Smoking With Vicki Wilson

by Sarah Carson Read the Story December 15, 2014

The first thing that struck me about this story—from the very first paragraph, in fact—was the authenticity of the narrator. Right off the bat, you get a sense of this awkward, geeky, desperately in love character. Does this intimate knowledge of a nerdy inner monologue come from personal experience or are you just that good?

I was a six-foot tall girl teenager who loved books and NKOTB, had terrible haircuts, and was extraordinarily clumsy (still am). I know awkward. Thank God high school is a finite experience.

Both of the characters in your story have their own, distinct nerdy traits—which seems to attract David to Alison if not Alison to David. Which do you think would be worse to have as a tenth grader: crippling asthma and allergies or profuse sweating?

Oh, gosh, I’d have to say the sweating. Kids are more used to seeing other kids with allergies and asthma these days, but the sweating—it’s smelly, hard to hide, you could never wear white … what if people started calling you “Pits”? It can’t be easy.

The word “cool” plays a special role in this story. If I’m reading the ending right, it seems to be the word with which Alison expresses her innermost feelings. First, as someone who loves old houses and the stories of families who once inhabited them, Alison expresses her disdain for the abandonment of the house they’re exploring with the words, “This is not cool.” Then at the end she expresses her affection for David (right?) by responding to his “I love you” with “Cool.” Why “cool”?

“Cool” is one of those words that is often used instead of saying everything you really feel because you don’t want to seem too enthusiastic or affected. Because, as far as I can tell, enthusiasm is not considered cool in teenagers (or in adults for that matter, which is just one of the reasons I will never be cool). So Alison can use “cool” to accept David’s affection and even return it without being made too vulnerable by how she responds. (David, though, he just puts it all out there. He is vulnerable in body and heart.)

I think my favorite line in the story might be “A place like this could still have Plague germs maybe.” What do you think would happen if you actually did “slide nude through the Plague dust”?

I just Googled “Plague germs” to see how long they would survive on surfaces. Apparently, the Plague is a wimpy bacterium that doesn’t last very long outside the human body—maybe less than an hour. (Although another source says it can last for days in contaminated soil.) Since we’re talking thirty-year-old dust here, I’m pretty sure one probably wouldn’t catch the Plague from sliding nude through it. However, that doesn’t mean one wouldn’t catch other things, nor is it likely to impress the woman you love.

I love the word “tink” as the sound the stone makes in the bottle. Do you have a favorite onomatopoeia?

“Hiccup.” I love it.

About the Author:

Vicki L. Wilson is a freelance writer, fiction writer and poet living in upstate New York. She holds a B.S. in journalism from Utica College of Syracuse University. Her work has appeared in publications internationally.