Saturday, October 25, 2014

What Makes a Good Story?

Here's a little story. Let me know what you think of it.

My Odor Gives Me Away

Even tho alone, I'll probably be caught.

Her nose will catch me, that cute, freckled, button nose and her sharp brown eyes. Not missing where I've come from. Her keen ears hearing our kitchen door close behind me and the sound of my footsteps.  She'll hear me taking off my rustling jacket to protect against the damp chilled air of December. The lift of my feet from snowy boots to plant them on the throw rug by the same door. Then the spray, the mandatory spray from my 33 fluid ounce bottle of Shoprite Fabric Refresher. "Spitz, spritz, spritz," across my chest, which no way masks the odor of what I've just finished doing. So again, "Spitz, spritz," first on my left arm, then awkwardly on my right, and once into my crotch onto my smelly well-worn jeans. 

Followed by a walk, almost a tiptoe past the den where she sits at her worktable scrolling Facebook screens on her laptop, while Alex Trebek quotes an answer to three contestants. Onto the bathroom and maybe to safety. First handfuls of water to bathe my face, and running wet hands thru my hair to dissipate the damn smell. The drying with my towel, not hers, no never with hers, and rubbing it on my clothes. Then open the sink door for my last hope, Lysol Neutra Air, and one more spray under the chin and across my shoulders to hide the damn smell. Put it back quietly without the "klunk" sound of the closing cabinet door. 

Finally, it's been five full minutes of hiding the stink, the stench, and I'm done my ministrations. Open the bathroom door and walk back, into the den, behind her chair, and take my middle spot on the couch, far removed from her. And I ask as I usually do, "How was your day Hon?"

Without seeing her turn I hear "cough, cough," and the cold reply comes back the same, as it has every evening after dinner for the past five years, "Rod you stink. Did you spray?"

And I simply hold back and say "Yes." Remorse, anger and frustration from knowing what was to come released in that one reply. The woman who loves me more than life itself grabs the top of her blouse and pulls it up over her mouth and nose and doesn't look at me. Not a "harrumph" or even acknowledgement that I've hurt her again, disappointed her again. That I've let her down once more. Just another slight hurt like hundreds of others. I can't change my filthy habit even a little bit, not once, to let her be comfortable just a little bit, pleasing her. To make her a little happier and not worried over what I'm doing to my body, have done, can't stop doing, altho I've tried. 

After forty-five years of smoking I no longer say "Sorry." Not this night nor any night for as long as I can remember.

My cigarette's second-hand smell really bothers her now that she's older and she herself has never smoked seriously. Never been addicted like I've been, like I now am. 

I can smell none of it, it's nothing to me, but I do it for her anyway.

And we go on to watch Jeopardy! together and occasionally guess answers aloud, complimenting each other when we are correct.


So was this story truth or fiction? Does it matter? Did you feel the protagonist's trepidation and pain upon discovery? What of the wife's reaction, does it match your own righteous disgust? And finally, was this story believable?

This blog will explore the elements of better writing - writing for effect and response in the reader.

Welcome and best wishes,

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