Between books, shorts, and projects, I strive to keep my writing skills up, up, up. I’ve been working my way through a book with emotional writing exercises. First up? Anger. ARGH!
Exercise: Imagine that a character has just given this piece of news to another character: “Actually, this isn’t my first pregnancy. I gave a baby away for adoption twenty years ago, when I was in art school.” Who is receiving the news? Then write a response from that character’s point of view. Be sure the response leads the character through at least three emotions. It’s all right if anger isn’t one of the emotions.
“Actually, this isn’t my first pregnancy. I gave a baby away for adoption twenty years ago, when I was in art school.”
My heart freezes between beats. She what? Seconds pass. Mind blank. Then, “When were you in art school,” I ask, forcing my voice to remain calm. Though, the heat exploding inside my chest is making it nearly impossible.
“I just told you,” she says, not looking up from the table. “Twenty years ago. I was so young then. We all do stupid things at nineteen. Remember when you rammed your dad’s Porsche into that mailbox?” She continues painting and chuckles. Every stroke she takes, however, feels like a slap in my face. Numb. From my heart to my throat to my mind. I swallow.
My mouth opens to speak, but quickly, I shut it. Don’t lose it. Control your tongue, I think. But the heat is now surging through my veins. I grip the arm of the couch. Our couch. Where we rest, laugh, make love. Suddenly, I don’t want to be there.
“Where are you going?” she asks, finally glancing up. Confused.
But I don’t stop. I don’t answer. I hurry to the garage. I hear footsteps behind me, quickening in pace as my own stomp louder.
“Blair! Where are you going?” she asks again. I think she asks again. My ears are hot. My head a humid storm of anger. As I fling back the door, I move to the first piece of art hanging on the wall. Her hands are on mine, but I shove them off. Muted sounds erupt around me, but I’m deaf to them as I tear the canvas from the wall. And then the next. And the next. Until I’m left with empty walls and sweat dripping down my back. Finally, my mind snaps into place.
I hear her crying.