Monday, 19 September 2011

WoW - The Conflict

Write On Wednesdays

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 15 Give yourself some time to notice the people around you. The people who may cross your path each day. The lady in front of you at the supermarket, the man who helps the school kids cross the road, a neighbour, a waitress in a cafe, a librarian, anyone at all. Choose one person, someone you don't know, and this person will become the basis of the week's writing exercise. Describe this person as you see them, describe their surroundings. Then imagine a problem, create conflict for this person. Describe the conflict. Describe how your character deals with the problem. The conflict might resolve itself, it might not. It is up to you. Perhaps, the lady in the supermarket has forgotten her wallet. Does she bursts into tears? Maybe the librarian finds a lost child. The aim is to show how your character responds to conflict and in the process, reveal something about that character. Tell us their story.

I decided to use this weeks prompt to describe the internal conflict of  Rock Chick.  My dilemma this week was that I had two partly written posts about her based on the events of the past week.  I decided to use both.  Two different stories with an element of conflict both internal and with others.  Two very different conclusions, one positive the other, well, the other not so much.

Bangles and Blackberries

Leaning back on the sun warmed metal of the car door she surveyed the slightly rickety table in front of her.

Covered with a dark blue chenille cloth it held a host of carefully displayed memories.

“How much do you want for this?”  The man was holding an intricately designed wrought iron wine rack with a pattern of leaves and grapes.

He had the hungry look of a dealer about him, trying to appear nonchalant but the glint in his eye betrayed him.  Slightly scruffy, dressed in varying shaded of beige, a cap pulled low over his brow, hair curling over his collar.  Trying to blend in with the crowd but the flash of gold at his wrist belied the deliberately casual attire.

“£10” she said flatly.  He sniffed.  “Give you a fiver for it” he reached for his wallet like it was a done deal.

“£10” she said more firmly.  “Do it for 8 quid, split the difference?”  She decided not to split hairs by pointing out that splitting the difference would have actually made it £7:50.

“Sorry” she said all the while thinking, ‘it’s a bloody bargain at a tenner and you KNOW it mate!’

He sniffed again. Putting it down he moved on up the dusty path to the next table muttering under his breath, ” it’s a fucking car boot sale not fucking Covent Garden you know.”

Well, maybe he was right but it was early yet. Plenty more buyers would pass by and, although she couldn’t afford to be fussy, somehow she didn’t want him to have any of her memories.  She fought the urge to wipe his greasy fingerprints from the wine rack, telling herself that this was a means to an end, that these were just ‘things’.

The day passed in a blur of talking, selling and rearranging to fill the gaps.

 The tin box held a small pile of notes, her jeans pockets jingled with coins, one for each child as she sold the things they had gathered together.

In the late afternoon there was a brief respite.  Leaving the depleted table in the capable hands of her friend  she picked up her discarded polystyrene coffee cup and wandered across the field to the hedgerow which was laden with plump, juicy blackberries.  After filling the cup to the brim, her fingers and lips stained with the purple juice, she stopped by a stall and bought some cooking apples, acid green with smooth waxy skins. 

As the day drew to a close she packed up the unsold items, carefully wrapping them in newspaper and stowing them in a box.

Her hand hovered over the tin, would it be enough?  What would she do if it wasn’t? She couldn't even contemplate THAT possibility, it had to be enough.

Carefully she counted the money.  It WAS enough.  She sent up a silent prayer of thankfulness.

Suddenly the sale of her memories seemed less important.

This, this was what mattered right now.


Broken Dreams
“What’s not to love?”

She sat looking at her friend, nibbling the skin on the edge of her thumb, the steam rising from the teapot on the table between them.

“He’s tall, good looking, successful, and he adores you, seriously, what more do you want, what more could ANYONE want?”

Still she said nothing, examining her thumb which was now red and sore.

“We don’t laugh” she said eventually.

“Of course you do, you ....”

“You don’t understand” she interrupted. “Yes, he can MAKE me laugh, but we don’t laugh together, it’s not the same, not the same thing at all”.

