Friday, December 10, 2010

What separates us

They sat on opposite sides of the table in the diner. The waitress poured coffee, waited a moment. No one said anything. She left them alone.

Ruth: Not what I expected. Not really. Muscles. Didn't expect that. Her hair's gray already. Lots still dark though, like mine.

"I wasn't sure you'd come," she said.

Anna: God, she looks like me. What the hell happened? How'd they let her get those tattoos? And that hair, green-streaked for god's sake.

"I wasn't sure either," she said. "How did you find me anyway?"

Ruth: She's got tattoos. If I'd known that, I wouldn't have got these.

"I've got skills," she said. "It wasn't very hard. Just need to know where to look."

Anna: Skills? Means she's bright enough, I suppose. That's good, isn't it?

"I suppose not," she said. "I wouldn't know how to." She paused. "So, let's get to it. Why'd you want to find me?"

Ruth: Ahhh, direct. To the point. Must be where I get it. Anyway, why the hell shouldn't I want to find her?

"Wanted to see you once," she said. "See who you are."

Anna: Once? What's she looking for? Closure? That door slammed a long time ago.

"The people, the ones who adopted you. I don't remember them as the piercings and tattoos type. What happened?

Ruth: You should see what else I got pierced! So, you thought you were doing me a favor, did you?

"He discovered cocaine. She discovered booze and driving fast are a bad mix. I ended up in foster homes. Thanks for that."

Anna: Christ. So much for the middle-class white bread townies.

"I'm sorry, Ruth," she said. "You still go by 'Ruth'? I couldn't bring you up, you know that, right? My parents dumped me when they found out."

Ruth: I don't want to hear your sob story. I've enough of my own. I survived it. And you.

"Who was my dad, anyway?" she said. "That was something I couldn't find out."

Anna: Why this sudden need for information? She's better off forgetting. God, she's not pregnant, is she? Doesn't look it.

"One of the guys in the band. I went on the road with them. When I had you, I couldn't take you on the road. That's not a life."

Ruth: So you drop kicked me to the nearest upwardly-mobile yuppies who needed a kid to complete the set. Was that it?

"So," she said. "You were a groupie then?"

Anna: Bitch. She's right, of course. Damn, she's got his say-what-the-fuck's-on-your-mind way about her.

"At first," she said, "then part of the roadie crew. I still do that kind of thing. But for trade shows now."

Ruth: I can see it was tough. She looks older than she is. She knows about surviving too, I guess.

"Yeah," she said, "I found that out. Then when I saw the trade show season was starting..."

Anna: Bright. I thought so. She's a survivor. Maybe she gets that from me.

"You said you're going to college. It's a good idea, not limiting your options. You seem to have your head screwed on right."

Ruth: A bit late for you to start giving me advice, don't you think.

"Yeah," she said, "I have. Least I didn't go pop out a kid at sixteen. More willpower, better decisions."

Anna: Ouch, that hurt. Sharper than a serpent's tooth...

"Access to better birth control," she said. "And, yeah, maybe more willpower."

Ruth: Didn't mean that jab. It just came out. So much for more willpower.

"Maybe fewer opportunities," she said, "and yeah, better birth control."

Anna: Truce? I wonder.

"I'm here for a while," she said, "three trade shows, one after the other. What do you say..."

Ruth nodded.


  1. In the best of circumstances, this can't be an easy meeting for anyone. Your deft hand paints a very intricate picture here, Kevin. I like that it has a hopeful end.

    Once again, the way you write women just amazes me. Lovely story, sir. :)

  2. Thanks Gracie, glad the difficulty of the meeting came across.

    And thank you for the "deft hand" comment - from someone with your storytelling skills, that's a lot.

  3. Detailed and intense. It was amazing how you managed to bring so much out of the character through the opposite person's eyes. And yet show that they were almost identical.


  4. Jai, I'm glad I was able to convey that - I hoped I could pull off the mental back and forth, going on under the actual words they spoke.

  5. Oh I did like that. It was good to see what they were saying and what they were thinking. Fantastic piece of dialogue.

  6. What I really like about it is this: writing dialogue is hard, so hard to do, and the fact that you wrote two of them is cool.

    Would love to know more about how they looked as the dialogue continues.

  7. @Icy, @julito77 - glad you enjoyed the dialogue, it's not always easy to get what you hear in your head down on paper. Happy it worked for you

  8. Very cool story, Kevin. I love the blending of the dialogue and thoughts to tell the whole story, not an easy thing to pull off. And the way their emotions go back and forth through the piece. Great job.

  9. Wow, a lot to overcome in that relationship. The back and forth was well done - the pain, mistrust, hurt, and hope all come through so well. What a tumult of emotions these two are going through.

  10. Gosh, the inside of my head is an ugly place during disputes. I'd hate for someone to write it all down. Curious why you felt the need to use the tag "she said" so often - they're both female and the colon demarcation gives a clear idea of when it's internal. Did you try a draft without them?

  11. The emotions shine in the unspoken vs spoken. Very powerful way to handle a difficult meeting.

  12. I absolutely love the way you told this story Kevin. This is something that takes "pure talent", something you quite obviously have. Very well done!

  13. @Danni Thanks for reading and commenting - I've had the blending going around in my head for a while, glad it came across well

    @Jon - Yes, a lot to overcome. Glad the slightly open door at the end could be seen

    @John - I'm equally glad my thoughts aren't subject to being broadcast. I left the "she said"s there to ensure the reader could follow what I was aiming for. I took some of them out, but not all.

    @Laura - Glad the emotional impact was high. The spoken was an attempt to convey the "toning down" that would likely be present in such a meeting

    @Deanna - "pure talent". I am very grateful for that, and for you reading and commenting. Many, many thanks.

  14. Very nice job weaving the thoughts, words, and emotions of these two.

  15. I like the way you dealt with a tricky meeting and their observations of each other confirming their genetic links. Lovely stuff.

  16. @Tim - thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'd hoped I would get the two kinds of conversations going at the same time.

    @Virginia - Glad you liked it. Many thanks.

  17. This is exactly how these meetings are. I love the way you weave what they're saying with what they're thinking. I've missed reading your work, Kevin. Between pc programs and being sick, I've missed a lot. This was a great piece to come back to.

  18. Rachel - sorry to read you were unwell. I missed a fair amount myself, partly because I was doing NaNoWriMo (with a ridiculous sprint at the end).

    Glad you enjoyed this, and glad you're back.

  19. Cool way to present the story, thoughts and words together. Nicely done.

  20. Really like the style of this, great "trick" with the internal dialogue interspersed
    Awesome characters too

  21. @ganymeder @mazzz I'm glad the presentation of the story worked for you. When I had it echoing around in my own head it seemed good, but that doesn't always translate well to the page.

    Glad this one did.