Written in 2012 from the workshop writing suggestion:
Make a list of some of the top things people fear in life. Use one of these fears as the starting place for a piece of writing.
by Jennifer Croft
“What’s your biggest fear?” She shot the question like a plastic dart.
“Speed dating,” he shot back.
She looked confused. “But you are speed dating.”
“Ah. Right. I meant to say… climbing plants. Like ivy. Growing all over everything, like it has a right to.”
She wrinkled her eyebrows. They looked like the fuzzy caterpillars he picked off the sidewalk as a child and put in a jar.
He’d been staring too long at her eyebrows. She touched one of them, nervously.
There was a clatter of chairs. Now the woman across from him had eyebrows plucked into sharp little arches. He missed the caterpillars.
It was his turn. “What’s your biggest fear?” He liked the question and had decided to use it as his own.
“Ending up middle-aged and single,” she said dourly. Then her face cracked, the eyebrow arches springing up. “Kidding! It’s swimming pools. All those bodies floating in the same water. I don’t believe when they say that chlorine kills everything.”
“Interesting,” he said, stroking his chin.
“So what do you do?” she asked.
“Clean swimming pools,” he said. “And you’re right—they’re filthy.”
He looked for Caterpillars. She was sitting across from a tall blond guy. Would they go home together? A green-eyed redhead beckoned to him. He sat down, exhausted.
“I’m a lawyer,” she said. “Some people have a phobia, so I mention it straight away.”
He shrugged. “My dad was a lawyer. What’s your biggest fear, by the way?”
She considered. “I suppose right now I’m afraid of losing a big case. You?”
“Caves,” he said, thinking of a cave on the beach in Oregon where he almost died in high school. He and his friend Brian got stoned there, fell asleep and woke up with the cave filling with water as the tide came in. “I avoid them at all costs.”
She pushed back a strand of red hair and smiled. “Well, that’s not so hard, is it?”
He decided to ask for her number.