Luck, a gamble, fate
your history is vast and
great- science of chance.
Newton, a knight, took
the skies and he left the world
for the rest of us.
Luck, a gamble, fate
your history is vast and
great- science of chance.
Newton, a knight, took
the skies and he left the world
for the rest of us.
This is a character journal for the protagonist of “We all have our own languages here” please do not read this first. If you have not read that piece yet, this will influence your opinion of the character, so please read that first.
Age: 35 (20 at age of accident)
Physical Characteristics: mute, average looks, average height on slightly more muscular side (upper-body), slightly above average looks, dark brown hair, hazel eyes, distinguished nose, squarish face, wears a leather banded watch on his left wrist, right handed, wears buttons down shirts or polos and relaxed dark blue jeans.
Family: mother and father (deceased)
brother (estranged) (32)
History: Grew up in a quiet suburban life, he had two adoring parents and a younger brother that idolized him. He was a football player, running back, worked out religiously, loved to run, enjoyed algebra, hated English class, was never an eloquent essayist. He was going to be recruited for a football scholarship to college when he busted his kneecap- he would never run again. He never really wanted to go to college. His brother (Billy) was mad with him for giving up on college. John started working at a local gas station and auto garage. His girlfriend of 2 years, a well respected girl of the community and mayor’s daughter, broke up with him when she went to college. Begins listlessly living out his life, working, having flings with younger girls, fighting his brother and parents. His father wants him to go back to school, his mother wants him to get back together with his girlfriend, his brother wants him to stop being such an embarrassment.
The Accident: At 20 years old John is sitting in the backseat of his mom’s Ford, his father driving, as the three of them drive to his brother’s new play production. They are hit in a head on collision with a truck. His parents are killed on impact, he is knocked unconscious and hospitalized. He awakes 3 hours later in the hospital with his brother asleep in the chair beside him. He cannot find his voice. The doctors are amazed at his condition and can not find a cause for his muteness. His brother accuses him of faking it.
Post Accident: John takes custody of his little brother until he turns 18, his parents have left him all of their estate. His aunt and grandmother try to help look after them, cooking for them and such. His brother and him fight constantly but when he turns 18 he refuses to leave his brother and chooses to go to community college with his parents’ college fund. He learns sign to communicate with his family (who also learn ASL), his grandmother encourages him to join communities for the mute/deaf. He goes through trauma therapy, which he does not like very much. His therapist, whom he also does not like (she’s a very strict older woman that reminds him of his grandmother but without the care in her eyes, she likes to test John and push him to do things that he is uncomfortable with. She recognizes that he has never fought for anything in his life and wants him to see something as worthy and fight for it, so she makes his recovery a “fight”). His younger brother is studying creative writing and psychology and has a penchant for theater. One weekend he brings home an older boy with him and introduces him to John as his boyfriend, he yells at John accusing him of not understanding him and stereotyping him, John doesn’t say a thing. John continues to work at the gas station and auto garage but they’ve put him to work in the garage where he doesn’t work directly with people. It is hard learning to communicate with people, using mostly a white board or hand gestures. He tends to stay quiet most of the time. He discovers he has a talent for working on cars, and his boss mostly leaves him alone to his work. John sells their family home and buys a small apartment for his brother and him. He continues to work at the garage, settle his parents’ affairs and look after his brother until his brother graduates from college. Upon graduation his brother decides he wants to attend a graduate school in New York with his boyfriend. They exchange emails and phone calls where John doesn’t say anything occasionally. He continues to live through life ambition-less, in a steady routine. At some point he begins working at a larger garage. When John is 33 his grandmother passes away, his brother comes back for the wake and the two of them have a big argument. Neither of them can remember what it was about. It was John’s first time seeing his brother in 5 years. They don’t talk again after that. John begins going to group because his therapist tells him to (she thinks he’s lonely and wants him to make some human connections). After 2 years of not speaking to one another his brother calls him one day out of the blue to tell him how he’s doing, he’s moved in with his partner of 3 years, they’ve bought a dog, and to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner. In the group for physically disabled individuals that he has joined he met a young blind girl named Annabell. He’s been saving up money and is considering purchasing his own garage but is afraid to commit. His therapist is pushing him into it, but he’s not sure if he can run a business on his own.
