How did you find this week's writing prompts?
I didn't know where I was going to find the time to write this week, but Sarah from Older Mum in a Muddle suggested a Write In on Sunday evening. A few of us agreed to write from 8-10pm. I joined in, after watching the end of the Tour de France (whoop), and wrote a 1500 word story. Amazing what you can do when you try.
I chose prompt 2 - Turning Point
This needs a
lot of little editing and more character development, especially for the narrator, less tell and more show, actually the whole thing needs re-writing, but it felt good to hammer something out.
‘Fish and chips’ I said.
‘What do you want?’ he asked, again.
‘Fish and chips?’
‘What do you want?’ he shouted.
‘Fish and chips!’ I shouted back, thinking he hadn’t heard me.
‘If you don’t tell me what you want I won’t get you anything’ he bellowed.
This was getting silly. I started chuckling.
‘Fish and chips?’
The door slammed. Oh.
I didn’t get any fish or chips. Apparently I should have specified cod or haddock, or a battered saveloy.
How did I end up here? How did I end up living with an ogre? Not a loveable, green Shrek-like ogre. Oh no, my ogre was a joyless, angry wine-guzzler. He had Shrek’s eyes though. Or maybe his eyes were more toad-like. They could flick from whatever TV programme he was watching to give me ‘the look’, then flick back again. When I got ‘the look’ I knew I’d said something to upset him. He wouldn’t tell me that this was the case, but the eyes had it.
Of course I do know how I ended up here. I had been single for a while. I was feeling unloved. I looked for stuff on Ebay, this took hours. I spent far too much time laying on the sofa reading glossy celebrity magazines. I had put on weight, a lot of weight. I wanted to be like every other woman I saw. They all looked happy, confident and glossy. They went on dates, they had someone. I was lonely.
I joined an internet dating site. I wrote my biography. I said I loved the theatre, cinema, eating out, swimming and walking. It wasn’t true of course, apart from the eating part. I found an old photo, a ten stone photo. You couldn’t really see me, I was too far away. It was my favourite photo of me. I sat back and waited for the flood of date offers.
My standards were low. They were so low down on the low scale that I would have accepted a date with Darren Day (not that he’d have asked me out, what with me weighing fourteen stone and all).
I checked my email every day. Eventually Richard contacted me. We exchanged emails for a while, well for two days, before he asked to meet me. He sounded nice enough, he flattered me on my figure. He liked the theatre, cinema, eating out, swimming and walking too. What am amazing coincidence! I wouldn’t have described him as my ideal man when I saw his photo. More Wayne Rooney than George Clooney, but looks aren’t everything.
The warning signs were there right from the start. I chose to ignore them, after all I was on a date. Richard had clearly lied about his height. He didn’t offer to buy the first drink. He didn’t laugh at my jokes, but laughed heartily at his own. When we were discussing a staff issue I had at work he told me what I should have done to think about the blue sky, out of the box. He told me he’d had an argument with his boss that day and his boss was a tosser.
Still, woo hoo and yay, I had a boyfriend!
Richard lost his job the following month due to a clash of personalities. He also lost his company car so could I drive over to his house and stay there most evenings? After a few weeks we decided I should sell my house and move in with him. Instead of paying my mortgage I could help him out with his, just while he looked for another job. An executive post. A senior management position. Not like my front-line supervisory management position.
He told me he loved me so much. But only so much. How we laughed at his witticism. When I asked him ‘no really, why do you love me?’ – I know, I was asking for trouble – he said it was because I had big tits. I laughed the first time, but after hearing it again and again I think he meant it. The charmer.
We booked a romantic holiday to Barbados. We joked about getting married on the beach, but not even I was that depressed. I upset him in a shop, on a tour of the island. We walked back to the tour bus in silence. The silence continued until we were sat in the bar that evening, drinking our all-inclusive rum punches. I plucked up the courage to ask what was wrong. After the usual rounds of ‘nothing’s wrong’ and ‘are you sure?’ Richard told me what was bothering him. Why didn’t I buy him any dollars to put in his wallet so he could buy the map he wanted?
The map he wanted was rolled up on his suitcase. I'd bought it for him.
I was starting to realise that my life was resembling a bad soap opera. I thought of myself as a tragic down-trodden character. A woman driven to drink by a verbally abusive passive-aggressive partner. You see it all the time in Walford.
Yes, I’d had far too much to drink, but this had fuelled the delusions of cockney princess in me. He wouldn’t dance with me so I stood in the middle of the dance floor and sobbed.
That night in our room we had a shouting scene. We ended our relationship. We just didn’t get on. It was over. Dum dum dum dum da da dum.
In the morning we clung together to ease our lonely hangovers. We made up. There was a love scene.
The next few months were less like a soap opera and more like the film ‘The Snake Pit’. In this film the baddies try to convince Vivienne Leigh that she is losing her mind. The film is truly terrifying if you have ever felt like you may lose control of your sanity.
I was on edge the whole time. I alternated between standing up for myself and facing the wrathful consequences, and acquiesing. The latter course of action resulted in my hands shaking. Despite all my shaky efforts at keeping the peace I still upset him.
He hadn’t found another job, I guess there’s not much call for miserable senior executives. Besides, going to work would take him away from his main hobby of looking at porn on the internet. Filling my computer with viruses, and videos of big girls taking baths.
One weekend I accidentally knocked a wine glass behind an occasional table. When I moved it I discovered the decomposing remains of a bird, a victim of the cat. I’m no forensic scientist, but that bird had been there for quite some time. When I suggested to Richard that he could perhaps, possibly, if it’s not too much trouble, maybe do a tiny bit more housework during the day while I was at work, he flicked me ‘the look’. I spent the rest of the weekend cleaning his house.
We read ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ and tried to analyse our relationship. Perhaps we didn’t get on because we were men and women. He needed time in his cave apparently. I wished I was in another cave.
I was worried about his drinking. He guzzled two bottles of red wine every night. Sometimes I joined in, trying to get my fair share of the wine rack. I asked him once why he drank so much. He told me I drove him to it by being such a crazy bitch.
I went to work everyday and spent the first twenty minutes in my friend Jane’s office sobbing in frustration. I told her about the latest argument. ‘Bastard’ she said. She told me to leave him. ‘I’m trying to make it work’ I said.
Jane and I discussed my relationship every lunchtime. I knew I’d made the wrong choice, but I had nowhere to go. I knew I should leave, but then I’d have to admit to everyone that the whirlwind romance had run out of puff. I didn’t want everyone to know that I’d been a total idiot. I was ashamed of myself. My self-esteem couldn’t be any lower. She told me to leave him.
The final straw came when Richard offered to look at bungalows for my elderly parent to move into. I said that I would prefer to see them myself as I knew my family better than he did. He said I’d hurt his feelings. My parent were going to have to leave the house they had lived in for forty years and Richard had hurt feelings. Diddums.
I went into work the next day and told Jane that I was leaving Richard. She didn’t believe me. The smile on my face eventually convinced her that I'd reached a turning point. She did a victory dance and bought cakes.
I had lost myself, but in ditching the ogre I found some self-respect.
Richard had a theory about everything. His favourite was ‘All men are bastards, all women are crazy’. Cause and effect?
This needs a
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