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This is my entry for this week of LJ Idol, Season 9. Please check out the entries of my fellow competitors and consider joining the therealljidol community. This week's topic was "The Fiction of The Fix."



Twila pushed a wayward dark lock behind her ear. Never should have consented to the hairdresser's suggestion to grow out her bangs. She disliked it when her hair continually reminded her of its existence by flipping across one eye. Maybe her hair was emo.

She had just achieved coffee perfection -- enough skim milk to turn it toffee-colored, enough raw sugar to make it taste less like coffee -- when Josh sat down across from her. A blonde guy resembling a young Chris O'Donnell, he was her fellow pizza delivery driver, the new guy she'd been tasked with training a few weeks ago. They'd gotten into the habit of meeting here at The Fix before their shift. It was the sort of blandly familiar coffee shop, with tan-painted walls and local artwork, which these days was mandatory for any decent downtown, especially a college town like this one.

Josh looked more earnest than usual. "Did you ever wonder about your place in the world?" he asked, then took a sip of his frothy frappuccino. Not trying to impress anyone with his manliness, this guy.

"And here, I thought that pained expression meant you wanted to ask me how I felt about you," she said, only half joking.

Reddening, he responded, "You mean because of our kiss the other night?" They'd fumbled in a stairwell and landed on each other's lips. At least, that was her story, and she was sticking to it. Josh continued, "Well, I've been meaning to talk to you about that."

Here it was, the kiss-off. What other ending could result for a romance between a golden-boy college student, just dumped by his long-time girlfriend, and a college dropout and frustrated artist like herself? Probably didn't help, either, that the whole reason Josh's girlfriend split was to hook up with Twila's waste-of-space punk rocker ex-boyfriend. Gods, it was a freaking indie soap opera, and she was about to be written out of it.

Uncharacteristically direct, Josh told her, "I think it's all made up."

Poor gullible puppy, he still couldn't face the truth. "You still think Donna's coming back, don't you?" Or whatever her name was. She couldn't quite remember right now.

Shaking his head, Josh said, "No, not the affair. I mean, we caught them in that chat room and then spied on them when they met, remember? And we vowed to find a way to break them up, because he's such a sleaze." That was also the night they'd kissed, but he left that part out. "No," he went on, "I mean, all of it's made up: you, me, our exes, the House of Pizza, even this coffee shop."

She took a long sip of her pseudo-latte before responding. "Mighty early in the day to get so existential. Yeah, maybe we all exist in the mind of some giant weirdo with a perverted sense of humor. Someone who toys with us like flies..."

"... for his sport," Josh said, finishing her literary allusion. He did that a lot. "Didn't you ever wonder how I read your mind so easily? Doesn't it feel sort of... scripted?"

Seriously, what was with all the naval-gazing right before a shift? This was time for a little caffeine-injected chit chat, not "My Dinner with Andre." The last thing she needed while carting pizza boxes around town was to be contemplating the nature of the universe. "Spit it out, true believer. What's the conspiracy? Are we all being ruled by space mongooses or what?"

Instead of objecting to her sarcasm, Josh reached into his messenger bag and pulled out a manila folder, overstuffed with white pages. He pushed it across the table to her. She opened the folder and read the title page: "The Muse of Pizza by Alyce Wilson." Who was this chick? She'd never heard of her.

As Twila read page after typed page, she went from skeptical to confused to steaming. "Josh, this is not funny. You've been writing down everything I say to you and turning it into a novel? Not only that, but some sort of sappy alt-rock romance? No wonder you wrote it under a girl's name."

Josh shook his head slowly. "I didn't write it. I found it. On my computer."

Twila regarded him oddly. "Um... do you ever wake up in strange places and don't remember how you got there?"

"I see where you're going with that, and no, I don't have a multiple personality disorder," he said.

"Not that there's anything wrong with that," she quipped.

Josh said, "I found it buried in an old folder while I was backing up all my documents."

She flipped to the end and read the last page, which definitely didn't sound like an ending. "This only goes up to Chapter 7. Where's the rest of it?" she asked.

"That's the thing. The file hasn't been updated since about 2003."

Twila made a face. "Now I know you're messing with me. It's only 1997."

"Is it?" Josh asked. He looked at her carefully. "When did you start wearing your hair that way? It's been the same ever since I've known you."

"Back in the Nineties during the ape rebellion, you mean?" she said, tweaking him.

