In the Neighborhoods of Ann Arbor

Posted: June 16, 2011 by landlockedmusic in Fiction, Pierce

I didn’t know Etta particularly well before I met her. Even after I met her, I felt like I knew her even less. I knew she had an old-timey name. And that she liked old-timey music. I liked that about her.

Patrick brought her along tonight specifically for me. He knew I’d been feeling down for the last couple weeks and thought she would help. Friends always seem to think setting you up is the best way to cure the blues, but it never is. You can’t cure vulnerability with vulnerable scenarios.

The three of us were headed to a party somewhere off campus near U of M. Patrick insisted we bring beer to this party, but failed to have this urge until we had already made it to the neighborhood the party was being held. I could here the music a block over from the house. I imagined people gyrating to the beats, drunk, delirious and dizzy. But here I was, standing in the middle of the street, hoping Patrick would remember where the closest liquor store was.

Already a little high and more than a little drunk from pre-gaming, Patrick looked down nearly identical streets leading in adjacent directions. “I think it’s down Cherry,” he muttered to himself. Five or six feet behind him, I stood with my hands in my pockets trying to think of something to say to Etta.

“So, did you grow up in Ann Arbor?” I asked.

“No, I’m from Saugatuck. I came down here to Eastern.”

“Saugatuck, huh? Nice beach.”


Fuck. I hit a wall. What are you supposed to ask after a response like that? I just stared at her in some kind of stupor. She was incredibly pretty. Her hair was dyed jet black and held back by a gray headband. She wore skinny jeans, a sea foam green v-neck and a cropped, black leather jacket. If she was wearing Chucks instead of flats, she could have played in a all-girl Ramones cover band. Patrick broke the silence. He was pointing down the street he had been looking at five minutes.

“It’s most definitely not down this road,” He shouted to us at an abnormally high volume. “So it must be down Eighth.”

Neither Etta nor I said anything in response Patrick. We just followed behind him 10-or-so paces in silence. She knew she was being set up too. But she didn’t seem as pleased about the other half as I was. We both desperately needed alcohol in us to facilitate some kind of normal conversation.

“So, you’re at Eastern? What’s your major?” I asked.

“I dropped out.”

“Well, what was your major?”


“Did you like it?”

“I dropped out.”

“Good point,” I awkwardly chuckled. “I should have put that together.”

Patrick had picked the right street, because I could see the neon sign just over the hill. It beckoned me. Like some beer-laden tractor beam, it was roping me in to drink my troubles and awkwardness away. Patrick’s mood improved and his pace quickened.

“Why are you so determined to please me?” Etta asked from a dark corner of her mind.

The beer was close. But I had to climb this hurdle before I could indulge myself.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You’ve been making awkward small talk since you guys picked me up.”

“Is that bad?”

She paused. Searching for some words to either let me down easy or cut me deeper, “Conversations are not meant to be molded by people who have no business conducting them.”

It was a deeper cut. Patrick entered the store first and I held the door for Etta. She walked in, looking at the ground.

“A feeble attempt at talking will always be more courageous than an accepted defeat,” I told her.

The beer helped. But it didn’t take any sour taste out of my mouth for the rest of the night.

  1. The beginning is nice. I really love the use of short sentences strung together. It showcases what you’re trying to say, I think.

    But the second graph kind of loses me. It kicks me out. It calls bullshit on the whole premise of the story. And the story is too short to call bullshit on itself, I think. You could probably do without it here and maybe reuse it somewhere else?

    The dialogue is nice, though. Real and helpful. It helps characterize the people and draws me in. I almost wish I was a little more drawn in, though. I need a little bit more hook to hang my emotion on before I can commit here. Not a lot, but maybe feeling a bit sorrier for the speaker or else turn Etta into more of a bitch. Just a little bit more to go on, I think.

    Good stuff, I look forward to reading more.

  2. I see what you mean about the second paragraph. I think I was trying to juxtaposition of the narrator’s mind and feelings toward Etta. But perhaps it is more of a contradictory graph than an expression of the narrator’s inner feelings. I’m going to work with it and see if I can cure that.

    Thanks for the constructive criticism and showing me some positives. I hope you keep reading!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s