Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Character Sketch

Here is a character sketch / story beginning that I wrote. I have to do a long-ish piece for E355 for the entire semester. I am trying to decide if I should work with this or do more with the story The Strand. What do you think?


Lorena was washing the dishes again. Yesterday, while washing the dishes she had been able to forget herself. So she was at it again, turning the Mikasa dinner plate between her swollen fingers. But today she could not forget. Today, looking at her swollen fingers and feeling her stomach pushed against the cold granite of the counter, she felt every bit what she was.

Her mother had not spoken when she came to pick her up in front of her dorm at Wellesley. Her belongings were scattered about on the sidewalk before her. “This is my life,” Lorena thought, “These few boxes.” These few boxes that her roommate had helped her pack-up, sympathetic but unwilling to meet her eye. How could she have been so careless?

Now she was back home, in a house filled with silence – this time against her. Lorna’s mother had spoken to her only once and her father not at all. It had been during the car ride back to Litchfield. Her mother was a practical woman. She did not admonish her daughter; it would have done no good this late. She only said in a low voice, “We’ll pull in the back. Of course you won’t be going out at all.” Lorena understood. She was an embarrassment, a blemish on their otherwise perfect social standing. News of her ‘mistake,’ as her mother would later put it, needed to be kept private. 1950s Litchfield would not be tolerant of such a situation.

Because Lorena was a rich girl and brought up with notions of what wealth and class meant, she had imagined a different turn of events. When she let Clyde finally take her, it had been with the thought that this was his pre-cursor to marriage. They had been going out for almost a year, were juniors in college – of course he was looking for a wife. And of course he needed a wife who was giving, who would take care of him properly in all ways. Removing her cardigan she had imagined being called Mrs. Ackers, pressing the tablecloth for an evening dinner party, and having to be a tad bit authoritative with the caterer at her son’s christening. (The caterer would want to have small cubes of cheddar in a year when brie was really the cheese of choice.) She had not contemplated pregnancy for the simple reason that it did not fit with her plans. Her life to date had always fit with her plans. Being Mrs. Ackers was the next step.

Things always went linearly from winning medals in dressage, to being salutatorian in high school, to bringing her family pride with her success at Wellesley. For all of this she had thought her family would support her when Clyde did not. Yet here she was washing dishes, under house arrest, whispered about behind doors that had never been closed to her before. Three months along, feeling bloated and like a child.

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