Writespiration #57 Emotion

EmotionOne of the pieces of criticism I often get is that I don’t put enough emotion into my writing. So this week I thought I would challenge you to write a short piece where a character feels an emotion intensely. You can choose any emotion you want, but the character has to feel it in a big way.

I’ve recommended this book before, but I really cannot advocate it enough. Especially for this exercise. This book is my writing bible, my most coffee stained, love crumpled, biscuit crumb covered reference book. It’s The Emotion Thesaurus and if you don’t own it, you really bloody ought to.

Apologies if you received this twice, it shouldn’t have gone live earlier!

Here’s mine:

His eyes followed her across the room and slid down her perfectly long legs as she hooked them over each other and sat down. Heat from a thousand ovens burned the acid in my stomach. I felt sick. He was meant to follow my legs, not hers.

“Sandy, who the hell is that?” I whispered.

“Huh? Oh, duno. Some new girl. Think she’s a graduate or something. Actually, now I think about it, I hear she’s a proper hotshot.”

I pressed my lips flat so I didn’t expel a barrage of abuse at Sandy for telling me.

“What a bitch.”

Sandy edge into my desk and leant on me, “bit harsh, Laura. Why’s she a bitch?”

I tried to focus on Sandy, but couldn’t help a few furtive looks in his and ‘her’ direction.

“Because look at the state of her. Coming in on her first day, swaggering about, skirt barely visible, tits bulging out of that top, I mean for godsake I can basically see her nipple.”

Sandy sat back on her desk, folded her arms and raised a solitary eyebrow. 

“Don’t start.”

“No, I will start. Be careful, Laura, you’re starting to sound just an incey bit jealous.”

He stood up, ran his hand through his hair and waltz over to the new girl. My stomach hardened, I sat up, muscles instantly at attention. I tried to keep my face still but I knew my jaw was flexing as I ground my teeth into each other. She giggled at him.

I  could feel a growl brewing in the depths of my chest. My whole body burned, I wanted to launch across the room and rip her tit off. That’d show the slut.

She glanced at me.

“Shit.”

I snapped back to my computer and typed furiously. I could hear Sandy stifling a laugh. That was it. New girl was going down.

***

Now to last week’s Writespiration where we talked about the karma of 3 and a distinct baby theme this week!

Geoffle takes a different view of parenthood this week.

Martine was ecstatic when the test showed she was pregnant. Me, I was just glad we could stop spending every dime on IVF. Ha! Everyone else gets a free baby: ours cost two Isas and that new fridge we needed. Still I was pleased, too. As well as relieved.
The doctor had that ‘how do I tell them’ look that worried me a bit but he soon put us right. ‘Noo, the baby… Babies are fine.’ ‘Twins?’ Martine was quivering with joy. ‘No…’
Pause there. What’s the right response, do you think? Evidently not ‘Thank Christ.’ Leaving aside the blasphemy that offended both of them, when it turns out it’s triplets you look both ungrateful and an early runner for the ‘Poor Parent’ award.
She’s a canny and crafty wife, mine. She knew I was doing the maths so she said, ‘it’s always cheaper to buy bulk, isn’t it James?’ Not sure the doctor understood but I did. She wasn’t stopping at one so this way we were sorted up front.
I sound bad, don’t I? See, that’s where you’re wrong. Sure pregnancy is no cake walk and IVF with the diet, injections, hormones, uterine massages and what have yous is hardly likely to appear on anyone’s bucket list. But she’s the bread winner. I write therefore I scam. I stay at home and cook the dinner, clean a bit. And now I’m the stay at home dad. Martine is ‘high flying’ ‘on then path’ ‘smashing the ceiling’. So her maternity was already fixed at one month post birth, absent complications.
We never discussed what ‘complications’ covered. To me, having three under noughts was one mother of a complication, but she insisted it meant hers and their physical and mental well being, not mine.
‘Mum will help.’ Her mum, that is. Mine is teaching yoga in a Yurt outside Basildon.
I’d be lying if I said that month was a blur. People in a PVS have more animation than me what with the lack of sleep, the regular feeds, changes, worries over heat and cold, breathing and not breathing.
On her first day back, her Mum had an appointment at the doctors. Chimp was grizzling (his nose is permanently stretching to sniff his armpit, hence Chimp), Gecko (eczema, hence scaly skin) was vomiting on repeat – this was a common problem and didn’t warrant a deferral to the much anticipated return – and Stalin (already trying to banish the other two) had gone cross eyed not that anyone else saw it (or they said it was wind). Staying in was going to turn me into wallpaper so I did the only thing that, so far, quiets them. I strapped them in and set off, not without trepidation, to the park.
We’ve done this before. Obviously. But there’s always been three of us, one for each babe. Me, on my own with three new borns and all the clutter. Yeah mad but I had given up being classed as sentient a week ago.
I made it to the park, sweating and praying. They seemed calm enough. And that’s when I had my epiphany. Or rather she walked out to meet me.
‘You here for the mum and baby class?’
Who knew?
Sandra has dreamy eyes, flawless skin and a love of other people’s babies. She and Harriet – brunette, business like and boobs like.. Anyway they saw their vocation. Me. Everyone there, all those single free babies and their mums took me into their bosom. Not Harriet sadly.. Still. The boys loved the attention. Passing them round like three dimensional human pass the parcel generated infinite joy. I wasn’t chastised if I slept. They listened to me explain my work in progress, my block, my strategies. They gave me cake and cookies and invited me on their trips. I was a token hero dad, to be used against their unsuspecting partners as a paragon. The superhero role seemed to fit quite well.
Yes. All things considered, triplets are the only way to have children