“I know how  ……….. “  She trailed off.  Somehow she couldn't find the words that would do justice to the way she felt.  It was impossible to explain how you just knew when something felt right. This didn't, and no matter how hard she tried she knew it never would.

“What is it you know” said her friend “because you’re right, I don’t understand.  Do you know how many people would love to be in your shoes right now?  Do you know how many people are queuing up to be in your shoes?  He’s not going to hang around forever you know, sooner or later he’ll get tired of waiting and someone else will snap him up”.

She shrugged, “maybe”.

“I’m beginning to think that’s what you want" said her friend, "it saves you from having to make a decision. It means you can't be blamed for breaking his heart because that's what you're going to do, you know that don't you?"

She looked around the teashop.  The checked cloth covered with a sheet of glass on every table.  The blackboard on the wall with the daily specials.  Above the counter another board proclaiming ‘chocolate menu’, everything from gluten free chocolate brownies to hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows.

On every table a vase of fresh flowers.

“This place used to be called Flowers you know”.

Her friend sighed in exasperation.  “Tell me” she said. “Tell me what it is that’s stopping you”.

Reaching into her bag she drew out a box.  Opening it she said, “It’s broken. I loved it, I looked after it, I would never have done anything to damage it and yet it broke”.

Her friend reached across the table and gently took the bangle from the box examining it closely.

“It can be mended” she said softly, “look”.  She traced the silver wire with her finger.  “It’s just come unstuck from where it was fixed to the stone.  It’s not really broken, it’s just come apart a little”.

“Maybe that's true” she replied with a smile. But the smile couldn't hide the sadness in her eyes.


Anonymous said...

I liked the second best. Poignancy abounds!Good stuffs.

I must have missed the bit about there being two stories because first time I read I got really confused and the felt a bit of a div when I reread the introduction!

Sarah Mac said...

I can see how that would have been confusing! :) I've made the distinction between the two a little clearer so hopefully it wont confuse anyone else.

Lene said...

I agree with Adam about #2 being incredibly poignant. I really love the way it's written and am dying to find out what is holding her back.

I also really enjoyed #1. It left so many unanswered questions. What does she need the money for? Why does it matter more than her memories. Fascinating stuff! I agree with her about not selling anything to dodgy client #1...I wouldn't sell him anything either!

K.D.Storm said...

Both pieces really made my mind wonder about what was going on beyond the moment you wrote of. My fav was the first one(went through that a couple of weeks ago)but you did a great job with both and you have me hanging on what will happen next.

Melissa said...

I liked the first one best, though they were both good. I also wish I knew what happened to bring her to that point, and what happened next.

Car said...

I love the first piece, I wanted to grab the girl at the end and say 'what, what is more important than her memories' you described the sleazy guy really well and your dialogue was awesome - that is one area I am sadly lacking in and I need to work on!!!

The second piece was also really good, but I wondered about this guy. Why would everyone be queuing up for him? I would love to know more of his back story.

Anne said...

Hi Sarah. It was interesting to read that there's still people in your neck of the woods who want something for nothing from a car boot sale! LOL

I found the second story fantastic to read (as I did the first one) but it was particularly moving. I'm thinking I'd love to sit down with you (or Rock Chick I should say) and have a pot of tea and a good chat. I think we'd have a lot in common.

Anne xx

Stephanie said...

Both of your pieces are lovely, but my favorite is the 2nd one.
I could feel the emotion that this woman was going through -- the pressure of telling her friend how she was truly feeling.
Beautiful work!! :)

Sheri Bomb said...

I really enjoyed the second one! Though I must admit, I felt a little like shaking your character and telling her to spit it out, just say what it is she thinks is stopping her! Mostly because I wanted to know, but also a little because I'm a 'fixer' and in the place of her friend I'd want to give her the best advice I could but need to be informed first.

Sarah Mac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jayne said...

