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Exercise 5 – Story within a story

As my best friend and I sat on the porch with a glass of wine and some crackers and cheese I told her, “You will never believe what happened.”

“Well, tell me.” She replied.

“I had lunch with Rick today.  He called the other day, said he found my name and number via the internet.   It was the strangest thing.  I was sitting across the table from a man I used to be married to and I felt nothing,” I told her.

“I’m surprised you could even eat.  Where did you go, by the way?  And who paid?”

“We went to the sports bar around the corner. And, he insisted on it being his treat.  Guess he has gotten more generous in his old age.”

“Well, fill me in on all the details.  What is he like now?  How did he look?  What all did you find to talk about?  Did you tell him what an SOB he was?”

“No, I didn’t have to tell him that.  He admitted he had been a jerk and apologized if you can believe it.”

“You have got to be kidding?  He admitted it and apologized?  It certainly must be a cold day somewhere.”

“The biggest surprise was the amount of weight he has gained.  He had always been such a sports jock when we were married and was so trim but now, wow, he is chunky.  And not just a few pounds over on a solid frame but a pudgy, bulky overweight.  He dressed nice in a pair of khaki’s and golf shirt but he was chunky.   It was funny because he kept telling me how good I looked, not once or twice but three times!  And he never complimented me when we were married.  Maybe his new wife, in addition to feeding him well, has also taught him manners.”

“He was always very self-centered.   I’m surprised he let himself go.  Is he happy?  Details girl, details”.  We both laughed and took another sip of our wine.

“He has two sons and they are both doing quite well.  One even is thinking about getting married.  His wife home schooled them and now they have both graduated from college and are working.  Rick is working as an independent contractor so that is why he was able to take the time off and come to Florida to attend his sister’s funeral.  It was interesting hearing him talk about this family but the entire time he was talking I couldn’t help but remember how he never wanted children with me.”

“Are you sad about that?”

“Not really.  Look at all I would have missed if I had had a child or had stayed married to Rick.  No, things happen for a reason and after sitting there across from him at lunch, I have no regrets at all.  In spite of my current situation, I’m in a much better place no longer being married to him.”

“What is going to happen now?  Are you going to stay in touch?”

“Probably.  But only via email since he is going back to Texas.  It was so totally bizarre to be talking to this man, who had hurt me so much and to feel absolutely nothing.  Maybe, time does heal old wounds.”

“Well,” she said looking at me very closely, “it has been over 30 years.  What did you think was going to happen when you saw him?”

“Quite frankly, I didn’t know.  I expected to feel something, anger maybe, but I was just totally neutral.  It was like talking to an old high school friend, no emotional baggage at all.”

She looked at me and then smiled. 

The wine was cold and tasted great,   It felt good to share this experience with a friend who cared.  Tomorrow was another day and the past was no longer important.

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One Comment

  1. Great snippet, Lucy. “The wine was cold and tasted great”: I’d like to see more evocative detail like this to really bring the conversation to life.

    You might also consider adding an extended metaphor that correlates to this character’s surprisingly neutral feelings. (Consider how Carver uses the fat man to illustrate the narrator’s dynamics.) A repeated image of a freezing, barren landscape, for example, might serve to demonstrate her emotional state. That could be a nice match to her friend’s comment that “It certainly must be a cold day somewhere.”

    Of course, there are many ways to go about this. Can you think of any other vehicles (metaphoric, imagistic, or otherwise) through which your character’s internality may be communicated?


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