My daughter loves a good tear jerker story; I suppose a lot of people do. If the story is touted as a tissue piece, she’s up for it.
Personally, I hate to cry, but I do love the idea of characterization so indepth that it pulls enough heart strings that a reader/viewer feels the emotion so strongly they can’t hold back tears.
Today, Lorca Damon guests for Writer Wednesday with a post that is all the more poignant for the sense of reality that’s delivered. This guest post is not about how to or what not to do, it’s a post from the heart to your heart, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
“We Are Three”
“Two adults and two kids,” my husband spoke into the speaker on the ticket girl’s window. I saw his reflection twist in pain in the glare of the glass. “I mean, two adults. One kid.” He handed over the cash and palmed the movie tickets without another word. I could feel my daughter watching my face for a reaction but I was too numb to force the muscles in my face into any kind of expression. She took my hand and led me to the concession stand.
“C’mon, Mom, we could use some extra butter, huh? Won’t that be great?” she spoke too loudly. Another stab, this time from my eleven-year-old trying to appease her near-catatonic mother with buttery popcorn.
I couldn’t even be mad at Tom for the slip of the tongue because I found myself doing it too. At restaurants I told hostesses that I needed a table for four. At fast food restaurant drive-thrus I would order an unnecessary cheeseburger, sometimes paying for it anyway and tossing it out the window in anger rather than correct myself to the teenager with the headset. Canceling the extra cheeseburger felt too much like killing Samuel all over again.
Last week the back-to-school orientation was particularly bad. I told the teacher at the sign-up table that I needed two student pick-up tags. She looked up from her log book and stared at me, tears starting in her own eyes. Of course she knew about Samuel, they all did. They even went to his funeral, each teacher placing one goodbye crayon in his tiny casket, in remembrance of how much he loved to draw with a chunky crayon gripped hard in his little fist, his tongue pushed out slightly in concentration. I mumbled my apology at her and turned to leave with the one tag. The one for my child who was still alive. I heard her footsteps behind me running toward the bathroom down the hall.
I let Hayley lead me to the array of snack foods, certain that everyone there was watching me with a critical eye. Maybe they were staring at the woman who couldn’t even be counted on to remember how many children she had or watching to see if she had another “episode” and had to be taken home by a sympathetic neighbor who had found her sitting in the floor of the grocery store last month, unable to move or speak. Grief is an ugly bitch that way.
A memory flashed through my mind so fast that I almost couldn’t hold on to it, a time when Tom and I had gotten in the car to go somewhere, I can’t even remember where. He put the car in reverse and turned around to back out of the driveway but stopped short, swearing under his breath and throwing the car into park. He sprinted to the door of the house and was gone for only a moment before returning with a tiny Hayley strapped into her little baby carrier.
“You forgot the baby?” I nearly yelled, only keeping my rage under control so as not to wake Hayley.
“She’s so new! I’m not used to her yet!” he replied in a weak defense.
“Well, you’d better get used to her! We’re a family. A family of three. Remember that. We are three!” I screeched back, turning to my window and seething that he had almost left our child at home.
“We are three,” I whispered to myself, my breath coming up short and choking me. And it was true. And none of us could remember it. We had been two for so long, so many years of trying and hoping, then overjoyed to finally be three. But when the unbelievable miracle of four happened it was somehow as if it had always been that way. We had only been four for such a short time, an insurmountably unfair short time thanks to fate and cancer. And now we are once again three.
- Guest post: National “Novel Idea” Writing Month (keystrokesandwordcounts.wordpress.com)