Myrtle & Alice

“Myrtle! Where in god’s name have you been?”

 

Myrtle whips her head up. She is drawing, her hand an awkward claw over the pencil. She leans over the paper. “Nowhere.”

 

“Liar. You weren’t here half an hour ago. I’ve been checking.” Alice is standing in the doorway, hip against the edge of it.

 

Myrtle scratches dark lines in the corner. “I was here. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

“Believe it or not, Myrtle, I’m not as stupid as I look.”

 

“Of course not, no one could be that stupid. I was in the bathroom. Mexican food does not agree with my digestion.”

 

Alice’s arms are crossed. She is irate, and Myrtle can see the disbelief in the angle of her brows. She adds a sloping curve to her sketch. It is too small, so she erases it, and tries again.

 

“Myrtle. Myrtle. Myrtle. You know what? Fine. Ignore me. I don’t care. Dinner’s in an hour.” Alice slams the door on her way out, which is stupid, as Myrtle had had it open to begin with. For someone who claimed to loathe all things clandestine, she sure made it easy to make excuses. Myrtle smiles. There is eraser dust on her paper. She blows on it. Dust floats around her small yellow room, revealed by the early evening sun. She takes a gulp of soda from the can on her desk. It sends bubbles up her nose. She vaguely wishes for music. And pasta. She wonders if Alice will make spaghetti for dinner. She decides to stand up, and ask.

 

Alice is sitting on the couch, watching a reality show. A glass of dark wine is held in her hands. She must have had a bad day, she hardly ever drinks.

“I don’t understand why you watch these shows.” Myrtle heads for the pantry, looking for a snack.

“It’s fascinating. I mean these are actually people. And they’ve decided that the height of beauty is to be orange and stretched out like rubber and soft plastic. I get to be be condescending of their immaturity and admiring of that guy’s abs at the same time.”

“So he’s not rubber and plastic?”

“And spray-tanned, but he’s only in wide shots and the picture’s not clear enough on the TV for me to tell most of the time.” Alice sips her glass, “Or at least, little enough time that I can ignore it.”

 

Myrtle finds a box of crackers. She checks how full it is. “Hey, Alice, we need more snacks.”

 

“We have plenty of snacks.”

 

“Your rice cake’s don’t count. They’re disgusting.”

 

“They are also organic and healthy.”

 

Myrtle closes the pantry door. It makes a dull clunking noise. She shakes the box of crackers. “They're glorified chunks of dust.”

 

“You can’t survive purely on cheese crackers, you know.” Alice protests, but she sticks her hand into the box and pulls out a fistful. Myrtle sits next to her on the couch. They watch the show for a minute.


Alice settles a long arm around Myrtle’s small shoulders, “I’m still pissed at you, you know. I’m just working up the energy for a screaming match.”

“I didn’t go anywhere.”

 

“Shut up. If you don’t lie to me right now I’ll try to be lenient when I actually decide to punish you.”

 

“It’s not like I’m going to any wild parties or anything.”

 

“Mmmm… I suppose. You need to tell me, though. Technically, I’m responsible for you.”

 

“Yeah, but for only, like, a month.”

Alice sighs, and shrugs. The show has cut to a commercial break. An advertisement for cat litter is playing. Alice flips the channel. She lands on a show where a couple’s house gets renovated. Myrtle crunches her crackers. “Who would choose purple paisley wallpaper?”

 

“You have to go back farther than that, Myrtle. Who would make purple paisley wallpaper in the first place?”

 

“Hmm.” Myrtle concedes. She eats another handful of crackers, “I went to the music shop. With Leland and Di. There’s some guitar she wants.”

Alice watches the television for a minute. The couple is arguing over types of faucets. She shifts her arm on Myrtle. “You are not grounded, but-”

“Like you could ever ground me.”

 

“Shut up. You are not grounded, but if you go out without telling me ever again there’ll be hell to pay. The last thing I needs is calling Mom and Dad and telling them you ran off with some shaggy-haired, angst-ridden guy, and got hit by a truck.”

 

“Ooooaky…”


“You’ll stay in tomorrow and vacuum the house. Every room. Make ‘em spotless.”

“But why an angsty guy and a truck?”

 

“I couldn’t decide which was a worse fate.” Alice stands up quickly, leaning back to adjust her spine. “Now what do you want for real food?”

 

“Pasta?” Myrtle focuses her full attention on the television and the crackers. Alice goes to boil the water.






Join the Discussion

This article has 17 comments. Post your own now!

That_Writer_Girl said...
May 5, 2015 at 5:20 pm
Haha I actually really enjoyed reading this piece... There's no plot but that doesn't matter because as @The_DoctorDonna said it's fine on it's own! The characters are well done, which is rare for a short story. Congratulations!
 
