Olivia Folmar Ard

Short Stories & Poetry

January 13, 2016 was important for me. On that day, I, for the first time in my life, began taking a creative writing workshop class. Several of my friends, family members, and readers were surprised to learn this. Many of them said, “But you’ve already written two books! Don’t you already know how to write creatively?” 

Well, yes and no. Yes, I am now quite comfortable with my abilities as a full-length fiction writer, but I would not (and probably will never) call myself an expert. There is always something new to learn, and I am an eager lifelong student.  

The course I took focused mostly on short fiction and poetry, two forms that legitimately terrified me. While I’ve always enjoyed reading short stories and poems, I have not been inspired to write either in several years. I was skeptical about what I would be able to produce for the class, but nevertheless I soldiered on.  

The results of our various writing exercises, discussions, and assignments comprise most of what you will find in this short, sweet read. Despite my initial misgivings, I was pleasantly surprised with the work I produced over those four short months, and after a few more rounds of editing, I have decided to share them with you.  

I must warn you, these are nothing like the work I’ve shared before. If you’re looking for a companion piece to my novels, you will not find it here. But if you’re interested in traveling with me as we take short, compelling glimpses into the lives of those on the margins, you will enjoy reading this quick foray as much as I did writing it.

 

Hold Your Hand

We are in a dark movie theater, semi-crowded for a Thursday matinee. “We” consist of the usual suspects: you, me, and two of our best friends, both conveniently named Jeremy. I take sips from my strawberry slushie until my body grows numb from the cold, and then I sit it down and warm my hands with yours.  

The screen before us dances with light and reflects off the ring, the one I have grown accustomed to wearing on my left hand. And just like that, with my head on your shoulder and the cozy darkness of the room pressing in around us, it is New Year’s Day again. 

I still remember the clothes we wore—me in a teal peasant blouse and a sweater the color of oatmeal, a fake flower nestled in my false curls, and you in a purple button-down with a slash across the cuff, your hair still long and resting on your shoulders. I remember how your simple gaze unnerved me, the way your eyes cut through the wasabi-laden air and froze me to me chair. 

The cold bit at our exposed skin like an ornery cat, forcing us to seek warm refuge in the movie theater—this movie theater. We sat next to each other for two hours staring at a film neither of us wanted to see. Details escaped me. You consumed me. I tried to breathe the poison-thick air, tried to push you out of my heart, but all I could think about was that Beatles song. I wanted to hold your hand. 

The wave of nostalgia nearly knocks me flat now as you lace your fingers with mine. You can’t always get what you want . . . but sometimes you can. Sometimes you can.