Dialogue: In the Garden

This is a dialogue scene between a rape victim and her mother. It was based on an assignment to write a dialogue between two characters, in which both are talking about different things, but there’s something deeper in their conversation.

Slipping into the garden, Emma watched her mother pruning dead flowers from rose bushes. She heard the pruning shears click as dead blooms dropped into the basket her mother carried.

Emma clearer her throat and said, “Mama, can we talk?”

Her mother straightened up and smiled, but didn’t move away from the bushes. “Of course, Sweetie, I always have time to talk to you. Walk with me as I finish these.”

“Mama, the nightmares are back. The medicine Dr. Knott prescribed isn’t working. I keep seeing everything over and over again. I don’t know how to make it stop!” Emma chewed nervously at her lower lip.

Without looking at Emma, her mother moved to the next rose, gently grasping a peach colored flower. “Well, look at this! That rose your Uncle Cecil gave me is blooming again! I thought last year’s frost had killed it.”

Emma stared at the roses with their big blooms and overbearing scent that made her slightly sick. She frowned as she watched her mother working on them.

“I’m pleased they survived, Mama. I know Uncle Cecil would be happy, but you need to listen. I can’t go on like this. God knows, I tried to forget, but I’m getting worse. I can’t keep pretending everything’s okay.”

Her mother shears clicked, beheading another flower. “I have to keep after John, that young gardener I hired. If you don’t get the dead ones off soon enough, the roses can’t bloom again.”

With flushed cheeks, Emma clinched her fists. Her mother would never understand! She wanted to scream at her, “I’ve been raped and scarred! I’m not your pretty debutant daughter anymore!”

Instead, she said, “Mama, I don’t want to live like this!”

Her mother continued walking, her basket swinging. Emma had to walk fast to keep up.  Without warning, her mother stopped in front of a large bush, covered in pink roses. “Emma, this rose had been here for over fifty years. Your daddy gave it to me on our first anniversary.”

She gave Emma a faint smile. Then, she clipped a few flowers from the bush and continued, “He never thought this rose would survive, but it did. It outlived him. Roses are tough, you know. People don’t often think that, but they are.”

Your turn — This is totally optional:~)

  • What do you think is the deeper meaning in this conversation?
  • Is there conflict and if so, what is it?
  • In general terms, how would you describe these characters – try to give more than a physical description; tell me what you pick up in this conversation about their personalities.

Guest Post: A Twist of Fate

photo by Liz Lawson

Ruby sat alone sipping a glass of wine, and catching up on some reading; the cats were all snoozing in their favorite spots throughout the house.

Her empty plate from dinner still sat on the counter. “I really should load the dishwasher and put away the leftovers”, she chided herself, but her husband was out with a client, so she would let it go for a while.

Since her husband was working late, she had been going out with some girlfriends from work but, feeling a cold coming on, she had canceled her plans at the last minute.

As night fell, lightning flashed wickedly through the window. The wind howled viciously as rain beat against the glass. “I’m so glad I didn’t go out.” she sighed.

A brilliant flash of lightning revealed someone slowly working his way along the tree line; so close, yet Ruby remained unaware of his presence.

As he edged toward the garage he discovered, too late, that the gardener had replaced the old cracked cement squares, and he slipped on the rain-slick slate stones, badly wrenching his ankle.

Inside, the cats had roused, and were clamoring for their bedtime treats. Liver bites were their favorite, but Ruby was careful not to overdo the treats since liver was addictive to her brood.

All three were winding their way around her legs, tails curling one over the other. She put the treats in their dishes and went back to her comfy recliner, snuggling under her blanket…ahhh.

Suddenly there was a crackling sound, a dog barked, and Ruby got a creepy feeling. She remembered the guy with the gravelly voice who had called her a couple of times last week. She had shrugged it off as just some guy at the office playing a prank.

Now, it didn’t seem so funny as her vivid imagination took off. “Maybe he’s a stalker.” she thought, and mumbling something about ‘better safe than sorry’, she rose to go in search of the phone…“Maybe I left it in the kitchen.”

Lightning flashed again and thunder boomed, rattling the windows and scattering cats. About that time the security alarm went off.

In a panic, Ruby grabbed the phone and dialed 911. “Help, my alarm just went off – I think someone is trying to break in,” she squeaked. The dispatcher told her to stay on the line, and they would send someone out immediately.

