I’ve been buried in a creative writing program the last six months and had fun playing with a vignette where I tried out a male voice in the style of Nabakov. Ha! Thought I’d share:
The summer I turned thirteen, I transitioned from boyhood during a car ride with my grandparents, my transport a dung brown ’77 Oldsmobile with stained seats and the inescapable scent of life gone stale. Papa pontificated from behind the wheel, musing on the mystical fate that led some people to fortune and others to struggle. Nana sat on the passenger side, gazing out the window, which she had cracked at the top to receive her exhalations of cigarette smoke.
“Slow down, Rob,” she interjected, showing rare interest in her surroundings, or maybe she wanted a reprieve from her husband’s tyrannical introspection. “I want to see the yards.”
The car itself reflected our social station. It was used, purchased from someone affluent we badly wished to emulate, someone from a posh neighborhood such as we were visiting that afternoon. An undiagnosed mechanical click announced our presence as we progressed, compelling a nervous cadence to Papa’s speech. “Goddamn engine,” he muttered. “Not like I need more problems.” He resumed his sermon on the valor of the oppressed poor over – and here he indicated the palaces around us – “those greedy bastards who take from the rest of us.”
“Slower, Rob,” Nana insisted. “What do you think of that curved walkway?” Our pace became a crawl.
My independent experiences convinced me I was better than all this. I was aware, for example, of the unquantifiable salience of the rock band, Rush; and had achieved mastery in “Asteroids” and “Pac-Man.” Why should I, with such worldliness, suffer the tired imprecations of those who were bitter and old? I turned away to consult my own reveries.
I imagined living in the white Mediterranean on the corner. I would have my own room and plenty of quarters for the arcade. I would own a better bike and ditch my paper route. The curtains parted and Debbie Bristol from school stared at me from the other side.
“Drive away,” I whispered desperately.
“Stop the car,” Nana ordered, and our clicking was like a rainfall of anvils sent from above to crush me. Debbie raised her hand and mouthed, “Hi.” I wanted badly to disappear, to not be seen gawking from a poorly maintained vehicle in a neighborhood we clearly didn’t belong. I composed my face to reflect indifference, but Papa’s and Nana’s expressions revealed resentment, as well as naked, burning want.
Thus I was caught, not for how I wished to appear, but as I actually was, my life in vivid dissection before a girl I liked.
“Who is she?” Nana asked, her sharp stare reflected in the mirror on her visor.
I half heard her, absorbed as I was in an epiphany regarding my identity, and who I might be ten or twenty years from now to a girl like Debbie. I was heartbroken over my insufficiencies, over the delta between my current state and the man I would have to become, but I waved back. “She’s just a girl from school,” I said.