All posts tagged Betrayal

On not knowing.

Published July 17, 2012 by mandileighbean

In retrospect, today seems totally indescribable.  It wasn’t exactly busy, it wasn’t exactly boring, I cried really hard, I laughed really loud and I ate some good food.  Today just … was, I guess.  As a writer, one of the hazards of the job is that you look for deeper meaning and symbolism in EVERYTHING, absolutely everything.  When the meaning and/or symbolism is not easily found or discerned, I go into panic mode.  I feel restless, unsure about life, and suddenly quite overwhelmed by the enormity of the universe and existence.  I so desperately want for every single, solitary moment of my life to be filled with meaning – with excitement, drama, romance, mystery, intrigue, etc. that when it’s not, I feel empty and wasted.  Sometimes, I worry about whether or not I have bipolar disorder because my changes in mood and manic fits seem to fit the description.  Or is it just that I’m passionate, and should that be viewed as a negative thing?  I believe the stronger one reacts to a situation, the more that person is emotionally invested in the situation and has therefore developed a deep connection.  I want deep connections with others more than anything else, more than stable employment, riches and all material possessions.

Does that make me crazy?

To be honest, I had some difficulty composing tonight’s piece.  Maybe it’s because I’m not ready to look back on college with a sense of nostalgia because I’m anxious about moving forward.  Maybe it’s because I’m lazy.  Maybe it’s because I’m unmotivated, uninspired and selfish.

Maybe I just think too much.


PROMPT: “Four college bandmates who haven’t seen each other in years travel back to their former campus for a reunion.”

PIECE: Eric stood outside the ornate-looking double doors that served as the entrance to the so-called “ballroom” on campus.  He was rocking back and forth on his heels, in expensive shoes that pinched his toes and that had been purchased for this very occasion.  He had been so excited to see Tom, Ted and Joe; as he was driving up the coast of the Garden State, he had been reminiscing about old times and glory days.  He remembered the way his thin chest had swelled with pride when the four of them, cleverly named Quatrain of Pain, had played at Homecoming and the student body had embraced them and really liked their sound.  That night, beneath the lights in the Student Center that hung over the stage, Eric believed for the first time that his dream was attainable.  He could be rich and famous and followed by adoring fans.  Hell, after all, he had the girl.  He remembered looking down and into the crowd for that wide smile, and remembered wanting to vomit right then and there in front of everyone when he realized that smile was not meant for him.  In reality, Kelly had been smiling at Tom.  To make matters worse, Tom had been smiling right back; smiling and winking and shamelessly flirting with the one woman Eric had ever really and truly connected with.  The last time Eric and Tom had a conversation had been that night, and it had been brutal, just short of flying fists.  It had been the end of a friendship, the end of the band and the end of a dream.  Eric had watched Tom leave with Kelly, scowling even as he slipped an arm around her tiny waist.  He had been animatedly saying something and when Kelly looked back over her shoulder at Eric, Eric had wanted to die.  Taking a deep breath, Eric returned to the present and eyed the double doors with a real sense of trepidation.

On the other side of the door stood Tom and he was looking out at the crowd.  People with beaming, genuine smiles moved from table to table, mingling and catching up.  Tom shoved his hands in the front pockets of his khakis and remained where he was.  He had wanted to join in the frivolity, but something was holding him back, nastily whispering in his ear that he had no right to show up, not after what he had done to Eric and Ted and Joe.  He had ruined the band, ruined a shared dream and then systematically and swiftly cut them from his life.  When he walked in and had spotted Ted and Joe across the room, serving as the center of attention for a small crowd who were all laughing with their heads thrown back, he had started to walk over, smiling in spite of himself.  He had halted suddenly when he saw Kelly walking over.  The break-up had been apocalyptic; Kelly had undergone a procedure which ended a life Tom had helped her create, but never said anything to Tom about it until it was over.  Tom had shoved her hard, bruised her and said some harsh things he could never take back.  He stayed where he was, lonely and self-pitying.

Ted and Joe had made it out of college unscathed.  Sure, they had been upset when the band disbanded, but they had each other and so they survived.  After college, they had moved in together.  Ted worked at an engineering firm in the city and had just started dating a coworker.  Joe was playing music in local bars with different bands at night after doing custodial work at the local baseball stadium during the day.  He was planning to move out with his longtime girlfriend, but was waiting for the right moment to tell Ted.  For now, they would reminisce and have a good time and save all the complicated, messy bullshit for the morning.

On farewell food fights.