The officers arrived within minutes, and surrounding the house with flashlights in hand, they checked each point of entry. There was no sign of break-in so they concluded that the storm was what triggered the alarm.

“Hey,” called one of the officers, “over here, I found something, or someone.”

As the senior officer approached the scene, he saw a man lying prostrate on the ground near the garage. He was soaked to the skin, bruised and bleeding, and his ankle was swelling rapidly. “It looks like we’ve got our perp. Call it in, and get EMS out here.”

When Ruby came out to speak with the officers and thank them for catching the intruder, they asked her if she recognized him.  She took a closer look at the disheveled man lying there, and said, shocked…“Yes, I know him.  That’s my priest!”

It was later discovered that he had been posing as a parish priest for the past six months, getting close to the parishioners, visiting their homes and making note of their routines. When he found out who would be away and when, he made his move.

The imposter went unnoticed because after the long-time priest passed away there had been a succession of visiting priests from other churches.

Because of Ruby’s canceled plans and the sudden storm, he was caught, thus putting an end to the string of unsolved break-ins.

They say confession is good for the soul. Bless me Father…

Constructive Feedback: Linda invites readers to offer constructive feedback about this story. Please be as specific as you can about your suggestion(s).

If there’s something you really like, explain why you like it. In addition, as my friend Ellis says, if you run into a “bump” in this story’s road, be clear about what caused the bump for you and offer suggestions for how the bump might be avoided:~)

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Linda and her wonderful husband, Jim, share their home with three cats, each of whom has their own unique personality. She loves to read, write, and travel. The beach is her favorite vacation spot. Relaxing by the water recharges her internal batteries.

Linda began writing her blog, From Roses to Rainbows, in September, 2009. It has, and continues to be, a learning experience, and through her writing she has met many people she calls friends. Her writing is eclectic; it  includes fiction, poetry, and stories about embarrassing moments, travel and, of course, cats.

Her virtual doors are always open, and you are invited to stop by any time. She posts on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule.

My Friend Linda

Since I didn’t want to take away from Linda’s story, I’m putting my comments at the end of this post.

I’ve been a follower of Linda’s site, From Roses to Rainbows, for a long time. I’ve watched with delight as she’s shown her writing talents in a variety of ways. In addition, I love her wonderful sense of humor.

I recommend anyone visiting her site to check out her Magpie tales, poetry, Nursery Rhyme Redos and her other posts. The best way to do this is to head to the top of her site and click on “The Best of.”  You will enjoy what you read:~)

 

The Test

The dream fades as my mind startles awake. Something cool feels good against my cheek, but my body is stiff. I’m lying on something hard. I touch it, letting my hand run across its smooth surface, until it hits soft fur that smells like an old wet rag. My eyes open in semi-darkness and see the frayed bathmat. I’m on the bathroom floor. Why?

My thin nightgown is stuck to my sweaty body. The air conditioner clicks on, blowing an old spider web stuck to the nightlight by the door. My eyes focus on it because it looks like its breathing, but then, everything begins to spin. My stomach clinches as I burp and taste bile.

I curl my knees up against my stomach, wrapping my arms around them, hoping the feeling will pass, but it doesn’t. Get to the toilet. Now!

I crawl, slipping on my nylon nightgown, until my fingers touch the smooth base of the toilet. Reaching up, my hands sink into the squishy plastic seat and I pull myself up, leaning over the bowl gagging. My throat burns as the vomit splashes in the water. The sour smell of vomit and garlic make my nose twitch. Breathing through my mouth, I lean back on my feet, feeling better.

I slip down to the floor, reveling in the coolness of the tile. With sweaty hands, I push my damp hair away from my face. The spaghetti was bad. That’s all this is!

Eliza cries from the nursery and my body responds. The milk tingles as it drips from my breasts and dampens my nightgown with its warmth. The rustling of sheets and David’s’ shuffling footsteps tell me he’s gone to get her. I sigh, relieved.

I push myself up so I’m sitting, knowing he’ll be back soon. My mind races, trying to remember when we last had sex. I shake my head in disbelief. I’m still nursing; it’s too soon!

Yet, I’m compelled to rummage through the cabinet under the sink. I tug open the door and the strong scent from the spilled bottle of Obsession hits my nose, making me gag, but I’m determined. My fingers reach inside the darkness, knowing exactly where to go.

