It’s Fiction Friday again. I am starting to despise my character. She has turned into quite a cranky-liar, mean to her husband woman. When I started this I had no idea where it was going. So far it has been a really fun adventure. Have you ever thought about writing fiction, but were intimidated and never tried? I would highly recommend giving it a chance. Write something and see what happens next. It is quite the experience!
Alicia cried for a bit longer and then she stopped. Brian lifted her face until he could see her eyes. “You need to tell me what is going on,” he pleaded. Alicia sat up and grabbed a tissue from her desk. She dabbed at her eyes and sniffled until she felt calm enough to speak. As she pulled more tissues out of the box to blow her nose she knocked the box onto the floor. When she leaned down to pick it up she bumped her head on the corner of the desk.
“Ouch,” she yelled.
“Gosh, Alicia, are you OK?” Brian asked. “Take a deep breath. Slow down. I think you are going to need to put some ice on that bump.” Brian left the room. Alicia could hear him opening the freezer door. Then the familiar sound of him wrestling ice cubes from the ice-cube tray floated down the hall towards her. He always whacked the tray on the counter a few times before he popped the cubes out. It was so annoying.
Brian came back into the room with some ice cubes wrapped in a wash cloth. He handed it to Alicia so she could hold it up to her head. He knelt down on the floor in front of her and pushed her hair back so he could get a good look at the lump on her forehead. “It looks like it’s going to hurt for a while,” Brian offered as he handed her another tissue, “So, what is going on?”
“I’ve done something terrible,” she started, “I’m in trouble, Brian.”
“I don’t think you did anything bad enough to deserve a whack on the head like you gave yourself,” he said with a small smirk. When he looked up and saw her eyes his expression changed. “What could you have done? It can’t be that serious?” he asked.
“It was back before we got married. Remember my book of short stories?” she asked. Brian nodded. Of course he remembered her book of short stories. He tried to remain patient. He wondered if the lump on her head was worse than he had thought. They were just talking about the book. Did she think he was a complete idiot? He found he was asking himself that questions more times than he cared to admit lately.
Alicia paused, the she said quickly, “I copied part of the last story from another author. I just wanted to finish it so I could send it off to my editor before we got married. I wanted it to be finished. I wanted to be done with it before the big day. The wedding planning was so stressful.”
Brian looked puzzled. It was almost as if he couldn’t comprehend what she was saying. None of this made any sense. He tried to hide his annoyance. He was tired of listening to her complain about the wedding. It was supposed to be the best day of her life. All she did was whine about it. The entire day had been perfect and that wasn’t good enough. “Are you sure?” he asked keeping his voice even and his facial expression as neutral as possible. Alicia rolled her eyes. He hated it when she rolled her eyes at him. This was one of the things he was going to bring up to that marriage counselor as soon as he got an appointment made. He was not an idiot. She just blew things out of proportion. He didn’t always know what to say. Everything he seemed to say or do these days irritated her so much anyway. It was exasperating.
“Of course I am sure!” She yelled. Brian could say the most ridiculous things sometimes. It was like he was just too slow to keep up. It frustrated her to no end. How could she make him understand that this was serious?
Brian shook his head, “It just doesn’t make any sense. You never break any rules. You never let me break any rules.” Brian couldn’t make heads or tails of this. Alicia was such a stickler for doing the right thing. That time they came home from the store and the cashier had forgotten to charge them for the bag of dog food under the cart she had made him drive straight back to the store and pay for it. Another time he had found a quarter in the soda machine and she had made him put it back. She was ridiculous sometimes. It just seemed impossible that she would do something like this. She always condemned people who plagiarized. She thought they were the lowest of the low. That and liars. She had no tolerance for liars either. God forbid he lie about how much ice cream he had the night before or if he had read her news magazine before she got home. He was not supposed to touch her magazines until she was finished reading them.
“That’s why Jacob called me,” she said quietly, “he was tying to warn me.”
“Warn you?” Jacob said absent-mindedly.
“There has been some talk among his friends in the publishing world. Now this reporter has called. I am sure he has heard something too. I don’t know what I am going to do. I think I have to deny it. I can’t let anyone know that this is true. It will ruin my reputation,” she said, thinking out loud.
“You can’t lie about it, Alicia” Brian cautioned, “I mean, what about your integrity? You’ve always hated liars and cheaters. I mean, you were on TV talking about that on the Morning Show.”
“Brian, if I admit to this my career is over. I’m over. I’ll probably get sued. We could lose everything. Do you want to end up homeless?”
“Alicia, listen to yourself. We are not going to be homeless. We aren’t going to lose everything. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I do get up and got to work five days a week. Last year I only made a few thousand dollars less than you did.”
Alicia could feel her blood start to boil. A few thousand dollars less? she thought. It’s like he had completely forgotten that she had made a lot more money than he did last year. Not that it mattered. This year was different anyway. She hadn’t published a book this year. There wasn’t going to be a huge influx of cash unless she published the book she was working on now. He never seemed to understand any of this. She was so tired of fighting about money and who made more anyway. They couldn’t survive on one income. The fighting was pointless. Who cares who makes more money when you are on the verge of self-destruction?
Brian interrupted her thoughts, “This doesn’t sound like you at all. Maybe if you just tell the truth everyone will understand. You can explain that you were young…”
Alicia interrupted him, “You can’t be serious? You can’t be that naive, Brian! That is not how the world works. I do believe in telling the truth. It’s just that…this isn’t one of those times where the truth is the best strategy.”
“What? You always say the truth is the best strategy. You always say ‘follow the rules, keep your nose clean’ and everything will be fine. Why don’t you taking your own advice? Why don’t you trust your first instinct? This is just crazy. You will never get away with it,” Brian said incredulously.
The Prompt: Invent a / your character (who) has two personality traits that are completely incompatible, that don’t fit together at all. For example: this character is incredibly messy and is also a total perfectionist. Or: this character is a pacifist and also has a really explosive temper. Or: this character believes in strict, traditional family values but is promiscuous by nature. You decide. Then think of a situation in which these two sides of your character would be in direct conflict with each other. Write the story / scene.
P.S. As you are are reading this I am likely getting my two wisdom teeth removed. I am only telling you this so you will feel sorry for me and leave me extra nice comments. I am shameless.
P.P.S. I am also accepting gifts of chocolate and wine.