year I was married, now I’m not. Fourteen years ago—but let’s not dredge up the past. I don’t feel like talking now.
My lover finally texted back. He said, “There you are!” like he’d been waiting for me, but I doubt that’s true. I guess I just sort of want him to want me. Like the song. I guess.
One night in a downtown dive bar a girl gave me her number on a cocktail napkin. “But I’m not a lesbian,” I almost said. I almost said, “But can’t we just be friends?” In truth, I took her number, tucked it into my purse. The next morning when I woke, I told my daughter, my other older daughter, about getting a girl’s number. Again, somewhat inappropriate, I know, but I live and I breathe too, don’t I?
I only ate one square of bread pudding, though the server brought me three on a long white rectangular plate. Before I left the café, I got a box for the rest. Two kids, two puddings. Hope they like them.
Courtney Harler lives, writes, and teaches in Las Vegas, Nevada. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada University, where she received the Two Pines Award for Outstanding Creative Work. She has been honored to receive additional support from Writing By Writers, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and the Nevada Arts Council. Courtney’s work has been published worldwide, and a full list of her publications and related awards can be found at courtneyharler.wordpress.com.
Thanks to all who read this far! Please leave a comment. Would love your feedback!
This is f-ing perfect, precise, yet expansive writing, like the aromas fraying off the dishes, causing us to imagine, to savor, to desire more of the narrator’s life. The delicate offering – what we wish we could know, what we are poignantly, perhaps even protectively shielded from knowing – is, like the two squares of bread pudding left on the plate, an act of generosity and grace. The kind a parent understands, that comes from life’s heave of joy and suffering, loss and longing, sacrifice and a cautious but implacable urge for renewal. The transition – or is it a return? – from parenthood to selfhood, to shared adulthood with our growing children, is a delicate, even painful process. But for the artist, it’s a necessary, poetic urge toward honesty. Toward letting our hesitant spoon crack the glaze of our life.
Thanks, David! So glad you enjoyed it!