Tag Archives: Creative writing

When Enough is Enough

“What the hell do you want from me Steven?”

Steven turned away from Marie as she yelled at him.  He had heard this so many times before and he still didn’t have an answer.  This was how their arguments always ended – with her shouting this question and him walking out of the house.  Today, however, was going to be different.

“Marie,” Steven said as he turned to face her again.  “We need to talk about this when you’ve calmed down a bit.  I don’t want to argue with you any more, but there are some things I have to say.”

Marie looked surprised.  This wasn’t what she was expecting.  Steven was supposed to storm out of the house – he always did once things had progressed this far.  What was she meant to say, or do, now?

Steven left the room and walked to the kitchen.  He filled the kettle and methodically went about making a pot of tea.  He needed to do something to calm his nerves.  Concentrating on measuring the leaves into the pot, he started to breathe slowly and deeply.  Steven knew that if he lost his resolve he might not have another opportunity to speak his mind for a very long time.

Marie did not emerge from the bedroom until Steven was half-way through his first cup of tea.  The variation from their normal argument ‘routine’ had thrown her.  Confusion replaced anger and she was becoming anxious about what Steven would say.  Why had she been angry in the first place?  Marie couldn’t remember exactly what had set her off, perhaps it was the tone she had detected when Steven had asked her what was for dinner.

Not knowing what their argument was about was nothing new.  Marie often wondered later what they had been fighting about.  All she knew was that Steven would say something, or do something, and then they would be screaming at each other and she would ask him what he wanted from her.  Then Steven would leave the house for an hour or so, and when he returned it would be as if nothing had ever happened.

Steven always left the house.  Always.

Except today.

Steven poured tea into a cup for Marie as she came into the kitchen.  He motioned to her to take a seat at the dining table, and he took the cups over to sit with her.  As he sat down, Steven looked at Marie and took a deep breath.

Exhaling slowly, Steven asked, “Are you feeling a little calmer now?”

Marie nodded but did not speak.  She was not sure what she should say.

“Marie,” Steven said, “There’s some things I need to talk to you about.  I know this is probably not the best time, but I don’t think there will ever be a good time.”

Marie took a sip of her tea.  It was hot and burnt her lips and tongue, but she swallowed slowly and indicated for Steven to continue.

“I can’t do this anymore, Marie,” Steven said.  “I can’t take one more argument about nothing.  I can’t watch you go through your rollercoaster of emotions anymore.  I can’t live here any more Marie.  I’m sorry.”

Marie willed herself not to show any emotion.  She had known this day would come.  She had known her emotional instability was too much for Steven to bear.  She had seen the signs that he was no longer able to cope.  She understood his need to leave her.  All of this did not, however, lessen the pain caused by the confession of his feelings.

“Steven, we have talked about this before,” Marie said.  “We talked about what we would do when you could not cope anymore.  I have tried, you know that.  I appreciate the support you have given me so far, and I know it hasn’t been easy for you.”

Steven lowered his head and said, “I am really sorry Marie.  I know you are doing everything you can, but I just can’t keep walking on egg-shells all the time.  I never know what mood you are in from one minute to the next.  What was a joke five minutes ago can become a full-on war without notice.  I just can’t take it anymore.”

“So, what do we do now?” Marie asked.

“I’m going to pack a bag and find a place to stay,” Steven replied.  “I’ll get the rest of my stuff when I’ve found somewhere permanent.”

Steven couldn’t look at Marie as he spoke.  His eyes were brimming with tears, and he didn’t want her to know how much he was hurting.  He also didn’t want to see the pain that he knew he would find in Marie’s eyes.  Yes, they had talked about what would happen if it all became too much for him, but those conversations had always made the decision seem easy.  Neither of them had considered that they would still love each other when the time came for the decision to be made.  Well, he had never considered it.