The_DoctorDonna said...
Apr. 1, 2015 at 11:18 am
wow, this was really really good. I love the descriptive words that fill the story. It doesn't really need a plotline, because it goes along with itself. This is really great, congratulations on making such a lovely piece! and I also agree with @Beila that writing to explore usually brings about the best writing!
 
BeilaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Mar. 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm
I am a huge fan of writing simply for the sake of exploring your own artistic talent. :) I think that the dialogue in this piece is fantastic. The casual conversation that you capture, and the way you balance between the main focus of the conversation and the side notes gives a comfortable, real feel to the relationship. Well done!
 
RobotPenn.This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Apr. 1, 2015 at 1:27 am
Thank you so much, guys. You honestly don't know what this means to me. :)
 
Amai-kun This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 19, 2015 at 2:55 pm
I was surprised how quickly you pulled me into this story. You've done very well establishing yourself as a writer. Clearly, you know what you're doing. I have only two things to suggest. The first is simply going through and editing a few spelling/grammar mistakes, such as "rice cakes* alone". The second is to give the reader a greater sense of emotion. You have to tell the reader why they should care, what about this scene makes it interesting and unique. Rather than only grabbing my attention... (more »)
 
gracefulwaters said...
Mar. 17, 2015 at 5:04 pm
This seemed very authentic. This scene is one most anyone can relate to, but specific enough that it's still new and different and interesting. I like your writing style. I would love to read more about Alice and Myrtle. :)
 
CurlyGirl17 said...
Mar. 11, 2015 at 2:35 pm
This is very good! It sort of reminds me of my sister and I; she's the healthy one, haha. Myrtle and Alice seem very real.
 
GreekGoddess said...
Feb. 28, 2015 at 9:35 pm
This was great! You made me fall in love with the characters though I'm not sure what the actual plot line was... A couple of times you used present tense which distracted me from what you were saying. Other than that, this was great!
 
BreeZephyr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 13, 2015 at 7:12 pm
Aww, that was cute. :) I liked the flow of this story, and the chemistry between Myrtle and Alice is very well-developed. You can tell that they know each other very well, and their banter isn't overdone, like it often tends to be in stories I often read here. Great work!
 
rosevomit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 16, 2015 at 7:17 pm
"They're glorified chunks of dust." Loved it
 
Icithra This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 5, 2014 at 9:36 pm
I really liked that. Like the others have been saying, even though there is no plot, it's a beautiful little scene. The dialogue between the two sisters flowed like real life, that was the best part for me. Also, it's clear the two characters have though out personalities and are three dimensional without having overdone it. Good Job!
 
Extraterrestrial said...
Oct. 26, 2014 at 7:41 am
It's fascinating how you made the most mundane of events seem this interesting. I found myself reading your story ("no plotline, no driving force") with the same intensity with which I read action or adventure stories. The dialogue flows naturally, and the sisters' interactions are just delightful to read. I love how you described bits of daily activities in between the dialogue, like Myrtle's attempts at sketching, blowing eraser dust off her page, etc. Alice talking about... (more »)
 
RobotPenn.This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Oct. 26, 2014 at 10:31 am
Thanks! I'll be more careful proofreading next time. Hopefully, I won't make those mistakes again. The ones I made here are haunting me. I'm so glad you liked the story! I really respect your opinion, so I can't tell you how giddy you've just made me. Thanks again! :)
 
dracoinleatherpants said...
Oct. 15, 2014 at 9:33 am
The dialogue in this is perfect--you managed to make it sound both realistic and funny. (As the daughter of someone who loves rice cakes,  I support the comparison to chunks of dust 100 %). At the same time, it was really sweet. I didn't want it to end. I would like to know a little more about the characters--maybe you could find a way to slip some backstory in there as well.  Great job. :)
 
Dream2000 said...
Oct. 13, 2014 at 8:30 pm
Although you described this story as a simple scene, honestly, I was captivated by it. I don't know why. You were right. There really isn't a plotline, yet I found it amazing. It just describes simple life between two sisters.
 
RobotPenn.This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Oct. 14, 2014 at 11:19 am
I'm so glad you liked it! I got nervous when I realized the most interesting title I could come up with for it was Myrtle & Alice. It didn't bode well for how compelling people would find it. You've just made me really happy! Thank you so much!!
 
WritinGirl replied...
Nov. 20, 2014 at 10:06 pm
I am really impressed. Which is saying a lot coming from me! :) At first I was doubtful of how something like this would play out, but I found myself drawn into the scene. I feel like I know the characters, even though it was this short! You added the right amount of description beautifully, and the dialogue flowed perfectly--It made me smirk reading some of the lines! Great job, RobotPenn!
 
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