Trouble Me

1) Muse’s directive: Write the following in the voice of a fifty-two-year-old man: I could have avoided all that trouble if only I had remembered to…”

Hard afternoon sunlight glances off the funeral director’s golden placard as I approach his door. I apply my knuckles to the wood paneling, posing the question of entry to the room’s inhabitant.  When Christopher P. Carmon emerges from his office, he is smiling in that somber way. I’ve never been a talkative man and recent events haven’t improved that. I extend my hand, and when Mr. Carmon takes it, I return his purchased smile.

He beckons me into his office with a broad sweep of his arm. Once we’re both inside and the door is closed, he indicates a deep, velvet-upholstered chair. I take up residence in it, and he seats himself across from me.  In soft tones he begins to speak with the usual sympathies about the “dear departed”.

I can’t help but let my mind wander, so I let him go on with niceties by himself.  Instead, I think about her. I could have avoided all that trouble if I only had remembered to bring an umbrella that day. I could have been out hunting right now, or finishing a carving instead of sitting in this office, organizing her way into the ground. I could have done without all the fighting. I could have lived without those heinous months when her Mother came to help with the babies. I could have done without the guilt of breaking her heart because I hadn’t yet learned it.

Out of long habit, I turn my wedding ring about my finger. The movement sends a lance of reflected light into my eyes. It’s only then that I realize there are tears welling there. Instinctively I lift my hand to my brow and bow over my knees. The tears flow in several tributaries down my cheeks to water the lilies in the patterned carpet.

Almost by force, I’m taken back to that fateful April shower that prompted a beautiful lady with soft brunette curls to offer to share the space under her umbrella. A choked laugh clutches my chest because I think of how I must have looked through her eyes: wearing a drenched, oversized suit looking like a mongrel after a bath.

After a few moments I realize Mr. Carmon has ceased his sentimental muttering. I dab at my eyes with the backs of my fists and look up at him. But it’s no use. I don’t see a richly dressed man in a richly dressed office. I see the freckles that dappled her nose and cheeks. I see the shy smile that flaunted those cherry lips, and her violet-gray eyes that flashed through the sodden twilight gloom.

I take a deep breath and stand. Collecting my coat, I offer Mr Carmon an apologetic smile, tip my hat, and take my leave. Today, I just want to take a walk alone with the girl in my head who has been troubling me for 25 years.

2) My current word count for my novel is: 21,328 / 30,000.

3) Muse’s next directive: “Invent an opposite. What is the opposite of a kiss? What is the opposite of green? What is the opposite of a train?…Use both the thing and its opposite in a story…”

2 thoughts on “Trouble Me

  1. Jacob

    I’m not so sure that this particular passage reads as a 52 year old man without the implications of references to time, such as the ending “troubling me for 25 years” and the wedding ring, but writing in a way that subtly convinces the reader that it’s from the point of view of a completely different person is a very hard thing to do.

    I like what you did in the first paragraph, where you mentioned “I’ve never been a talkative man”. It seems like one of the defining features of an older person would be a sense of understanding and acceptance of ones self. That seems like a good place to start to give the impression of wisdom and experience that an older person would have.

    On that line of thought, some other things that might come from this might be confidence in knowing how most current life events will turnout, and fixation with long past poor choices, which can come up in many ways such as excited involvement in younger peoples situations or lingering regret regarding their current situation.

    With regards to the first thought about knowing how most things will turn out, I noticed that your character seems to coming to realizations about the situation with so many statement starting with “I could have.” Perhaps it would fit the experience that comes with the persona if more of those statements started with “I should have known” and “I knew”. It seems particularly interesting that the directive said, “if only I had remembered to”, which in itself gives the impression that the character had the wisdom to know what to do but did not do it. Your take on it with the umbrella again twists the idea into more of a surprise situation where the man is coming to a realization. I understand that that might be a normal thought in a persons mind, but I’m not convinced that it really helps distinguish between an older persons mind and that of younger persons mind.

  2. Andrej Dukalev

    love the character actions. Makes me feel like I am a fly on the wall, and the actions are just a bit imprefect so it makes the people seem like real people.


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