By Leslie Lindsay
Working at making my novel-in-progress a little darker, a little grittier. I think this helps. It’s set in the main character’s college days. Remember, this is original work, not to be copied or shared as your own. Thanks….and enjoy!!
“I used to imagine it sometimes, what would happen if I just didn’t come home. The thought always came to me when I was feeling particularly unworthy, lacking confidence, seeking attention. God, I hated how that sounded; like I was an attention-seeking borderline threatening to run off or take my own life. I could never do that, not really anyway. The thought was always more about sharing my pain with others, letting them know just how miserable I felt deep down. My desire to disappear came forth in the form of generosity. Let me show you how I feel; Welcome to my personal hell; you should feel lucky.
They were anything but lucky. My desperation and irritability put a shield around me, making me lonely in busy world.
“I wish I could just drive my car off a cliff,” I’d say. Or, perhaps I met my demise in some other way; the 18-wheeler would come barreling into my tiny Toyota crushing it like a tin can, with me in the driver’s seat. My short life would flash before my eyes, summer camps and dance recitals, class photos, and crushes. Steve.
Whatever it was, something terrible would happen and my friends and family—would have to return to my apartment to find all of the daily pieces of my interrupted life. My dad would see the microbiology text left open on my desk, those tiny colored tabs ruffling the edges of the book. Remember this. Memorize that. My mother would pick up my thong underwear in the corner of the room with her manicured nails and wonder why I spent money on a piece of clothing that covered so little. My roommate would thumb through the mail and set aside the Psychology Today magazine. There would be to-do notes and lists throughout my bedroom, a brush with hair still entwined in it, Tom Petty stuck in the CD player, framed photos of me and friends, a smattering of greeting cards propped up like dummies.
This is how it would look. A snapshot of my life. Don’t touch it. It’s my life. I would try with all of my might to communicate the message but I would be gone. Dead, probably. Because running off wouldn’t be enough.
Hiding out can only last so long. Eventually one has to come back, reclaim their old life, or find a new one. And really, who can reinvent themselves? We think we can, but when it comes down to it, our personalities are so ingrained, it would be impossible.
So being dead would be better.
Friends and family—and people I don’t even know would come to my funeral. They’d wear black and bow their heads and mutter things like she was such a nice person, always smiling…I had no idea…such a tragedy…she held so much promise. They’d lay flowers on my casket and hug and shed some tears.
And Steve would be there, too. His eyes would be glassy and bloodshot, a dark suit, three-days worth of scruff. He’d lean in and whisper to my parents, “I really loved her, you know?” They’d nod and pull Steve into a three-way embrace, tears streaming down momma’s face. Dad would reach up and touch the corner of his eye, but no tears would flow. After the hug, they’d hold Steve with outstretched arms, resting their hands on his broad shoulders, “You were good for her, son,” they’d say and this time, they’d mean it. They’d be sorry it was over. Sorry they never accepted him like I had.
Steve would press his lips into a tight line and nod solemnly, his gaze gliding to the open doorway where Beth Donovan sits on a divan in a gray dress and black heels. She’d twist her face into the doorway of the funeral parlor and there may be tears because she’s my age and she knows that it could have easily have been her who was side-smacked in an accident. How fleeting—and precious life can be. Perhaps the tears were because she knew she caused my death.