"A change! This is good," he said.

At the table next to them, a guy with a long nose and fuzzy beard that made him look like an anthropomorphic human began poking at a tiny flat screen. He read something on it and then tapped the screen and typed something with his thumbs.

Twila stared open-mouthed at the device. "What the holy hell is that?" Then, a beat later. "I want one."

Josh nodded sagely. "I think it's new technology, technology from her time. Maybe she's finally going to break us out of this limbo. Maybe she got my message."

"You found a way to contact her?" she asked. "How?"

"I updated the file, hoping that maybe wherever she was, whatever time it is, whatever she's currently occupied with, she'd notice and remember us."

Twila grabbed his hand. "You didn't write everything that just happened in here, did you?"

"No, no, no. I just cut-and-pasted in some Fiona Apple lyrics." Then, answering her next question before she could ask it, he said, "I want her to remember us and give us the ending she intended. You see, I read the outline."

The coffee house speakers started blaring "Werewolf," and Josh kissed Twila's hand.




In honor of two of my favorite creations, Twila and Josh, whose love quadrangle has remained unresolved for a decade. Sorry, guys.

And yes, they really did hang out in a coffee shop called The Fix.



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Comments

( 47 comments — Leave a comment )
halfshellvenus
Oct. 2nd, 2014 11:42 pm (UTC)
She disliked it when her hair continually reminded her of its existence by flipping across one eye. Maybe her hair was emo.
Hahahaha!

This was a neat way to approach the prompt, and I can see why these two might have wanted to be their own novel. They have a snappy, imperfect, and realistic rapport.
alycewilson
Oct. 2nd, 2014 11:53 pm (UTC)
That's probably because both of them are amalgams of people I know in real life. It's always fun to write about them, because they come to life in my head. Far funnier than anything I could do by myself, I assure you.
jexia
Oct. 3rd, 2014 04:34 am (UTC)
I can't handle light text on dark background, but I copied it into Notepad, and I'm glad I did. I liked this, especially the coffee description.
roina_arwen
Oct. 3rd, 2014 04:57 am (UTC)
I have my LJ set to "view in own style" (little click box at the top of the page). I'm fussy about contrast, so it's much easier on me that way. I highly recommend it!
jexia
Oct. 3rd, 2014 05:04 am (UTC)
Good tip, thanks!
alycewilson
Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:43 am (UTC)
Glad you liked the coffee description. Sorry that the contrast was difficult for you, but I'm happy to hear there are options to make it easier for you to read.
roina_arwen
Oct. 3rd, 2014 04:58 am (UTC)
I think having a coffee shop named "The Fix" is completely appropriate! Great characters, too! :)

