Out of Character
I’m a big fan of writing prompts because oftentimes they result in something I never would’ve previously thought of writing. They take me out of my comfort zone and let me use some writing muscles I don’t usually use.
I found a great website that has a ton of writing prompts, and you’re welcome to use them. I don’t remember which number this is (I went back and tried to find it after having this plot running ‘round in my head for the past couple of weeks), so I can’t quote the prompt verbatim, but it went something along these lines:
“Write about a character who does something completely out of character.”
Before I start, I feel I have to put some disclaimers in:
1) This is a work of fiction, which means it is not reflective of my own life. So please, no calls to emergency vehicles to check up on me, okay? 2) If you happen to be of the persuasion where you don’t like to read swear words, this probably isn’t for you. Because there will be some. I do, however, have lighter subjects and language usage in other Written Word Wednesday posts, so you’re welcome to read those! 🙂
And “write-it-on-the-spot-with-no-going-back-and-editing” (i.e., there will most likely be drama because that’s how I move a plot along in timed writing situations) starts…NOW.
(c) Copyright VC/GS listlovelaugh.wordpress.com
3:33 shined on the Buick’s dashboard, bright as a Las Vegas strip sign.
“Now it’s just mocking me,” Grant raged. He fought to keep his eyes on the road instead of boring a hole of anger into his wife’s forehead. “How many times have I told you that when I say ‘be ready in ten minutes’, I mean ten minutes, not thirty? I’m surprised Dr. Getty hasn’t told us to go find different shrink yet.”
“Whatever. He gets paid either way, so what does it matter to him?” Liesl dodged his question, flipped down the passenger seat visor, and admired her handiwork in the tiny mirror: lips a seductive crimson, with a swipe of gold shimmer in the center of her bottom lip to accentuate her pout; eyes expertly lined like Audrey Hepburn’s to maximize an appearance of doe-eyed innocence; cheeks that hinted what kind of flush it might have after a particularly-satisfying love-making session. She reached a black-polish-manicured hand up in an attempt to tousle her straight, sleek, red ombre locks. He should know by now that it takes a hell of a lot more than ten minutes to achieve all of this, she thought, satisfied with her reflection. Besides, it never hurts to attempt to be on equal playing ground lookswise. She thought about the handsome doctor with the well-styled, wavy dirty-blonde hair and grass-green eyes, suddenly in agreement with Grant about the importance of getting to him at a faster rate.
“I like getting my money’s worth. Considering we’re always about ten minutes late to a fifty-minute session that we pay a hundred-fifty dollars for, we waste thirty dollars a week because of your lack of time management skills. Can you imagine how much further along we’d be in treatment if we had an appointment as long as all the time we missed squished together? I mean, it would probably be like a weeklong retreat, but still.”
“There you go, overreacting again. Besides, it’s partly your fault, too. You’re twenty-nine, for crying out loud. Could you at least try to drive your age? One mile over the speed limit isn’t gonna hurt you. Live a little. Hell, don’t cops even have like a five-mile-over-the-limit grace?”
“Says the woman who’s gotten three speeding tickets in the last month.”
“Because I think it’s important to be somewhere on time.”
Grant thought he tasted blood as he bit his lip in a desperate attempt not to yell at Liesl as he parked in the counseling center’s parking lot. The last thing he wanted people in the offices to think was that he was an abusive husband. He already had enough to worry about.
Dr. Getty was already waiting with his door open. They stepped inside the softly-lit room and assumed their usual positions: Liesl in the black leather swivel armchair right next to Dr. Getty, poised and leaning slightly forward, Grant on the soft brocaded loveseat, posture perfect, chocolate-brown suede pillow nestled in his lap, annoyed scowl on face.
“I have to apologize for being late. Again,” Grant began, looking pointedly at Liesl.
“No need. I’m glad you made it. Would moving your appointment to a later time perhaps make it better for you?”
“Not really.” He wanted to add a quip about how he was afraid that by doing that, Liesl would find some way to defy the concept of having more time by being even more late, but he restrained himself. Better to wait for the doc’s official start to the boxing round before the gloves came off.
Dr. Getty shifted his eyes observantly from husband to wife. “Okay then. Well, if you ever change your mind, that option is always available.”
“Thank you. Much appreciated,” Grant replied.
“So how was this week for you?” Dr. Getty started conversationally, as if he was an old friend rather than someone providing therapy.
“Great! No problems at all. I really think your exercises have been working.” Liesl smiled, trying to affect a complimentary tone in her voice.
“That’s great to hear! Grant, would you agree?”
Do we ever agree? “I would have to respectfully disagree.”
“Really? Why’s that?”
“Liesl’s just become more reserved lately, which is weird, because as you know, she’s usually a firecracker.”
Liesl sat quietly, inspecting her nails and swiveling back and forth.
“What do you have to say about that, Liesl?”
“I don’t know what the big deal is. Everyone always talks about how loud I am. Then when I’m quiet, suddenly that means something’s wrong.”
“Did I blame you for anything? No. You always assume…” Grant could hear his voice getting louder. He shook his head and tried again, a little quieter this time. “I’m just saying that it’s not like you, and that concerns me. Aren’t I allowed to be concerned about you?”
“I was trying to channel you. You’re like, the complete opposite of me and everyone loves you, so I–”
“Everybody doesn’t love me. And people love you, too.”
“And everyone loves you,” Liesl repeated, completely ignoring Grant’s comment and trying to reinforce that she was the one who was right in this conversation, “so I thought that maybe if I were more like you that people wouldn’t be so annoyed by me. Obviously it didn’t work, because apparently you thought I was just being insane.” She crossed her arms over her chest defiantly, then looked at Dr. Getty, who was completely absorbed in the conversation. “This is what I have to put up with. So basically, I was a boring recluse for a week for nothing.”
