Short Story – The Blue Ribbon by Paula Lopez

I am trying something new today. I took a creative writing class through University of California Berkeley and wrote several pieces during the course.

Today, I am putting up part 1 of a short story I wrote several years ago and polished while taking the Berkeley class. I will post the remaining four parts over the next few days.

I hope you enjoy the short story.

Sylvie takes a deep breath and walks into the kitchen where her mom is baking chocolate chip cookies. Her dad is sitting at the counter with a tall glass of milk, drumming his fingers on the marble countertop waiting for the first batch to be pulled from the oven. The smell of melting chocolate is intoxicating.

“Mommm, Dad, can I talk to you?” Damn, Sylvie thinks, I didn’t mean for my voice to crack like that.

Sylvie’s mom turns around; cookie dough sitting on the silver spoon looking precarious and about to fall on the floor. Her dad glances in her direction.

“Sure, honey. Oh, I spoke with Margery about a caravan to Harvard so we can take all you girls at one time. I’m so excited you will be starting in a few months and . . .”

Tears begin to form, and as Sylvie steps forward, she swipes them away before her parents notice.

“Mom, stop. Please. I know I really ought to go away to college. I mean, I was excited about being accepted to Harvard, and all my hard work paid off, but I cannot and will not leave Carl.” Sylvie’s feet pound against the tile floor as she begins to pace back and forth. She fights back a sob. “He needs me, and in a way, I need him.”

“What do you mean?” her mother starts.

“Sylvie, what the hell? We’ve talked about this. Your future is going to college, getting your law degree, and working with me at Myers and Myers,” her dad barks out.

“Jim,” her mom says as she shakes her head at him.

Sylvie allows the tears to fall and says to her parents, “Let me speak and get this out. I know people will say that I’m using him as an excuse because I’m scared to go. I know I’m smart and can handle the work and the pressure. But feck them all.” Nervous sweat makes Sylvie’s bangs stick to her forehead.

“I want to do what I feel inside my heart. I don’t want to follow in your footsteps,” she looks at her father, “and be a lawyer. Sitting in an office, writing briefs, going to court, arguing for such and such corporation to be allowed to block that pharmaceutical company from divulging the side effects. That’s not me.” Sylvie stops pacing and wraps her arms around her waist.

“What brings me joy is being around kids and animals. I want to raise therapy dogs to help people and help children and not be like Carl’s overworked social worker who just goes through the motions of writing her reports.”

“Sylvie, I know you want the best for Carl, but we will take care of him. Your job is to go to college.”

“I’m NOT going, Mom. I am going to intern at the animal shelter and volunteer at that children’s center downtown. I already spoke with the director, and I can do a few hours a week to help the kids with art projects after school.”

The scrapping of the stool screeches through the quietness, and her dad brushes past Sylvie and mutters, “I don’t believe this, Sylvie. What a damned waste.”

Sylvie sucks in a breath, and her mom places the spoon she had been holding back into the bowl. She wipes her hands on her yellow apron and takes a few tentative steps in Sylvie’s direction.

They stare at each other. Sylvie looks down and she is wracked by sobs. Her mother crosses from behind the kitchen counter and places her soft hands on Sylvie’s forearms. Sylvie stiffens at first, but then relaxes as she feels the gentleness of her mother’s embrace.

* * *

Stay tuned for part 2

Until next time, happy reading, and have a wonderful day.

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