Aside 1 – Two Characters in an Action Story

Okay, this blog is for the challenge but I was thinking back in a conversation and so looked up a tongue in cheek story I wrote in frustration by the formula the teacher demanded in a creative writing class. The class had not stated it was meant to be a venue for a certain type of story but that is what it ended up being. This was my response. It fits the rules and is within the 500 – 600 word limit I gave myself for this blog.

Two Characters in an Action Story
Written spring 1993
(My way of protesting the rules in a creative writing class)

“We got it! We got the job! She slammed the door behind her as she rushed into the room. Running up to him she deposited the letter soundly in his lap. “You’ve gotta read this. We actually get to wear prison uniforms!”

By the time his eyes had scanned the final word he was as excited as she. “I gotta call …”

“No! Don’t say it!” she yelled, putting her hand against his mouth. “You know how they are about named characters who don’t go anywhere. We could lose this job if we don’t play by the rules.”

His shoulders drooped as he refolded his pocket phone. “What I’d do for the good old days. At least employment wasn’t so tight and characters could pick and choose instead of snapping up every job that came along.”

“I know what you mean. Remember how much easier things were then. We had company. More of us shared in the action. Now it’s lean and clean. Streamlining. More work for less pay.”

She stared out the window at the dingy wall that served as scenery for their one bedroom flat. He scowled at her back hating her gloom, not wanting to admit he felt the same. Yanking his leather jacket off the hanger he headed for the door. “Gotta get out of this place. Maybe I’ll go down to the corner and visit some characters I’m allowed to name.”

The room was dead still after the echo of his footsteps faded down the hall. Pressing her burning cheek against the window pane she watched him exit into the alley below and disappear around the corner. In the vanishing light her fingers caressed the peeling paint of the window ledge.

What had been so exciting about prison uniforms” The gray rough fabric wasn’t that different from their standard wear. How she longed for one more chance to wear the frills and lace or dance to the musical words of yesterday. Once the world had been so alive that mirrors could give tables and chairs a life of their own. Or dollhouses and tiny lamps could give a story meaning. They had friends then. Stories were full of others. Her tongue curled around the taste of dozens of names she dare not whisper.

Wearily she turned away from the bleakness outside. What name would they give her this time? IF she even had a name. So many times she didn’t anymore. That was the way things were. But you had to work to eat. And you had to eat to live. She lay across the army blanket crumpled on the bed.

When he entered a few hours later she was asleep. His anger had faded to resignation but as he saw her lying there life touched his eyes again. He sat down on the edge of the bed and gently brushed the hair from her eyes. She murmured in her sleep but did not wake.

“We’ll make it,! He promised her sleeping form. “They can’t go on this way forever. Something has to break. It’s happened before. It will happen again. I just hope I’ll be around to see it.”

He walked to the window and closed the curtains against the night. The room was dark and still. “At least we have each other. They haven’t taken that.” He curled up against her and pillowed his head on her shoulder. “They haven’t taken that – yet.”

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