Personality: John is a listless individual who is perfectly content with his unfulfilling life of work, therapy, group, meaningless sex, and sleep. His therapist believes his indifference is really passive aggressiveness from lasting affects of his parents’ accident in which she believes he blames himself. This however, is not entirely accurate because John’s personality was characteristic of that prior to the accident. He is unconcerned with his own lackluster lifestyle and inability to create meaningful relationships since his grandmother’s death. His therapist believes this emotion is seated in a fear that everyone he has had a deep relationship with has left him; his ex-girlfriend, his parents, his brother, his grandmother. John doesn’t think that’s true, he believes that relationships just aren’t for him. His therapist believes he feels inadequate, that he doesn’t deserve someone’s affections or a strong relationship. This may be true. John also finds people to be fascinating, and enjoys listening to them, although he rarely has any of his own ideas, feelings, opinions, or personality to contribute to conversation.
Quirks: Squeezes Annie’s shoulder to speak with her. Listens to people talk in public places. Cooks more food than is necessary for just himself.
Habits: Rarely “signs”, doesn’t like to talk about himself, likes routines, enjoys listening to people stammer on about themselves while staring blankly at them, doesn’t form relationships easily, prefers short flings. His most interesting quality is in how he likes to listen to people talk without responding on his own part. He may not appear to be a very interesting person, but he is quietly contemplative.
Hobbies: watching bad action thrillers, cooking (his grandmother taught him how), likes puzzles, listening to people talk, talk radio, watching sports
Relationships: Brother: John used to be very close to his brother, he helped raise him after his parents’ death. His brother used to have a sort of hero worship for him, but into high school, and after his football accident they began to argue constantly as his brother thought he was wasting his life away. After the accident with his parents he became mute and his brother accused him of purposely not talking. His brother wishes they were close still, he wishes John would have some ambitions. John cares for his brother but does not make an effort to reach out to him. After their grandmother’s funeral they fight and don’t speak to one another for two years. His brother calls him out of the blue trying to reconnect with him.
Annabell “Annie”: When John meets a new girl in his recovery group who is visually impaired, he instantly feels connected to her. Although he at first has trouble communicating with her, he enjoys just listening to her and spending time with her, occasionally giving her a shoulder squeeze to acknowledge he is there and listening. He slowly begins to realize that he wants to know more about her, he wants to communicate with her, to tell her how he feels, and he hasn’t felt in so long. And than he realizes that he already is communicating with her. He slowly starts to see a change in his own life.
Aunt: John’s aunt helped care for him after his parents’ passing. She always let’s John know that she is available if he ever needs anything, hoping that he will come to her with an emotional breakthrough. Even after his grandmother’s passing and his brother leaving she still keeps an eye on him and “drops by” to check on him occasionally. She believes he just needs some time to organize his thoughts about everything. She also worries about his seemingly apathetic attitude towards life. She occasionally contacts John’s little brother for updates on his life and to let him know how John’s doing.
Grandmother: John had a very interesting relationship with his grandmother. After his parents passed away, other than his brother, she was the closest relationship he had. He respected her and appreciated her assistance with helping out around the house. He is most appreciative for everything she did for his brother. John wants nothing for himself from life, he is not ambitious and doesn’t care much for things or relationships, but his grandmother always urged him to pursue what he deserves, to fight for things. He loves his grandmother, and takes everything she says to heart, but after her passing has not followed her advice. She was a tough woman, who could easily push John and his little brother around, but had a kind heart and a love of cooking. She taught John to cook “so you can take care of yourself when I’m gone”.