They pass over the burned out hair dryer with its melted plastic, the spray bottles of cleaner, the old dry sea sponge, until they touch the cardboard box. It’s exactly where I left it, almost six months ago. I yank it out. My eyes can’t read the label in the darkness, but they don’t need to. I know it says Pregnancy Test.

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As most of you know, I took a fiction writing class this summer. With each class, we were given an assignment. This story is my take on the assignment for the topic, Description.

My focus with this story was to use sensory description in the story and stay in the present first-person Point Of View. I wanted you to feel what this woman feels!

It also fits this week’s prompt for Red Riding Hood, sponsored by The Red Dress Club. The prompt is to write about sex without actually describing the act. As the prompt says, write without “any heaving bosoms or girded manhood.” Constructive feedback is welcomed!

Guest Post Monday — Liz, 6birds.net

This coming Monday, August 15, 2011, I will have a guest writer for the Story Photo post. She’s a young blogger with lots of talent:~) I encourage you to stop by, take on her “photo challenge” and welcome her!


The Dance

Charlotte sat on her dorm bed, nervously playing with her heart necklace, a gift from her dad before he died. Touching it, she remembered his words, “Darl’in, keep this necklace snug as a bug around your neck. When life gets out of kilter, it’ll remind you to look inside your heart and find the truth.”

She wasn’t sure what the truth was anymore. Ever since she’d come to Saint Anne’s, a small Southern women’s college, she’d desperately been trying to join her mom’s old sorority. Finally, they invited her to be a pledge, meaning she had to pass certain “tests.” To Charlotte, these tests were often mean-spirited, but she did them anyway.

Tonight was a perfect example. For her final test, she had to go to a dance with Johnny, a senior from the neighboring men’s college. The sorority girls called him The Ugly One behind his back because of the acne scars on his face. Her test was to attend the dance and pretend she was enjoying being with him, while the sorority girls made faces and giggled at her deception.

Her buzzer rang telling her Johnny had arrived. Picking up her purse and gloves, she straightened her petticoat skirt and walked out the door. At the steps leading to the lobby, a few sorority girls were waiting and teasingly called to her, “Now you have fun, Charlotte. Don’t you forget your promise, you hear?”

Charlotte ignored them and hurried down the stairs. The quicker she got this date over; the quicker she would pass the test. At the end of the staircase, Johnny was waiting. She pasted on a smile and tried not to stare at his scarred face. Instead, she looked into his soft brown eyes and saw adoration. Everyone knew he had a crush on her. It was why she was selected for this “test.”

After helping her into his truck, he climbed in beside her, slipping a small corsage of flowers around her wrist saying, “Charlotte, you look lovely tonight.”

On the long drive, they talked easily. In the dark, Charlotte couldn’t see his scarred face and soon forgot about it. She discovered he had a wonderful sense of humor; he kept her laughing most of the trip. She found herself relaxing in a way she’d never experienced with a boy.

Before the school entrance, Charlotte saw a brightly lit playground. Impulsively, she touched Johnny’s arm and said, “I don’t want to go to the dance tonight; let’s go to that playground instead.”

He surprised her by saying, “Is that a good idea, Charlotte? I know you have to be seen with me at the dance to pass your sorority test. I don’t want to be the reason you don’t get in.”

Charlotte felt the heat of her blush as she asked, “How’d you know, Johnny?”

“Don’t feel bad, Charlotte. It’s happened before. The sorority girls love to remind me of how ugly I am by using a girl I really like. Still, it’s worth it to be with you tonight.” He spoke nonchalantly, but Charlotte heard the pain in his every word.

She touched the heart on her necklace and said, “They’re not succeeding this time! You’re the nicest boy I’ve met in ages.”

He looked straight at her, his face stark in the playground’s lights. “Are you sure? These scars will not disappear.”

Charlotte looked back at him with a big smile and said, “Johnny, this is the first thing I’ve been sure about in a long time. So, push me in that swing and tell me stories to make me laugh.”

This is a post for The Red Dress Club. It’s based on this week’s prompt which asks us to write a short piece of no more than 600 words about a time when we took a detour, including where had we intended to go and where we ended up.

Constructive feedback is welcomed and encouraged:~) I want to improve my writing and hope those who read this post, will assist me in my efforts. Thank you.

Header photo Credit: belterz