Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.
I ran into Diane at CVS. When we were in high school, she had played Elaine Harper to my Mortimer Brewster in the annual production of Arsenic And Old Lace. Arsenic And Old Lace was performed yearly at my school. The first production, in the early 1970s, was so wildly popular that people drove in from all over the state to see it. Just one of those lightning in a bottle things. The head of the theater department, Mr. Paul, decided to perform it every year.
Mr. Paul loved Diane. He made sure she was written up in all the local papers. He took her out to dinner with his friends. He wrote recommendations to colleges for her, and then burst into tears when she attempted to enroll at Colgate. For three years after her graduation, Mr. Paul insisted she continue playing Elaine. She was 21 years old, playing opposite a 15 year old Mortimer. Me.
Mr. Paul was less excited about me and my Mortimer. He wanted Aaron Reilly from the basketball team, originally, but that got nixed for some reason. I was second string. He didn’t give me any direction, so I watched the movie constantly and just based my performance on Cary Grant’s.
During rehearsals, when Diane would give a certain line reading, Mr. Paul would stop everything and ask her to repeat the brilliant interpretation, sometimes in front of people he had grabbed from the hallway specifically to appreciate her talent.
Diane was shy, at first. Later, she learned how to pretend to be shy.
Mr. Paul eventually got fired. No more Arsenic And Old Lace. He moved up to Quebec and works at a hotel.
Diane is an office manager at a college. Has been since 1991.
I’m a fucking astronaut.