Thursday, March 08, 2007

Latest Writing Assignment

This is one of the bigger ones we have to do. It's 1,500 words and I still haven't figured out the cut feature. So - it's kind of longer than a normal post for me - but here goes:

“I’m done.”

As Allie Hamilton sat at the kitchen table later that night she was amazed that two such short little words could change the course of her life. She absently stirred the coffee that sat in front of her, heavily laced with Bailey’s; such stunning news called for some kind of break from routine and a dollop or two on a week night was just the thing. She thought back on the conversation she had had earlier with her husband of twenty-seven years.

“I’m done!” David announced while still sitting at the table after dinner, as Allie cleaned up.

“You’re done with what?” Allie had asked absently while wiping down the counter and silently resented the fact he just sat there. She had worked hard that day, too.

“I’m done being married. I’m done with this house. I’m done with this life and I’m done with you.”

Allie immediately stopped what she was doing and stared at him.

“What do you mean, you’re done? What on earth are you talking about?”

“Let’s face it, Allie,” he replied. “This marriage of ours isn’t working anymore. It hasn’t worked for a while now. We’ve just been going through the motions. In fact, it was over years ago but I stayed for the girls. Now that they’re both grown and out of the house, I don’t see any reason to keep up the charade. Do you? I’m still young. You’re still young. There’s time yet to enjoy life and I haven’t been enjoying life with you for some time now.”

Allie stared at this man she thought she knew. She noted absently that he was still quite handsome. He had that honed look about him that had first attracted her so many years ago. His hair, dark blond with stands of wheat colour mixed in was shorter now, only had a few strands of gray that didn’t really show. His blue eyes that had fascinated her from the beginning with their humorous twinkle didn’t have that same gleam in them anymore and she suddenly realized she hadn’t seen it for a while now. He kept himself in shape with his daily visits to the gym after work and his six foot body showed it. Allie on the other hand had let herself go a bit. She didn’t have the time what with work and taking care of her aging mother. They used to go together but it had been a long while since she had the time or the energy for a gym workout.

“Where is this coming from?” she asked him, incredulously. “Yes, we haven’t had the time to spend together the way we should have, but you know the reasons for that. Mom takes up so much of my time these days. You sure don’t help out much.”

“Look,” he said. “There’s no point in making this ugly. Let’s just say we’ve run our course and it’s time to move on.”

“Move on?” Allie repeated in disbelief.

After a moment’s silence, she slowly understood.

“Oh shit!” Allie finally said although she seldom cursed. “There’s someone else isn’t there? I can’t believe this! You’ve been cheating on me, haven’t you? David, you wouldn’t do that to us, to me. Tell me I’m wrong here!”

David then did what he always did. He twisted things so that he didn’t appear to be in the wrong.

“Don’t pull that hurt surprised game with me,” he answered. “How much time have you been willing to put into this so called marriage? When was the last time you spent any time looking after my needs? You spend so much time looking after your mother or the girls that I’m just an after-thought to you. I need more than to be a lousy third on your list. I need to matter more than that to someone. And I found someone. What’s wrong with that? You obviously don’t seem to care anymore. It’s time I took care of myself now since you don’t anymore.”

“Where did you meet her?” Allie asked.

“Look, what difference does it make?” David said with annoyance. “The fact is that there’s someone willing to put me first.”

“It makes a difference to me,” Allie replied. “I think I’m entitled to that at least. Was it at the gym? You seem to be spending a lot of time there lately.”

“I said it doesn’t matter where I met her. But if you must know, then, yes, it’s someone I met at the gym. If you had been willing to spend time with me it probably wouldn’t have happened,” David replied

“Oh, please,” Allie said. “Don’t even start with that. And just out of curiosity here, how old would this “other woman” be?”

“Her age doesn’t have anything to do with this,” he said running his hand impatiently through his hair. “As I already said, I matter to her and I don’t to you anymore.”

“Ah younger then; and I think it’s your nice hefty bank account that matters, too. How lucky for her she got herself a nice rich ad executive.” Allie’s voice rose slightly, “You know what it’s been like for me. I have to take care of Mom. She’s sick. She has Alzheimer’s and I’m trying to help her. The system stinks and it’s taking most of my energy trying to fight it and get her help. On top of that I had to help Beth with the wedding and I work full time. Just because I don’t have the time I used to, you don’t just give up on us. I love you and I thought you loved me.”

