Writing Catalog

Christina Bencin

Grade: 12

Hathaway Brown School

Instructor: Elizabeth Armstrong

Crazy Woman

Short Story

Crazy Woman

Amelia Lockland. 14 years old. She's already done with life, knows its truths, knows that anyone saying they love life and all it has to offer is lying because life is so limited and small and worthless. She tells her father this and she sees the heartbreak in her father's face, a look that (from that day) will never fade from his face whenever he looks at her. Her father rebounds from his moment of vulnerability and calls her a nihilist, a "crazy woman", wanting to get her to the optimist, the life lover she once was again but that's not possible. They both know it. She knows she's being realistic and she thinks he thinks she's being realistic too, which is why he is always so sad around her. She stomps on her childhood astronaut dreams, for these aforementioned thoughts of insignificance in the universe derive from her deep desire to be an astronaut and all the research that went into it. She thinks that it's quite funny and ironic, actually, and declares to her father that she will be a woman on Wall Street. A JP Morgan stock broker, which will place her right in the upper echelon of society, right where she belongs. She adds that no one's going to remember Bill Gates after thousands of years, after the human race is forgotten, after the planet is scorched, so why bother trying to even attain astronautship (a position already tough enough) with a salary just a fraction of a broker's when she can be a broker and marry rich and get that stupid, pointless little life talking shit with rich wife friends over merlot about other rich stay at home soccer moms with platinum blonde hair? She doesn't say the last part, or even think that because she doesn't think that way (not yet, at least), but she feels it in her bones and so does her father and he frowns even more out at the open road in his shabby bright blue truck. She looks out the window, tinted in age and dirt, and disgust is all she can feel. Disgust that is overwhelming green (neon, not throw up green) and pithy like a lime. She cannot become like her parents, settling for less. She feels sad that she is so ashamed of them, that she wants to move away from their life and their ways so badly. They never did anything wrong.

Amelia Lockland. 17 years old. Applying to Harvard because she thinks she'll get in, but mainly because she knows she's Harvard material. She has to be after sacrificing her life for the past four years. Once she clicks submit, she goes to her best friend Peyton's house (a pretty girl, a dumb loser who she's ditching after graduation) and grabs a beer from her garage fridge. Her first taste of alcohol. Tastes terrible, but she drinks every last drop of gold, and two more bottles, and Peyton sloppily kisses her cheek for submitting and she smirks because she'll get in and Peyton will be stuck in this dump. She has to. She calls over Ben, a kinda sorta maybe friend, and he obliges. The three of them lay back into bean bag chairs in Peyton's loser basement and laugh about absolutely nothing, three drunkards, two with no potential who will face many more of these days, one who will share this funny little story as a memento of her wild past. She doesn't find getting drunk fun at all, this disorientation and the terrible, terrible taste. She says she won't do it again because it's not worth the time and potential health issues, but once she is a broker at JP Morgan and is faced with long nights and stressful assignments, she knows she'll probably turn to vodka to cope with her depressing but rich life. With heavy breath, she quits her sulking and lays on top of Ben on his purple nylon bean bag. She kisses him, hard and hungry, desperately gripping his face with her hands. Her first kiss. She's wanted to do that for two years but has been too cowardly to do it sober. "Crazy woman" he laughs and he kisses her back, just as fiercely, and Peyton hoots, drunkenly, before laughing and falling asleep on her bean bag chair. A few more months of these lazy, hazily romantic nights and then she is deferred and then waitlisted. She knows she doesn't deserve a waitlist after cheating off Katie Landry in math and Ian Boggs in biology (two names that will be forgotten in history) but she still bitches about Harvard's idiotic decision. She decides to go to a small liberal arts college on the outskirts of her town on a full ride. Her father is beyond proud but she would rather sink to her knees and die.