***

Sarah brings out this cracker of a piece of flash.

Three Bean Salad

“You misunderstand, child.” The woman placed her wrinkled finger on the third card in the spread.

“I’m not a child,” she pouted, “and that’s the third time some Tarot reader has told me this crap.”

“Ah,” the woman picked up the card. “And yet you continue to get readings.”

“So this is my fault?” She glared.

“Why is there blame, child? There is only what is.”

A dark-haired woman walked over, rummaging through her large bag. “If someone’s to blame, that would be me. Whatever it is. It’s always me.” She reached her hand out to the tarot-reader. “I’m Carol. Julie’s mother.” She jerked her head toward the young seated woman.

“Of course,” the old woman searched the cards. “Ah. Here you are.” She held up the queen of cups. “Lots of cups in this spread. Emotional bunch, I see.” She muttered. “Pleased about your first grandchild, I assume?”

“Excuse me?” Carol froze.

“Hey!” Julie shrieked.

The woman laughed. “She would have known soon enough, child.” She winked. “Triplets.”

35 comments

  1. Gave it a go Sacha!

    It was almost time.

    He looked at her lying there shrunken in the bed and felt sorrowfully glad they’d won the fight to move her to the peace of the hospice away from the clamorous and impersonal ward of the hospital.

    Her thinning hair left a smudge of brown dye on the pillow from a failed last ditch attempt to stay young and cover the downy grey. Her skin, wrinkled in lines across her face like the road map of their lives, remained silky and soft to his cautious touch. He wanted so much to touch her one last time. His hand, still large, but gnarled now, navigated the tubes and wires and he brushed the pad of his thumb across her cheek.

    It was almost time.

    She opened her hazel eyes and looked at him steadily. The fading light in them was still a blazing beacon to him. Sucking in air with effort, her voice was wispy like smoke although the memory was strong. ‘Do you remember,’ she asked, ‘Our first walk along the brook at dusk. The bats were circling and I was so afraid.’ Her lips curved upwards and his heart soared to see the smile he’d known for almost seventy years.’ I’m not afraid now.’

    ‘I remember,’ he said, the corners of his eyes crinkling at the recollection. ‘I’d waited weeks to pluck up the courage to ask you to walk out with me and when I finally did you laughed and asked me what took me so long. ‘

    She smiled but he still noticed the wince of pain that action caused her. ‘I’ve loved you every minute of our time together.’ With effort she moved her arm and clasped his hand in hers.

    It was almost time.

    ‘And I’ve loved you too.’ He was fighting the urge to weep, not wanting her last memory to be a sad one.
    ‘I know,’ she told him. ‘I always knew.’ Gazing steadfastly into his eyes she allowed her lids to close slowly. The pain in her face seemed to smooth away and he was aware of a silence in the room. He realised the sound of her wheezing breath had stopped.

    It was time.

    1. Bloody hell Linda. I actually had to try NOT to cry! Forget the character feeling emotion, you cut me to pieces! What a FANTASTIC piece of flash. Thank you so so so much for taking part too. 🙂 <3

  2. When you look into an open coffin, what are you meant to feel? Grief, sure. Anger at an early end. Sadness for everyone’s loss. But relief? Not their relief from the pain and discomfort of dying but yours. No longer will those ruby lips throw accusations at me. Never more will those liver-spotted fingers point their fury towards me. No more the ghastly embarrassment of changing your clothes after another accident. Of all those weapons of torture: mouth, hands and bowel, the stilling of the bowel is the most welcome. I look at your face in repose – dustied with powder like flour on a saggy white roll – and know that, no more will those eyes of yours pop open with their mix of hate and disgust and, yes, desperation. And as with every time I’ve felt relief – A level results, telling dad about the car and him laughing, the test results coming back negative – it’s followed by a gnawing emptiness. Not joy, exhilaration or any of those toss the hats in the air moments. Just a hollowed out nausea. That’s what it’s come to, mum. After the battle the PTSD – I’m your last victim and I’ll always be so.

