Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'm cheating

I'm cheating. I hope you forgive me.  I'm going to do two posts today because I forgot about The Alliterative Allomorph's internal conflict blogfest.  I really want to enter, hence the double post.

This scene from my WIP takes place the day after the excerpt I posted for the Primal Scream blogfest, so if you want some context go ahead and check that out.  Please note, however, that the following excerpt has been severely edited to get it down to the 800 words required by the internal conflict blogfest.

Here's my entry:

Cold feet, cold hands, cold, cold, cold. I chafed at my bare upper arms, then lunged to my feet and began pacing the room.

“Honey, come here.” My mom grabbed me by the shoulders, directed me until I stood facing my reflection in the full length mirror. “It's your wedding day.  We finally got here and look at how gorgeous you are.”

Instead I looked at her. Strands of her gray hair had pulled free of her French twist and wafted over her temple. The bruise I noticed there the night I picked her up from the airport had all but faded. However, there was still a slight discoloration near the lobe of her ear. It's shape was reminiscent of the ring her current boyfriend wore on his right hand.

I wondered how many men left just such a mark on my mother’s skin, wondered if she kept a tally of hits and kicks and bites and bruises.

I wondered just how many blows it would take before I looked as defeated as my mother.

“I’m not going to do this.” I murmured.

“What, sweetheart?” My mom met my eyes in the mirror. Her eyes were brighter than I’d seen them all weekend, but it was suspicion and a dawning anger that glowed through the haze of alcohol, not pride or hope.

I held her eyes in the mirror, feeling my mom’s need to have me settled, to feel she’d done her duty by me crushing my resistance. The weight of expectation from the fifty or so guests most likely already seated and waiting for the bride to arrive seemed to filter through the wall, shoving at my shoulders, my waist, my legs, forcing me to move toward the door, then around the corner, down the aisle to David’s side. I thought of the world he belonged to, the world of education, art, culture, travel, money, the world I’d been seeking a way into perhaps my whole life as I scrabbled away from the stigma of 5515 Somerset Lane. I thought of David, how much, despite all, I still loved him.

“I’m going to do this and it will be alright.” I told the shaken looking pixie cut blond peering out at me from behind the mask of her veil.

“Damn right.” My mother said. “Now let’s go.”

We left the room together. Once in the hall my mom poked her head around the corner. “Set to go, folks.”

Then my mom offered me her arm. A moment later we rounded the corner and paused just outside the room where I was to be wed. Craning my head around the doorjamb I peered in and saw David smiling, so brilliant to look at him made my eyes ache. I watched him gesture as he talked to the minister, thought of his hands wielding the scissors the night before, the tip of them coming within centimeters of the jelly of my eyeball, convincing me to be quiescent while he took away pieces of me.

The string quartet eased into the strains of The Bridal Chorus and all the guests got to their feet, turning toward the door. I jerked my head out of sight. My mother straightened, lifting her chin, throwing her shoulders back. My gaze returned to the small bruise near the lobe of her ear.

My mind then ran over the course of my relationship with David, seeing the small toxic ways that fiend lurking behind the wall of his self control seeped into my life and tainted it. I didn’t need to use my precognition to see it would continue to do so. That I would end up exactly like my mother, except comparing the abuse David would mete out over the course of our relationship with what my father had done to my mother was like comparing what happened in an army field hospital to the work of a brain surgeon. One was mindless butchery, a brutal whacking and hacking and then onto the next. The other was a fine tuned skill, an exquisite manipulation of the organ upon which everything else depended. That was David’s particular method, a tearing down that began from within until there was nothing left but a hollow shell.

I reached under the veil with my free hand, fingered my cropped hair and wondered even now, how much of me was left to destroy. How much there would be to salvage if I ever decided to leave him. If he would let me go.

My vision went fuzzy and vague at the edges and it felt like all the oxygen in the world wouldn’t be enough to inflate the vacuum of my lungs. I yanked my arm from my mother’s, staggered back a few steps.

She reached for me. “Ruth?”

I clutched up huge handfuls of my wedding gown. Then I kicked off my heels and ran.


Palindrome said...

WOW. I love the subtle intensity. Good stuff, Angie!

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I'm pooped. Been checking out the entries for more than 5 hours. Will come back and read tomorrow, Angie, I promise. :)

Creepy Query Girl said...

Great excerpt. I really felt the sense of urgency and wariness in the situation and I was really relieved when she ran away! Good stuff!

Lisa of In Pencil said...

Damn girl, I am blown away...I love the paragraph with the surgery metaphors. Brilliant.

Dawn said...

Awesome! Glad I stumbled on this Blogfest thing - I've *met* some great writers. Look forward to reading more of your work along the way :-)

VR Barkowski said...

I'm just so happy she ran, I'm not quite sure what to say other than: excellent conflict! Life is all about choices. For Ruth the price was too high even though it meant sacrificing something she'd always dreamt of. Brilliant job, Angie!

sarahjayne smythe said...

Great conflict, great entry. Vivid and intesnse. :)

Jaydee Morgan said...

Loved this! I'm also glad she ran at the end. The inner conflict really came through - with herself and with the mother. Great job :)

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Whoo hoo! I'm so glad she ran. I was hoping and hoping the whole time. You've done a brilliant job here. You drew me in from the first sentence. And I love how you speckled the abuse in tiny bit through the action. It works beautifully. Nice job. And thanks for participating! :)

Tina Lynn said...

Run, Ruth, Run! Wow. Way to set up conflict. All those people waiting. A life of horror flashing before her eyes. Yipes. Thanks for posting:)

Tara said...

Good for her! Like someone else said this was very intense - in such a subtle way. Great job.

Angie Paxton said...

Thanks, all of you for taking the time to read! And thank you for all the positive feedback. I appreciate it so much!

Amalia T. said...

I was so relieved when she ran! That's a really satisfying ending to this scene--and her struggle. Nicely done!

Old Kitty said...

Run Ruth run!!!!!

This is excellent - I was drawn immediately to the character's inner conflict and willed and willed her to pick up an run! You really brought out her confusion, her determination and finally her strength!

Well done you!

Take care

Jen said...

I'm so glad you cheated and decided to join on the fun!!! It was certainly well worth it! Wow this was amazing, I felt her pain and her power at the same time. That took a lot of courage to get the hell out of there, what strength. Inspiration for us all!!

Wonderul Angie, absolutely wonderful.