Category Archives: master class

Master Class – Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be

Master Class #5 – Judy Blume’s “Tiger Eyes”

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be, but i don’t know. I never did like that it ended like that. I never did like her much, neither. I never did like myself much, for that matter.

But let’s but honest: doesn’t matter who liked who and whatever. It doesn’t matter. You know that when you finally figure out how it’s supposed to be, it’s too late. Too damned late, and ain’t nothin’ you can do about it.

I was in the fifth grade with her, and she was right keen on me. I got to talkin’ to her a lot, and I done something stupid. You know that kids will be kids and then there was that day out at recess when she fell, or maybe I pushed her to the ground, I don’t remember, but anyway she fell and I was laughing because I really liked her, you know how kids are. I was laughing and I was holding that dirt clod in my hand. I had pulled up a chunk of grass for no reason except I was bein’ a boy. I had it and I held it and some of it fell in her face on accident. Then Ray laughed and thought I did it on purpose and hit my hand and most of the rest of it fell in her mouth.

She never did talk to me again. I suppose I earned it.

And, well, would you know it, she turned out to be right pretty in high school. Then went and got knocked up by that guy in band that everyone liked, the guy that played like 4 instruments and had the funny lookin’ face. Don’t remember his name, but drove that old Beemer senior year and he knocked her up good.

Her Mee-Maw sent her away after that.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

I went on ahead and learned a thing or two about girls after that, mostly that you ain’t supposed to let on that you like them, or they aren’t wont to like you back. And I carried that with me through life, and it hit me real hard when I worked down at the 7-11. That college girl I thought was pretty, she didn’t think much of me. I almost killed her after the party down on Main St. that night after the landlord called the cops and got us kicked out. She smoked a joint that was in a big ‘ol bowl of joints, but I wasn’t takin’ to it back then. We were out on the landing and had to take the fire escape down to keep from gettin’ caught. I had her in the back alley and she told me “no” and I got real mad and hit her. She fell and hit her head. I had to bring her around front, then I run off.

I’m a coward, and maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

When I was 25, there was a girl that come around the apartments at night. I was smokin’ on the landing because the laundry room was too hot and I had nothin’ better to do. She wasn’t too pretty but she was fancy on me and I took her in to that laundry room and did her up good, right there over the machine. We was both sweatin’ like you ain’t never seen, the room stank of sex and Clorox, and I finished in her.

See, what she didn’t know was that I didn’t live in those apartments. I lived down the road but our laundry was out, so I was pretending that I lived there so I could use the laundry. Heard she came back lookin’ for me, but I made sure she never found me. Someone told me she had a run-in with a back alley lady doctor and it didn’t go so well for her.

I keep meanin’ to stop by her grave to see what it says on it, but I don’t feel right doin’ it, so I don’t.

When I was in my forties, I treated this other girl right. For a while. Then she got into the liquor pretty bad and things weren’t goin’ so well so I decided to kick her out. Only she wasn’t havin’ it, and decided to kick ME out. We got to scufflin’ – she was a mean drunk, not a sad drunk or a horny drunk or a happy drunk, just plum mean – and she stabbed me with my own butcher knife.

I never believed in it, but here I am, staring at my own body. I got fat and ugly, I think, and they aren’t kidding when they say you shit yourself when you die. I got what I deserved, and it couldn’t be any other way because, maybe, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, only some of us don’t figure that out ’til it’s too late.


Author’s Notes

Not too much of a story here except a schmuck that finally figured out some things after it was too late, and relayed a few of his misadventures to us, confessional-style.

I’ve been reading a lot about the hero’s journey. I want to write a story like that, only abbreviated. I’ve been exploring topics but nothing’s been impactful enough. So I had an idea. FAILURE. I would write a story that wasn’t much of a story, at least in terms of the hero’s journey, and I was try to make it fail as related to that archetype… or at least have the hero fail, or be a failure.

I learned a few things in this story and I’m glad I wrote it.

Master Class – Laurie



We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. Laurie’s sleeping face always made me happy. I stared, breathing her in before I got up to make some coffee.

The old church had a kitchen attached to the gym.

“Who wants coffee?!” My voice echoed in the gym. The blankets were crumpled and the bed was empty. A trail of blood led to the double doors in the back. The coffee cup smashed behind me as I ran out the back.

“Give it to us or I swear I’ll fucking do it.” The man had his arm around Laurie’s neck, her mouth gagged and a growing blood stain on her pant leg, the butcher knife against her throat.

I stopped and fell to my knees. “Why! Why!” I reached into my robe, pulled out the gun, and shot Laurie in the head.


We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. Laurie’s sleeping face made me happy again. I got up and locked the back doors and went to make the coffee.

“Who wants coffee?!” The echoes, sometimes I couldn’t tell if they were time echoes or just sound reflecting off this old gym.

Laurie was slumped over the side of the bed, blood pouring from her head.


We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. Laurie’s sleeping face made me cry this morning. I prayed that the end was near. I crossed my fingers and prayed to fucking god that this would end.

I locked all the doors and sat and cried again. Damn, I could use some coffee.

A van crashed through the back door and six men in SWAT gear came rushing out, rifles at the ready, and positioned themselves between me and Laurie.

“Babe, what’s going on?” Laurie sat up. I smiled; today I got to hear her voice.

The old man in the white suit came up behind the armed men. “I grow tired of this game. Give us the machine and we can end this charade.” He raised one brow and waited.

“You know I can’t,” I said and felt my face flush. I felt for the fob in my pocket and pressed the button.

The bomb destroyed the bed and all six men, the old man, and Laurie. I collapsed and cried until…


We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. Laurie. Oh, Laurie. I won’t live without you.

I went to the back doors, squinted at the morning sun and breathed in the morning air. The old man was sitting on the front steps of the church across the courtyard, hands folded between his knees, staring at me.

I came back with some coffee and she was still in bed. I nudged her but she didn’t wake. Just about never does.

“Who wants coffee?” I whispered to myself and sighed.

I pulled open the hatch to the basement to check on the machine. Still there. The time wars won’t come if I don’t give it to them. But Laurie… I can’t figure it out.

I heard a commotion and she was dead by the time I got back up the stairs.


We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. Laurie’s chest rose and fell in a steady rhythm that lulled me into false hope.

Years ago, I had tried to destroy the time machine. That day, Laurie still died and we still woke up in the gymnasium.

“Okay,” I shouted towards the back door. “Let’s talk.”


I slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The rain coming in through missing parts of the roof splashed on my face and woke me. Laurie wasn’t there.

Author’s notes

This story is for the Master Class over at Sinistral Scribblings, and the first sentence is the same first sentence from the classic, A Handmaid’s Tale.

I wanted to specifically NOT have the old gym in a post-apocalyptic world, or situated in some natural disaster. Just seemed too obvious.

Also, Groundhog Day just passed and got me thinking about the movie. I read somewhere that the director was trying to convey that it had been about 30 years that Bill Murray’s character was stuck in the loop before he learned his lesson. That’s amazing. I think he would have actually gone totally batshit crazy by then.

In this loop, our protagonist can either prevent the mysterious “time wars” or he can have a fresh, new morning with his love, but watch her die every day. For a long time, he chooses to be with her, despite the terrible consequence, but ultimately breaks.