Saturday, February 23, 2008

Writing Prompt: He Said, She Said

Writing Prompt: Eliza Dashwood
Try this, write a scene using nothing but dialogue. Set it in a cafe, between two people whispering in a darkened cinema or maybe a couple in bed talking with the lights out. Above all, create conflict, discourse and resolution without describing the outside world or our heroes. Try it in 500 words, and see what they say.

I don't think I followed the directions exactly, but once I went in one direction I found it hard to go back without losing the overall feeling I was building. Writing a dialogue only, with nothing extra, I found extremely hard.
Audrey turned off the bathroom light and walked across the room, her feet leaving the wood floor one at a time and slipping under the covers quietly. It was no use, he was still awake. She could tell by his breathing and could feel the tenseness through the cold mattress.

She coughed a little, almost ready to speak and defend herself once more, but stopping herself. John made the sighing sound he always made when he was mentally worn out, and she imagined he must be rubbing his forehead in the dark.

"I want to forgive you but I need to understand why."
"Why?" she said a little too quickly, feigning innocence, knowing what his answer would be.
"Why it was ok for you to hide this from me. Why it was ok to make the decision without me."
"You know why I did it," she replied flatly, looking sideways at nothing in the dark.
"I don't, really. I know what your 'good intentions' were, but that isn't enough Audrey." His voice was accusing, and not tired anymore.
Audrey faltered, not sure how to answer her husband. It was so easy to justify oneself when you only had yourself to talk to about it. Having the conversation with another person was much more complicated. She pulled the sheet tight under her chin, hiding under it.
"I can't make you understand how it felt for me John, to be in the position I was in. I thought I could fix it."
John snorted and Audrey pulled her arms closer to her body.
"You don't 'fix' it Audrey. It's not 'fixable'. It's not like that."
"That's how you feel about it. That wasn't how I felt about it. I thought I could protect you, I thought -"
"Hide it from me, you thought you could hide it from me, that I would never know." John sat up in the bed, elbows on his knees. His voice was uneven; Audrey wondered if he were crying.
"It's easy for you to box it up that way John, but that's not how it was. It's not fair to make me the bad guy."
"What does fair have to do with it? And don't put the fair label into this equation unless you want me to put it right back on you Audrey. What you did wasn't fair to anyone."
"I wish that I could say that I would go back and change it for you, John. But for me, for us, I did what I thought was right at the time. I chose a future for us. I did what I could."
John sat silent. He muttered something she couldn't hear.
Audrey sat up too, touching his arm. He didn't move. She couldn't stand that he wouldn't respond to her touch, and she retreated.
"John," she said softly. "John, I didn't do it to hurt you. I know that it did, but I thought that ending it would help us. We weren't ready. We had plans. You said you didn't want to end up like your parents."
In the dim light of the room, Audrey tried to read her husband's downcast face.
"I don't know how to forgive you for this," he said quietly.
"I can't make you."
"I know."
"I need you to though."
"I know."
"I love you."
"I know."
John said nothing else. Audrey despaired, the magnitude of what she had done so long ago pressing down on her head. She didn't want to admit that she was sorry. She didn't want to tell him how much she hurt, how much she had regretted it. She needed him to tell her it was ok, that he could forgive her, that they could move on. She had to remain cold about it or she knew she would come apart.
John laid back down and the silence was more than Audrey could bear.
Audrey is a character I've had for many years. John is a substitute character I made up because the usual husband I've used for Audrey was too easy going for this dialogue.

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