What I did on my summer vacation. Not.

Since it’s back-to-school days, I’m thinking back to the Day. My English teachers, and I’m sure yours, issued the ultimate in essay assignments, “What did I do on my summer vacation.”

Unfortunately the essay gods were not kind to me. I had no answer to that question. You see, my summer days were boring as heck. So boring, I won’t even try to extrapolate on the boredom. Take my word for it. They were boring, and I didn’t want my teachers to get a case of the boredoms. Can you contemplate how many thousands of these exercises in torture the average teacher must have to endure?

Which left me no alternative but to be creative. And creative I became.

There are many forms an essay may take. The first year, following my new strategy, I gave my teacher a list. And not just any list. I gave her a list that would have made Alexander the Great proud.

Why would Alex be proud? I became him with a list of my conquests, beginning with El Gordo, the Gordian Knot. The pyramids, the Parthenon, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. I gave her the names of places she’d never heard of, like Akkad, Phrygia, Persepolis, Lagash and Memphis. And I don’t mean, Memphis, Tennessee.

The next year I went descriptive. I was Cleopatra floating down the Nile, watching the crocodiles crocodile and ibises ibis-ing. Then I saw Marc Antony on the shore. His nose would give any nose a run for its money. And man, he had one heck of a sword.

One year I tried out a Tom Sawyer and a Huckleberry Finn. After all, they’d put down their summer vacations as “The Adventures of–.” Any adventures of is a summer vacation in my book. I let the teacher know I had been such a good entrepreneur. I sold places to the paint-my-picket fence celebration. When it was finished, I had enough money to hire a raft and sail down to New Orleans on the Mississippi.

Another year I took on a Just-call-me-Ishmael and gave her my best Moby Dick impression. Then I related how I had done a Sherlock Holmes and solved the case of who ate Grandma’s apple pie. I cannot tell a lie. It was me.

Then one year I decided autobiography was the thing. I wrote about how I found my Uncle Ralph’s treasure trove of Playboy Magazines. I had never seen anything like it. All she had to say, “That sure puts the phrase ‘carpe diem’ in a whole new perspective.”

Short Story Friday: Romance

Short Story Prompt: “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx

This one is for Valentine’s Day and all the true believers in love and romance.

When I was in college, I had the Experience, or should I say the Experience had me. She was twenty-two and I was nineteen. She was studying for her masters in anthropology but her real major was adventure.

I was at a party some of my friends had given. She shimmered in, a warm glow flowing into the room. As she made her way toward me, it was as if a moon beam was falling toward a lake. I knew how the lake must feel, waiting in anticipation. Suddenly there she was, telling me her name. It was Hemingway. It wasn’t that her father liked the writer. Her mother just liked the name.

I was head over the precipice, my heels unable to hold me to the ground. We talked for a bit. Then we left, her magic leading me onward the way that Tinkerbell must’ve led Peter to Never Never that first time when he longed to stay a boy forever. We went out that door and stood in the middle of the street kissing for a half hour under the full moon. Right there and then I understood why that Prince went in search of Cinderella though he had only her one shoe by which to find her. How could he have not?

Over the next twenty days my life was filled with life. We were inseparable. We went sailing, canoeing, kayaking and surfing. She even got me to parachute out of a plane. But the scariest time was when she took me hang-gliding. During the day we did a new something-or-other that she had always wanted to do. At night we made love, sometimes wild and passionate, other times tender. It was as if heaven had somehow come down to earth and surrounded us with all its wonder.

Then she was gone. I woke up in the bed in my apartment early on a Tuesday morning. I turned over toward her to kiss her a good day, a smile on my face. I was the luckiest man on earth. But, instead of her dark brown hair with even darker brown eyes, I saw a note.

It read: “Thank you, Trent, for all the wonder. It has been a grand adventure these past weeks. I love you but this can’t go on. I can’t take anymore of this happiness. When I met you that night, it was to be the last night of my life. It was only an accident that I came there. A friend had called me up at the last minute and asked me to come. I was about to end my life when I walked through that door and saw you, the most beautiful face I had ever seen. There was so much magic in it. I could never have imagined how beautiful life could be. But now I know and I thank you for what you gave me. Hem.”

I searched for her but never saw her again. After a year of dead-ends I finally gave up. It was then that I realized that Happily Ever Afters don’t exist. But fairy tales do.

Next Friday’s Short Story Prompt: “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver