Sometimes it’s fun to write satirical, awful-on-purpose fiction, especially romance, fantasy, and sci-fi. It makes me laugh. “Serious” romance novels often make me laugh, too. Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, is a laugh riot.
Here are my favorite excerpts from yet another unpublished romance novel—last one, I swear!—by my BFF/alter ego, Michelle Grebo, who wishes she could write as well as E.L. James. (Michelle, dear, you’re much too hard on yourself. You write better than E.L. James. Most people do. You just haven’t been discovered yet.)
by Michelle Grebo
Chapter Two: George’s Arms and Kevin’s Balloons
Annabelle had never seen such arms—strong and tan, like hairy tree trunks but without the caterpillars. Oh, to be held by those tattooed tree-trunk arms, to smell the Mountain Dew on his breath, to wipe the mayonnaise from his stubbly chin!
But George was all wrong for her. He wore Wrangler jeans from Walmart, for God’s sake, and mispronounced her name.
“Hey, Anna-belly! What’s up?” George waved and dropped a tube of lipstick on the ground.
Annabelle watched him bend over. Watched his tight-tight-tight Wrangler jeans straining at the seams. Caressed the bulge of his wallet with her eyes. She imagined George applying the lipstick to his own lips—it should have been wrong, but it was oh so right—and then kissing her over and over and over and over again, leaving wet mauve-colored marks on her cheek, ears, neck, shoulders, wrists…
“The lid’s cracked. Now what?”
Annabelle blinked. “Huh? Oh, you need to damage it out.”
George didn’t understand. Frowning, he opened the lipstick and sniffed it. He was as cute as he was stupid.
“How long have you worked here now?” Annabelle asked, knowing full well that George had started stocking the shelves at the Buggard Street Walgreens last May. Sunday, May 2nd, the day after Kevin proposed to her.
“I dunno. Three months?”
“Longer than that,” Annabelle muttered, feeling a sudden urge to hide her engagement ring. “Anyway, you have to fill out a form for damaged merchandise, tape it to the lipstick, and take it to the stockroom. I have one of those forms here. Somewhere.”
George approached her cash register, smelling better than normal. He must have spritzed himself with one of the colognes he’d just restocked, or remembered his deodorant this morning.
“What do I have to do, again?” George asked.
His signature Mountain Dew breath hit Annabelle like a welcome summer breeze. She wanted to suck that moist Mountain Dew breath through her own lips. Even better, she wanted Kevin to watch her tasting George’s Dewy mouth, just as she had been forced to watch Kevin blowing up balloon after balloon.
I love making balloon animals. Don’t you? Kevin had asked her, twisting a red balloon into a giraffe.
Wouldn’t you rather kiss me? she’d replied. His dry lips had tasted like rubber. And the growing pile of red, yellow, and green balloon doggies and kitty cats hadn’t impressed her one bit. But she’d pretended to love the balloon animals, even the “snakes.” All she did with Kevin was pretend.
She was tired of pretending! George was real, George was here, George was NOW!
Annabelle scanned the store for customers. She and George were all alone, except for the pharmacy geeks, who were trapped in the back with their pills and flu-infected drive-thru customers. Her heart boomed and shuddered like a teenager’s pimped-out Honda Civic.
She handed George the “Damaged Item Report” form, musing that she, too, was a “damaged item,” wondering if George could fix her. Fix her real good.
George squinted at the form.
Maybe he’s illiterate, Annabelle thought, licking her lips. Kevin wasn’t illiterate. Kevin was always reading, reading, reading, writing, writing, writing, making balloon dolphins, and eating all of her blueberry yogurt.
“That’s my blueberry yogurt, you idiot!” she cried, squeezing the dragon tattoo on George’s enormous bicep, passionately knocking the Chapstick display off the counter.
Now George squinted at her. “B-b-blueberry?” he stuttered.
“Take me in the stockroom, quick,” Annabelle huffed. “And bring the lipstick.”
Chapter Ten: A Note from a Snake
Annabelle rolled her eyes when she spotted the purple balloon snake on the couch. Hadn’t she already popped all the balloon animals left in her apartment? She must have missed this one.
She grabbed the long, thick, purple snake and immediately thought of George. George, who would never eat her blueberry yogurt because he never ate fruit, period. George, who had threatened to horsewhip the wimpy pharmacist who had strolled into the stockroom at a most inopportune time. George, who said Kevin looked like “a turd with ears.” And he was right. About everything. Annabelle was even considering giving up fruit.
But here on her couch was one last reminder of the turd with ears. She sighed impatiently, twisting and pulling the snake until it exploded.
A piece of paper fluttered to the ground, amidst the purple balloon’s remains. The last time Kevin had hidden a note inside one of his balloon animals for her was…never. Annabelle smiled, then remembered that she and Kevin would never be together ever again, because George was real and here (passed out on the toilet) and now. And George didn’t do notes.
I should tear it up and set it on fire without reading it, Annabelle thought, feeling so loyal to George, her heart could just burst. But her eyes ignored her heart. Her eyes were already reading the note, hanging on every sloppy handwritten word.
I knew you’d pop the snake, the same way you popped my heart. I’m leaving town. You’ll never see me or the kids again.
(What a drama queen! Kevin liked to call his balloon animals his “kids.” He really was a turd with ears.)
I hope you find what you’re looking for. I’m so, so, so, so, so, so sorry I couldn’t make you happy. Is it because I ate your blueberry yogurt once or twice?
(Hello?! He’d eaten her blueberry yogurt twenty-seven times!)
I don’t know what I’ll do without you by my side. I guess I could make a wife out of balloons, but she wouldn’t have hair like yours, hair like sunshine, streaked Kool-Aid red. I’ll always love you, Annabelle.
Truly yours eternally forever until the end of time, or until the Cubs win the World Series,
Annabelle’s knees were weak. George had never noticed how her hair was like sunshine, streaked Kool-Aid red. And he knew what Kool-Aid was; she’d seen him drink it numerous times. Not as much as he drank Mountain Dew, but still.
Had she made a mistake?…
Chapter Fifty-Five: Cured at Last
…As she lifted off the ground and floated into the perfect azure sky, Annabelle knew that her life depended on balloons. That without balloons, she would surely fall. In the end, George’s arms weren’t strong enough to support her dreams, to lift her to her highest calling.
Never in her wildest fantasies had Annabelle believed the Cubs would actually win, nor that their World Series victory would cause Kevin to give up balloon-animal-making forever and get a real job as a dental hygienist.
Here, in the clouds, the world below looked so small. So foreign. Would Kevin see her flying over Dr. Dweeble’s office, in her lawn chair tied to a hundred-thousand helium balloons? Would he understand?
Annabelle smiled wistfully. “No one else will ever understand my heart. But I understand. I am finally whole.”