Short Stories
Comments.. This rewrite, with prompts of orange soda and therapy, tries to capture how John Green communicates so much within the dialogue. (Internet quote from:


by Emma Sohan

"I told Tom I was at therapy."

Cindy smiles. "I told Scott the same thing."

"Therapy -- the 2014 excuse for escaping the house."

"Scott said he and Tom were going to watch the game together. You know they're going to work on that car."


Cindy orders a small orange soda. I order a chocolate sundae.

"Orange soda?" I shouldn't criticize. But really? An orange soda?

She looks up in surprise. "I'm not actually drinking this! It's my way of being on diet. What do they makes these out of anyway, jet fuel?"

"Recycled plastic." I look at my chocolate sundae. "This is my way of being on a diet."

"The Hope-and-Wish Diet." She sighs. "I remember being on that. Spoiler alert – it doesn't work very well."

I shrug. "Or it's my way of trying to be happy."

She stops smiling. "Let's talk."

We sit. I start. "What's the big attraction to working on that car?"

"I've thought about this carefully, but the answer's simple -- men have a genetic need to work on cars."

"You're supposed to look up answers on the internet. Don't tell Hillary you thought for yourself, you'll get an eye roll so large her pupils will get caught in her forehead."

"I get those anyway."

Yeah, I remember my daughter being in 10th grade. Cindy takes out her iPhone. I rearrange my sundae so that the chocolate is spread out evenly, then I take my first bite and savor the pleasure.

"Here it is. Why guys like cars." She starts reading. "They make us feel cool. They look sexy, and make us look sexy (maybe). They are fun and loud and empowering and dangerous at a time when society conspires to take those manly thrills away from us in a thousand subtle ways." She looks at me. "And so on and so on."

"Calorie-free, that's in its favor."

"And they don't drink when they're working on their precious cars."

"So, better than watching a football game. Good for them."

"Yeah." She looks thoughtful. "What about us?"

"Us. That's the issue." I ask her, "What makes us feel cool?"

"Been a while on that. Now? Air conditioning." We laugh.

My turn. "Someone running the hot water while I'm taking a shower."


"Tom's feet brushing against my legs on a cold night." A distraught look flashes across her face. They sleep separate. I forgot. "Sorry."

"Not a big deal. That's just what works for us."

"Next. What makes us feel sexy."

She grimaces. "Skip. Too depressing."

"True. #3 – What's fun?"

She says, "I went first on the last one."

"Yeah, but with a joke answer."

"Then you can start with as lame of answer as you want."

I realize -- I get so tired of trying to say the exactly right thing to Tom and the kids. "I savor your permission. Anyway, reading a book."

"Touring Europe."

"Sleeping in."

She says, "Eating a chocolate sundae."

I take another bite, but now I'm feeling guilty on a couple levels. "Being thin."

"It's been a long time on that one, too."

"My body forgot how." I think we've finished up on fun. "Last one -- empowering. Go."

She thinks. "Lying to my husband about some completely stupid thing and then neither one of us really caring." She takes a sip, realizes her mistake with a shock, then spits it out.

"Going out with my best friend and talking."

"To be honest? I can still excite Scott."

I'm jealous but happy for her. "I want to just . . . grab it! Grab something" – I hold out my hand and clench it – "and hold on tight, and have it."

"Grab what?"

My hand goes limp and I shrug. "I have no idea." I look up at her. "That wasn't very empowering." We laugh again.

She looks me in the eye. "We raised our kids."

"Almost. Still a few years left."

"Yeah. But we did it."

She's right. And this is part of my therapy too – affirmation. What year did that go extinct? I push the rest of my sundae away. "What now? Shopping?"

"Sure. We can fulfill our genetic destiny."

"Calorie-free too." I put my hand over hers. "Thanks." Thanks for a lot.

Short Stories