out of breath

The kettle whistled loudly, demanding attention. Liana turned off the burner and poured the boiling water into her favorite mug. The brown enamel on the outside was scratched and dull, but the interior still remained shiny green. She had picked it up at a thrift store in San Francisco years before, when she and Sally spent a week there on vacation.

Sally had made a face at her when she lead them into the Goodwill. “Liana, we’re on vacation and going thrift shopping?”

Liana hadn’t been able to resist getting off BART at 16th and Mission even though she knew that Sally would rather have been strolling around Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf. She always took Sally to these places; areas that she knew made Sally anxious. She always hoped that she’d help Sally learn to love these less-shiny places the way she did. Besides, at that point, the Mission was already in the early phases of gentrification, what with all the boutiques opening and the hipsters moving into the apartment buildings. Sally would have none of it. As soon as she paid for the mug at the counter, Sally demanded that they get back on the BART and head up to Powell so that she could check out the Louis Vuitton store. They went, and Liana buried her misery very convincingly.

Once the water in her mug turned darker, Liana squeezed a slice of lemon into it and stirred in a healthy dose of honey.

She went out to the patio, took a sip of her tea, and lit a cigarette. She looked out into the quiet that she had so admired only months before and tried to summon up the sense of peace she’d felt then. It was gone now.

The restlessness was back. Maybe it was the cold that made her want to keep moving. Maybe she was just done with this town.

Maybe she needed to go back and face everything she’d left. Maybe she was ready to finally do it. She took a deep breath. The air felt different.

The green interior of her favorite mug gleamed. Liana put out her cigarette and went back inside to look up flight prices.

3 Comments

  1. The story is about a woman named Liana who has moved somewhere to escape her past and in the course of the story decides to look up airplane tickets to return wherever it is that she left. There is a second character, Sally, but it is not clear if the two were just friends or were/are in a relationship. It is would make sense that wherever Liana is planning to return to involves Sally since there is no mention of Sally in Liana’s present life. But it’s not clear, so an obvious question is what did Liana run away from? What has happened that compels her to return to it? What will happen next? When else did Liana experience this “restlessness” that she refers to?

    I like the approach you take here, allowing the mug tell a story that provides some insight into the character. The reader learns that Liana is thrifty, not consumer-driven like Sally, and that at one point she took this vacation to San Francisco and found this mug. Something that confused me was bringing up the gentrification with regard to Sally’s “having none of it.”

  2. Rae summed it up very well with my comments about this piece – the questions about Liana’s past life and this character Sally. Echoing her point about the mug telling the story, I really like the approach as well and it brings the reader into the emotions that Liana is going through nicely. The pacing is great – giving just enough – and the play on past and present is neat.

    Editing wise, the flashbacks are great in juxtaposition to the main narrative of tea; I think a little more detail to the flash backs would increase the comprehensibility that Rae pointed too – i.e. the importance of the gentrification mention and so forth.

  3. pretty sure i mentioned it before, but if not and if so, here it is. you have the formula down. i dig your easy, quiet style. i can’t wait to see the entirety of something strung together; i might watch out for complete compartmentalization. keep it up, soldier.

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