Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Story Time Tuesday - Writing Fiction - Chapter Two

Jenny Matlock
If you missed where this story started just click here to read it.

We'll try a whole chapter based on your feedback from last week. If you think it's too long let me know and I'll go back to splitting it.

Writing Fiction - Chapter 2

One typical afternoon when I was wallowing in my carb-induced grief coma, my phone rang. “Who cares?” I thought. Besides, I was busy watching a Flying Nun marathon and those special TV events don’t come around every day.

When the answering machine kicked on in the kitchen, I heard the worried, little voice of my daughter float across the room. I pushed the flannel quilt off my lap, paying little attention to the avalanche of crumbs falling on the dusty hardwood floor. I riffled through the discarded bakery boxes and frito bags (I think there must be some addictive ingredient in the BBQ flavored ones!) beside the couch for the remote. The Flying Nun paused…her shiny red-brown bangs perched over those happy eyebrows. The white wings of her seagull hat poised for flight, cast nary a shadow on her adorable up-turned freckled nose. I bet the Flying Nun would be good at handling grief. She wouldn’t be beached on the couch in a nun’s habit streaked with butter stains. She wouldn’t feel compelled to squash casseroles over someone’s head.

In fact, she would probably make delicious, innovative, non-scalloped potato and ham casseroles and deliver them with notes providing instant comfort in a single, perfectly crafted sentence. Written in calligraphy. That Flying Nun can be really annoying, can’t she?

By the time I finished yelling at the Flying Nun frozen on the TV screen and found the phone buried underneath pizza box debris, my daughter had hung up. When I hit the replay button on the answering machine, her worried little voice seemed to fill the entire kitchen.

“Mom,” she said, “Are you there, Mom? I’m really worried about you. Are you taking those anti-depressants the doctor gave you? Are you going to your grief counseling sessions? Are you getting out at all? What do you do all day? Are you eating right? Mom? MOM! Pick up!”

My daughter is a bit of a worrier. She’s been that way since she was a baby, really. She used to be the one that would pat the pockets of her little red corduroy coat just to be sure she had a tissue.

“OK, Pearl,” I pep-talked myself, “Get a grip. Call her back.” Before I could chicken out, I shoved a pile of empty coke cans off a kitchen chair and slumped down onto the red vinyl. I’d only piled the coke cans there because there was no room in the recycle bin by the back door. And that was only full because I’d been forgetting every single week to haul the stupid, blue recycling trash can out to the curb. I already told you about the small, continuous deaths that keep happening to me every single day since my husband ‘turned to dust’, didn’t I?

I’m sure I did. But did I tell you about…

Oh who am I kidding here? I’m just stalling because I can’t bear to call my daughter back and hear her pain. She might start crying,which is even more awful. I don’t know about you, but when my adult daughter cries, I can still hear the little girl in her. It rips my heart out. It makes me feel like a failure. I’m supposed to make her life better, right? I’m supposed to be the one who soothes her worries and fears…not causes them.

Even though I want to hide from the concern and panic in her voice, I dial her number anyway. And she picks up right away, but before she can get fully rolling on her inquisition I gently stop her.

“Jessie,” I say gently, “Don’t worry. I’m taking the anti-depressants and they are helping so much. And not only am I going to the grief counseling sessions, they’ve asked me to become a leader of the group. I was out having lunch with some friends when you called. We’re so busy getting ready for the church bazaar. And, of course, I’m eating right!”

I gently touched my nose to be certain it hadn’t started growing from all the lies. I didn’t bother touching my butt because that had certainly started growing lately, but not from telling fibs. I was pretty sure Jessie bought my little song and dance routine, until she interrupted me just as I started regaling her with tales about my belly dancing classes.

“Mom! Quit it. I’ve been thinking about this. I don’t think you’re doing fine at all. I think you’re lying to me. I can’t even deal with Daddy dying because I’m worrying about you all the time.” And then she started to cry. Obviously I needed to send her the Dummies Guide for ephanisms about death and dying but that seemed irrelevant at the moment.

I strengthened my voice into my best ‘I am your Mother and I know what I’m doing voice’ and said firmly, “Please don’t cry. And don’t you worry at all. I have lots going on.”

That exact moment is when I became a total and complete liar.

Before my husband ‘gave up the ghost’ on the way to ‘take a dirt nap’, I didn’t really do very much with my computer. Sure, I forwarded jokes and recipes from my e-mail and visited some websites, but that was about it.

After he took up residence ‘six feet under’, I started googling for comfort.

It’s amazing how much information is on the internet. You can type in “what to do about depression” and 110,000,000 websites will pop up on your screen in 2.8 seconds. Did you know that about 999,999 of those websites are tests to find out if you are, indeed, actually depressed? Well, gee. I didn’t need 999,999 sites to tell me that I scored a 99% on the depression scale. I haven’t gotten grades that good on a test since Cooking and Baking 101 in Home Economics. I only got that grade because PJ’s Mom was a professional baker and she comandeered the entire cookie baking project.