Amelia Lockland. 26 years old. Landed a job at a small investment firm, where she is the designated "crazy woman" because this sexist dump still lives in the 1950s but she deals with it because she needs something on her resume for JP Morgan which she feels she is getting a bit too old to be recruited for. She doesn't mind the taste of alcohol anymore because, as she predicted, the need for it trumps her liking for it. She feels like she's spiraling, just a little bit, but it's not like she has anyone she can talk to about it. Sarah isn't caring enough to help her— a good friend to bar hop with or party with, but hardly experienced in closely connecting with others. Courtney isn't experienced enough to understand— they're only friends through work and Courtney has no life outside of work. Lucy… she'd rather not talk to Lucy. Lucy would take it out of control, call her an alcoholic and sign her up for detox, pin her as a bad person, and act all stressed out and worried and angry like the mother she doesn't need. Why they're still friends, she has no idea. It's not like she has a boyfriend, either, to talk to about it. The last boyfriend she had was three months ago, with Jared Sert. Lasted only four months. Should've been able to see that coming solely based on that name. So, she tells no one. She lets the alcohol sit, ferment in the depths of her stomach acid, plague her insides. And she tells no one of her intense loneliness because it hurts so much. She goes home and doesn't cry because crying isn't enough to capture what she is feeling. Besides, she's already drained her tear ducts clean from the days when she thought crying wasn't enough to express her emptiness. She wishes she could be close with her friends like she used to with the people from high school, but she doesn't know how to love losers. She feels isolated from her feelings, too, and forgets how she ever empathized. Or loved.

Amelia Whitter. 39 years old. A loving wife with two kids, but that doesn't define her. She doesn't love either of them, she thinks, nor her husband. She doesn't remember the last time she felt emotion. What should love even be feeling like? Lance Whitter is good looking enough, rich enough. She just didn't want to be single by her fortieth because then she would've started crying again (but this time, never stop). Jackson and Luke, fourteenth months and three years old— are in their hell years together. When they aren't screaming and crying and shitting all the time, she should have lots of photos and videos of them on her phone, but she doesn't because she's a "crazy woman", disgusted by their boring antics and the drool on their chubby faces. She's upset she doesn't have two houses (one on the East Coast, one on the West Coast) like she planned or a position at JP Morgan or a huge group of friends. She tells everyone that at least she has these little gremlins and laughs like a maniac. She doesn't like that Lance comes home after work, a job at an engineering company, and then plays with the kids before dinner like a loving father and kisses her on the head and thanks her for the delicious meal (even though it's always burnt or somehow screwed up because she can't cook). He's too much of a gentleman and she's mad he also doesn't have friends because now he's a family man. They're both losers who share two screaming monsters in a boring white house with beige walls and a standard staircase.

Amelia Lockland. 42 years old. Finally divorced Lance, pleaded with him for him to take full custody of the kids. His eyes grew wide as she explained her lack of love and he called her a "crazy woman" and cried a little bit for ever loving a woman who dressed up in red dresses and had a flirty, fun personality with nothing else but a hollow shell beneath her skin. She smiled, remembering when she was spontaneous and cute like that even at her lowest. How did she do that? Now she's back at square one, still emotionally broken and even more alone than when she thought this would be the lowest of her lows in feeling lonely and drinking even more because she can't deal with the life she never asked for, the life she didn't deserve. If only she had just gotten off the waitlist for Harvard, how different everything would be. But it's pointless looking back because she can't change it and it's so far back… but she can't change her future at this rate either so she's just stuck. She needed that Harvard degree and now she's in her forties so which firm is going to hire an ex-mother? She doesn't want to think hard anymore. She never desired that. She wants to do an autonomous job to fit her inner state of hollow and non-human, so she becomes a cashier at a McDonald's where all of her colleagues are freshman and sophomores in high school. She doesn't care. Her father is still proud of her when she asks, with the most pain in her voice, if she can crash at the house for a few weeks.

Amelia Ross. 51 years old. Married to a sweet lumberjack, Kent Ross. Lives in a trailer park with a rescue mutt. She shares her young adult stories as a successful woman in the city (lie) with an insane life outside of work as the life of the party (also a lie), and laughs about it around campfires with muffin top women in too tight flannels and smoky men with missing teeth. She flings paint at canvases all day with the neighbors and makes cacophony portraits of lemons and pears, which she laughs at. She's glad this is her life now. Sometimes when she goes back to the city, she is called a hippie, a loser, an oddball, but she doesn't care. She's too much of a "crazy woman" to argue.