Therapist: John’s therapist, whom he has been seeing since his parents’ death, very much reminds John of his grandmother, and all the other “controlling” women in his life (or women that have been in and passed through his life). His therapist is the only consistent relationship in his life, and the only person that stays with him. She consistently tells him that she will always stay with him and that he is worth it. John doesn’t mind his therapist, but also doesn’t follow her advice very often, as he hasn’t for most of the women in his life. His therapist wants to see him attempting to make human connections, which is why she suggested a support group for him. John humors her in this, but probably won’t stick it out very long (like most things in his life). His therapist is also trying to encourage him to start up his own garage, she believes it will be a positive step in his recovery that he has been slowly undergoing for 15 years.
Parents: John’s parents were very supportive and caring of their two sons. They never had a remarkable affect on his life other than quietly supporting him. Towards the end of their lives they would often argue with their eldest son on how his life was going. They disapproved of his apathetic nature. His mother who wished him success in his relationships and love would constantly harass him about his ex-girlfriend and the women she thought could be “good for him”. His father who wished him success in his career opportunities and business life would constantly harass him about continuing his education and pursuing a high paying career. After their passing John never pursued either of these “dreams”.
It has been 15 years. In all that time I have come to know a few things;
That doesn’t, however, stop me from coming to these damn meetings every Thursday. “Do you have anything you’d like to share this week John?” The group leader is a middle aged woman with a mess of red hair and lipstick caked on like a child with a crayon. Her specialty is speech therapy. ‘No’ I sign. Only two or three people in the group can understand me anyway. The group leader, Barbra, I think her name is, frowns, “very well, maybe next week?” She moves on to the next person.
There’s a banging at the door and shuffling, a cute young blonde comes through the door, juggling a white cane in one hand. Her cloudy eyes scan the room till they meet the huddled masses in the middle, “Is this the physical disabilities group?”
Barbara, or whatever, greets her, welcoming her to the group. She offers her her elbow and directs her to a free seat. The girl introduces herself as Annabell, you can call me Annie. Barbara, it is her actual name, asks everyone to go around the circle and introduce themselves to Annie.
Frank with no hands gives her a grim smile and a name, Tiffany averts her eyes and says nothing, Jonah who’s deaf mumbles out some syllables that can loosely be constructed to his name, Rose with her assistant dog June is happy to have ‘someone like her’ in the group, Timmy who lost the ability of his legs at war gives her a soldier’s salute, and Marshall the kid with a sun allergy and hearing aid who’s just happy to be here gives her a cheerful “how you doin?”, John, with no voice, signs his name, which Annie of course does not see. Barbara’s frown is deeper than Death Valley, “That’s John, he signs.” she translates. We all have our own languages here. Who thought putting a bunch of broken people together would be a good idea?
Annie smiles, saying she understands, “Hi John,” and suddenly it’s like we’re alone in the room. The rest of the meeting is uneventful. There is stale doughnuts, staler coffee, and dry conversation. Marshall babbles on about his new foster family and the play he’s auditioning for. Timmy’s lost look says he’s back in the desert. He doesn’t have another episode and Jonah and I don’t have to hold him down from trying to pull himself onto his legs that don’t work. Tiffany only cries once, and it’s really just a soft sob. Rose goes on about how this is going to be a “blind group” now that she has a friend. Frank just huffs and mumbles how he needs a cigarette. Everything is very normal and non-memorable, and than we’re all getting ready to go.
Frank gives Marshall a ride home, he loves that kid like a son and would probably adopt him if he wasn’t so fucked up himself. He just got a new tool for his pickup that allows him to steer with his jaw and he’s pretty excited about that. He says he missed his baby. Rose tries to invite Annie back to her apartment to “hangout” with her new “bff”, but she’s not buying it, none of us are. So Rose goes home with only June to accompany her.
