Unintended Consequences by Linda Simoni-Wastila

You sit there bleary-eyed morning tired and coffee growing cold. The headlines blur. Your mother’s chitter-chatter segues into wall-paper and you try to remember where you parked the car, whether it’s pulled in nice and tight in the garage or whether you left it curbside, afraid the garage door lifting at god-knows-when would wake mom, but you can’t remember, you don’t remember much of anything, not driving, not stumbling up the stairs, not sleeping. Nothing.

But you remember this: mom already on the couch with her Scotch and week’s worth of Tivo, she assumes you’re with Brad and Mac, and you are, but not at the movies, you’re chugging beer and smoking blunts in Lorraine’s basement while you listen to Zeppelin, Morrison, Hendrix, the stuff your mom plays when she feels old, and for the first time all week you stop worrying how you bombed AP biology and how you missed the Berkeley deadline and what the hell you’ll do about college, you don’t have the dough for Stanford but damn if you’ll go to San Jose State, and then Lorraine pulls you from the couch, so alive, warm, so smiley, and you pile into your Mercury and barrel down the street, windows down, the air smells like sea, the night goes forever.

The milk smell makes you nauseous. Your mom says, “Pity about Stacie, some drunk ran over her dog last night,” and you remember the crunching sound when you took the corner at Beloit and Anderson, tires squealing.


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16 responses to “Unintended Consequences by Linda Simoni-Wastila

  1. guy

    I missed the Berkeley deadline; listened to Zeppelin, Hendrix, Jim-but-never-ever-Van; but i didn’t run over no dog! Blame it on Van.

  2. Oh, the poor puppy! I want to smack the narrator!

  3. Actually, meant main character. Oops. :)

  4. As a mother, this piece terrifies me! Not so much the missed deadline or college fees (gulp) but the fine line between success and disaster. Good piece, very real. Very scary.

    • Yep, the mother in me resonates with this scenario, too. It is so easy to make a poor choice and change your future. I like exploring the fulcrums of those choices. Thanks for reading Martha! Peace…

  5. Well laid out and paced, Linda. I really like how you maintained the tension and then presented us with the end result that actually changed both characters for the reader right there.

  6. Lou

    Just brilliant, the way you bore down on this moment which says so much about regret, and youth.

    • Thanks Lou! I think we’ve all been at a similar point once, but some seem to wiggle out unscathed while others (my protag?) teeter into disaster. peace…

  7. John Riley

    You’ve really captured that perverse joy of giving up. Love the ending–how it hints at future tragedy.

  8. Tina Barry

    Yikes! This is so real. I think the second person voice works well too–the character isn’t ready to assume the responsibility of “I”.

  9. stephen

    nice. i have an 18 year old nephew. this feels like peering into his skull. except the classic rawk would be replaced with commercial hip-hop. but that moment of breaking away from what’s happening situationally and shifting back into the immediate. then staying there. yikes.

    lovely, long, curious compartmentalized sentences.

  10. Pingback: Week #51 – Unintended Consequences | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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