Amelia Lockland. 73 years old. A widower who still lives in a trailer park, taking on a shapeless form from her unhealthy diet that the younger her would faint in disgust from seeing. Unhappy because she knows she won't get another boy toy before her own death. But it's ok because that doesn't really matter. She's too excited for the death she's secretly been waiting on for so long, now that there truly isn't anything to live for. When she expressed to the kids in the trailer park how she's wanted to die since she was their age, they asked why she didn't just do it. She shrugged, said she wanted to die naturally, that there's a stigma around suicide and she used to care about reputation far too much. She said that she compromised by sleeping at least ten hours a day when it would get really bad. A sweaty four year old, coated in the stench of urine and grape soda, spat "crazy woman" under his untoothpasted breath and ran from her. Even though she has something to look forward to, she feels lonely again. This time it feels bitter. Permanent. She doesn't try to hide it either, too lazy to do that. She lets it corrode her, break off her relationships, ruin frustrated middle aged workers' days. Other people deserve to feel the heat of her lifetime, of pent up loneliness that Kent's death has only exacerbated. She still likes to sit around the campfire, sharing her fake young adult stories as a successful, happy, rich woman in the city. But now, after she finishes her slew of lies, she stares into the fire and cries a little bit and the one unknowing newbie or homeless straggler that sits to listen awkwardly slinks away as her eyes bore into the flames.

Amelia Lockland. 80 years old. Time of death, approximately 12:36 a.m. Place of death, trailer kitchen table, a second hand turquoise formica table bruised with alcohol stains and knife dents. Died of heart attack, probably from all the loneliness. Not a death she wanted at all. She probably laughed about that, too, thinking it a nice complement to the life she didn't want.


Short Story


Paint splattered her faded jeans. Laughter. Devin looked down from where she stood to see Nick, kneeling, smiling to himself as he went back to work.

"You're so silly, Devin," he chuckled, rolling pink the color of soft roses onto the dimpled drywall. The paint wasn't very good. It started dripping down the wall, clinging to any available crevices and clotting there. But that didn't matter to Devin or Nick. They were just excited to be together, reveling in doing the simple things before their family became three.

Devin sported a smirk as she dipped the butt end of a Ticonderoga into the sloppy paint bucket. As fast as her swollen ankles would allow, she squatted and painted a pencil thin (most literally) mustache on Nick, who was yelling "No no!" and laughing and scooting away without success. And thus began what Nick and Devin affectionately referred to as "The Great Paint War", where the (literally) pink couple mirrored fun loving expectant parents in paint commercials.

Only one wall had been painted but that was ok. They would just buy another bucket and if yet another was needed, they would buy that too. It was good preparation for parenthood, really, as it taught them that, like with child rearing, painting a wall may take more time and resources than first expected. So after they ate a light dinner in the unfinished nursery, Nick went out to Home Depot and bought another can, which turned out to be a slightly different hue, but they laughed and laughed and painted the night away anyway because who cared if the walls were different? It was more fun that way.

Halfway through the third can, Devin clutched her stomach, aghast, and wobbled to the ground. Her face was as white as a sheet: something was wrong with Lily. Blood dripped down Devin's sweatpants. Devin started to cry and Nick struggled to find the phone and call for help. Devin froze. She didn't know what to do.

Nick rushed back from the kitchen to where Devin lay on the floor, leaking blood, leaking Lily onto the dried patch of pink. It was haunting. All he could think about was their happy paint fight earlier, how the day had taken a turn for the worst, how God was probably laughing down at them.

Devin felt as if she was an object, possessed, as Nick wildly hoisted her legs in the air, trying to stop the bleeding with a kitchen rag doused in garlic and cilantro remains. Devin begged him to stop and Nick threw the paint, still full of cheap pink, at a white wall. The can traced a scar in the plaster. Pink splattered a bit of the wall but mainly painted a path along the hardwood floor, landing with a tinny thud. Devin started whining like a dying horse and Nick left the room, face in his hands.

"I told you to clean up the mayo once you're done using it and to not put used knives on the counter, Caroline. God dammit look at these ants!" Esme screamed, gingerly picking up the insects with her neon blue acrylic nails and flicking them into the sink, where the running water washed them down the drain. Quick, painless death.

