Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fiction Thursday: Life Between Parentheses

It's been a while since I've brought a Fiction Thursday to this little space, and tonight as it thunders in the distance, it feels a bit like a night to curl up with some words. I found this little piece tucked away in a folder. I had just read To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf for a writing class. Let me tell you, there is no one quite like Virginia Woolf for making punctuation do theatrics on the page. I remember being struck by the way she used parentheses to tell the action of the story while the character's thoughts abounded outside them - as if thoughts were the true reality and the actions taking place were simply intrusions or asides. I wrote these three paragraphs shortly after for an assignment. They are much more playful than To The Lighthouse. There is just no keeping up with Ms. Woolf.


My God, they must be married thirty years now, and still? Foolish! That's what it is. Foolish to act like children half their age, him stroking the inside of her wrist and her giggling, acting as if they don't notice the waiter. The least they can do, if they won't stop, is acknowledge the waiter (listing tonight's entrees by memory). The least they can do is pay attention. Sit still. My God!

Had they always been this brazen? Yes. They had. (Mr. Donaley excuses himself from the table to take a phone call and Mrs. Donaley watches Mrs. Ivers rub the back of Mr. Iver's bald head.) Last fall, while dining at this same restaurant, Mr. Ivers had worn that leather cap. Mrs. Ivers had thought it made him look "dashing," but it had not. He had looked ridiculous. He had looked absolutely ridiculous, and yet, Mrs. Ivers had kept herself pressed against him all night with, Mrs. Donaley was sure, her hand upon his thigh. Shameless!

At least, tonight, Mr. Ivers is not wearing that cap. Although, if he had, Mrs. Ivers could not rub his head as she is. (The Ivers are now recounting a trip to see their grandson, from which they have just returned.) Against the luster of candlelight, the creases at her eyes and mouth covered in shadow, Mrs. Ivers looks rather young, Mrs. Donaley thinks. She has aged well. (The sommelier pours the GrĂ¼ner Veltliner. The women have ordered quail with port sauce while the men have chosen pork medallions with smoked scallops.)

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