This week, we asked you to focus on dialogue and body language to set a scene or move a story forward, limiting your use of narration.
We gave you an opening line: His crossed arms answered her question before he spoke.
We gave you space to bend the rules: Incorporate the idea of crossed arms as close to the beginning of your piece as possible.
We gave you a word limit: 450 words
His crossed arms answered her question before he spoke. Sarah wasn’t ready, though, and before Carter could finish saying “Hello,” she silenced him with a finger to his lips.
She leaned against the car next to him, dropping her bag of papers to be graded at their feet.
She hip bumped him. “Hey.”
“Hey yourself.” He bumped her back.
She exhaled, making her bangs fly up and said “I want to know, but I don’t want to know. You know?”
He chuckled. “Believe me, I know.”
“My students thought I was losing my mind. I started to cry during the lesson on gerunds.” Her bag had tipped over against her leg, and she nudged it back upright. “And then I tried reading essays, but after four times through one paragraph, I gave up.”
The bag had leaned toward Carter’s leg, he tried propping it up. “What was so sad about gerunds?”
“The first two examples were ‘acting’ and ‘singing.’ Stupid sentences like ‘George is fond of acting’ and ‘Singing is Susan’s favorite activity.’ All I could think of was you…” she held her hands out in front of her, palms up. “And now, I’m going to cry again.”
He shrugged. “You win some, you lose some. Sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield.” He glanced at her. “I can keep going, if you would like.”
“How can you joke?” Sarah punched his arm, but then softened her fist and started rubbing the spot she had just jabbed. “It just kills me that you didn’t get the part.”
She dropped her head in frustration and then swore. Her bag was on it’s side, the contents spilling out. She bent down to pick the papers up, attempting to neaten the pile before shoving it back in the bag. Carter pushed his sunglasses up on his head and bent down with her.
“Who said I didn’t get the part?”
“But I thought…the whole bug and windshield thing…you actually got it?”
He grinned at her. “Yep. Us actors call that ‘acting.’ I’ll be doing a lot more of that. And singing, too. Maybe some dancing.”
Sarah threw her arms up in delight, forgetting the stack of paper in her hand. The essays went flying, and a breeze carried several of them down the street.
“Oh, help! Grab those papers, Mr. Fancy Pants Actor. Quick!”
Carter pulled Sarah up and spun her around, giving her a quick kiss before she pulled away and started chasing her papers. He was glad she was so happy, he’d let her keep that for now, before he told her the rest of what he had learned that day.
Oh, I almost gave up on this one. I had too many ideas.
And then once I settled on a scenario (the news he has for could have been…a scholarship, a job offer, a baby up for adoption, a house…you name it, I thought of it…), I had trouble ending it.
I very nearly went with “They never saw the car coming.” But decided on something a little less, um, final, but I realized that the story as it was, was too happy…
I’ve also reached a point where I just need to stop dithering and push publish. Any second now…just watch me…here I go…you know how scary this is for me to post this stuff, right? OK. Pushing…publish…now….