GOOD MORNING SUSAN by Brittany Soder

Every morning I change my name. I change it with the season, the day of the week, the month, any reason not be Susan. Every time I look in the mirror I see a short, plump, brown haired girl. I hate her name.

It’s something I think every day I walk down the stairs. Today starts like they all do.  The December morning raw as I follow the smell of French toast down to the kitchen. She’s listening to the radio, humming to a song that I don’t recognize. Her unnatural blond hair in a high pony tail that bounces as she hops on the balls of her feet.  

“Good morning Susan.” She doesn’t turn from the stove to look at me. I walk to the refrigerator, grabbing the carton of skim milk.

“Susan…I addressed you. Good morning.”

I sit at the table pouring the milk in a cup. I feel my mother looking at me as she leans against the counter smacking on French toast.

“Darling your cup has a leak.”

 I look at my feet as I pass her to get another cup.

“Stop shuffling, hold your head up, suck in your stomach.”

She grabs my arm, her red acrylic fingernails puncturing my skin.

“Answer me.”

“My name isn’t Susan.” She lets go of me and as I turn she pinches the fat on my cheek.

 “What is your name then?” She asks. I don’t look at her.

“Annabel.”

“That name’s too pretty for you.”

 
 
Interview with Brittany Soder
 
Brittany, Thank you so much for submitting to February’s String-of-10 Microfiction Contest sponsored by Flash Fiction Chronicles and Every Day Fiction.   We’d love to know more about you and your writing.
 
 FFC: Your story, “Good Morning Susan,” took third place in the  String-of-10 Microfiction Contest.
 
Obviously the prompt words gave you some inspiration, but what happened after that?  What other inspiration came?  Tell us a little about your process.
 
BRITTANY SODER:  Aside from the words, a big inspiration was the first line. I had written it earlier for another assignment and though I liked it, it didn’t fit the piece so I saved it for a later time. When it came time to write this microfiction I thought to myself “what kind of person would really change their name everyday?” So i just started writing the description of my entry and that’s when I recognized the voice of Susan and how deep her self consciencess was planted. From there I proceed to ask myself “Why is she so self conscience? What happened to her to make her this way.” and that lead me to the mother and by then I had the heart of my story.
 
FFC: I notice there were several excellent entries from your school.  Can you share with us how this came about and perhaps a little about the writing community at your school?
 
BS: In the creative writing classes they like to expose us to contests.  This is so we can start getting our work out there and see what the field is like. If it is possible for us to hit the dead-line the teachers will often bribe us with grades for submitting. They help us get through as many revisions as we can so we’re sending out the best work we can produce. At school the writing community is professional. We have dead-lines we have to hit, we have a solid group that we can always lean on if we need help with a story and we have teachers well versed in the world of writers. The experience is very helpful.
 
FFC:  What do you think is the key to writing microfiction for you and for others?
 
BS: The key I would have to say is word choice. You have 250 words to create a world of characters and emotions. The first step is to get it all out and not worry that much about the word count so you know what you are striving for in your story, and then go through and see what you have to cut and how you can say what you want to say in as short a way as possible. You have to make it pop and it has to pop fast.
 
FFC: What other lengths do you go to in your writing?  Is your usual focus on short-short or do you also write longer short stories?
 
BS: My focus on writing really varies. I’m at a stage right now where I’m experimenting with a lot of things and trying to figure out what I like the most. I tend to gravitate towards longer short stories because that’s what I’m used to but I’m really starting to get into flash and micro fiction because I’m seeing that I can really bring my characters to the surface more effectively then in longer stories.
 
FFC:  Have you always written?  What books inspire you?
 
BS: I’ve been writing since I can rememeber. The first story I remember writing goes all the way back to first grade. For books, wow that’s hard. I’m a huge reader and I’ve recently, in the last year, finally started opening myself up to more of the classical writings. Books that inspire would be Peter PanThe Great Gatsby, and Billy Collin’s Sailing Alone Around the Room.
 
 FFC: What’s next for you?  A collection?  A novel?  Do you have specific college goals? 
 
 BS: My life goal/dream is to get a novel published one day. I really just want to watch my writing grow more, I’ve really improved in the last year or so and I think it would be nice if I could keep it up. For college I really want to do something around literature and writing. Being around words and books would be amazing.