Edited at 2014-10-03 04:59 am (UTC)
alycewilson
Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:45 am (UTC)
Thanks! Twila and Josh are so much fun together. Back when I was writing it, I did envision that, if it was turned into a movie, it would star Chris O'Donnell and Winona Ryder. :)
meridian_rose
Oct. 3rd, 2014 09:43 am (UTC)
I love metafic, and it was fun when they first discovered they might be characters, getting creepier as the implications became known, finishing with a more upbeat ending :) Great work. I too feel the guilt of too many abandoned WiPs, original and fannish, and there there's all the ideas that never make it onto the page (screen) at all!
alycewilson
Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:47 am (UTC)
It's hard not to feel guilty about it at times! In the case of this novel, I had written Chapter 8 and somehow, between a computer move and an apartment move, the chapter completely disappeared. At first, I was just disheartened by not being able to find it, and the idea of replicating the work. But then, that year, I met my husband, and I sort of got off track...
shimmerdream
Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:55 pm (UTC)
A coffee shop called The Fix - I love it. Great take on the prompt.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 02:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It really was named that in the manuscript, too.
beeker121
Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:59 pm (UTC)
This is a fun and clever piece, that starts one place and slides into meta. I like it.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you! If I hadn't come up with this idea, I was going to use my last "bye."
kajel
Oct. 4th, 2014 01:43 pm (UTC)
Wonderful. I enjoy these two.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's good to hear. Twila and Josh are a lot of fun to write.
mamas_minion
Oct. 4th, 2014 08:04 pm (UTC)
Ingenius
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
watching_ships
Oct. 4th, 2014 08:25 pm (UTC)
Really enjoyed this. Oh, characters with lives all their own :)
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:17 pm (UTC)
But don't they always have their own lives? :) Thanks.
karmasoup
Oct. 4th, 2014 08:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, so NOW we know who to lay this topic on! Way to go, Josh. And, nicely done. Must have been nice for your characters to just hand you this week's entry on a silver platter! (Also, The Fix is a brilliant name for a coffee house!)
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:18 pm (UTC)
Josh says he's deeply sorry for this topic but hopes it didn't give you too much trouble. :)
rayaso
Oct. 4th, 2014 10:14 pm (UTC)
Great combination of hair, coffee shop, pizza and meta -- you hit all the bases!
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:18 pm (UTC)
Yay! Hair, coffee shops, pizza and meta should be in more entries.
_luaineach
Oct. 4th, 2014 10:18 pm (UTC)
So clever. I love it.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:19 pm (UTC)
Great to hear! Thanks.
fodschwazzle
Oct. 5th, 2014 03:01 am (UTC)
The meta here is not too forced, and the whole thing feels kind of buoyant in tone. I also especially liked the name of the coffee shop, and the commentary of Twila on Josh's beverage choice. Nicely done.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I like the term "buoyant," so I'm glad you thought the piece fit that description.
jem0000000
Oct. 5th, 2014 06:41 am (UTC)
Awww. :) Characters always hate to be abandoned.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:20 pm (UTC)
They sure do! I suppose it doesn't make them feel any better that I think about them from time to time.
jem0000000
Oct. 14th, 2014 01:37 am (UTC)
Mmm, probably better than if you didn't, I think. Characters like to have brain-space.
tatdatcm
Oct. 5th, 2014 07:25 pm (UTC)
I love that the prompt made you revisit old characters you've written and bring them back to life. I hope you dust them off and give them that ending they're supposed to have. :)
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:21 pm (UTC)
I really would like to! Given the response to this piece, I should move that up the "to do" list.
penpusher
Oct. 6th, 2014 12:00 am (UTC)
Yes. Fiona's "Werewolf." She's a bit unresolved herself!

It's cute to have your characters prod you. And really kind of expected, if you've done a good job drawing them. Eventually they'll start pestering you to do something with them, and, as I have stated, the writer is more important than God in that world, because without the writer, nothing happens at all!

Great reminder.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
True, so true! I haven't given up on them, but after losing Chapter 8 while moving, it put me in a perpetual state of inertia.
favoritebean
Oct. 6th, 2014 08:34 am (UTC)
This was very fun to read. I like how you brought Fiona Apple into the mix too. Much more creative than what I did.

I hope Josh and Twila get the ending they deserve. Great meta piece.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I hope to eventually get back to their tale.
talon
Oct. 6th, 2014 03:17 pm (UTC)
Breaking the fourth wall! This was a lot of fun.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Glad you thought so.
tsuki_no_bara
Oct. 6th, 2014 03:17 pm (UTC)
i had to read a few comments before i realized how you worked in the prompt, and then i had to facepalm at my slowness. i liked it! it's interesting and kind of meta, and a totally unexpected response to the prompt. and my hair does that exact same thing as twila's - the bangs are too long and i have to keep pushing it behind my ear.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:25 pm (UTC)
My hair has been doing that since my hairdresser suggested growing out the bangs. Drives me a little nuts! Glad you figured out the connection to the prompt. I try not to be too obscure but don't want to err by being terribly obvious, either.
ryl
Oct. 6th, 2014 04:37 pm (UTC)
I like where you went with this. I especially love the emo hair.
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Well, if hair has a mind of its own, maybe it also has a personality. :)
n3m3sis43
Oct. 6th, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC)
Twila grabbed his hand. "You didn't write everything that just happened in here, did you?"

"No, no, no. I just cut-and-pasted in some Fiona Apple lyrics." Then, answering her next question before she could ask it, he said, "I want her to remember us and give us the ending she intended. You see, I read the outline."


LOL!
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:27 pm (UTC)
Happy to get that response from you!
muchtooarrogant
Oct. 6th, 2014 06:47 pm (UTC)
With all the poor characters I've abandoned over the years, I thought this was great. That's not what had me laughing halfway through though. The other day my daughter Sarah came to me and asked, "If you had a child with Mommy, would it be blind? Not that there's anything wrong with that!" *grin*

Dan
alycewilson
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:27 pm (UTC)
That is cute... and funny! I figured it would help set it in the time period if she made a "Seinfeld" reference.
( 47 comments — Leave a comment )

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