A Scene

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In writing my novel, I’m going through the character summaries and trying to decide what the conflicts will be.  Since I’ve decided since the main character will have a mental illness, one of her conflicts will be deciding how truthful to be with her friends.  One of her fears is that if she is truly herself, her friends will abandon her, because they will see how worthless she truly is.  So here is scene that may or may not make it into the final piece:


Laina opened the door to see Kyle.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting to see you at this late hour,” she said.

“Can I come in?”

“Yeah, yeah, come in.  Let me make you some tea or something, sit down.”

Kyle settled onto the couch and let his eyes wander around the paintings.  Leona pulled out the kettle and Kyle said,

“Actually, I’d prefer a whiskey.”

“If by whiskey, you mean bourbon, I can do that.  Ice or neat?”

“What are you doing?”

She chuckled.  “Are you kidding?  I’m not going to ruin the flavor with ice.  Neat all the way.”

“Ah, okay then.”

She came out with two Glencairn glasses.

“Sorry, man, I get the fancy crystal cut one,” she said, “you’ll have to make due with the plain one.”

Kyle laughed.  “I’m not bothered.”

Laina sat on the opposite side of the couch and swirled the glass.

“This is one of my favorites, it’s been aged in sherry barrels.”

Kyle nodded and took a sip.  He let his eyes look across at the wall.

“So, ah,” she said, “What brings you to my humble abode?”

He paused.  “I don’t really know why,” he said.  “I guess I was worried about you.  You seemed really upset last night.”

“Aw, thanks,” she said.  “And I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you.  I can still be emotional, but it’s nothing like it. . .used to be.”

“Yeah, about that. . .”

She waited.

“It took me a long time to get over that, you know.  And I’m not sure I’ve ever forgiven you.”

“You know, it was never about you,” she started.

“I know that,” he said quickly. “Or rationally, I do.  But you have no idea what it was like to find you.  No idea to realize you were actually going to do it.  I mean, stupid teenagers talk all the time about how their life sucks and how they wish they were dead. . .and you, you actually went down that road.”

Kyle was still looking at the wall, his face in profile, as though he couldn’t trust himself to look at her.  Laina was afraid to look too much at him in case his eyes met hers, so she looked down at the floor, listening.

“I mean, what if it happens again?  What if you decide that life is too hard and you decide to quit?  Do you have any comprehension how much you hurt us, all of us?”

Laina couldn’t speak, but stared at the carpet mutely.

“And your poor parents, what a death they died that night.  They never deserved that.”

She could feel the swelling of tears in her eyes.  They were going to break soon.  She put her glass down with shaking hands and shook her head.

“I just,” he paused, “I just can’t go through that again.  I can’t care about you and be close to you.”

Her blood went cold even as hot tears trailed down her face, her eyes stayed fixed on the floor.  The tears were tickling her upper lip but she didn’t want to touch her face.  Any movement and she might lose control completely.  And if she tried to speak, she knew her voice would betray her.  This couldn’t be happening.

He went silent and she could feel the dripping on her chin.  She got up suddenly, heading for the tissue box, but didn’t make it before a huge sob escaped.  She stayed standing over the counter, hunched over the tissues, her back to him.

“Laina, I’m sorry,” Kyle said getting up.

“Please don’t,” she said, her voice a weird caricature. “So, we can’t be friends?”

Kyle sighed.  “I’m not saying that.  I’m just saying. . .I need some space.  Some distance.”

Her throat tightened.  She felt like she was going to throw up.  Her insides were breaking up and heaving.

“Can you leave?” she asked in a low voice.

Kyle stood still for minute.  “Laina. . . “

That was it.  She walked to the bedroom, her head spinning.  She closed the door and held her breath.  She could no longer hold back her crying but at least she could contain the screaming inside her, if only he would leave quickly.  She listened through the door.

She could hear him putting on his shoes.  Faster, she willed him.

He was putting on his coat.  Please.

He was checking his pockets for his keys.  For the love of god!

Finally, she heard the door open and close.  She waited another minute to make sure he wouldn’t hear her.  And then it all poured out of her, her anguish and disbelief.  It was true, it had always been true.  She was unloveable and too weird to even have friends.  She was worthless and stupid and ugly.  How could she think she could ever deserve friends?  Everyone should hate her, hate her as much as herself.  She had trusted him, trusted him to not abandon her, but she was too weak and messed up.  Nobody could love who she really was.  She should just die already.

 

 

 

Writing Characters

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It’s a great afternoon to sit on the balcony, watch the sun sink down, and write.  Currently, I am working on sketching out my characters, and I’m finding it a bit hard to put detail to my male characters.  Which is ironic, because  I’ve historically had more problems making friends with females–I think because I tend to be more pragmatic than a stereotypical female.   I actually don’t usually know why women don’t like me when they don’t.

Whereas, I usually get along pretty well with guys.  Probably because I view my emotions with a degree of suspicion–a side effect of having dealt with depression in the past.  But I can’t claim to know what men think.

On the other hand, I have decided that my female protagonist will have depression, because I can write about that.  I was thinking today of an episode Katy had years ago.  It could have been a scene out of “The Bell Jar”:  she slit her wrists and took a bunch of meds, then laid down in a bathtub to die–and helpfully, contain the blood.  But when all the drugs in her system took hold, she ended up thrashing about and lurching room to room, getting blood all over the walls, before finally collapsing.

Her husband came home to a house with blood-smeared walls and found her, unconscious.  He then immediately went upstairs to check on their baby daughter.  The baby was fine, still asleep from her nap.  Then they got Katy to the hospital where she recovered.

She called me afterwards.  We were at a point in our life where I no longer asked why.  I knew that at some point the depression inside of her would win.  The part of the conversation I remember is that she was upset that her husband could possibly think she would hurt their child.  And the funny thing was, I understood both her and her husband’s point of view.  I understood her–her hatred of herself was only confined to herself.  She loved her baby, but hated being a mom.  She felt trapped and disillusioned.  The happiness she had expected from being a wife and mother had never materialized.  And I understood him–he comes home to that disaster and if she’s willing to do that to herself, what wouldn’t she do to others?

Less than a year later, she did kill herself, leaving behind her 18 month old and her husband.  Perhaps someday I will write her story, but I don’t think now is the time.