and then it kinda went to a dark and twisty place. and i kinda liked it.

In all seriousness, taking this online writing class has been somewhat of a trip. For starters, the class is literally called “Fiction for Absolute Beginners“. Which is perfect for me, because when it comes to fiction, I am an absolute beginner. However, I’m at least 20 years younger than everyone else in my “class” – according to the introductions we were required to write – AND I would like to call BULLSHIT on the “absolute beginners” requirement of this class, because everyone else is writing things about “waves crashing over the rocks and washing my hopes and dreams out to sea” and “the light perfectly reflected the feelings she kept bottled up inside of her” and all this other ish. They talk about symmetry and symbolism and brevity and all of these other fancy writing terms, and I’m over here like – Um, my character just discovered that she’s quite similar to an avocado. I mean, that was a life-altering revelation  for her.  And then I wrote about a girl who woke up one morning and stepped in cat vomit. You know, just keeping it real over here, yo.

So then there was tonight’s assignment. We were supposed to find a picture of someone we don’t know – by celebrity status or otherwise. We were supposed to study the character and then spend 10 minutes or so just writing what that character might be thinking or feeling. After we did that, we could go back and edit – and the end goal was to have some kind of narrative or thought process that shared a sad or tragic story.

So naturally I read some of the stories my fellow “absolute beginner” classmates were writing and totally psyched myself out. I couldn’t think of anything. So then second-date guy (yes, that’s what we are calling him for the time being), who is also a sometimes-writer, suggested that I pick someone who I could diagnosis. You know, since I do that at work. He then suggested I write what a person with that diagnosis might be thinking or feeling.

I thought that was an excellent idea. So I googled “Picture of a depressed man” and decided on this one:

Annnnnnd then this story just kinda happened.
How was he ever going to tell her about Max? I mean, Jesus, he had only looked away for one second. Not even a second. A nano, fraction of a second. He wasn’t even sure it had been long enough for him to blink. And yet… it had still happened. She loved that damn dog. Probably more than she loved him.
He still couldn’t figure out exactly what had happened. He had rushed home from work so he could walk Max – so she would have more time for her writing. This was their new agreement, right? He would work less and help out around the house more so she could focus on her book. He was only trying to help. God knows he didn’t want to give her another reason to nag him. All they had been doing lately was fighting.
He knew as soon as he told her, she would be completely inconsolable. She would scream and cry and eventually get herself so worked up that she would bring up the thing. The thing that had started out as a twisted joke among his friends and he now tried desperately to forget.
“Hey Rick, anymore of your pets commit suicide lately?” someone would ask loudly over drinks at the crowded bar. Everyone would laugh. He used to think it was kind of funny too, until the day that Sally’s favorite hamster got loose and jumped down the kitchen sick at the exact moment he was running the garbage disposal. Suddenly, nothing was funny anymore.
Memories of every pet – and every pet death – he’d ever had haunted him. And now Max? Getting off his leash and running into oncoming traffic on the ONE DAY all year that he decided to take him for a walk?
He couldn’t ignore the truth anymore: He was toxic. Everything around him died. Houseplants, pets, love.
He knew what he needed to do now.

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