“I did,” David said. “But you let it die of neglect. It’s only natural I found someone else. So, like I said, I’m done. I’m going out now and I won’t be home. I’ll come back and pack up my stuff on the weekend. Do what you want with the house. You can have it. I just want out.”

With that he got up and slammed the door on his way out as she threw the dishtowel after him.

Sitting there later drinking her coffee, Allie tried gathering her thoughts. She was in shock. Allie realized that David had a selfish streak in him, but she had accepted it over the years. She didn’t know who she could talk to. Obviously she couldn’t talk to her mother. Half the time Allie’s mom didn’t know who she was anymore. It wouldn’t be fair to bring the girls into this. As upset as she was at David, Allie knew that the girls loved him and she knew that he loved them. She didn’t want to come between that. Allie didn’t want to tell any of her friend’s, at least not until she had it sorted out herself. They all thought that David was a terrific husband. She had spent most of her life with him. They had married young. She had been only twenty three at the time. In a few months she would be fifty. A young fifty she thought with a sad smile. And while she had let herself go in the past few months she was still in pretty good shape. She had been kept busy trying to find the right place for her mother. Sure she needed to lose the fifteen pounds or so she had put on. And she really needed to have her hair coloured and styled again. She just hadn’t had time lately. But other than a few added pounds and a bit too much gray for her comfort, she knew she was still nice-looking. Her hair, when coloured and cut properly was thick and was almost a natural dark auburn. Her eyes, large and chocolate brown were her best feature.

But the more she thought about what David had said and done, the angrier she got. She had lived with adultery. Her father, although dead now, had been a serial cheater on her mother and she thought David would have understood how distraught she was by it. But apparently not she thought.

If it had been for any other reason, she might have forgiven David, if he ever wanted forgiveness that was. He wasn’t the type to admit to mistakes, though. But adultery was a Can’t Forgive in Allie’s opinion. Having seen the devastation it wrought with her mother, she had no intention of suffering the same thing. Things hadn’t been that good between them lately. She was willing to take her share of the blame. But he could have tried harder too. So, she decided, her old life was over. She would take some time and be angry as hell at David. She would mourn losing what they had once had. There wasn’t anything wrong with that, she figured. She thought she should be feeling something more. Shouldn’t there have been more drama at the end of a marriage, more than those two words? David had one thing right though she slowly began to realize. She had stopped caring as the realization slowly crept over her as she sat slowly drinking her laced coffee. Once she got past the shock and the hurt, she realized that the thought of starting over wasn’t so bad after all. She was still attractive. She had a good job. She would make time for herself. So she decided to take a page out of David’s book. Instead of being the nurturer, the one who took care of everyone else’s needs, she was going to take care of hers for a while. She realized it had been a long time since she had done that.

Who knew what the second half of her life would be like? But she knew she would soon be finding out.

It was critique night when we read everyone's and critique it.
This is what the teacher said:

"Good story. Very realistic dialogue & thoughts. Well written & I'm glad she was strong enough to figure out she's better off without the jerk. (and she says she's not a romance fan *g*). It was easy to connect with your main character. Good work"

Other comments from the class:

"Good for her! The change in this character is significant! Well done!"

"Good dialogue. David seem a little too stiff though."

"Agree - very unloveable"

(of course this is the point :-) Cindy helped me with some editing and I told her what else happens down the road)

"Happy this lady ended up finally thinking about herself. Moved nicely. Easy to identify with the main character."

"Well thought out, it moved along naturally"

"That was excellent. If you get the chance, see the movie 'The Truth about Love.' This story reminded me of it."

Then later when we were discussing our stories, the teacher made mention of "feeling" the characters. Then she said Kristie's is a good example of feeling what they are feeling. I must say I preened at that one - in a completely unobvious way of course *g*

Now I'm going to try and get the swollen head back down to normal.
There is one guy in the class, a big burly football coach and man can he write!! He blows me away with his writing. He wants to write a novel and I think he can really do it! Not a romance novel - his story was a detective type story - but wow was it good!

'til later


Anonymous said...

Yeah for you Kristie!!!!

Personally I think you could write a novel too. I would even buy it and not ask for a free

Your sister Nancy

Lori said...

Great story, Kristie. Really makes you want to take care of your relationships. *g*

Janet Webb said...

Totally off topic: you LOVE Lisa Kelypas, don't you? My good friend Andrea, from the Suz Brockmann BB, went to her author signing last night and came away with such interesting details!

