Dabbling in fiction

I’m attending a creative writing course called Basics of Writing a Novel at Collin College. Last week, we had to write a scene -any scene- following the criteria we discussed in class. Although it has nothing to do with travel, I thought I’d share the scene I wrote. If you care to share constructive criticism, you’re more than welcome to do it below.

 

Elizabeth cursed under her breath. She should have known better than to wear suede pumps on a day like this. She shook her umbrella, opened the door to her favorite café and scanned the faces in the room. She half wished he wasn’t there but she knew it had to be done.

Later, a stern-looking elderly waiter deposited a сafetière, a timer and two demitasses on the table. Elizabeth fidgeted with a stray lock of auburn hair, checked the timer, pressed the plunger down and poured some coffee. A hand on her shoulder made her jump out of her skin.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you” said Marcel, taking a seat. “Have you been waiting long? Traffic is murder around l’Etoile.” Elizabeth’s grimace at his choice of word went unnoticed. ”So, anyway, what did you want to talk about? I hope it’s not about your job again” said Marcel with a steely voice through clenched teeth.

Elizabeth took a deep breath and cleared her throat. This is it, she thought. The moment I’ve been dreading. Just stay calm and tell him how you feel. The last time she tried to discuss her promotion with him things didn’t go down well. She hoped that now, in a public place, he’d show more restraint and they’d be able to have a civilized discussion. She didn’t have the energy to give excuses for her bruises, emotional and otherwise, anymore.

“Look, I know how you feel about my promotion. I know you think I’m having an affair with my boss. But I’m not. I’m not! It’s all in your head, Marcel,” said Elizabeth with a quivering voice. “How can I make you see that?”

Marcel poured some coffee, added sugar and stirred with deliberate movements. Elizabeth could see the veins in his forehead already bulging and his breath accelerating. He took a sip and fixed his ice blue eyes on Elizabeth. “You can’t.” Elizabeth’s face crumpled. It was useless. He’ll never overcome his jealousy.

“I want out,” she blurted out. “I can’t go on like this. You don’t trust me, you make my life a living hell, and you say you love me but sometimes I wonder.”

Marcel stared in disbelief. This could not be happening. “But I do love you. I do many things for you, I live for you but you don’t seem to acknowledge that.” He took Elizabeth’s limp hand. She shivered in disgust. “Please, don’t do this. Let’s talk about it. What do you want from me?” He looked at her with wet eyes.

“We’ve been through this many times. I’ve told you how horrible it makes me feel the fact that you don’t trust me. I don’t know what else to do!”

“All right, all right,” said Marcel in a conciliatory tone. “I promise I’ll let you go on business trips with your boss, if that makes you feel better.”

Elizabeth yanked her hand from his grasp. “What do you mean let me go!? That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not about you giving me permission to do things. I’m an adult woman, you can’t tell me who I should be friends with, where to go, what to wear!” Elizabeth gradually raised her voice. The old waiter approached their table and asked if they needed something else. Elizabeth suddenly became self-conscious and whispered “No, thanks.”

“Let me prove to you that I can change, that I can be the person you want me to be,” Marcel pleaded. “I do love you, you know.”

“Yes, I know but I’m not sure this is going to work. I feel caged in.” all of a sudden, Elizabeth felt a confidence she didn’t know she had. I can do this. I can stand up for myself, she thought. “I’m sorry but I can’t go on like this. I’m sorry.” Elizabeth stood up.

“Please, don’t leave me. I’ll kill myself if you do! I can’t live without you” Marcel looked miserable but Elizabeth saw through his pretense. He can’t live without controlling me.

Elizabeth picked up her raincoat and umbrella and slowly made her way to the front door. A few customers watched her progress. Marcel signaled the waiter for the check. He was seething with anger. How dare she! The little whore!

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Ana

Hi, I'm Ana. I'm originally from Argentina but I'm currently living in Dallas (USA) with my British husband. I'd like to share my experiences as an expat and as a traveller.

12 thoughts on “Dabbling in fiction”

  1. I like it, Ana. 🙂 In that short scene, we can already tell much about the characters and their backstory. It could also be a true story as I’m sure the world does not lack in manipulative jerks like Marcel, hehe.

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  2. I am afraid that I did not feel sympathetic or involved. ~~~perhaps it is something to do with being a male and this type of fictional subject matter.
    A technical quibble about ambiguity:-
    Your concluding four sentences
    “Marcel signaled the waiter for the check. He was seething with anger. How dare she! The little whore!”
    makes me wonder why the waiter should feel like that.
    A suggestion is to make the first two sentences into one, plus replacing ‘. He’ with the single word ‘and’.
    But I agree that Marcel is irrational, does not understand Elizabeth, and concludes with an abusive and completely unacceptable sexist diminutive– if you get my meaning.
    If I were a female, I would not touch him, or his like, with a bargepole! … Never, ever!

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    1. You make a valid point about the concluding sentences. However, the way I see it, although there is the question of proximity, the context should make it clear that it was Marcel and not the waiter who was seething with anger.

      And thanks for reading it to the very end, especially if it’s not your cup of tea (which I totally understand!)

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      1. O.K. Ana let us agree to differ but please let recollect and ask a question, please.
        As I read this sentence, beginning, “Elizabeth fidgeted with a stray lock of auburn hair, ” I felt a little mental click. After a bit of thought, I realized why so I ask the question “Do websites KSURF or VU mean anything to you?”. I am referring to online writing courses, some of which I have followed.

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          1. During 2011 I followed a VU course (Virtual University) on ‘Beating Writer block’ plus a free course on ‘Journaling’. Around that time VU started a new Web site named KSURF together with a ‘WriteNow’ initiative; this initiative invited contributions. On one of those, in the Course Forum a lady contributed a sample of her work. It began with a statement that the principal character had Auburn hair and I just wondered —- ‘if …’ .
            I envy you going to a real live course. You can track both sites via Google. VU offer 100+ inexpensive courses. I used to receive email notification but this has dried up and I wonder if there is a problem. I guess that they are somewhere north of you since i believe that they are on Pacific time. I know that I often made forum comments first thing but they were timed, their time, around 01:00 hrs or a bit later.
            If you are curious, try http://writenow.ksurf.net/ ; Click on ‘Discuss Writing’ and you will be taken to the Forum, scroll to the bottom and you will find that the first two comment initiations are attributed to an individual with a hyphenated two word log-on ID. The second word is one that you have heard before.

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