About 100,000 of the other sites that popped up were blogs. I really wasn’t sure what a blog was, so I googled that, too, and here’s what I learned: A blog is a diary on a web site, a frequently updated personal journal chronicling links at a web site, intended for public viewing.

And that’s what popped into my carbohydrate-addled brain at the exact moment my daughter was sobbing her heart out on the phone. “Jessie, stop crying for a second. I have a way that you can keep track of me and not worry so much, OK?”

She gave a small hiccup and a sniff. I’m telling you, I could just visualize her little blonde braids all damp from those tears, even though she hadn’t had a braid near her head since a botched vacation attempt with loser boyfriend number three to the Bahamas. I remember picking her up at the airport, all tanned, teary and corn-rowed and…

“Mom? Mom? What are you talking about?” she said, interrupting my little journey down Memory Lane.

I gathered my courage together and took the great leap into the lie of all lies.

“I am,” I said with great surety, “I’m…starting a …. blog.”

“A what?’ came her astonished reply.

“A blog,” I said again. “I’m just … ummm… getting it ready now. And you can … ummm…. Go to my blog every day so you won’t worry about me.”

My great fabrication met with silence.

The phone hummed under my ear.

“Did you hear me? Jessie? Jessie! Are you still there?”

Finally I heard a small sigh. “Mom, I think that’s a great idea. What do you know about blogging?”

Before things got out of hand, I leaped up from the sticky, red vinyl chair and knocked very hard on the kitchen cabinet. “Jessie, I’m really sorry, sweetie, but somebody’s at the door. I’ll call you in a few days with my blog address. I have to go. Love you, love you!”

Two things popped into my mind in those last moments before I started writing fiction.

The first, a childish saying I remember my sisters hurling at me during sibling fights, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

The second, a quote from a stupid junior high literature class, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

To be continued, Tuesday, September 21.

(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.

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Julie Kwiatkowski Schuler said...

Ha! I think everyone must think those two things when they tell a lie!

Viki said...

I like the conversational style of this story. Oh boy, I hope she starts the blog. That should be interesting.

summersundays-jw said...

I love this. In so many ways I've been this woman. Some major differences are that I was already on antidepressants (luckily), I already had a blog & I would never have a red vinyl chair. Great reading! Jan

Jeanie said...

Looking forward to seeing where this is going to go.....It's gonna be good.

Susan Anderson said...

This plot turn is music to my ears! Can't wait till the Pearl's blogging begins!


Anonymous said...

You are still holding my interest. Loving it, will be looking forward to the next chapter. Hugs

Jocelyn said...

Love this one Jenny....I could see that chair with the coke cans so clearly...

Yes touching the nose to make sure it was not growing....loved it!!!

Can't wait for the next one!!!

Amy said...

Yup, definite fan of the whole chapter at once. And what a wonderful little liar! I love how heart breaking it is, yet there is still a little glimmer of hope that always shines just out of sight. Can't wait to read her blog!

Vanessa said...

Hi Jenny! I so love reading your posts and it takes me away from life for a few moments! I need to pick your brain about something because I am wanting to find out more about copyrighting some work I have done. Maybe I'll shoot you an email?

Pat Wahler said...

Very intriguing! Looking foward to see where this story takes us!


The Words Crafter said...

Really really really, is she gonna blog? Woohoo!

I have a friend who so desperately needs an outlet like that, er, this...uh...anyway, she needs it.

The only internet connection she has, though, is her phone.

I am really curious what Pearl will blog about. And I could hear the cans hitting each other as they fell all over the floor. Been there done that....

I, too, am a fan of the whole chapter at once! I'm greedy that way!

Maria said...

I just had to come by and tell you that you totally made my day!!! (this is maria from you craft me up!) I decided to go back threw all my older posts, and it was such a nice surprise to see all your sweet comments! I loved it! Thanks so much! :D

H said...

The whole chapter at once is much better. Enough to get your teeth into. More work for you though!

Roll on chapter 3. I want to see what fabrications this blog will produce!

Terra said...

oh ruth, you just might feel better after all, I mean if you do start a blog and all, because writing (even fictitious lies) can be so good for you. Now that daughter of yours, you know she deserves better, she deserves more from you, I am certain she still has a tissue in her pocket and she would be happy to share it with you.

Mrs. M said...

I giggled at the line about the TV events just not coming around every day.....loved this chapter - so excited she is starting a blog and can't wait to hear if/how it's going to help Pearl!

Lourie said...

Oooh this entry was excellent. I feel like we are old friends. It's great Jenny!