Over the past few months, I've been taking a course called "Writing and the Editorial Process" as an independent study through the LEAP program. One thing I've been consistently frustrated with in the courses I've taken, is how little individual attention I have received; there is no better way to improve one's writing than to sit down and go through it one punctuation mark at a time. Lucky for me, I'm taking a course in which I get to do just that. It has been an eye-opening experience so far.
In an effort to get me out of my comfort zone as a writer (meaning first person narrative essays), I asked my teacher if I could write a piece of fiction for a recent assignment. Each week I have a new umbrella topic to help frame my work, and last week's was "Animals." Such an open ended prompt seemed daunting at first, but as it left ample room for creativity, I tried to do my best to step out of my comfort zone and have fun with it. The following short story is the result of my efforts--a first draft which I look forward to developing in the future. Check it out (it continues after the link at the bottom of the post), as I guarantee it won't be what you expected.
Betsy Goes to the Store
Betsy Gallagher kept knocking her foot against the bowl on the floor. There was no water left in it. The remnants had sloshed over the edge each time she kicked it throughout the past two days.
“Should we write an obituary?” she asked while facing the counter, both palms planted into the black marble as she looked down at the two bowls below her.
The man sitting five feet away, her husband Arthur, may as well have been in one of the countries gracing the front page of the paper in his hands; they had barely spoken in days. Aside from the occasional request for the remote, or deciding on a dinner reservation, he had made the deliberate choice not to engage.
He massaged his temples, leaving a faint trail of newspaper ink. “An obituary for what? Where would we publish it?”
“You know, it wouldn’t kill you to show a little compassion for my situation right now,” she said, turning around.
She couldn’t look him in the eyes. Instead she chose to pick at her fingernails, devoid of polish except for the occasional scrap of “Crimson Sunset,” the last color chosen at her monthly manicure almost thirty days ago. Caked in the crevices of her hands and around the divots of her wedding ring, were flecks of dirt leftover from the abandoned grave laying open in the backyard. They had tried to dig it yesterday.
A pause lingered between them as he allowed each of her words to mingle with those on the page in front of him. “I find your use of ‘my’ offensive. Since when was this not our situation, Betsy?”
His eyes scanned the latest news. High school football scores. A state economic crises. Weather forecasts. Although, it didn’t take a meteorologist to deduct it would be more of the same. He turned his head and peered over wire rim glasses to the window beyond the couch. For a moment, his gaze caught the dog’s rut in the back cushion. The stripes of the fabric creased together like they were being sucked through a vacuum, but he forced himself to look beyond it to the water dripping against the pane.
“I just thought it would be a nice way for us to let go, that’s all,” she said as she brushed her graying hair behind her ears. Releasing a small sigh, she bent down to pick up the two teal bowls, which she had sculpted in a pottery class at the Community Center several summers ago. The bases rattled against her rings as she trembled on the way over to the sink.
Two feet away from the pale blue ceramic comfort Arthur had installed over six months ago, energy surged through her. The bowls tumbled out of her hands in slow motion, and she knew how it would end before the cracking of her work against her husband’s. Hers shattered. His remained sturdy.
For the first time since he’d entered the kitchen, Arthur lifted his eyes to look at his wife. “What the hell was that for? Have you lost your mind?”
“I don’t.” Her voice trailed off into a series of mumbles, merging with the television in the other room. Her hands, still trembling, lifted from her sides and smoothed over the knit sweater hugging her body.
“I’m going,” she said, not sure what generic location she would end up at.
(FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE STORY...FOLLOW THE LINK!!)