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.

 

The Grime

I am exhausted, but cannot sleep. My brain and body unite to fight my heart on this, tempting me with monstrous yawns and aching muscles and repeated glances at my digital clock which helpfully counts down the seconds to another drowsy, sleep-deprived day. 

There is nothing wrong with me. I have ten fingers, ten toes, twenty-twenty vision (with glasses), two arms, two legs, one heart. Everything is fine, just fine, except for the unfortunate fact that I have been cleaved in two. 

Sometimes I am able to trick my mind into focusing on something else. I forget this little truth, misplace the memory of being pulled in half. Keep busy, rage against the stupidity of others and myself, stare at the television until my eyes glaze over. Repeat until numb.  

But when the sun disappears and the noises of life subside under heavy blankets and the clicks of setting alarm clocks, I am overwhelmed by the inordinate loudness of an empty apartment and remember the jagged edge of myself.  

Two pennies stuck together with years of grime, ripped apart. That is you and me.  

My friends say this is for the best. My sister says she never liked you anyway. My therapist says to move on, clean house. Get rid of the grime. 

But I miss the grime. I collect little pieces of it, hold them near to my chest when they surface—bottle caps and ticket stubs and photographs worn around the edges, an unsharpened pencil from the battleship museum gift shop.  

Did you hear me? Are you listening?  

I miss the grime.