Sunrise Story #60

This is the 60th installment of a 100-day challenge to write a new vignette every morning.

Everyone was curious about the large white blimp that appeared overnight. Katy watched them as they buzzed around below it and pointed and chattered. They reminded her of ants that had just found a half-chewed gummy bear.

She knew she shouldn’t judge them; she knew she’d probably do the same if she didn’t know any better. These villagers had never seen anything but birds fly through the air—and they wouldn’t have for another few decades if not for Rachel’s narcissism.

Katy rolled her eyes as her sister appeared on the deck of the blimp. Leaning over the railing, Rachel waved and shouted something that neither Katy nor the villagers understood. They all remained that way for the better part of 10 minutes, and then, slowly, the crowd dispersed.

Rachel descended a rope ladder and greeted Katy with a self-satisfied grin. “Did you see me up there?”

“I saw.”

Rachel crossed her arms. “Well?”

“Well what?”

“Well, aren’t you going to say something? I just invented air travel. Me! I did it. I bet you didn’t think I could.”

“You’re an engineer, Rachel. Of course you could figure it out.”

“But I didn’t have any of the—Are you even a little bit impressed?”

“What’s there to—You know, you’ve probably thrown everything in the present all out of whack now. These people weren’t supposed to develop this type of air travel for another 37 years.”

“Oh, here we go again,” Rachel said. “You’ve got your fancy degree and I’m just some screwup, right?”

Their bickering preoccupied them so completely that they didn’t notice the child beginning to scamper up the ladder.


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Sunrise Story #59

This is the 59th installment of a 100-day challenge to write a new vignette every morning.

Potato wedges probably are not best for relationships. I have been informed that they are not, in fact, french fries.

I’m right back in the drive-thru line—because I’m a good boyfriend, right? My car’s upholstery still smells like burgers, and I’m hoping there’s been a shift change since my last trip.

There hasn’t been. I see the same employee at the window. I wish I could hide behind sunglasses, but it’s nearly midnight. That’d definitely draw more attention. I try to melt into the upholstery of my seat, but it’s having none of my nonsense.

So, instead, I look directly at the employee and place my new order: french fries, french fries, and french fries.

“Yeah.” The employee nods knowingly. “The potato wedges aren’t any good.”


I guess it’s fitting that my Thanksgiving post is about potatoes, right?
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Sunrise Story #58

This is the 58th installment of a 100-day challenge to write a new vignette every morning.

His ultimate dream fantasy consisted of being content and sleeping eight hours in a row. Instead, Jeremy got a solid four hours each night, maybe, and he felt increasingly leaden with every week that passed. He could blame it on long hours at work. He could blame it on the new baby. Hell, he could even blame it on the screaming cat, who chose 4 a.m. as her simultaneous choir practice and cardio time.

He could blame all of them, but he wouldn’t.

Really, it was all those late-night rituals. Bozreth failed again and again, but he succeeded in keeping Jeremy awake. Maybe that was the whole point, Jeremy thought sometimes as he stared into the mirror way too long. There’d be no brutality, just exhaustion that would win out in the end.

Bozreth didn’t seem smart enough for all that, though. Every night, he appeared on Jeremy’s chest at midnight and dragged him to the backyard. There, Bozreth spent hours drawing symbols and reciting incantations and positioning Jeremy here and there on the deck.

Jeremy had screamed the first night. A lot. But no one seemed to hear him, so he gave that up pretty quickly. By now, all that remained was confusion about what could possibly make him, specifically, worth all the fuss. He could only imagine it was some sort of reverse George-Bailey-and-Clarence situation. Bozreth needed to earn his horns, so Jeremy needed to die or be sent to hell or whatever.

At least, that’s the story Jeremy told himself; Bozreth never spoke a word to him.

“You forgot the pig ear this time,” Jeremy said wearily. He held his head in his hands and willed himself to sleep sitting up—but no luck.

Muttering to himself, Bozreth rummaged in his bag.

“And the radishes.” Jeremy closed his eyes and exhaled. “Don’t forget the radishes.”


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Sunrise Story #57

This is the 57th installment of a 100-day challenge to write a new vignette every morning.

Shingle color was not something the couple had ever talked about. They’d talked about kids—neither of them wanted any. They’d talked about the trade-offs between cities and suburbs. They’d even talked about preferred thermostat settings.

But they hadn’t thought to discuss shingle color until they trailed behind their realtor on the way to the fourth house of the day.

Jordan looked out straight over the steering wheel as Alex sputtered: “Wh-What? Blue?”

“Like the sky,” Jordan replied simply, as if relaying the title of a book.

At a red light, they looked at each other and realized they were about to have the most ridiculous argument of their four-year relationship.


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Sunrise Story #56

This is the 56th installment of a 100-day challenge to write a new vignette every morning.

He picked up trash in his spare time to dump in his neighbor’s yard. A “Big Gulp” cup, a water bottle, an old bag of chips—Lenny placed today’s haul in the bin next to his kitchen counter. He’d dump it all once it was full enough to merit creeping out at 2 a.m.

