Torch Song

Prompts (torch, capsule, surreal) courtesy of Cake.shortandsweet’s Wednesday Write In.


She wrote you a torch song and performed it at the senior prom. You were embarrassed when the crowd hooted and hollered until you climbed up onstage. You stood there, cheeks burning and neck sweating, her eyes pleading with you, looking for approval, her fingers trembling in anticipation of touching yours. The stage lights shone brightly, turning the crowd into flashes of eyes and teeth swimming in the darkness.

You wanted to shield your eyes like an Indian in an old western movie. You hoped a horse would gallop past so you could climb up and ride off into the sunset.  Figurative tumbleweed rolled across the stage at your feet.

Silence roared in your ears. White noise waves crashed against chalkboard cliffs. You finally looked over at her and saw one hundred and three pounds of bravery, desperation and orange crepe. You wished for a cyanide capsule to bite down on. Her teeth were smudged with lipstick. Lights reflected out as collapsing stars in her eyes. Your shirt was too tight. Your foot itched.

You thought back on the past four years. Dog-eared textbooks and ink stains on fingers. Moldy sandwiches forgotten in the abyss of the bottom of lockers. Bells ring. People herded through corridors. More bells. You tried to imagine this moment happening in a movie so you could have a point of reference. So you could know what to do. You couldn’t.

She kept looking at you and her smile started to wilt in your silence. The crowd went quiet. The lights dimmed. The chaperon stood at the edge of the stage and paced slowly, tapping a microphone against her thigh. The band behind you coughed, hoping you’d get the message. You looked at the bassist and he shrugged then bent down to tie his shoe.

You felt like you stood on the edge of the cliff. The wind picked up behind you. Urged you to do something, something, instead of standing up here like some kind of mute gorilla in a reverse zoo. You looked over at her, her shoulders slumped, eyes wet, knees buckling. You saw the shadow of a vulture circling above you. You leaned in close to her, whispered something no one else could hear and kissed her.


11 thoughts on “Torch Song

  1. You capture his embarrassment and her desperation so well. I love the ‘collapsing stars in her eyes’. I was so worried for her until I got to the end and he did the right thing. But the ‘shadow of the vulture’ does not bode well and I suspect he whispered that this kiss was just to save her face.

  2. I really liked this story, even though the idea of a prom is completely alien to my experience. I’m not sure what a torch song is, but you describe the scene so well that it’s not even important to know exactly what the term means. The embarrassment, the awkwardness, the girl’s humiliation (saved, even if only out of kindness, at the end), the boy’s embarrassment – it all rings so true and believable. Really excellent writing, great imagery, wonderful tension. I liked the motif of a western that you created the whole way through, and wondered if the vulture image at the end was part of that. I thought this was a great story, and well done.

  3. I do not know what a torch song is and have never been at a prom. However, the embarrassment and awkwardness of both characters is tangible. Is he dead socially if he does kiss her ? Is that why the vulture is circling? Really descriptive and interesting. Well done.

  4. I really liked the flow of this. The imagery used was very strong and there is something poetic about the rhythm and buiding of images to created specific atmospheres ( eg, school, western etc.). I was on that cliff edge with him and really felt for him. I love the contrast between the tension created and the tenderness of the final scene. I especially like intimacy of “You leaned in close to her, whispered something no one else could hear”. Well done, great job.

  5. Is it a pity kiss? Did she ask the question from the stage? I like how you built the tension and the embarrassment with you descriptions and left a little up to the reader.

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