Soon it’s just me and Annie. I hold the door for her and she looks about surprised, “who’s that?” she asks. I don’t answer. “Is that John?” I nod, but she does not see. She frowns. I reach out and squeeze her shoulder. She sighs with relief “Oh good, I didn’t mean to stay so long, but it took me awhile to get my stuff, and now everyone’s gone I guess, but us…” She’s searching for words. Sometimes I think talkers just talk for the hell of it, not to say anything important but just to fill up empty spaces. I normally don’t mind. Sometimes it’s comforting to listen to someone mumble on incoherently about nothing at all. It’s something so very human and telling. It makes me feel like I’m not the only lost one.
I walk Annie to her bus stop, she talks the entire time. I stay silent. Occasionally I squeeze her shoulder in acknowledgement of something she says. She’s very pretty. I want to tell her that, but we speak two different languages and she wouldn’t hear me. I want to tell her that I want to take her home, but she wouldn’t understand me. If she could she’d probably laugh, she doesn’t seem like the one night stand type. Anyone that’s in a “group” automatically pretends they’re “working on their relationships”. I’m just not sure if she’s the type that still believes in that crap or knows it’s crap and doesn’t mind knowing they’ll never have a meaningful relationship.
I squeeze her shoulder twice to say goodbye. She thanks me for walking her. I head back to the parking lot of the community center. My car is parked next to a dumpster.
It’s not a week before I see Annie again. I see her Monday in my coffee shop. My barista smiles and calls, “Hello John! The usual?” I nod but my eyes are still on Annie. I come up behind her and squeeze her shoulder, she startles in surprise.
She turns to me, “Is that you, John?” I squeeze her shoulder once to say yes. Annie smiles and leans in to whisper something to the barista. The barista whispers back and they giggle. She hands me my coffee. Annie asks me if I’d like to sit with her, I squeeze her shoulder.
The two of us sit in a booth across from one another. Annie is grinning at me. I sip my coffee and wait for her to say something. She finally does a moment later, “Wanna know what I asked her?” I do, but I don’t say anything. Annie leans forward, whispering “I asked her if you were attractive. She said you were.” It makes me grin in a silent laugh. Annie herself is grinning more widely. I want to ask her if that’s why she asked me to sit with her. I want to ask her if that’s important to her, but I don’t know how. It’s as if she understands anyway because she says “Not that that’s important though,” her smile is softer now. “I would have asked you anyway, cause I like you.” I wonder what she could like about me, she doesn’t know anything about me. I, on the other hand, know everything about her. Annie likes to talk.
Annie has three brothers, she’s the second youngest, her favorite color’s pink, she drinks tea, she was born blind, she likes flowers, she can read braille, she lives alone, she likes to take walks, she paints, she works for a company as a translator, she knows eight different languages, but none that I speak. She likes chocolate pudding.
We spend an hour in the coffee shop.
This week at group Barbara asks me if I have anything to share. I sign ‘I do’. Half the group looks at me in shock. In the 16 weeks I’ve been coming I’ve never had anything to say. Barbara wavs a hand to encourage me to go on. The group members that can’t understand sign stare blankly, my eyes fall onto Annie, she’s fidgeting uncomfortably. It’s as if she’s upset that others get to know this detail of my life that she is not privy to.
I sign ‘my brother called.’
Barbara’s eyes widen in excitement, “What did he say? How did you feel?” When I first joined the group and met Barbara there was this awkward stage where she wasn’t sure if she should address me in English or ASL. I told her English was fine. Annie looks about ready to burst “Well who did he speak to?” and some other group members looked physically uncomfortable as well. This is a group where everyone has to know everyone else’s feelings at all times, I can see why they might have a hard time not knowing what I’m sharing. Barbara seems to sense it too, cause she translates “his brother called.” A few group members make surprised gasps. It’s considered a big step to have an estranged sibling call you. “Well go on!” Marshall urges me, so I do.
My brother’s phone call is short. Work is killing him. He bought a new apartment with his partner. They have a dog. And how are you? Are you still not talking? I am silent the whole time. He says goodbye, than a pause, you should come for Thanksgiving. He hangs up. I hadn’t talked to my brother in two years.