Caroline hobbled next to Esme and stood, staring at the red-brown tiles. Caroline ran her plump, worn fingers through her coarse black hair a few times, apologizing profusely in a heavily accented whisper.

"Now clean this up," Esme grunted and immediately turned her attention to a young man, barely out of culinary school, burning a steak.

Caroline sighed as she washed the stream of ants away. 37 years at this restaurant and she was still treated with no respect. It seemed that with each new head chef, she was getting tossed aside even more. Esme was a new hire, a successful head chef from a small bistro downtown. She, admittedly, was a good cook but her attitude was atrocious. Had she no respect for her elders? It seemed no one did nowadays.

As Caroline ran the knife with mayonnaise through a soapy sponge, she imagined she was the twelve year old girl on the Jamaican beaches knotting sea glass the color of her mother's eyes through her tiny, kind fingers. She wished she was still in Jamaica from her childhood. Or Brazil from her college years. The memories from those days and places were what kept her silently trudging through each week at the restaurant.

A crazy thought crossed her mind. Was it time to leave? Could she just take the boys and fly to Jamaica, live with Corina for a while? What was Pablo going to do? Or Esme?

"Caroline, even if it means leaving us to make yourself a new life, always choose happiness," she remembered her mother had urged as Caroline was applying to colleges years ago. "You are brilliant. You can do anything you wish with your life. Fly, my little canary, fly."

So she did. Caroline walked out of the kitchen. Esme stopped cutting bell peppers and quickly followed, screaming as if it wasn't a full house of dignified guests. Caroline glanced back briefly and Esme's once milk white complexion was red and straining. It looked like snakes were jumping out from her neck, maggots from the sockets of her bulging eyes.

"Yash, don't forget to lock the car. When you go to places, especially the inner city, it can be very dangerous and if you don't lock the car, it is very easy for people to steal."

Yash rolled his eyes back so far it seemed as if they were now staring at the back of his head. All day, his father had been lecturing Yash about what to do and what not to with his precious Mercedes Benz. It wasn't Yash's first time driving the car, just the first time driving with friends, to which his father held strict rules on not looking at them as he drove or even talking to them.

"I'll be fine, Dad. I have to go now, ok? Can I have the keys please?" Yash smiled, wiggling his boney fingers for the keys.

"And finally, be back by midnight."

"Fine. Keys?"

Yash's father reluctantly dropped the keys into Yash's outreach palm.

Yash blasted rap as he pulled out of the garage, turning up the volume until the car was vibrating with music. His father, though, was louder.

"Music down!"

Yash sulked and obliged. He first picked up Kevin, the brains of the group, then Matt, the stud, and finally Brian, the unofficial leader, who held them up by fifteen minutes. Again.

"Hey, I know we all planned on bowling, but y'all wanna hit the bars? I got us some fakes—" Kevin grinned, flashing four plastic cards to the boys in the back seat.

"Jesus Yash, why does it smell like curry back here?" Brian interrupted, pinching his nose.

"So he can make that chicken curry, boy!" Matt spoke with an over exaggerated Indian accent. He threw back his head of luscious blonde hair and flashed his pearly white canines, pointed at the ends, as he laughed. The other guys joined him, laughing and mocking. Yash uneasily laughed. By the time Yash reached the bar, he was the center of attention, mirroring his parents' mannerisms, gaudily poking fun at their stupid, strict rules.

"Yash, you're a fucking comedian, you know that?" Brian hollered, wrapping his arm around Yash's neck aggressively, fisting his meaty white fingers in Yash's dandruff ridden curls. Brian didn't take his arm off from Yash's neck until they reached the bar where, somehow, the boys managed to snag a few drinks.

It was around 2 am by the time they left the bar. It was too crowded and they needed to clear their minds after a few too many drinks and a hell of a night. They went out— more like they stumbled out— to get pizza down the block and when Yash checked his phone, he saw that he had seven missed calls from his father.

He rolled his eyes and attacked a slice of pizza hungrily.

They got back to the car. It was 2:38 am by then.

"Bruh, where did your little curry box go?"