Wednesday, October 5, 2011

on homework

Last week I talked about my first writing class and Nina wrote in the comments that maybe I should share some things here.  So since I've been running around looking at apartments and swamped at work and a little too busy to write a real post today, here is the first week's homework assignment.  Mike said I should wait to post it here until I got comments back from my teacher, but that feels like cheating.  So here's what I submitted (ignore dialogue setup, I didn't worry about formatting too much, and be kind, this is my first attempt at fiction.  OK that's all the apologizing I'll do for now): 

Homework #1: A person is entering the waiting room of a doctor or other medical professional.  It's the first time the person has been there.  The type of therapy the person is waiting to receive is up to you (it may even involve bringing a spouse or pet), but chances are this person will be feeling a little stressed.  Keeping the character in the waiting room, write a passage where he or she is revealed through all four showing methods—action, speech, appearance, thought. 

There's a song coming out of the speakers in the corners of the waiting room and I start humming along.  I can't recall the name, but can see Tim and me dancing to it in the gym at St. John's.  Tim's in there.  I should have gone in with him, for his sake and mine.  He hates doctors, I’ll have to do something nice tonight for dinner.  Maybe shepherd’s pie.  I wish I wore something better, this dress is faded and I can't believe I let myself go out in my house shoes. 

The woman next to me is sweet.  She got herself water from the cooler and asked if I wanted some.  She looks so much like my Susan, just older, I tell her so and it seems to make her sad.  People don't like hearing that they look like someone else.  Either they want to be unique or they are nervous the person they are being compared to is ugly.  I assure her, "Don't worry, Susan is beautiful. It's a compliment!"  She looks a bit happier but goes back to staring at the door.  She doesn't like waiting either, her knee is bouncing and she's nervously playing with the ring on her left hand. "I hate waiting too", I say and try my warmest smile to calm her. 

She stands up as the nurse enters the room.  I can't hear it all, but it sounds like her mother is sick.  Poor thing, when she sits back down she looks tired.  I turn to the nurse, "Excuse me, do you know how much longer it will be?  My husband is Tim O’Neill.  He's been in there for quite a while."  The nurse looks confused as the woman next to me puts her chin to her chest and lets out a cry.  I watch them both and wait for a response but before I can ask again the woman next to me is wrapping her hands in mine.  I try to move away but she's holding on tight. 

“Tim's not here, mom.  Dad's gone.  He's been gone for a long time now.  We're here for you, remember?" 

I peel my hands out from under hers as quickly as I can and shake my head.  It hurts and I shut my eyes, sink back into the chair, slap at the air to keep her away.  Susan, my Susan, grabs my wrists to keep me still and whispers in my ear that everything is going to be alright, that the doctor will see me soon.  I lean my head into hers and there it is laid out before my closed eyes like the vacation slides in our old projector.  Tim calling me in to hear the news, those last awful months, the funeral, all that time alone, and then the forgetting. 

I shake my head again as I feel the tears slide down my cheeks, "Yes, yes, now I remember." 

from here


  1. Oh wow, that's beautiful and captivating. Really, I mean it.

    Thanks for sharing. I hope you get good feedback!

  2. So good - not just the writing, but the plotting! Proud of you for taking the leap - fiction is scary!

  3. Wow, it is really good! Thanks for posting it - I'm sure it was scary to do.

  4. Thanks guys, you make sharing less scary, although I still had a minor panic attack before hitting publish post.

  5. so glad you hit publish! I think it's terrific! I too linked over from APW, and then got hooked. I've read your archives because the images you create are so beautiful. I can't imagine how I would survive the last years that you have with Mike and wish you much future happiness. And please keep writing!