Friday, July 11, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: My oldest friend

I immediately had a very personal story tug on me when I saw this prompt, but I want to try to use Sunday Scribbling as a means of getting deeper into my fiction writing, so here is the story of my new main character Ellen's Oldest Friend.

**So just to reiterate, this is fiction. Don't want anyone to think I'm airing info about my failing marriage over the
internet. (Not that I even have a failing marriage. Thankfully!) :) **

I always thought that my husband would be my best friend. I thought that's how it worked. I'd have to watch our wedding video to verify this, but I think I even wrote the word "best friend" into our wedding ceremony. But I guess you can't make a person live up to their promises, can you.

Let me be blunt: I killed my husband's dog. No, I never liked the thing. But no, I didn't
to kill him either. Bob knows this. He must--I've told him a thousand times, even had him back my car out of the driveway so he could see that the dog just happened to be lying in the car's
blind spot, and that there was no way I could've known he was there until I felt the impact and heard his little bones crushing. Even though I'm no animal lover, that sound replays in my head sometimes, and I get so nauseous I have to sit down.

There's no way I
could've killed a dog on purpose.

And I guess that's the crux of the problem, I'm coming to see, how can I be with someone who doesn't know that about me? Who can't, even after 6 months, accept my apology and allow us to move on?

It's not that he says he doesn't believe it was an accident, or even that he doesn't forgive me. No, he's much more on the passive side of the passive-aggressive
equation. He "jokes" about my killing his dog, for instance. In front of other people. As in: In response to something I've said that he doesn't agree with: "This from the woman who killed my dog!" Or, if he's trying to get out of doing something he doesn't want to do, he'll say he can't do it because he's overcome with grief. Convenient that the grief only lasts as long as it takes for me to do whatever it is myself.

At the beginning of the story, when I take him to the hospital because he's having chest pain, I'm scared for him. I'm a bulldog (no pun intended; Shasta was a yellow lab, anyway). I bark at the nurses when they don't get him tested right away to see if he's having a heart attack. I repeat Bob's long list of allergies every time a new orderly comes in to give him some new drug. I'm scared, to be honest, that after all the hard work I've done to try to save my marriage after not being able to save Bob's dog (and then working overtime to pay for the $2,000 vet bill), he'll die on me. And I love him, I do. I tell him that as they roll him into heart surgery. He doesn't say it back.

But then, I witness a doctor-patient apology: he operated on the wrong side of her body. I see in his face the same pain and true regret that I felt about Shasta. I wait for the patient to come back with some nasty comment about the surgeon's incompetence or to call her lawyer. But she doesn't. She accepts the apology, saying she'll need some time to deal with this news, but that she knows he didn't mean to hurt her. She smiles.

After that, I know it's time to leave Bob. If he loved me, he would forgive me and see how much anguish this situation has put me through.
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keithsramblings said...

I like the way you used something on the periphery to focus your character's mind on her situation.

I notice you are reading A Spot of Bother. I recently read it and whilst I enjoyed it, it was something of an anti-climax after reading Mark Haddons 'The Curious Incident...' which I found quite remarkable.

Writer bug said...

Thanks Keith!

I had a similar feeling about Spot of Bother. I enjoyed it, and read it pretty quickly (always a good sign!), but it didn't have as much punch as Curious Incident. Maybe it was that it had so many characters' POVs, in such a short space?

Lirone said...

I like the way the overheard story makes her reconsider her behaviour. I think it's very true to life that we tend to accept behaviour from people we're close to, when we would judge very differently if someone else did the same. And seeing a stranger behave better than our "best friend" can be a very useful trigger to show us this!

Greyscale Territory said...

What an intriguing spin of ideas! Loved the tensions + psychological insights!

Rob Kistner said...

Beyond the dead dog, there was a dead relationship that needed to be interred -- so good for Ellen.

I enjoyed this piece...

Lucy said...

oooh this was way good! I love reading humor along with a good emotional story!
I am so happy this is fiction, for your husbands sake and eSPeCiaLLY for Shasta! :)

Tammie Lee said...

I like the way you use two stories to come to insight.

Linda - Nickers and Ink said...

Glad you pointed out the fictionality! ;-)


WriterBug said...

Thanks for your comments everyone! I'll be dropping by your blogs tonight and tomorrow.

danni said...

very interesting character sketches and tremendous insights here - very enjoyable, glad it's fiction!!!

Tammy said...

I liked how seeing forgiveness opened up her eye's. Well done!

DJPare said...

Wow. There's a lot of turmoil to write about here!