Montag, 8. März 2010

Behind the barn

This piece is difficult, and heavy with dialogue. Dialogues are my main weak point, so please give me some constructive criticism - how could I improve this scene?


Slowly, Paul pushes his mother's wheelchair over the uneven ground. He feels uneasy. No matter what his mother thinks she might gain from seeing their former home one last time before it is torn down - he could gladly have done without this visit.

"It's still beautiful", she sighs. "Too bad your father lost your job and we had to move away."

"I know you loved this place." There is a lump in his throat. His family had been living here for almost ten years. Years, in which there were many good things, but also...

"I can still see Rosie and Sybilla running over the meadow, one Easter morning I think it was. They were looking for chocolate eggs, and you had found them earlier that morning and eaten them all, and then you were terribly sick."

He shakes his head, smiling a sad smile. "Yes, I guess for the grown-ups it was funny." His mind is clouded with a different kind of memory. They are silent for a while.

"Mom, now... do you still remember Uncle Steve?" He has to swallow and try twice before he can say that name out loud.

"Of course I do!" She looks at him, her eyes sparkling. "Wasn't he the Miller's son? Or was it the Roberts'? Such a nice young man. He used to take care of you, play with you outside so I had time to clean the house. I'm surprised you still remember him. I always thought you had forgotten how happy we were around here, you never spoke of it."

Happy. Now that's a different word for it. For a moment, he tries to imagine what his therapist would have to say to this choice of words. If he backs down now, she won'T be disappointed. She has made it clear this is his decision, his alone, and he can do it one way or another. However, suddenly the urge to speak it out loud is overwhelming, almost choking him. "Mom, have... uhm, have you ever wondered what we did outside? Why Steve insisted on going behind the barn to play?"

She looks at him, frowning. "I don't understand. What are you talking about? It was such a lovely time." And another image lightens up her face once more. Nothing can disturb her in this mood.

"Mom, I'm telling to tell you..." He's becoming desperate. He needs the words out of his system, now.

"I still remember when you hit puberty." She continues to smile, forgiving. "You wouldn't go out with the others anymore, stay in your room instead to sulk."

"And you never felt the need to ask why this was so." His voice is flat, void of emotion. It is very difficult to keep it this way. He needs to remain in control. "What do you think happened behind the barn, especially on the days when the girls weren't around?"

She has turned her gaze away from his face, an old and confused woman trying to hold on to her happy memories. God knows there are not many of them. "We had such a lovely time. I wish I could once more see these meadows in springtime..."


slommler hat gesagt…

I think the dialogue is just right...not too heavy at all. And it definitely convey the feeling you are looking for.

Terry Tibke hat gesagt…

This is an interesting tense you chose to work in. I'm all for try to experiment, but keep in mind that this sort of present tense writing usually feels -- well, not so present, to the reader. This is only because stories are most often written in past tense this past half century.

As for the dialogue, I agree. It doesn't feel too heavy. It feels right. There are some corrections to make still, like:

"I still remember when you hit puberty." She continues to smile, forgiving his disparaging remark. "You wouldn't go out with the others anymore. You stayed in your room instead to sulk."

That's how I'd do it anyway. Keep it up!

Diandra hat gesagt…

@Terry: Yeah, I know. I tried keeping it in the past tense, but the present tense verbs kept creeping up at me, and finally I gave in. They're stubborn little buggers...

Thanks for your feedback! I know I have to use more dialogue, but I'm really not good at it, most of the time...

Judy hat gesagt…

So sad...he needs to tell her about his childhood traumas...she needs to continue to think it was to find a way for both...