Eight more days passed before the trash bubbled up to the top of the bin. Lenny stood back to admire his work—and then he waited. By the time he dragged the bin onto Jenkins’s lawn, drowsiness blurred his vision. He definitely wasn’t a teenager anymore; staying up past midnight took all his willpower.

But he did it, again and again, because the litterbug needed to learn. Lenny thought of it this way: He taught 9th-grade biology by day and manners by night.

“It happened again,” Jenkins told him when they crossed paths the next morning. He stood on his lawn with a broom and dustpan. Even after months of this, he still hadn’t found a better system for cleaning up, and that only left Lenny feeling validated in his vigilantism. Clearly, the man took his sweet time learning things.

Lenny pursed his lips as he opened his car door. “Must be some neighborhood kids. Well, Jenkins, I wish I could stick around to help you, but I’ve got a meeting this morning.”


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Sunrise Story #55

This is the 55th installment of a 100-day challenge to write a new vignette every morning.

All she wanted was the answer, but she had no idea how much she would hate it.

“No” was the short of it. “Dear Vanessa, we regret to inform you…” was the long of it.

Vanessa sat in the center of her bed, staring at the email. She read the opening lines again and again, but they never changed. With seven sentences, they’d derailed her life. There’d be no Boston Symphony Orchestra if there was no Berklee. What would she do now? Become a realtor, marry some guy from her history class, pop out four kids, and stay in Douglas forever? Live on autopilot until the sweet release of retirement let her pick up a violin again?

The very idea of it pulled tears from her eyes. She slammed her laptop closed, then winced. Inhaling through gritted teeth, she peeked at the screen—still intact.

She opened her laptop and stared at the email again. We regret to inform you

Her parents had considered her foolish for just applying to the one school. They hadn’t told her that, of course, but she’d seen it in their eyes. Oh, just the one school? She didn’t know how to tell them, so she clicked the “forward” button and typed their email addresses.

Send.

She reached for her violin case.


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Sunrise Story #54

This is the 54th installment of a 100-day challenge to write a new vignette every morning.

She says she has the ability to hear the soundtrack of your life. I say she’s full of shit.

She told me “It’s a Small World” is on my life’s soundtrack. Who even does that? I didn’t speak for a solid three minutes after she said that because I couldn’t fathom that I’d just received the worst insult known to humankind. Schoolyard bullies, it’s time to hang up your hats. It’s done. The most hurtful statement has been found, and now you can rest.

Every time I see an acquaintance in an unlikely place and think, even fleetingly, “Huh, small world,” I want to hunt her down and fill her car with mayonnaise.

I don’t need to hunt her down, though. She’s standing right there in aisle six, looking at different condiments. Mayonnaise, maybe. It really is a small world.


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Sunrise Story #53

This is the 53rd installment of a 100-day challenge to write a new vignette every morning.

I may struggle with geography, but I’m sure I’m somewhere around here. The map shows a chain of islands leading away from the mainland, and I figure I’m on one of them. We went down before I even dozed off, so we couldn’t have traveled far. I’m on one of these islands. I have to be.

And that’s what I told the person on the other end of the radio. I don’t know if they heard me, though. They kept cutting in and out, saying nonsense, and then they were gone.

I found myself alone again as the sun abandoned me for the third time. I watched it sink behind the treetops and held my aching stomach.

I devoured the remains of the plane snack cart yesterday. I should’ve rationed that food—I know I should have—but I wasn’t thinking clearly.

Now I’m sitting under the stars wishing one was a UFO just so I’d have a ride back home.


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Sunrise Story #52

This is the 52nd installment of a 100-day challenge to write a new vignette every morning.

It’s not often you find a soggy banana on the street—but when you do, Murphy’s Law dictates you’ll step on it. Smushed banana will spread out and up the sides of your brand-new shoes, which the murky puddles have already wrecked. You might cry.

I might’ve cried. Can you blame me? The day started with me putting on a snazzy new outfit and arriving at the office for the first day of my new job. Now that outfit is sopping wet, I’m once again unemployed, and there’s banana on my shoe. Yes, I cried. Right there. On the street. Like a baby with mushed-up banana on its bib.

Most people passed by without acknowledging me. A few tried to offer help, but that only made me cry harder. One yelled at me to get out of the way.

I’m sitting on the curb now waiting for my ex to pick me up—yes, somehow, he was the only one I could call.

I need to make some changes in my life.


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Sunrise Story #51

This is the 51st installment of a 100-day challenge to write a new vignette every morning.
2020 is stressful. Here, have something gentle:

Twin 4-month-olds slept in the shade of the palm tree while the mother tanned in the sun. She relished this rare moment of quiet. Was this the first time she could hear herself think in four months?

She stirred her lemonade and listened to a dove somewhere overhead. The palm fronds rustled as a breeze rippled through them. It stirred her neighbor’s wind chimes, too, and carried the gentle clinking over the fence and all the way to her. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

This is what it had all been for. All the desperately cold nights. All the missteps and heartbreak. All the wandering and searching. It had all led up to this moment—sitting quietly beneath a tree with the two people she loved most in the world.


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