Lines


Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

This week on Write on Edge, the Red Writing Hood prompt was:

write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time someone crossed a line, legally or ethically. Explore the motivation of your character and possibly the consequences of his or her actions. In 450 words or less.

Check out the other responses, or post your own by following the RWH link above.

Apparently I’m feeling a bit maudlin lately.  This continues right after Cheap in the Necessary storyline.  If you want to read it all in order, check out the Fiction tab at the top of the page.

The picture below is by Vivi, click on the image to check out more of her work on Deviant Art.

I shivered in my underwear, shifting uncomfortably on the toilet lid.  Face cupped in my palms, I felt the icy water falling from my hair, dripping down onto my legs and drizzling down my calves.   I struggled to maintain some kind of composure. I was tired of being that girl.  The crying girl.  For once, I’d like to get mad or sad or flustered without that prickling sensation behind my eyelids, the blurry shiver of salt water welling up and blinding me.

The narrow strip of vision I had showed a vacant sink, the overflowing garbage can, cheap crumpled paper towels scattered around it.

“Your shirt is almost dry,” Joanna called out, over-loud above the rattling whoosh of the old hand dryers.  “I don’t know about your jeans, though – you might just have to put them on damp.”

“O-“ I croaked.  Coughed, tried again.  “Ok, thanks.”

“What?!”

“I said OK!” I tried to sound cheerful.

A few minutes later, she passed my newly rinsed and dried shirt over the stall.  It still smelled like gravy.  Or was that my hair?  I ignored the wet that soaked through the shirt the moment I flicked my braid behind me and snagged the damp jeans from the door.

Beggars can’t be choosers.  I sighed and swung open the stall.

“Are you ok?”  I asked, surprised.  She’d been all fire and fury while helping me rinse smears of starchy potatoes out of my hair.  Now, she looked worse than I did.  Her eyes were haunted and watery, her face was drawn and haggard.

A grin fluttered weakly across her face, but crumpled in an instant.

“What’s wrong?”

“Her brother-“ Joanna pressed her fist against her mouth.  I tried to remember ever seeing her as upset as this before.

“What?”  I laid a comforting hand on her arm, but she stepped away.

“Nothing.  It’s just… nothing.  I should never have said anything about him.”  She hugged herself tight, staring down for a long moment.  She met my eyes and whispered, “Do you think I’m a bad person?  Like… really bad?”

“What? No!”

“You were mad at me for not caring about your feelings.  And I…  Katie and I… we used to be friends.”  Eyeliner tears traced black down her cheeks.  “And I used it against her, just like I did to hurt you, only… worse.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat.  I couldn’t believe she was acknowledging that behaviour so openly, so apologetically.  The difference between now and that night at the club was like night and day.

“You were just trying to protect me.”

She let out a sob and sank to her knees.  “I used her dead little brother to hurt her.”

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17 Comments

  1. Oooooh….nicely done.

    I love how you are using the two different prompts to craft your tale. Masterful, really masterful.

  2. Lance

     /  March 30, 2012

    It’s weird how the different prompts from different sources work in our devious little minds, isn’t it?

    The first paragraph’s graphic images are excellent. This sounds gross, but you put me in that bathroom with the crying girl.

    The last two lines are well delivered to capture the emotion. I liked this a lot.

    • I like trying to come up with a story section that makes sense for the prompt, for sure – gives me something small to focus on, rather than looking up at the giant mountain of ‘write it all down’ 🙂
      I’m assuming you mean it in the least awkward-guy-in-the-girls’-washroom kind of way 😉

  3. I love the subtley to where the ethical dilemma is in this piece. Well done.

  4. This really speaks to me. I know I’ve definitely said hurtful things in the heat of a moment that I regret to this day… things that are “low blows”. I think you captured that excellently. I also like the interplay between these two characters, it makes me want to know more about them.

    • I’ve had those “Wait! I take it back!” moments as well. It’s tough to know where the line is when all you want to do is hurt the other person. Katie will definitely come into play again later, and there are a few other posts about the girls in the washroom in the Fiction tab if you’re interested 🙂

  5. :”””””(
    It sucks that any time you think you’ve crossed that line, you ask a friend if you’re a good person and are never quite sure if you should trust your friend because they ARE your friend…

    • so true… the person who will give you their honest opinion on whether you should buy that shirt might be too close to tell you if you really screwed up.

  6. I like the nuance of the ethical consideration. I prefer the ethical lines to be a bit more blurred and cause the reader to think.

    • thanks 🙂
      I like/dislike having to figure out who is in the wrong when each side is so easily argued… makes things a bit more realistic, but not nearly as clear cut as the typical fairy tale bad/good scenario.

  7. This crosses the line – between good and great!
    Guess which side you’re on?

    • thanks 🙂 I’ll guess great, because I’m overconfident like that 😉

  8. This was a good installment. 🙂

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