Dr. Getty immediately turned his gaze to Grant to gauge his response. The tips of his ears were rapidly turning the same shade as Liesl’s lips, and he was gripping the pillow severely, the fabric corners of it balled up tightly in his fists.
“How do you feel about hearing that, Grant? That your wife thinks you’re a boring recluse?”
“She can think whatever the hell she wants,” Grant started, trying in vain to keep his voice steady. “It’s not like I told her to be a boring recluse.”
“Go ahead and tell her that instead of me,” Dr. Getty suggested.
Grant grudgingly turned toward Liesl. “It’s not like I told you to be a boring recluse. For some reason, you decided that on your own. And even if I am a boring recluse, at least I’m responsible. I show up to things on time and I’m not spacey. I respect other people’s time. I’m not reckless with my actions. I think about other people’s feelings before acting on my impulse!” The last sentence he said a little harsher than he meant to.
Liesl appeared unaffected. “I thought you were over that. You said you forgave me. I’d rather be irresponsible than a liar. You’re so uptight. And you wonder why I got tired with you. You’re so much less interesting than …”
“Don’t. Say. His. Name.” Grant’s words were chopped short, each carrying an equal portion of the tension in the air. “Do you know how idiotic you sound? Calling me a liar when you’re the one screwing someone behind my back?”
Liesl rolled her eyes. “So obviously you’re not over it.”
Grant stood up slowly, calmly. A little too calmly for Liesl’s comfort. “Dr. G? I think we’ll have to be done for now. Maybe with us leaving this early, my wife here might actually make up for it next session and be on time. So if you’ll excuse me, I think now it’s time to be a bit more like Liesl.”
“Do you really think that’s the best thing to do right now when you’re upset?”
“I really do.”
Dr. Getty hesitated. “Well, you both have my contact information if either of you need to talk to me before your next appointment. I also want to inform you that I should be giving a follow-up call tomorrow, just to check in with you guys.”
“That’s fine.” Grant reached out and shook the counselor’s hand firmly. “Thanks for your time, Doc. Let’s go, Lees.”
“We’re done? Sweet. Okay.” She hopped up and hugged Dr. Getty warmly. “See ya next week!”
“So, where do you want to grab post-session treat today?” Liesl asked. “They just opened up a new frozen yogurt place on Main. Wanna try that out?”
“Sure, honey. I need to make a stop first, though.”
Liesl sighed. “It’s always about you. When will you think about me for once?”
“It won’t take long, promise.”
“Fine. But that means I get double-scoop.”
Grant didn’t respond as he pulled into the local Harley Davidson store. An employee walked up to them as soon as they entered.
“Hey, Mr. Carson. The usual?”
Liesl’s eyes opened wide in disbelief. “Wait. They know you at the Harley store?”
“Of course they do.” He pulled out his driver’s license, preparing to show it to the young man.
“Put that thing away. We know you’re legit,” the employee teased.
“Just covering my bases. Don’t want you to get in trouble for not checking. Can I get gear for this one, too?” he jerked his head slightly towards Liesl.
“Sure thing, boss. What size do you wear?”
“Um, women’s small. Shoe size seven.” Her voice came out hoarse.
“You’re not the only one who keeps things from their spouse,” Grant whispered as the employee disappeared to gather what was requested. He took his license out again and shoved it in Liesl’s hand. She noticed something that wasn’t there before: a notation of a motorcycle endorsement.
“When did …? How did you …? Why …?” she stuttered.
“Just shut up, suit up, hop on, and hold on,” Grant replied as some leathers and a shiny, cobalt blue bike was brought out.
“This is awesome!” Liesl felt the hair under her helmet whipping around in the wind, giving the nape of her neck mini lashings. “Who knew you could be this hot?”
Grant remained quiet the entire duration of their ride so far, weaving dangerously in and out of freeway traffic before taking the exit that led to an open country road. At Liesl’s comment, he sped up and watched as the speedometer climbed to eighty miles an hour, well above the speed limit of twenty-five.
“Um, babe? Thanks for taking my suggestion for speed and all, but I’m starting to get a little freaked here. You have my permission to slow down.”
Grant only sped up more.
“Grant! I said slow down!” Liesl squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to see how quickly they were passing the trees.
“No! You’re sick of boring? You want adventure? Well, now you have it! Are you happy now? Now I’m just like him. Does that turn you on? Does that make you want me?”
Tears rolled down Liesl’s wind-chilled face, a hot river that burned on their way down her cheek.
Grant approached a sharp turn at breakneck speed. Halfway through, he slammed on the brakes. The momentum sent Liesl slamming into his back. “You know what?” Grant said, eyes flashing with fury. “I don’t give a damn whether it turns you on or not. I’m done with you. Fuck you. On second thought, don’t fuck you. Fucking’s way too good for you. I want a divorce.”
Liesl blinked slowly, not sure of what to say.
“Get off!” Grant yelled.
She hesitated. “Are you serious?”
“Get the fuck off, before I push you off!”
Liesl dismounted, shaking her head in disbelief. “So what now?”
Grant started the engine again. “Go call your precious booty call to come and save you.” He drove off into the distance, Liesl watching helplessly as he disappeared beyond the horizon and out of her life.
(c) Copyright VC/GS listlovelaugh.wordpress.com
Okay, that was intense. I’m thinking next prompt around, I won’t be so dramatic, yes? 🙂 Sounds good to me.
Thanks for Reading!