I loved both! You write so poignantly-as others have said. I love the mix of desperation and sentimentality in the first. I can relate to it lol

Suzi said...

Beautiful writing as always! I really loved both of them, so many unanswered questions I'm left hankering for more - yet sometimes there is more beauty in the unknown than a conclusion as each reader takes from it what they need, nothing more, nothing less. Well done, I look forward to next week!

Anonymous said...

I really want to know what is motivating rock chick. Why does she need to sell all her memories? Why does she need the money?
Likewise, in the second I really wanted to know why she didn't want to commit to her boyfriend.
I like the way you write, your pace is great, loved the imagery of the cup with blueberries and collecting waxy apples, but I want to know what makes rock chick tick. Don't hold back! Your writing could really sing Sarah. :)

Andy said...

The first one is interesting but I like the second one much better. The rock music I am listening right now doesn't interfere with my concentration on the emotions that rock chick conveys. You can make a reader really focus on your story and feel it. You rock!

P.S. I really won't hold grudges if you could give me your corrections on my entry, I find it helpful no matter how small it is.hehe..


Sarah Mac said...

Ha ha, thank you Andy. I will pop back and offer a couple of suggestions (they really are only very small ones on grammer and context:).

I've been reading all the comments (thank you all x:) and I would like to expand on both of these stories. In fact, I have written another post which fits with this weeks prompt giving some of the back story to the man in the second one.

It's a little longer than 200 words and could possibly fit in somewhere else but, if Gill has no objections then I will post it alongside this weeks.

Anonymous said...

I loved your description of the guy in the first one - what a geezer! Took me back to my 11 years in London.
Like Karen, I want to know what makes Rock Chick tick too, & was wondering why she had to sell her memories, not commit etc. But your writing is wonderfully descriptive & readable.

Jayne said...

I was drawn right into both stories immediately.

Loved the bangle/relationship metaphor in the second story. Beautifully written, Sarah!

Sarah Mac said...

I've been really slack on commenting on here. I think if anyone takes the time to say something then the very least you deserve is an individual reply so thank you and apologies and here they are :)

Thank you Lene - there may be another post explaining why she needed the money at some point. I'm glad he didn't get the wine rack, it did go to a really nice lady who wanted it for a wedding present (which funnily enough is how I got it:).

Thanks KD, I've done a couple of car boots in the last few weeks and It's really inspired me to clear out all the stuff that's been hanging around for ages so not only is my house feeling lighter and more spacious but I'm making some money too. A real win/win :)

It was desperation to start with Melissa, a way to make some money for something really important and the good news is that it worked!

Thanks Car. I avoid dialogue sometimes because I find it pretty hard but I decided I needed to try and get over it.

Basing it on real conversations helped.

In reality possibly not everyone is queuing up for the guy in the second story but he is one of the good guys and available so he certainly has options.

There are always people who want something for nothing Anne but memories have a value although in this case I don't think any amount of money would have persuaded her to sell anything to him.

A cuppa and a chat, now that would be lovely (you bring the cake, I'll stick the kettle on;) xx

Thank you Stephanie, sometimes feeling and emotions are so hard to describe, words just don't seem to do them justice.

Ha ha, her friend DOES know Sheri and she understands but she wants her to move on and be happy and she thinks this guy is the right thing for her.

Thank you Jayne, there was an element of desperation to it all, it was very important. Sentimentality had to be put to one side and in the end, it was worth it :)

Thanks Suzi, there are some answers and explanations to come but I agree, sometimes it's better to leave some things unsaid and let the reader use their imagination.

Thanks Karen, I will expand on the first story at some point.

In the second, he isn't actually her boyfriend. He is someone she is very close to and has strong feeling for but he wants so much more than that and she doesn't know if she can ever give him what he deserves.

What makes Rock Chick tick? I'm not sure even she knows the answer to that right now :)

Thanks AS, maybe the more I write the more it will become clear, I'm not sure of the answers myself.

Thank you Jayne, there is a very strong link between the bangle and her heart.