    1. ooohhhh, i like it. The end is a well good line. particularly love that. I love how you always twist these writespirations too, always thinking outside the box – relief at death is not the first thing that would pop into my mind!!

      1. Thanks Sacha. It’s really the prompt. Doesn’t work every time. I know you’re a busy girl but do try microbookends (David Borrowdale’s) prompt some time. It’s good and testing.

    1. Ahhhh that’s good to know, great to see a fellow user – I do harp on about that book so often sometimes I think I’m losing it – but its good to hear of another writer who appreciates it 🙂

  3. Hey Sacha, decided to give this a go.

    After years of agonising length and the long, sleepless nights thinking about the events of that poignant day, the vision of confronting the men responsible for causing him so much pain, so much suffering, pumping his heart full of anguish, it seemed like it was all too much to handle and yet the sergeant survived all those years without tearing his very self apart. His eyes glittered, he reminisced about that fateful day often, the events of that day still fresh in his mind. For years, the sergeant fought tooth and nail to stop himself from going crazy, trying to keep his sanity by plotting, thinking of a plan that would right all the wrongs that happened on the day where he saw the blood of his many comrades strewn all over the battleground. “The offensive was a disaster waiting to happen, it should never have been authorised” the sergeant muttered to himself, his voice full of bitterness. His comrades or brothers in his eyes had given their lives up for a lost cause, a waste of human life. The sergeant wanted to make the men who sent his brothers to their death to pay for their crimes, but as he was in the midst of his rage, reality cruelly set in.

    He realised that no amount of plotting, no amount of anger or tears shed would turn back the time. The men who he wanted to pay had all already gone to the afterlife, joining all his brothers already there. The sergeant was no longer a fit man, he was an old, frail man, a shadow of his former self. His eyes weakening by the day but they still glittered. In his head, he imagined his brothers finally being able to confront all those foolish men, who sat on their backsides whilst they slugged it out during the warfare. These foolish men demanded respect when they had earned none themselves but now it was the time for these fools to atone for the errors of their ways and one day, the aged sergeant will also visit the afterlife, to re-unite with his brothers and truly be at peace.

  4. Reblogged this on The Journal of Dr. R and commented:
    This was fun to part with in. Try it, make a story focusing on a emotion and make sure the character you use in that story feels that particular emotion intensely. I’d definitely suggest to anyone to follow Sacha, she’s fab!

    1. aww thank you so much, both for the reblog and for participating :). Cracking war piece this. Will post it up with next weeks writespiration. Should i call you Dr. R? or do you have another name i should include?

      1. I’m honoured that you would consider putting my piece up on your blog so thank you. I enjoyed the challenge, especially as I thought of the war post off the top of my head. You can call me Dr. R or Dwayne, I don’t really mind.

  5. Here’s mine…

    Regret

    I should have been more careful. I shouldn’t have let it happen. My life was never meant to be like this, but I was so young, so malleable, so full of despair. Mothers are meant to love their babies, not look at them and feel nothing. But after you were born, all I felt was empty inside, torn apart, bereft of something I couldn’t put words to.

    I never wanted you. Everyone said, “Oh, you’ll come round, you’ll be fine, your natural maternal instinct will kick in.” But it didn’t. Why did I listen to them? I should have swallowed that pill, visited that clinic, and got on with the life I’d planned.

    Instead, I hid from the truth. My belly swelled, and your heat blazed while my world shrank and my mind froze over beneath the torpor of winter.

    You were born in the optimism of spring. You took your first look at me and wailed. I sat stiff and unyielding as the midwives forced your bawling mouth onto my breast, and I endured.

    That’s what motherhood was to me; endurance, nothing more. I wish I could say otherwise. And I pitied you, that in the luck of the draw which matched parents with offspring, I was all you got.

    You were still so tiny when I made my decision, but I was resolute. I did what I had to do, and throughout, I felt nothing. I believed it was right for both of us. I thought we didn’t deserve each other, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    When I gave you up, I finally understood, but by then it was much too late.

  6. OH, geez. My quick thrown-up comment for the world to see! Ack! 😉 Oh well. This is an awesome prompt. And I have that book (and all their others books, too–they’re awesome!)

    P.S. Your flash is hilarious.

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