Throughout my monologue Barbara continues to translate for the group members who do not understand me. Some express sympathy during my speech, some anger or annoyance on my behalf, some indifference. Tiffany is tearing up throughout. Now everyone sits quietly, staring at their laps, refusing to make eye contact with anyone else. Finally, Barbara breaks the silence by probing me, “Who initiated the lack of communication two years ago? How’d you feel talking to him again? Do you think you’ll go for Thanksgiving? Are you mad at your brother?” But that is all she is getting from me, I sign ‘I don’t know.’ Barbara doesn’t translate it, everyone knows I don’t want to talk. Everyone moves on to hear about Marshall’s new play and the parakeet his foster parents bought him.
The rest of group isn’t very exciting and the only thing of significance to occur is when Tiffany runs from the room sobbing when Frank calls her a slut. It takes Barbara, Rose, and Marshall to coax her out of the bathroom. Than group is over before any of us realize it. Annie lags at the back of the group and I know she’s waiting for me. I tap her shoulder and she reaches out for my elbow. We walk out of the community center together in silence. It isn’t until we’re on the sidewalk that Annie begins to talk, “So you’re not close to your brother, huh? I feel like everyone in group knows you better than me because I can’t understand you. No matter how much I talk to you I’ll never understand you. I can’t even tell if you’re interested in what I’m saying.” I want to tell her that no one can understand me. I want to tell her that I like listening to her talk. I want to tell her that I am interested. Instead I squeeze her shoulder twice, she seems contented by that.
She suddenly laughs “You know what? I think I know you better than anyone cause we’re the same.” I want to ask her what she means by that. Instead I smile and squeeze her shoulder once. She grins “I knew it.” I’m not taking her to the bus stop. We stop next to my car. She frowns, knowing we’re not in the right place. Her cane hits something solid. She reaches in front of her to grasp a car door handle. “Is this your car?” I squeeze her shoulder, “Are you going to give me a ride home,” I reach out to squeeze her shoulder again, but she’s not finished, “or were you hoping to bring me back to your place?” I rest my hand on her neck, stroking it lightly with one finger, I hope it says everything I can’t. After a few moments she pulls open the car door and climbs in.
The following week I miss group. Instead I go out and get obscenely drunk with a couple of friends of mine. Tom and Ralph are always good to get drunk with, except Tom always gets too emotional and Ralph always gets too handsy. A few beers in Tom is babbling on about his current girlfriend’s friends and what bitches they are, and than they both suddenly turn on me. “Not that we don’t appreciate having a drink with you John, you’re always good company. But isn’t your group meeting on Thursday nights?” Ralph asks. I stare for a long while, before signing ‘Didn’t go.’ Ralph seems to take if for what it is, but Tom, the bastard, doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut when he’s drunk. “Dude, is that really ok? Won’t your therapist be mad or whatever?” I roll my eyes, and chug the rest of my beer, signaling the waiter for another. They take it for the avoidance it is and move on to other topics. Ralph’s new wife is already talking of children, Tom’s boss is an asshole, the beers are cold so it doesn’t really matter.
I don’t go to group the week after that either, but I don’t ask Ralph and Tom out for drinks.They’re shitty company when they get too emotional. I sit in the comfort of my own apartment and drink warm beer and watch crappy action films.
The next week my therapist asks me why I’ve been missing meetings, I signal ‘I don’t know’. She takes it as the avoidance it is. She writes something onto her notepad without looking at me. She asks “Have you spoken to your brother yet?” I shake my head ‘no’. She writes something in her notepad again, still not looking at me. She frowns, flipping back a few pages in her notebook, and stares at it studiously. She looks back at me, “And what about work? Have you thought more about buying that place for yourself?” I nod my head ‘no’ again. She stares at me for a long moment, “You have to give me something here John. What’s on your mind?” I lay back on the couch, and begin signing, ‘I don’t know. What do you want me to say?’ She asks, “Why aren’t you going to group?” I tell her that I was bored of it. She moves on to talk about my brother and what this means for my recovery. I close my eyes and let her voice just float over me.