By now, Marie had completely forgotten that they had been fighting less than an hour before.  All she could think about was how much pain she was in, and how hard it must be for Steven to tell her this.  She had seen the tears in his eyes and had started berating herself for being such a horrible person.  Why did she have to be the cause of so much pain?  Why did she have to be so abnormal and have no control over her emotions?  If she were normal, Steven would not be going through this right now, and he would not have had to endure ten years of hell while being in a relationship with her.

Steven left the table when he saw Marie become focused on her thoughts.  He could guess some of what she was thinking.  She almost glazed over when she started turning on herself, and he had seen this so often before.  This time though, Steven had to be strong or he would be in danger of losing his own sanity.  He would go and pack his bag, but he would call Marie’s counsellor when he left so someone could come and stay with her.  He knew the consequences his leaving might have, but he couldn’t think about that now.  He had to go.

Marie was still sitting at the table when Steven came back with his overnight bag.  She looked up at him and could not stop her tears from overflowing.  Wiping them away with the back of her hands she said, “It’s okay Steven.  I understand.”

Steven nodded and touched her on the shoulder.  “I’ll give Jeff a call and let him know what’s happened.  He’s been a good counsellor for you Marie, you need to keep seeing him, okay?  You need to keep working on this.  I’d like to say that I’ll be there for you, but I really need a break – some time to work on me.  Who knows though, maybe someday…”

“Steven, don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Marie said.  “Yes, I’ll keep working on it.  You take care of you.  I’m really sorry.  I know you’ve been through so much because of me.  I hope you find some happiness, I really do.”

Steven patted Marie’s shoulder, then turned and walked to the door.  He didn’t turn before he went out, and Marie didn’t say anything more.

Just like that, she was on her own – and she had no idea what to do now.

No words today

I can't think!

I woke up this morning with a brain-exploding migraine.  Not the best way to start the day, and not being able to function was something of an anti-climax after a reasonably productive weekend as far as writing was concerned.

After a spending most of Saturday and Sunday tidying up loose ends on some half-finished drafts, and working on my latest study assignment, I went to bed last night with the intention of being more disciplined this week, and writing at least 500 words a day for my novel, in addition to blog posts, short stories and continuing to help my friend edit her book.  (Oh, and fit in a full-time job there somewhere!).  But spending the day in bed, doped to the eye-balls and clinging to the ice-pack on my forehead as if it was a life-preserver has thrown my intentions out the window.

So, no 500 words today (well, not yet anyway, and since it is almost midnight I can’t really see it happening).  However, there is always tomorrow….

The Sad Side Of Stubborn

This is the result of an unedited, ten minute warm-up exercise.

Danae had always had a close and loving relationship with her mother.  However, their relationship changed when Danae’s boyfriend was killed in a car accident six months ago and Danae found out she was pregnant ten days later.  Danae’s mother, Marjorie, suggested Danae move back home until the baby was born, but Danae had flatly refused the offer, and since then had hardly spoken to her mother.

Now, sitting at the top of the stairs in her newly rented town-house, Danae was regretting her head-strong ways.  “What have I done?” she asked herself, as she covered her face with her hands and started to cry.  “Why did I push everyone away?  Why didn’t I listen to Mum?”

Danae sat there, with her head bowed and tears streaming down her face for almost half an hour.  She was brought out of her period of self-questioning by her baby moving inside her.  To Danae it seemed that the baby was trying to tell her something.

“You’re right!” Danae exclaimed after the baby kicked again, harder than before.  “I can’t just sit here feeling sorry for myself and dwelling on my mistakes.  I need to do something, get moving, and take some positive action.  Thanks Baby.”

Carefully making her way down the stairs, Danae once more rued her stubborn streak.  It had landed her in trouble more than once over the years, but this time it may have cost her more than she could bear to lose if she couldn’t work things out with her mother.

Picking up the phone, Danae dialled the only phone number she knew by heart.  Her heart was pounding as she waited for her mother to answer.

“Hello?” an unfamiliar voice answered.

“Er, who is this?” Danae asked.

