This is my latest assignment for my Coursera.com Creative Writing course. Feel free to answer the two questions at the end and to offer any insight you may have that may be helpful in my journey toward being an effective writer.
These are the instructions:
Write a story (up to 1,000 words) following the ABDCE structure that includes at least one full scene. Also, your story should have at least TEN sentences of rising action.
After your story, along with your submission, ask two specific questions of your readers. Think back to the 21-point checklist. Within the time and logistic constraints of Coursera, we can’t follow all the best practices of writing and revision, but as you work through your assignments and especially as you write beyond these courses, keep them in mind.
Example questions you can ask your readers could be: “What did you think of my main character’s actions?” Or : “Were there any parts that seemed confusing or hard to follow?”
As you end this course with your reader feedback, process it and see if it makes sense. Consider the feedback as you move through other courses in the Specialization, and your writing in general.________________________________________
Chance Waits for Floyd
Chance sat at the kitchen table fingering the papers that lay in front of her. As her fingers pushed them back and forth, she listened intently to the quiet of the house. She tried to bring that quiet into the middle of her stomach which insisted on flaring as if she swallowed a smoldering fourth of July sparkler. There was only a faint echo of the children who would be sitting at the table eating dinner right now.
Dr. Vance, her therapist, recommended a paralegal service who handled the divorce papers. They called that afternoon to inform her that the divorce papers were ready. On her way to their office, she called her mom, Ruth, and asked if she could drop the children at her house after they came home from school. Ruth was more than happy to care for the children, but she was also worried about what could happen when Chance confronted Floyd with those papers.
As Chance hugged her children goodbye, Ruth asked, “Do you want your brother to come with you honey?”
Chance directed the children into the living room, and said, “No mama. I’ll be fine.” She instantly wondered if that was true. She noticed that there was a steadiness about her resolve that she hadn’t felt for a long time. At that moment, she honestly believed she would, in fact, be fine. She carried that feeling to the car as if it were a broken limb. A part of her that had been fractured long ago when Floyd hurled his first assault against her young and brittle constitution.
Floyd was 17 years her senior. But she didn’t learn that until six months after they met at the Paladium. The Paladium was the new club her friend Diane had been dying to check out. Since it was Chance’s 22nd birthday, Diane’s gift to her was a Saturday night out at the club.
They were stopped at the door by Floyd who examined her photo closely and looked back at her with a perplexed look. “This isn’t you?” He said. Chance was confused, she wasn’t accustomed to being flirted with.
“Tell me fast, when’s your birthday?” Floyd demanded. Before she could respond, he repeated the command, “Fast, when’s your birthday”?
“April 3rd, 1969” she stammered.
Diane interrupted, “Dude, you can clearly see it’s her. Here’s our money. Let us in.”
Floyd held her gaze for a moment and said “You’re gonna be good?”
She gave him a quizzical look, then shot back, “Maybe.”
Floyd opened the door and the ladies went through.
They found two seats at the bar and ordered two Long Island Iced Teas before a guy slid up next to Diane and asked her to dance. Diane rushed off to the dance floor, leaving Chance at the bar looking after her drink.
She accepted long ago that she wasn’t exactly the type of girl men fell over themselves for. She was somewhat average looking, and on a few occasions had been flat out called ugly. She never knew how she’d be taken so she proceeded with caution around people, especially men.
Alcohol did loosen her up though. She was halfway through her Long Island when Floyd walked up to the bar beside her and ordered an orange juice.
She said, “You don’t drink or something?”
Floyd shook his head, “Naw, I don’t drink and you shouldn’t either.”
“This Long Island Ice Tea is pretty good though.” Chance said, taking another sip.
“You just be careful with that sister. I wouldn’t want to see something happen to you behind alcohol.”
“Ok, Orange Juice.” She said.
“My name is actually Floyd.” He offered her his hand and she shook it.
“So Floyd, I’m Chance.” She said
Floyd cocked his head and said “I remember. I also remember your birthday was earlier this week. Just like mine. You turned, 22 and I turned 28.”
That was the first lie. Her mother told her once, “A relationship that starts out with a lie will end with a lie.” That turned out to be gospel.
They went out for a few months, before Chance introduced him to her family. It was Chance’s brother who brought up the question of Floyd’s age. “Have you checked that dude’s driver’s license, sis? 28 year-old brothers don’t wear shoes like that.”
She had never given it a thought all of this time, but she realized that Ralph had a point. The next time he picked her up for dinner, she noticed other things about him that didn’t seem to fit with men closer to her age. His word choices, the way he seemed to covet her, it was all something indicative of someone much older.
When she questioned him about his age, he became evasive. She pressed him and asked to see his driver’s license. He eventually relented, but not before saying, “I’m really scared to show you. The only reason I didn’t want to tell you the truth is because I was scared that you wouldn’t want to see me. You have to know that what we have together, age shouldn’t be a factor.”
Chance began to feel really afraid. She wondered if he was 50. She knew she couldn’t be involved with someone fifty years old. As it turned out, Floyd was 38 rather than 28 and not only had he shaved 10 years off of his age, he shaved 10 years off of his life in general, including the children he had left in Atlanta.
In twelve years, she had allowed herself to be overtaken by an emotional paralysis caused by the need to constantly discerning truth from lies, and the responsibility of decisions rooted solely in her own peace and happiness. Since Floyd ministered to her that a woman’s value resided only in the happiness of her husband, she sought other council. As she sat at the table, awaiting his arrival, she repeated the four words Dr. Vance casually offered up that gave her clarity and will: “You owe him nothing.”
Question 1: Is the scene cohesive? Does it logically move in and out of the past and present?
Question 2: Does the dialogue and sentence flow naturally throughout?