The Creative Writing workshop was on Monday and, as last week, it was a fantastic learning experience. I had slaved over the assignment: a writing prompt that involved 3 women at a bar. The focus was conversation but also keeping an eye to descriptive "show not tell" prose. I've never done any dialogue so it was a challenge. I was excited to have my work critiqued by the group. I want to hear what needs improvement! How else can I improve?
Assignment: Tabitha Merkle has just broken up with her boyfriend, Pete Lawsky. They have been going together for two years. Tabitha thought that this was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. She is meeting two of her best friends, Gloria Stimple and Rosie Ratchinsky in a bar to discuss the breakup. What happens next?
Tabitha slumped down into a chair and looked around. There was nothing outstanding about the place: the dark wood of the floor was scuffed with years of use; the walls were a diluted burgundy, which matched the ring her glass of wine had left on the white table ; it even had an enormous oak bar with a brass foot rail dominating one side of the room. Small tables for four peppered the floor, many of them occupied by groups of women. In the far corner a bunch of men had pulled three tables together and were making a lot of noise.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the door open and turned her head to see Gloria and Rosie walk into the bar and with a frantic wave she got their attention. Tabitha stood up and embraced them both, a fragile smile wavering on her face. Her eyes were puffy with with recently shed tears.
"I'm so glad you're here, I couldn't have sat here by myself any longer."
"Oh, you'd be fine." said Rosie. Her heart shaped face framed by carefully brushed ringlets showed little sympathy as she looked at her friend.
"I'm glad to see you too. I'm so worried about you. How long have you been waiting?" said Gloria. She looked at Tabitha and noted her outfit of loose fitting jeans and frayed grey t-shirt, a sharp contrast to her own carefully combed blond hair and stylish shirt that she wore over form-fitting jeans. Tabitha usually took more care.
Tabitha collapsed back into her chair. "Not long." and broke down with quiet sobs. Her right hand twirled a strand of her lifeless mousy brown hair.
Gloria pulled her chair closer to the table and leaned in towards Tabitha. “You’re a wreck, Tab, what happened?"
"We were having supper and Pete just blurted it out. That he was leaving me and going to live with Ann. I can't believe it, we were going to get married. What's wrong with me? Nobody will ever love me... I'll never meet another guy like him." Reaching under the table Tabitha unearthed a box of tissue from her backpack. "I don't think I can live without him."
"Pete is a jerk. I can't believe you saw anything in him anyway. I say good riddance." said Rosie as she glance over at the table in the far corner, the blush in her rosy cheeks matching her pink blouse.
Gloria shot a nasty glare at Rosie then continued, "Rosie's right, although she didn't need to be so blunt about it. Come on, you have lots of good qualities, he just didn't see them. But it's over now and you have to find some way to move on. And hey - we love you, haven't we been friends for years? This isn't the worst thing that could happen to you!"
"I know… I guess. It's just that we had made plans. And I'm so stupid. I thought they were just studying together, I even invited her over so they could be together. I left them alone and slaved in the kitchen making her vegetarian lunches. How could I have been so dumb? It's no wonder he picked her, I'm not the smart one, studying architecture…" she trailed off with a sob.
Gloria and Rosie exchanged glances, there wasn't much to argue with, she had been a bit of a dope.
Gloria took a long swallow of her Carlsberg Light. "Look, you're the nice one, and she is just a conniving bitch." she blushed at using a swear word then kept going, "She knew what she was doing, and you were just kind - it’s your nature. Hey, how come you didn't answer your phone these last few days? I must have called a million times. We were worried sick about you at work."
"I couldn't. After Pete moved his things out I couldn't go on. I couldn't get out of bed. Couldn't talk to anyone.". In a low voice she continued, "I didn't want to live." Tabitha stifled a sob. "Gloria, the policeman said that you were the one that called. Thanks. He got there right in time - I was just leaving our, err, my apartment, for the drugstore." The final word hung in the air. Tabitha thought back to the the last few days and realized how lucky she was to have friends like this; she wasn’t sure if she would have gone through with it, but she had a strong feeling that the cop and Gloria might have saved her life.
Rosie locked eyes with one of the guys across the room; a coy smile passed her lips while she batted her eyelashes at him. "Hey, look! I'll bet one of them would fix you up for a night!"
Gloria glared at Rosie and gave her a kick under the table. "I think it's a bit soon for that".
"Tab, you have a lot going for you, so don't throw all that away. You complained yourself about Pete's distraction and how he always put you down for not going to university. Hey, you have a good job and you didn't need to waste all those years studying. Maybe this is a good thing and you'll find someone who loves you for who you are." Gloria said.
Rosie looked at them both with a smile. "How does that song go? 'Always look on the bright side of life'. Can't go wrong with that as your ear worm!", she looked around the room, bored with the conversation. "Hey girls, those guys are waving to us to come over. I think we should join them." Rosie flipped her perfect curls and waved back.
Tabitha thought about what her friends were saying, agreeing that much of it she couldn't argue with. Pete was a jerk and had dealt her a huge blow but was she going to let him spoil her happiness? No, at least not for tonight, she thought to herself.
Gloria looked over at Tabitha expecting another outburst of tears. Instead she smiled at them both and said, "you know what? I can find a way. I am okay and I'll find someone. Hitting rock bottom showed me that Pete's not worth it, no guy is worth dying over. Oh, and thanks you guys, you're lifesavers." Tabitha put the box of tissue back into her backpack.
Rosie looked at Tabitha with a puzzled smile while Gloria patted Tabitha's arm. "Don't scare us like that again.".
The three girls talked among themselves, and ordered another round of drinks. They giggled when a tall, dark haired man swaggered over to their table. "Ummm, hey. We have three extra chairs, why don't you girls join us".
Simultaneously the three chimed "sure", and stood up to walk over.
"Are you okay with this?" Gloria asked as she scrutinized Tabitha's face.
"Yeah, it will be a good thing, beside which we could hardly stop Rosie!". Tabitha smiled, promising herself that she’d enjoy the evening, and walked over to the table with her head high and a bit of a spring in her step.