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short story | Bright Young Things

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 “Now I am old-fashioned. A woman, I consider, should be womanly. I have no patience with the modern neurotic girl who jazzes from morning to night, smokes like a chimney, and uses language which would make a billingsgate fishwoman blush!” ― Agatha Christie

 ***
It seems almost too quiet back here in my little hotel room. The events of this evening are still playing over and over like a picture show in my head. I can still hear the laughter. I can still see the long chandeliers dangling overhead, the dark-haired men who could magically turn air into jazz with their saxophones, and the dancing women who dressed in diamonds. I can still taste the sparkling drinks as they tickled my tongue, and smell the cigarette smoke that clouded the whole room. I wish I could have a photograph of this night, something I could hold on to and keep with me always so that I would not forget my first New York party.

At home they would host parties, but none like tonight. There the whole small town would gather in the neighbor's barn, wearing their Sunday best. A young boy would play his fiddle, and everyone would square dance, shuck corn, and eat large helpings of food until dawn. I suppose I am still learning how New York is much different than home.

I stare blankly at myself in the mirror. I am not the same as I was before. My face is covered in thick cosmetics, and my old, soft, cotton dresses hang untouched in the wardrobe, traded for new, fashionable clothes. I look older now, somehow. The only thing that remains of the old farm girl I used to be is my long, brown hair that has escaped from the jeweled clips I had pinned it up with earlier, falling in thick curls around my shoulders.

I tried to cut my hair once when I first arrived in the city. I went to the beauty parlor and sat in the chair, determined to get a short bob like the girls I had seen in magazines. But as soon as scissors came up next to my cheek, threatening to chop off the one last piece of home I had, I just couldn't do it. I kept thinking of mother, how I knew she would throw a fit if she found out I had cut my hair.

Mother had warned me before I left to be careful. She read aloud dozens of articles from newspapers on the day of my departure about the dangers of New York, articles that were meant to scare me into leading a sensible life at home. "The city is a jungle," She explained. "These 'Bright Young Things' they talk about are no different than lions if you ask me, and they will eat you up if you enter their cave. It is not safe for you!" But I went anyway.

Sometimes, when I'm not able to sleep, I stare up at the ceiling of the hotel room and find myself crying, thinking of my old life and how quiet and simple and familiar it was. But then I wake up and remember why I came here, my new job and my writing, and all is right again. I know this is where I'm suppose to be. Although, I do miss the farm with my swing still hanging up in the branches of the old tree, the lake where my friends and I would swim during the summer, the big, beautiful walls of golden corn surrounding me at harvest time, and even Mother's pesky chickens.

I know that mother will say I have turned into one of those "Bright Young Things" if she found out about the party tonight. She would think I have fed myself to the lions without even putting up a fight. And it is true, the city, and all of its parties and glamour, has taken a piece of my heart, but I know, deep down, the country will always be my home. 

10 comments

  1. The best of both worlds! I can't get enough of the culture of the 20's, but at the same time, there's nothing like the simplicity of farm life and all things 'old-fashions'. I love how you captured both worlds in one short story.

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    1. Thank you. That's exactly what I was trying to do while writing this :)

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  2. Ah, this is sweet. The life of the city is a difficult one because it can change you-- I've seen this when I talk to foreign exchange students, all from small towns, and after one yer of living in the town I'm in they've changed big time. <3

    xoxo Morning

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    1. Oh I know, it's sad, but it happens a lot.

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  3. I love this. ...so quiet and pretty.. subtle, but strong.

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  4. omg. ♥ "But as soon as scissors came up next to my cheek, threatening to chop off the one last piece of home I had, I just couldn't do it." and "the dark-haired men who could magically turn air into jazz with their saxophones," (< literally groaned out loud at this -- like WUT EVEN) and "She would think I have fed myself to the lions without even putting up a fight." You SLAYED IT, girl. This is amazing. *is reeling*

    love,
    abbiee

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    1. Thank you so, so, so much, Abbie! Your comment totally made my day! XD

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  5. Wow, Hannah, I liked this so much. And you know, I'm not really that into the 1900s. But your writing pulled me in and made it seem magical. The imagery you used and the character you were able to show in such a short space is stunning. I don't attach to characters that fast but I actually felt the emotion as it welled up in the character.

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  6. I LOVE THIS TIME PERIOD AND EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS PIECE CAPTURED EVERYTHING PERFECTLY. your writing is flawless like wow alkdfjsdlkf. so much packed in here and so full of truth and goodness and realness. you are amazing.

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