“It’s Ted.  I’m Marjorie’s neighbour.  Who is this?”

“Oh, Ted, I didn’t recognise your voice.  It’s Danae, Marjorie’s daughter.  Is Mum there?”

“I’m sorry, Danae,” Ted said in a sincere voice.  “I was just trying to find your number.  Your mum was taken to hospital about five minutes ago.  She’s had a stroke.”


Sweet Temptation

Oh, Sweet Temptation! I know you are there just lurking in the shadows, waiting to get me when I am at my weakest. I stand on the precipice of succumbing to your charms often. But there is always something that holds me back from your heavenly embrace. My inner core is too strong for your persuasive powers to break. So, I continue to come to the edge of the unknown and stand there wondering if this time that rod of steel will have weakened enough for me to acquiesce to your powers of persuasion.

And it is funny, that I can stand beside the crevice and remain alive and breathing, not in the least ready to surrender at the level of my soul, but yet yearn for that release when I am safely out of harm’s way. I fantasise about taking that one tentative step that will cause me to free-fall into the chasm. My mind goes off on a million different tangents imagining the various scenarios of when, where, and how your seduction will be complete. And I am jealous of those who you beguile while you are waiting for me. How dare you flirt with more than one of us at a time! Why can’t you wait for me to come running into your arms like long-lost lovers do in the old Hollywood movies?

The people around me have no idea of my addiction to you. They would be surprised at how much you occupy my mind. Like spirits to an alcoholic, you have a hold on me like no other. I know our relationship is not healthy, but I don’t know how to make you stop tantalizing me with what might be. And I am not sure that I want to make you stop. Because when all is said and done, at times it feels like you are the only one that cares, even though I know you don’t. But unlike the people who should care but don’t, you give me a sense of myself that I know is truly me. When I think about you I know it is my own thoughts I am thinking, not some seed that was planted long ago that I adopted as my own, when it was not my place to do so.

How long will we dance like this? How long will you call my name and show me your enticing nothingness? Will I ever have the strength of heart to turn my back on you forever? I can’t see that happening anytime soon, can you? You are like a siren song to a weary sailor, the light to a moth, the full moon to the high tide. You draw me to you time after time and I am helpless against your charismatic endeavours.

But I need to be strong. I need to live. I need to be whoever I am – the me that is hidden by all the baggage that has been heaped on me over the years. The me that is not enslaved by the thoughts and deeds of others. The me that is true.

So, here we are, Sweet Temptation. Face-to-face once more. This time I am stronger. This time I am acutely aware that you don’t really care for me at all. That has never mattered before, but today it does. Today I am making a stand, and I am asking you to take your wares and leave. I know that you will return, but I am not in the market to buy your treasures today.

Orange-Grove Lane

Note: The short story below is a response to this prompt: “You are walking down a lonely street, and you notice quiet footsteps just behind you.”  This is an unedited, 10 minute creative-writing exercise from Creative Writing Now.

I have to admit that this is not the nicest day to be walking to work. The clouds are black, and hang heavy in the sky. When it is this dark in the evening the streetlights are on, but this morning they were turned off hours ago because the city has them on a timer. I would normally drive, but my car is out of action for at least another week. That’s what my mechanic says anyway.

Oh, well. I might as well make the most of the exercise. I know I should work out more often, but by the time I get home, cook dinner, take care of the housework and get the kids to bed, I am too exhausted to do anything except shower and hit the pillow myself. One day…

I’m running late this morning, so I’ll go down Orange-Grove Lane instead of walking all the way to James St. The Lane will save me about 5 minutes, so if I keep a good pace, I should make it to work with a couple of minutes to spare. Enough time to grab a coffee I hope, because I didn’t get to have one this morning.

I don’t normally walk down this lane. It is dark even on the sunniest day and today I almost need a torch to see where I am going. It’s too late to turn back now.