Published April 4, 2012 by mandileighbean

I had an interview today for a long-term maternity leave at the high school. I think I looked nice, and more importantly, I think the interview went very well. I thought the same thing the last three time though, so who knows? One teacher gave me advice on dressing more professionally, and how to wear my hair and whatnot, and I appreciated the kind words, but it made me feel insecure and icky. I debated not going to the baby shower after school today, but I knew that I had to and in retrospect, I am very glad that I did.

I went to dinner with an old friend tonight. We went to Hibachi, and I stuffed myself like a big, fat pig. My friend is going through a rough time, and I was glad I could talk to him about it.

I’m not crazy about today’s prompt, so you’ll have to let me know what you think.

THE PROMPT: “Retirement Party Food Fight”
After 40 years at the same job, you are finally ready to retire. Your coworkers throw you a party with cake and ice cream. Everything is going well until the end of the celebration when they ask you to speak. Instead of using this opportunity to thank everyone, you reveal a deep, dark secret about your boss that leads to a massive food fight.


I remember standing at the podium – an aged, cheap wooden contraption that had been at the school as long as I had been. Most of the faculty had gathered in the large cafeteria, with its harsh halogen lights burning overhead, and their asses were all going numb from the uncomfortable benches and chairs that students were only subjected to for thirty minutes. Inexpensive plastic plates holding remnants of ice cream cake that had my name plastered on it, with the words “Happy Retirement.” Forty years ago, I walked through the doors of the high school and my boobs were firmer and further above my waist, my smile displayed more of my real teeth and my hair was longer. It seemed like forever ago, and as I looked out at the faculty members in attendance, I realized that they were infants – children, toddlers, and babies. Not a single soul had been present for my first day on the job, save for one, and he was my boss.
Mr. Smith was only a few years older than me when I started as an English teacher for the 12th grade, but he was older enough for me to be impressed and intimidated. He was charismatic and charming, and he was married. But that didn’t seem to matter to me when he took me by the hand and kissed me near his car, or when we slept together after the teachers’ convention in Atlantic City. After the sex, and after the mystery and intrigue had vanished, we hadn’t seen each other socially. He stayed with his wife and had a family. We were young, optimistic, romantic and stupid – I convinced myself that was all it was, and was comfortable with our past. For forty years, I had let sleeping dogs lie but for some reason, in front of these strangers, I opened my mouth and said, “I’d like to thank Mr. Smith for the best sex I’ve ever had. And for giving me a job, I guess.” I offered an awkward smile stretching across my crooked mouth, and met only silence.
Then suddenly, from the back of the crowd that was facing me with open mouths, I heard a woman shout, “You pig!” I closed my eyes and braced for the impact, because I was sure she had thrown something. I hoped it was just a plastic cup, or maybe some plastic cutlery, but a small piece of me feared it might be the knife we had used to cut the cake. Nothing hit me though, and I remained unscathed, so I opened my eyes. The young woman in the back, the newest hire in the foreign language department, had thrown a full cup of diet soda at Mr. Smith. Her hands were trembling at her sides, so she clenched them into fists and breathed deeply through her nose like a raging bull. I wondered if I should clarify that I had slept with Mr. Smith a lifetime ago, but then Mrs. Radner, another English teacher, stepped between Mr. Smith and the young woman. She had a freshly cut slice of cake upon a plate in her palm. She faced Mr. Smith on steady feet, and demanded to know how many others he had conquered.  He looked down at his feet, mumbled something quietly and whatever it was, Radner did not find it satisfactory. Not caring for dignity, and mustering up all the anger and shame that she could, she shoved the cake into his face.
Several faculty members gasped and shuffled backward. It became eerily quiet and again I wondered if I should say something, explain myself perchance, but then an older math teacher entered the circle and faced Radner. The math teacher, Mrs. Northampton, had cake of her own and slammed it into Radner’s face, screeching that Mr. Smith deserved more respect as a supervisor and besides, Smith was in love with her, and would be leaving his wife. Radner’s best friend, Ms. Schue, dumped the bowl of pretzels over Northampton’s head and told her she was crazy. Soon, all sorts of female faculty members were throwing condiments, entrees, appetizers and desserts at one another, while the male members stood back to watch with goofy, juvenile smiles.
I felt responsible, but enjoyed my removed position, and so I very discreetly stepped off the podium and headed to the double doors to the right, which was far from the fray. I had my purse, coat and car keys, so I was good to go. It wasn’t exactly the note I had wanted to end on, but I felt satisfied that no one would ever forget the day I left those hallowed halls of education. I was smiling in spite of myself, but stopped when I saw the ever-popular Mr. Smith, sitting just inside the exit doors, wiping cake from his face. He looked to me, and he looked ridiculous – covered in cake and deflated; somehow smaller than he had been just moments ago. “Happy trails, Linda.”
“Good luck, Frank,” I said. Then I left the building.

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