Thursday, March 1, 2012

Write on Edge: Dusseldorf


            “It was a rainy night in Düsseldorf…” Henry began.
            “Düsseldorf? You’re kidding. Why were you in Düsseldorf?” Karen asked.
            “My dad had to go there on business. He thought it would be a good chance for me to see the world. When he went to Paris he took my sister Katherine.”
            “Wow. Imagine going to Europe for business,” Karen said as she sipped her Coke. She had finally agreed to go out with Henry. But there were conditions—she wouldn’t go with him in a car and she wouldn’t go after dark. So they met for lunch at the nearest burger joint.
            Henry still couldn’t figure her out. Most of the girls he knew wanted to go to nice restaurants. They expected him to open doors and stand when they entered the room. Karen seemed surprised—almost flustered to be treated like a lady.
            “Doesn’t your dad travel on business?”  he asked.
            Karen fiddled with her straw for a moment, took a deep breath, looked Henry in the eye and said, “No. I’m pretty sure you have to have a job before you can take a business trip.”
            Henry looked away first. Karen sat up straight, indifferent to Henry’s discomfort. Perhaps even happy about it.
            “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I… I didn’t mean to offend you.”
            “I’m not offended,” she said. “I’ve never spent the rent money at the dog track. I didn’t run out when my kid was ten. I have a job and I work hard. I help my mother pay the rent and I’m proud of that. Some day I’m going to save enough money and learn how to be a secretary so I don’t have to wait tables in a greasy diner for a living.”
            Karen’s eyes looked wild as she spoke, like the blue center of a flame. Henry wasn’t sure what to say next.
            “I think that’s great,” he tried.
            “I haven’t had anything handed to me. The idea of flying off to Europe on business is completely exotic to me. I might as well say flew to Mars.”
            “Maybe I can take you there someday,” he said taking her hand.
            She shook her head and pulled her hand away.
            “It would never happen. We come from two different worlds.”
            “So?”
            “What do you think your parents would say if you took a waitress home?”
            “You’ve never met my parents. You don’t know what they’d say.”
            “Right. I’m sure I’m the girl they’ve always dreamed of for you.”
            “You know, we may come from two different worlds, but you don’t know any more about mine than I do about yours.”
            “What’s that supposed to mean?”
            “It means, you judging my parents without knowing them is no different than my fraternity brothers thinking a woman is easy just because she’s a waitress.”
            For a moment, Henry thought she was going to lash out again. But the fire in her eyes cooled off.
            “Maybe you’re right,” she said. “Tell me about Düsseldorf. Are there castles?”


            I loved this week’s prompt for Write on Edge. We were asked to begin a story with the words, “It was a rainy night in Düsseldorf…” I can’t wait to read what everyone’s written this week. If you’re interested in reading Karen’s previous stories, click here.


 I don't normally include a soundtrack with my posts, but this song came on while I was writing this story. I imagine it might be playing on the jukebox during Henry and Karen's date.