Fiction writing is something I have journals and journals full of, but have never put it out into the world.
Today’s the day.
A couple of weeks ago, we were given a prompt for an assignment; write a short scene in which your character receives a gift they do not want.
I chose to write about a character in a longer fiction piece I am working on. My character’s spouse died ‘heroically’, but my character is struggling with what that means. I loved (like a whole bunch) writing the scene and really appreciated my instructor’s feedback. Below is the scene (with the tweaks she suggested).
With this ring
The detective slid a bag across the table. “It’s your husband’s ring. Well, what’s left of it.”
Melissa recoiled, as if the bag contained an explosive device.
“You don’t want it?” The detective pulled the bag back into the centre of the table, surprised. Other victim’s families appreciated when he reconnected them with their dead relatives’ belongings.
“No!” Melissa found herself shouting. What the hell was going on here? Why was this man trying to force her to take Ted’s ring?
That ring used to be a symbol of a beautiful sunny Saturday, their beginning, when they said, yup, we’re in this thing. I’ll always put you first. These shards, these remains, they represented a black, bottomless pit of a day. The day her husband got shot. The end of them. The day he stepped up for someone else and left her with a shattered life, a shattered daughter.
A fucking shattered ring.
“Mrs. Dunn, I understand this is difficult. But your husband, he’s a hero. I thought you, or your daughter maybe, would want this part of him.”
“Detective… stop. Please. Just stop.” For fuck’s sake. That ring was on Ted’s hand when he uselessly raised it to defend himself against a bullet. Yup. It is definitely a part of him. Bits of him were probably all over it.
Bits of him were everywhere – on walls and carpets and the clothes of the girl he saved. But he was still gone.
“Mrs. Dunn, I know…”
“No, you don’t,” she spat the words. In that moment, the detective represented the countless people telling her how to feel about Ted’s death. “You don’t know a goddamn thing.”
Melissa stood up, walked to the window, taking hold of the sill and trying not to scream. Trying not to hit something. “Look, I’m sorry. Please. I appreciate you trying to help me, to help my daughter.”
Why was she apologizing? Again. Every. Single. Day.
The detective stood and walked over, holding the bag out to Melissa. “One day you’re going to want it. You or your daughter. Take my word. Please.”
Melissa snatched the bag from his hand and shoved it in her pocket. She left the room, fled the building, stopping at the nearest garbage can. Pulling out the bag, her hand hovered over the can. She couldn’t let go.