I attended a master writer’s workshop taught by Jacquelyn Mitchard last week. It was so fantastic–the group of other writers, Jackie, the copious amounts of tea I drank all day long, and the in depth analysis of the elements of a novel. Took me back to my days as an undergrad in English Literature, but this time, I was creating the writing myself, and critiquing my colleagues, rather than some dead white guy who supposedly wrote the first novel. If you have a chance to take an intensive workshop from someone who specializes in what you love, I highly recommend it.
Below is flash story I wrote for a scene exercise. It was meant to describe a setting, have dialog, character development, and “tell a little story” with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Thought I’d put it up here rather than leave it to get dusty deep in my hard-drive.
When Bee’s key sounded in the lock, Colette was just shoving the last of the donuts into her mouth. She was leaning over a sink littered with crumbs, and an empty pastry box sat on the counter, gaping like a slaughtered beast. Powdered sugar coated her fingers, lips, and shirt. She swatted at the clinging stuff, frantic. Why hadn’t she gotten glazed? She
gulped and worked her tongue across the roof of her mouth, trying to get the sticky, gluey mass down before her mother walked into the kitchen.
“Hey Col, you home?”
The clunk of her mother’s purse on the entry-table impelled Colette to snatch the donut box off the counter and stuff it in the nearest cupboard.
“Mmhmmm,” she managed, still slapping at the white on her shirt to rid herself of the confection’s dandruff that exposed her total lack of self-control. God, Bee would kill her. She’d be on celery smoothies for a month.
But when her mother eventually clicked into the kitchen in her strappy, Italian heels, Colette had managed to both unstick her tongue and erase the obvious signs of her overindulgence.
“Hey Bee,” she said, her back to her mother as she filled a glass of water from the fridge. She took a long drink, washing down the last bit of sweet paste from her molars.
“What are you wearing?” her mother said, crossing the room to finger the hem of Colette’s sweater.
Colette turned toward Bee and shook her head so that her long, black hair fell over her eyes. Maybe it would distract Bee. Her hair was the only thing her mother never criticized.
“It looks like you pulled it from the bottom of a cardboard box,” Bee continued, as she tugged on the fabric. “And it doesn’t help hide those hips of yours. You need something short, so we can see your waist. What there is of it.” Her mother laughed, the sharp trill that had nothing at all to do with amusement.
“Syd lent it to me ‘cuz I was cold in chemistry class,” Colette said, pulling the sweater out of her mother’s judgmental fingers and sliding into the breakfast nook with her glass of water.
“Sydney?” her mother said, crossing her arms over her chest, the silk of her blouse shimmering under the halogen lights. “That girl’s a dyke. Don’t you dare wear her clothes.”
“Bee!” Colette gaped at her mother. “First of all, there’d be nothing wrong with it if Syd was a lesbian, which she isn’t, by the way. And second, you can’t go around calling people dykes.”
Her mother raised a plucked brow. “Why? They call themselves that.”
“You just can’t!” Colette said, looking away from her mother’s perfectly made-up face with its cool expression. She could be such a bitch.
“Well, anyway,” Bee said, crossing to the fridge and pulling out a bottle of wine. “If you’re cold, why don’t you wear the cashmere I got you for Christmas? It’s perfect for your body shape.”
Colette didn’t answer. She took another drink of water, swallowing past the lump of anger in her throat as she swallowed the cold liquid. Maybe she’d sell the cashmere on E-bay and buy ten ugly sweaters instead. Just to piss Bee off. Her mother would punish her, probably take her phone until she turned eighteen, but it might be worth it.
She glanced up from her brooding just as Bee reached for the cupboard where Colette had stashed the donut box. Shit! She’d put it in with the wine glasses.
“Hey Mom!” she shouted, just as Bee pulled open the cupboard door. Too late.
Bee stared into the cupboard for a stretching moment, one hand still on the door, the other gripping the neck of the wine bottle. When she turned back, she caught Colette in a chill stare.
“I told you not to call me that.” Her voice was so even Colette’s heart began to pound.
“Sorry,” Colette mumbled, her throat tightening.
Bee turned back to the cupboard. “I don’t know why I even bother,” she said as she snatched a glass from the shelf. She slammed the cupboard closed, and then strode out of the kitchen without a backward glance.
Colette’s stomach churned, the donuts threatening to come back up.