And Sheri, also from the Suz BB, says such great things about you ... I too love reading your blog: I'm good friends with Daniela :) of Where's My Hero!

Kristie (J) said...

Hey Nance! Thanks. But then you're my baby sis and you're supposed to think I almost walk on water - and I do know you think that :)
I have to figure out what the heck to write first off though. Don't know if I could do a romance because then I'd have to have love (sex - lot's and lots of yummy hot squishy) scenes and I don't know if I could write those. Remember all those off colour jokes you told & I killed 'cause I didn't get them? And then you and Li had to explain them. Then I'd kind of chuckle and go "Ooohh, OK - I get it now."

Lori: Thanks! It was fun writing (and just so you know - completely the antithisis of my own experience. That's the joy of writing - you can make up stuff)

Janet: Now where would you get the impression I love Lisa Klepas *huge grin*. I am SO envious of people who get to meet their favourites. We never get them. Although come to think of it, Kelly Armstrong had a book signing at a book store about a block near me - but I don't read her books. And tell Daniela to update her blog more *g*. I love her blog, but she doesn't post often enough. I'm still waiting for that Raven Prince review ;-). She is such a sweetheart isn't she?

nath said...

hey Kristie :D

It was a really nice piece, but I don't mean to offend you or something, but don't you think a bit typical? Man declares that he has enough and woman finally realizes that he's been cheating with a younger woman who's after his bank account. Also, man acts all arrogant like it wasn't his responsibility and so on. It's well written, but not too original... I hope you don't mind me saying that.

As for you writing a book, I'd buy one copy too! Wouldn't ask for a free copy, but for an autograph! And youd don't necessarily have to put explicit love/sex scenes. I mean, look at the queen of romance, NR... Her love/sex scenes are very, very, very mild compare to everything that's on the market. Same thing for Katherine Stone, so I don't think that'd be a problem. Oh and I'm so envious of you!!!! Kelley Armstrong! (also an author that doesn't write steamy love scenes, but she's classified in horror - LOL -, so I guess it's understandable). I'd like so much to go to one of her signing... I really don't understand, she's a Canadian author, but only have signing around Toronto and in the US. What about other Canadian cities, like *cough* MONTREAL?!?

Anonymous said...

Kristie - you are going to write your book soon I hope. Have a cyber-signing.. Janet's telling tales :) It's her fault I found this blog :)

I believe... Kelly Armstrong was at our library a while back... Will have to double check so don't quote me yet.

I'm going to have to find some Lisa Kelypas at the library... I've never read any of hers.

Any other suggestions??

Kristie (J) said...

Nath: LOL - nope I don't mind criticizm at all. And that's another reason why I don't know if I'd ever write a romance - anything I wrote - romance-wise - would be chock full of those old cliches we all laugh and groan about. The point of this writing was to have a villian (the eeeeeevvilll husband), conflict (evil husband leaving) and character growth (she turns away from doormat ways). Although it all turns out good in a cliched kind of way *g*. I'm at work and don't have the rest here - but I will when I get home (not the rest of the story - that would be way to long - but a synopsis of what happens to our Allie.

Kristie (J) said...

Farmwifetwo: I'm not sure whether you were around for my "challenge" (and some would say obsession) on getting readers to try reading Dreaming of You or not. But - if you haven't read it, you are on the list! As for rec's - I think you like RS don't you? If so, I'll have to consult my trusty excell spreadsheet when I get home since my memory is like a leaky faucet, but off the top of my head, Linda Howard comes to mind right off the bat if you haven't tried her yet.

Maria, Lover of All Things Romance said...

That's so great Kristie, I really enjoyed it

ReneeW said...

Very smooth flowing with realistic dialog. I think you have a budding talent. Maybe someday you'll be a famous author and I can brag 'I knew her when...' :)

Jenster said...

That was most excellent!!! I hate David and I cheer Allie, which is a great thing for so few words!

CindyS said...

I told you in the e-mail that I thought your writing was getting stronger and one thing about those 1500 word assignments is that it forces you as the writer to 'get to the point' so to speak. I've heard writers say they write and then cut, cut, cut. And then cut some more.

Has the writing teacher suggested any writing books to read? I have many you can borrow when you come on over. Yep, I have quite a catalogue of books on writing - never read them though, turns out I just like books ;)

And Farmwifetwo, I'm not sure you know what is about to happen now that you have been put on Kristie's list! She's been just waiting for someone to admit they haven't read LK ;)