As everyone leaves the cafeteria at the end of the session, Patch struggles with the baby bear.

“Wait guys,” he says, dodging the bear’s small but lethal paws. “What the hell am I supposed to do with this thing?”

“You conjured it up,” Tooth says over his shoulder. “You need to take care of it.”

“What do baby bears even eat?” Patch says, to no reply.

Annie walks with me through the grammar school hallway, bucket in hand.

“So did the Celtics end up winning the Championship?” she says.

I squirm at the question. “That’s not important,” I say.

“Ah,” she says, intuiting the answer. “Sorry.”

“I told you, not important,” I say.

“You want to know how many times I filled this up because I literally can’t stomach losing?” she says, showing me the bucket. “Of course it’s important.”

I grimace at the bucket.

“It might just be easier to carry around sick bags, you know,” I say.

“No,” she says. “I refuse to make my life more tolerable. This bucket is heavy and awkward, and getting rid of it would mean I’m willing to live with my problem and just manage it. But I’m not willing to do that. Only when I’m better do I get rid of the bucket.”

“So is it any kind of losing that makes you sick?” I say. “Or is it just when you think of your daughter’s-”

Annie puts up an open hand. “Don’t talk about that,” she says, lowering her face into the bucket.

I sour at Annie’s predicament, and mine.

“Why do we put ourselves through this?” I say. “It’s not healthy to care so much.”
Annie pulls her face out of the bucket.

“I know,” she says. “I think that’s why I’m here – to find someone who cares as much as I do. Then when I see how pathetic they are, I can snap out of this funk. That’s how my dad quit drinking. He was a designated driver at a party once, saw how stupid everyone around him was acting, and he quit that day.”

“So you think I’m pathetic?” I say.

Annie shrugs. “I’ll wait for you to finish your story.” She wags the bucket at me. “If this thing disappears, you’ll have your answer.”

“Fair enough,” I say.

Back at home, Shannon rustles as I crawl into bed.

“How was the session?” she says.

“Fine,” I say.

“I had a nightmare,” she says, rubbing her head. “We were camping, and I was being attacked by a bear.”

“A big one, or just a baby?” I say.

“Why do you ask?”

“No reason,” I say. “Good night.”

After a thoughtful pause, Shannon turns her back.

“Good night,” she says.

************

Links:
Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin, Chapter 14: Game 1, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?, Chapters 16 - 17, Chapter 18: Game 2: Great White, Chapter 19: Pickle, Chapter 20: Marty McFly, Chapter 21 / 22: standard deviation, all the pretty flowers, Chapter 23: Game 3: Black Hills, Chapter 24: Twister, Chapter 25: Game 4, Chapter 26: Patriotic Agony, Chapter 27: Locusts, Chapter 28: skype, Chapter 29: Click, Chapter 30: Superman, Chapter 30: Ass Brunch Chapter 32: Mammoth, Chapter 33: Pathetic, Chapter 34: Purple and Gold, Chapter 35: Chowdah, Chapter 36: Mastermind

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5 Comments:
Anonymous JJ said...
ET, I'm dying to know whether she saw a big bear or a baby bear in her dream. Or maybe she just saw Patch who looks like a bear...

Blogger Wormboy said...
@ JJ: Dunno man. Sometimes its better just to leave it unsaid. Heightens dramatic tension.


ET: "I sour at Annie’s predicament, and mine."

I'm struggling with "sour at" as a verb here. Awkward construction.

Otherwise, great stuff! Short, Dan Brown-ish chapters, but that's OK.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
JJ - Agree with Worm. No reveal on the bear is more effective. But if it's killin' ya, let's make it Patch in a bear suit.

Worm -

I like how you're paying attention, and appreciate the thoughts.

This could have been something like: "I don a sour expression at..." but I was looking for something more internalized...

or could be "I sour at the thought of..."

I'm kind of fond of the brevity of this as is, where the reader fills in a bit, but suggestions for alternate wording are welcome.

The closest definition for "sour":

–verb (used without object)

to become bitter, disillusioned, or disinterested:
I guess I soured when I learned he was married.
My loyalty soured after his last book.


I have no problem being compared to Dan Brown. I like his stuff, and it's fairly popular, near as I can tell...;) While I do in retrospect think I'd have beefed up a few chapters a bit given the one-a-day format, I do like to keep things moving along.

ET

Blogger lordhenry said...
I really hope this isn't over, I'm looking forward to the a$$holery of the final two games. Game 7 is going to drive this guy insane....
Not bad, ET.....

Blogger Evil Ted said...
We're at chapter 32 of 50, lordhenry...didya really think I'd skip the rest of the series?...before all hell breaks loose?

Get ready.

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