Oct 28, 2011

Write on Wednesdays, exercise 20 - 'I thought I saw...'

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 20 - Write the words " I thought I saw" at the top of your page. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Write the first words that come into your head after the prompt. Don't take you pen off the page (or fingers off the keyboard). Stop only when the buzzer rings! Do this exercise over and over if you wish. Write beyond 5 minutes if you like, you can link it up as an extra post.

I'm so glad to be able to do another WoW piece. With this one, my aim was to explore self-doubt, which I feel the phrase ‘I thought I saw’ captures so wonderfully. If anyone is keen to find out, I don’t actually know if my character is right or wrong. J 
I was more interested in exploring her emotions and her choice of actions revolving around her self-doubt. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to give me some pointers – even down to punctuation. I haven’t edited this one very well due to time constraints, but I must admit I went beyond the five minutes... tee hee hee!

I thought I saw...

My fingers massaged the inside corners of my eyes. Surely it must be twelve-ish, I thought. Another involuntary giggle escaped my lips - Ted was on fire with his quips and comebacks tonight, and the raucous laughter from the others sparked a second wind in me. I blinked open my eyes to see the wine glass in my hand come slowly into focus. It had been empty for some time; nothing but a faint sticky red ring at the bottom and a few colours of lipstick on the rim.

I put the glass down on the splattered table cloth, stretched my knuckles, and thought about calling a taxi instead of walking home. On the long table, stacked plates were shoved to the side, where bare elbows propped up ruddy, beaming faces. Nina returned to her dining room, tears of laughter streaming down her red-hot cheeks in fine lava trails. All she could do was wave the jug of coffee at us, while she dabbed her eyes with her other sleeve and sighed. She had heard Ted from the kitchen, and she didn't mind at all that her fiancé was poking fun at her again. I thought - this time - though she gives as good as she gets, he was a bit unfair. I couldn't help but dart my eyes through the archway to the living room. Lucy was in earshot, having scampered down the carpeted stairs in her kitty slippers. As usual, it was well past her bed-time.

Drawn back to the table, I rejoined the conversation. Soon I was chuckling again, and my eyes watered effortlessly - for no reason, really. It was automatic, from seeing tears on a dear friend's face. Maybe it was just too much red wine and a very long day. Where was my phone? On the side table in the living room, I remembered. I peered through the archway again.

The most dreadful feeling rose through my nerves, so intensely it was as if I’d been lowered into another atmosphere. My whole body locked up, to the point I was afraid to turn my head for fear my neck would snap. My flagging eyelids widened into hard circles, only to see the whip of Lucy's long, red hair as she ran up the stairs. A man sat perched on the edge of the sofa. I struggled to remember his name from earlier that day. Was he a good friend of Ted and Nina? It was all I could helplessly think of.

But how should that make a difference to what I think I just saw?


I looked up at Nina, but her voice became lost in the vacuum of space that formed around me and bulged against my ear drums. A shadow fell across the room from a source I couldn't detect.

"You look like you've seen a ghost!" Nina said, without a care in the world. I wanted to cry. I was going to throw up. She squeezed my shoulder, too hard - with the grip of someone who doesn't realise how much they've drunk. She moved on to the next person beside me at the table.

I glared past Nina's lightly swaying form. Everything - right down to the weave in the fabric of her skirt - was completely vivid to me now. The stray cotton sprouting from the seam at her hip appeared as epic as a solitary tree on a hillside. Beyond it, my vision held the man just as sharply. And he had discovered this; I was now making him feel uncomfortable. I dropped my gaze to my arms in my lap, where they had remained the whole time, flattened and heavy like two sunken battleships.

Was I just seeing things? What exactly did I see?

No matter how many times I framed the question in my mind, I felt no conviction in my answer - I just didn't know for sure. You cannot be wrong about these things. I grew insatiably thirsty for something. Not water, certainly not alcohol. I just needed to know.

Surely I must be wrong. In fact, you could easily be wrong, I berated myself. If that was the case, I wanted to rewind the last few minutes, to have kept my eyes closed instead and not risk being so ridiculously, cruelly mistaken.


I took a deep breath and steadied my voice. "Nina... what's your friend's name?" My words came out in the tone of a complete stranger, and I coughed to shake myself out of it. She looked over her shoulder to where I indicated.
"Oh - that's Matt. Remember? Ted's workmate. Why?"

"I've gotta go. I'll drop by to pick up my phone in the morning, okay? We’ll chat then."
Her neck shifted abruptly backward and her face screwed up in confusion. I let her trail after me as I walked to the front hall.

"Oh, alright…” Nina said, and then came up with her own explanation as we both reached to open the door. "You look... utterly exhausted!"

My lips pushed upward into a shallow smile and fell flat again.
"Do one thing for me, Nina. Go upstairs and check on Lucy."

"What? Why? What do you mean?"

"She was downstairs, a moment ago..."

Nina breathed sharply in, and as her eyes searched mine for some kind of context, I struggled to think what I could give.

Instead, I turned away. Feeling sick to my stomach, I knew that another second of looking into Nina's eyes would eventually feel like a lie of some kind. As I walked down her front path, my heightened nerves still felt the hard tug of her hand on my shoulder. I just needed to step back and think clearly before I said anything, I told myself, and prayed it was the right thing to do.

Nina called out into the darkness, her voice now sobered with apprehension.

"See you in the morning… and have a good sleep."

Write On Wednesdays