Shit! What’s that? My heart starts racing. My blood is thumping in my ears. There are quiet footsteps behind me. I speed up. They do too. I bring my handbag in front of me and grab the handles in preparation to turn and swing at my attacker. I hope the book I have in there is heavy enough to knock them out. I can’t breathe. Should I run instead? Yes, yes! Run!

It seems like minutes before my legs receive the instructions from my brain to run. I take off as fast as I can. Squeezing my eyes shut, I run blindly towards the end of the Lane. I swear, I am never going to walk this way again.

The footsteps behind me also break into a run. I start to sweat from fear and panic. Then I hear a voice yell, “Mum! Wait!”

I spin around in one fluid movement. My daughter is sprinting towards me looking as terrified as I feel. She stops beside me, struggles to catch her breath, and says, “You forgot your lunch!”


The Unforgiven

She had imagined this moment in a thousand different ways.  She had fantasized about how he would look, where he would be, and the cause.  Not once had she imagined it would be like this, and although she had dreamt about it, she had never dared to hope she would bear witness to his dying moments.

In her mind’s eye, she had never imagined this pathetic, slobbering, weakling that is lying on the bed before her.  None of her fantasies included these silent, pleading eyes that are staring up at her.  That he is mute had never been part of the movies that had played in her mind when she closed her eyes and thought about this moment.

She had certainly never expected the emotions she is currently experiencing.  She had imagined she would feel excited, happy, relieved, angry, or an endless number of variations of these and similar emotions.  So, why the hell is she feeling sorry for the bastard?

He uses precious energy to try and reach for her.  She jumps back as if burned or bitten.  Tears fill her eyes as she turns away from him and leaves the room.

In the hallway she leans against the wall and sinks to the floor.  Familiar waves of panic begin to wash over her.  She feels betrayed by her body once more.  This is not how it is supposed to be – she should be celebrating, not whimpering like a coward and weeping at the sight of how decrepit he has become.  This is the moment she has thought about every day for forty years.  His time is finally here!  How is it possible for her to feel anything but hate and loathing for him?

All those years of burying her feelings.  All those times he raped her and beat her.  All the hours spent in counselling so she could show some semblance of normal.  Do none of those things count for anything?  Can her brain not understand she should be mad, not sad?

An orderly walks towards her.  She knows she should stand, but her body refuses to obey.

“Are you alright love?  Can I get you anything?”

Oh, how about an axe?  A knife?  A gun?  Even a sharp pair of scissors will do.

She says none of this.  Instead she shakes her head and dissolves into a fresh round of tears.

The orderly touches her gently on the shoulder, but then abruptly leaves her side.

“Well,” she thinks, “That’s just great!”

She soon realises that the orderly had left her side to attend an emergency.  She can hear the alarm ringing now.  The sound filters through her mind and she is stunned to see people running towards his room.

Scared to breathe, she rises slowly.  She tentatively makes her way to the door to his room.  It is hard to see what is happening.  His bed is surrounded by medical staff.  Voices are layered over each other as commands are issued.  She knows enough of the terminology to understand they want to revive him.

“No!”

Too late she realises she has screamed the word, and she sees some quizzical glances from the nurses facing her.  She says, “Let him die.  He has nothing to live for.  Just let him die!”

They ignore her words and continue their efforts to bring him back from the dead.  She feels the anger rising at the last and yells, “Let the bastard die!  You don’t know what he’s done!  You don’t know the lives he has ruined.  Stop what you are doing!”

As she enters the room, her arms are brought up behind her.  A voice in her ear says, “Calm down.  You need to calm down or you will have to leave”.

Finally the people around the bed move back.  They look apologetic as they file out of the room.  She’s overcome once more by the undesired sadness she felt before.  She shakes loose from the restraints on her arms and steps towards the bed.  There are tears on her cheeks as she kneels on the floor and puts her face close to his.  She pauses and examines the lines on his face.  She remembers how smooth it used to be.  She remembers the sneer, the glare and the rage that all passed over his face in years gone by.

She shudders, leans closer to him, and whispers, “I will never forgive you”.