I almost walked out…
If it hadn’t been for my wingmen, I’d have faked an emergency call and fled.
Last night I attended my first meeting of the Staunton/Waynesboro/Augusta Writer’s Group (SWAG). I stood up in front of strangers and read. TWICE! The gall! The audacity! The nerve!
That was AFTER a moment in the bathroom where I stage-whispered to myself in the mirror: “What the hell are you doing here?!? Are you crazy?!? This was a HUGE mistake!” After THAT, I went up on stage and read.
Yeah, I said “stage”. There was also a “spotlight” and a “microphone”.
And people. Lots of people. Okay, there were less than 20 people. But that’s a lot to me. And the room was small. And….
It was awesome.
First, I read “Hulk vs. Wonder Woman” with the author himself, my writing mentor and friend, Ethan Murphy. Check out the original on his blog at manmademurphy.wordpress.com.
Then, I read my own story: “The Side Effects of Kindness”. It’s the first piece I’ve written that’s mostly dialog. Dialog scares me, so I’m proud to have written it and think it’s not too shabby.
I’m still revved up and tense and kinda all over the place after that experience.
And I’m going to do it again next month.
In the meantime, here’s the story. Enjoy!
The Side Effects of Kindness
“What?!?” bellowed Harrigan.
“All I said was…..”Sam was pleading.
“All you said was you don’t like the ‘side effects’ of my kindness! What the hell does that mean?”
“It means your kindness hurts!”
“What does THAT mean?!”
“Oh, geez….” Sam rubbed his hands over his face. It was never easy talking to Harrigan about “people things” and then THIS slipped out. He hadn’t meant to say it but she was doing it again and it was driving him crazy.
“Harri,” he began.
“Don’t. Call. Me. That.” Her arms were crossed now. “You know I hate it.”
Sam sighed. “Harrigan. You’re trying to be kind and it’s not… it’s not coming out right.” Quickly, before she could interrupt again Sam said “Let me explain”. He held his hands up, begging for more time from this angry woman who was now very, very quiet. Whatever he said had to be true. She’d smell a lie.
“Harrigan” Sam started again. “I love you. You know I do. But you keep doing these annoying things: like announcing who’s coming down the hall, always asking if I need anything, insisting on pouring my coffee for me, warning me about that step down into the accounting department and…”
“Well, mostly you talk louder to me now.”
“I do not!” she shouted.
“You’re doing it now.”
Softly, Harrigan said, “Why would I do that?”
“Because I’m going blind.”
Harrigan’s shoulders slumped. “I just never thought I’d do anything so stupid.”
“Look” said Sam “I know you don’t mean anything by it but you keep treating me like I’m fragile. I’m not going to break.”
“I know that” Harrigan sighed. “I know. It’s just we’ve been partners for years and I don’t know what will happen to us or to this place. People count on us. What are you going to do?”
Sam shrugged. “Go blind?”
Harrigan smiled a little at that. “I just need to know what’s going on. I need to know that you’ll tell me when you need help.”
“That” said Sam with a smile “I can do. And besides, I can still see quite a bit. You’re that big purplish blob in the corner, right?”
“No. I’m the medium-sized yellow blob by the door.”
“Oh.” They both chuckled.
“Harri.” Sam put his hands on her shoulders and looked straight at her. “Harrigan. We’re going to be okay.” They started walking side by side towards the lobby. “I know I haven’t talked with you about this as much as I should. We’re partners. You’re right. This affects you, too.”
“Damn right it does.”
The friends stopped in front of the picture window in the lobby. They felt the sunlight on their faces as they contemplated the future. They were afraid, but determined to face it together.
“Would you do something for me?”
Harrigan gave a sly grin. “Would you please take your hand off my ass?”
“Your ass? I thought that was the back of the chair! I’m blind you know!”
Harrigan reached back and moved his hand away, smiling as she did so. “Not yet, you jerkwad.”
“Good night to you too, dipweed.”