On a Sunday my brother calls again. He talks about the weather for sometime, I close my eyes and lay back through it. Billy than goes on to talk about his new dog, work, and the holiday. He says his work is going to bring him back near home. He says maybe he can come visit while he’s in town. I don’t say anything. Billy still has a key to the apartment and I’ve never closed my door to him before. He knows this, and he knows an invitation isn’t necessary. He asks anyway. I nod my head. He doesn’t see. He ends the conversation saying he’ll be by Friday.
On Tuesday Barbara stops by. She is concerned that I have not been to group in a few weeks, and asks how she can persuade me to return. I’ve been doing some good work there, making some real progress, she says everyone misses me, she wishes I would give the group a second chance. I sit quietly as she talks. She goes into the kitchen to get herself a glass of water, like she lives here. I wonder if she would believe me if I told her I’ll come on Thursday to get her to leave. My couch lumps to fit my laying form perfectly. It’s an ugly green with a floral print, something my mother had picked out years ago. Barbara returns a moment later, sitting in the armchair that rests beside my couch. She smiles at me, I can tell it’s the smile she uses to be persuasive (every therapist has one), “Have you spoken to your brother again?” I sign, ‘He called.’ She puts her hand on my shoulder, squeezing gently, “And what did he say?”
I tell her how he’s coming Friday. She says, “You should come to group on Thursday.” I tell her maybe, and she seems satisfied with that, and leaves. I continue to lie on my lumpy couch. I think about Annabell and wonder if she asked Barbara about me.
On Wednesday I get a phone call that I let go to voicemail. The name says “Annabell”. I stare at it for a long time without listening to it. I cook myself dinner instead. Annie can’t cook. She told me she can’t even make toast. I made her breakfast once, the toast was a golden brown, with sunny side up eggs and thick strips of bacon. She said I was a grand cook, and went on to talk about the best bacon she ever had, and the different smoking techniques for pork. When she’s nervous, like a lot of people, she rambles on about meaningless things. After dinner I listen to the voicemail. She said that she had a really good time that night and that she wasn’t angry at me for not calling. She paused for a moment, and continued saying she really wished I’d come back to group and that she missed me and that I was her only friend there and it just wasn’t the same without me. She began to sob lightly, and than very quietly said goodbye, hoping to see me the next day. I slid my phone back into my pocket, and go to bed early. I don’t call her back, because I don’t have anything to say and she wouldn’t understand me either.
The next day I go to group after having missed it for three weeks. Everyone seems in good spirits to see me, even Tiffany smiles at me. The meeting is relatively uneventful, as far as these things go. Tiffany was on some new medication. Frank got a kitten. Rose met a new lady friend. Marshall was given a bigger part in his play. Jonah and Timmy got an apartment together. Annie is silent for most of the meeting. Barbara asks me if I have anything to share. I tell the group my brother is coming tomorrow. Barbara translates for the group, and they all congratulate me excitedly. It causes a shift in conversation toward family. That is always a conversation that is really emotional in groups like this. By the end of it most of the group is sobbing. Tiffany has her head between her knees, hiding herself from the world.
The meeting goes by pretty quickly. I almost missed them. Everyone bustles out of the room quickly, until it’s just Annie and I hanging behind. She calls out, “You still there John?” I come up beside her and give her shoulder a squeeze. She lets out a long breath, “Oh good. I was worried you left with the rest of them. I squeeze her shoulder twice, it seems so strange to do so because I haven’t in awhile. It’s like a language you don’t use for awhile and than you forget how to speak it. Being around Annie makes me fall to it again quickly. I go to walk her outside, and she reaches out to grab my elbow and pull me back. She stumbles to find it, but I push it into her reach so she’ll find it more easily. “I’ve missed you.” she says. I want to say I miss you too. I squeeze her shoulder once, and they slump in a more relaxed pose. I know she understands. She smiles, “What took you so long to call me back?” she laughs, and I can’t help but grin as well. She allows me to walk her out. We walk in silence towards the parking lot. I don’t know why I want her to understand me so much, but she does. She once said she understood me better than anyone. I want to tell her that no one has understood me for a long time. I want to tell her how I wanted to call her, but couldn’t. I want to tell her how much I hate my therapist. I want to tell her how my therapist is always right regardless. I want to tell her how very much I’d like to cook her breakfast again. Instead I take her hand into my own and lead her towards my car. I open the door for her and she gets in without question. I wonder if she would like to meet my brother. As if reading my thoughts Annie says, “So are you excited for your brothers visit tomorrow?” I don’t say anything, but tap her knee with my index finger three times. She’s wearing a pink spring dress and her knee is bare. She faces me smiling, “If you want to take me home, all you gotta do is ask.” she says.
