I have an amazing talent — at feeling anxious. Anyone else? So when I came across this one in the book on writing emotions, I figured this would be easy. Well, it wasn’t. It took numerous attempts to describe exactly how anxiety feels. I can say that by the time I was done with the exercise, my heart was pumping, my chest was tight, and whether or not I described anxiety perfectly or not, I had definitely become perfectly anxious. Ah, the joys of writing. If anyone thinks we’re not actors, they’re wrong. There’s a whole lotta “method writing” going on when creating a character.
So, here’s to anxiety. I hope your palms are a bit more sweaty by the time you finish the below.
Write a one-page scene entirely in interior monologue in which the narrator is anxious about getting some news: a home pregnancy test
Five minutes. It should take five minutes. She checked the clock. It had only been one. She stared at the thin stick on the bathroom counter, willing the faded blue lines not to intersect. It said five minutes. Results wouldn’t come until then, she repeated to herself.
From the edge of the bathtub, she could see herself in the mirror. The grey florescent light accentuated every line, every dark circle on her pure skin, causing her to resemble someone twice her age. Like her sister Amanda. Thirty going on fifty–unmarried, introverted, plain. But adored by their parents. No amount of gushing was ever enough for them. Last year’s newsletter proved that. Two minutes.
Or Rebecca. Senior with honors but no boyfriend. Dad took her shopping for a new car. Mom for clothes. They even threw her a party for being a what–valedictorian. Virgin, more like it. They love those. She scrunched her toes in the bath mat. Three minutes.
But for their youngest? Nothing. For the average student? Nothing. Little did they care about her. She ran her fingers through her thick blonde hair and pushed her chest out. Beautiful. Youthful. A Homecoming Queen. Popular.
Her hands grew sticky tucked under her thighs. She knew exactly what they would do. What they’ve been waiting to do ever since she started talking back, sneaking out, kissing boys. Exile her. And in minutes she’d find out if they’d get their way.
Pressure slammed down on her chest. She had sixty seconds. Sixty seconds until her life would be determined by two blue lines. She stood. Pushed her hair out of her face as she stared at the pregnancy stick. She tried synching her breathing with her heartbeat, to calm her. But all she could manage were short gasps. Twenty seconds. Don’t pick up the stick. Results may suffer if she picks up the stick. Ten seconds. Drowning couldn’t be worse than this, she thought, feeling like her chest was sinking in on her. Five seconds. Either way, her life would change.
Four. She swallowed hard, eyes locked on the cross that was appearing before her, branding her. Three seconds. As a slut. As an exile.
And as a mother.