Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drop the Needle: Anger #9

TITLE: Waiting for Paint to Dry
GENRE: Women's Fiction

“I want to know why!” I storm at her.

“Matty, this is stupid. I shouldn’t have to apologize for some foolish thing I may or may not have said when I was a teenager.”

“May not have said?” I scream. I try to breathe. Try to look at her with anything other than disgust.

Eleanor sighs. “I was just, you know…” she says nonchalantly and then stops. When she doesn’t go on, I restrain myself from reaching out and choking her. The look on my face must say as much, because she finally spits it out. “I was jealous, okay? I was just jealous.”

Confused and shocked, I force myself to speak. “Of what?”

“Of you. You had a boyfriend.”

My hands reach up and strangle handfuls of my hair. “Of me? You had a fiancĂ©!”

“But it wasn’t the same.”

“Wasn’t the same?” I say, kneeling before her. “Please explain it to me, because I feel like I’m going crazy here. What wasn’t the same?”

“Jett wanted you and I was jealous. Okay? That’s it.”

“So you…” I shake my head back and forth, eyes blinking, trying to understand. “I don’t get it. You were jealous that that jerk-off wanted me and not you?”

“No. Not that. I just… Forget it,” El says and walks past me.

I slam my hands on the floor and scream. “Forget it?” I get up and run after her, yelling. “He raped me! El!” I grab her arm, swing her around. “Do you have any, any idea what it’s like to be forced to have sex?”

“No, but at least he wanted you!”

“What the f***?” I drop her arm, disgusted by the feel of her skin on my hand. “You are insane. You are f****** insane.” I stalk back to my room.

“At least you know what it feels like to be wanted!” El yells. I hear her catch up to me.

“Get away from me,” I growl at her and grab my things. “I’m not staying here. You are out of your mind.”

“Matty, please. Let me—”

“No!” I snap, gathering up all my stuff. “You don’t get to talk to me!”

The sound of the door slamming behind me doesn’t quite hit the right note, the right amount of force, loudness, deafening roar that I need to hear. I want to crash. To out run this insanity. At the bottom of the stairs, I almost trip on the leg of a pair of jeans dangling from my arms. I take two seconds to repack, re-stuff, and then I’m off. Down the steep hill steps at the back of the yard. Through the newly paved streets at the bottom. Toward the beach.

Anywhere but here.


  1. from pilgrimsoul

    Definitely lots of conflict here, but I'm afraid my reaction was first confusion and then--ick! So one woman has no empathy for a rape victim? This story would not be for me. That doesn't mean other people wouldn't enjoy it.

  2. "May not have said?" I scream.

    The "screaming" bit sounds a little out of the flow of anger here. Too much too soon. Obviously I don't have the rest of the scene, so maybe it makes sense in context. But from what we have hear, it seems like the screaming should happen a little later on, once things have escalated a tiny bit more.

    Also, I feel like the "tripping" and "repacking" in that last paragraph breaks up the pace of the scene (which is fabulous, by the way!) Unless she absolutely needs to trip for some reason, I'd take that sentence out.

    I really liked the intensity of the scene. Good job!

  3. I thought the early anger was misplaced too. I can see why she was outraged when her friend said what she did about the guy and the rape. That would elicit fury, no doubt. But it seems like she's almost that mad at the beginning, before she knows what her friend was thinking.

    Also, I thought some of the dialogue tags were too much: storm, scream, yell, snap. A couple could be effective, but after a while they start calling attention to themselves.

  4. I also think the anger in the opening lines seemed over the top -- but perhaps it works when read in context. You may want to consider cutting adverbs in speech tags and letting the dialogue convey tone.

    Maybe El's craziness is addressed earlier in the story, but I found her equating rape with the idea of someone being 'wanted' hard to believe. But again, this may be contextual. Once the MC learns this is what El thinks, the anger worked and her inability to speak was as effective as what she manages to say.

  5. Definitely an intense scene! I agree about screaming. I don't like screaming as a dialogue tag and think it should be reserved for screaming in pain or fright. "I said" would work just as well, since the next two lines indicate exactly how she feels.

    Sighing and nonchalance isn't really how someone reacts to screaming anyway.

    "kneeling before her" stopped me. Are they standing? In chairs?

    Then more screaming. Save it for falling off a cliff or riding on roller coasters.

    The unsympathetic to rape part didn't bother me, but the first thing out of El's mouth should be "You're sick." Insane works, but sick would work better.

    You could delete "I growl" and get rid of one of your tags.

    The way you phrase it, it's not clear who slams the door. And "I want to crash" conflicts with "To outrun this insanity." Did you mean she wanted the door to crash? If so, I'd continue the metaphor and say: "To splinter into a thousand pieces, like my friendship with El just did" (or something like that).

    I like the jeans-tripping--it indicates how much of a hurry she's in--but you never say what the clothes are in. Could tighten to something like: I almost trip on the leg of a pair of jeans dangling from my arms, but bundle them back up as I run outside, down the steep hill steps...

  6. Great advice and constructive criticism, everyone. Thank you so much for your time and honesty!

  7. And let me know where/when/if I can return the favor.


  8. Lots of conflict. Like it but the dialogue tags of "scream" and "growl" are distracting.

  9. I thought it worked okay, but had a few over the top moments. As someone else pointed out, the 'screaming' doesn't really work. Nor does the strangling handfuls of her hair, slamming her hands on the floor, and kneeling before Eleanor. It makes her seem more insane than angry, on a level, say, with a mother who just sees her child get hit by a car and die and just totally loses it, and this just doesn't seem to be that kind of situation. The rape didn't just happen (which I think would justify those actions).

    I do wish I knew what Eleanor had done/said all those years ago. If it's mentioned before this scene, then the reader will know. If not, you might add it to this scene. Knowing that may justify how you have her reacting.

    Second last parg, maybe say I slammed the door behind me, but it doesn't quite . . . . etc. You might also say, 'I want to outrun this insanity' since that's what she's doing, and cut the crash. Maybe cut the newly paved streets sentence.