So my library is celebrating National Poetry Month in a big way! We have magnetic poetry boards up so people can post things, we’re doing a poetry slam, and we’re doing a haiku writing contest. So lots of fun things. Anyways, I took some pics of the poems up on the magnetic poetry board so far. Here they are! Can you guess which ones my contribution? I might take new pictures every few days if things get changed up… Hope this inspires people to start poem-ing. Happy writing! Sorry the pics are kinda blurry, it’s from my phone.
So a few weeks ago I posted about creating “character journals” from something I read in my short fiction class, and I decided to try it out. I did it for a piece I am currently working on and a character i didn’t really know much about and wanted to flesh out more. This is what I learnt from the process.
The whole process was pretty awesome, I enjoyed it, and I really learnt a lot about my character through it. This was my thought process after writing it (I actually wrote it out on a post-it note during work after completion of the “journal”):
So now I’ve wrote this wonderfully rich character, and I love him and I’m faced with the challenge of- what do include in my story? I wasn’t going to include any of this in my story, but now I want to. I want readers to know his hardships, to love him as much as I do- but what do I need? There in lies the problem- putting too much into a short story.
People often have this problem, they want readers to know everything about their character. They want to put in every little detail, but it’s not necessary to a story. So I will post my “character journal” after i post the finished short fiction piece. So that you can see what I did with it, where my character came from, what i deemed important, but without it interrupting the actual story.
Writing prompt: Your character accepts a ride from someone he/she doesn’t know so well. Describe the setting, how is the car/situation different than they expected?
She recognized him as her roommates father, she’d met him once before. She would normally never accept a ride, but the bag of groceries in her arms were intensely heavy and he was insistently sincere. She followed him to his immaculately clean Ford. She remembered stories of her roommate’s of old camping trips piled in the backseat of her dad’s pickup with her two brothers, duffle bags of dirty clothes, muddy boots, hunting rifles, and rolling laughs. This truck still had the new car smell, streakless windows, freshly laundered carpets, and plastic seat covers that stuck to her bare thighs. They rode in silence for several minutes. Her roommates father, she thought his name was Bill, stared intently out the front window, as if his brain was burning looking for things to say. She remembered her roommate saying her father was an engineer, he wore glasses and ties everyday. This man was adorned in ripped jeans, an old yellowing white t-shirt, and had a 3 day old beard he rubbed at with his hand.
After a few minutes in silence, he asked, “Where do you live?”
I stared blankly, “On Mellen… with your daughter…”
He gazed at me, “Daughter? Oh yea…”
I stared back at him, dumbfounded, “Your daughter, Penny Worthington?” I said my roommate’s name, as if I had said, “You are Mr. Worthington, right?”
His eyes widened in shock, and he chuckled, “Oh Penny! My niece! Ha, are you one of her school friends?” his demeanor changed immediately, he seemed more relaxed, loose and leaning into my space. He reached an arm around the back of my chair and smiled at me. I didn’t remember Penny ever mentioning an uncle…
“Yea, we both attend the university together. So are you and her father twins?”
He looked away from me as he mumbled “yea.” His gaze was hard on the road ahead of us again, and the air between us was heavy. We were not driving towards Mellen.