Alice In A New Land Part 2- Mother


thanks caseycombden.com

The heavy patchwork quilt made of soft cotton lay against Grace’s numb body. The colors of bright red, navy blue, evergreen, vibrant yellow, and burnt orange that once stood out to her now seemed drab, dull and colorless. This covering that once brought comfort gave nothing now.

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the plate beside the bed might have satisfied her hunger once upon a time but now only a Big Mac with special sauce, a large order of greasy fries and a creamy vanilla shake would do and only temporarily.

Grace managed to get to the bathroom and turned on the shower. Wiping the steam from the mirror she saw herself for the first time in days. The wrinkle above her eyebrow seemed to have deepened and the two on each side of her mouth were more profound. Her blue-gray eyes were dim and streaked pale red. The joy was gone and it was visible in the face that peered back at her.

The shower took so much energy that Grace had to sit when she got out. Wrapped in a pale green towel she made it to the bed then the tears began to flow. Her thoughts dashed back to that last day with Alice and Sam. They had just finished a pancake breakfast and were planning what movie to see that afternoon. Grace wasn’t sure how to tell them but knew it had to be done because she was leaving that night. Interrupting the conversation between Sam and Alice she gave them the whole lame excuse about needing to get away for a while and “finding herself”. The devastation on both their faces was a thought she had to push out every day. She lived for the day when she could return to them and explain everything but for now it had to be this way.

The small closet was almost empty because Grace kept her wardrobe down to a minimum. She didn’t accumulate more than could fit in her car because who knew  when she would have pack up and move in a hurry. Taking a pair of blue jeans, a turquoise t-shirt and flip-flops from the closet she dressed then went back in the bathroom to brush her hair. Looking in the mirror again, Grace felt shame and guilt. She saw a woman she hated but desperately wanted, needed to find something good in her. Pulling her faded auburn hair up in a ponytail she wiped her face with a cloth and tried to break the look of such sadness off her face. Not much luck. It was so deep in her soul it penetrated outwardly and everyone at work knew it.

Walking to the door she stopped to pick up the gold framed picture of Alice, Sam and herself and gave the two of them a kiss. Leaving she determined to take one step at a time, go to work and get through another day without her family. But first she would swing by MacDonald’s for a Number One and a vanilla shake.

 

Just in case you didn’t recognize the symptoms Grace suffers from severe depression. I have had it myself so when I write about how it feels I write from experience. Depression can be debilitating in many ways. I wrote a candid post about it here if you’d like to read about my experience.

This is a prompt from Story Dam and fits in with my new fiction story Alice In A New Land, you can read Part 1 here. This was Part 2.

 Wet Feet – Write about a time when you or your character faced adversity or received an assignment that required you/them to really buckle down and focus. Describe the look and feel of that person during this task. Try to get us to feel what they are going through. Refer to pictures on the internet or other media for finer details that show stress or focus.

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Comments

  1. This is really good.

    I definitely didn’t know that depression could lead to that kind of behavior. Thats probably because when I’m incredibly sad, I don’t get hungry at all. I’m sure that depression affects people differently.

    Excellent writing though, keep it up!

  2. Depression can be incredibly debilitating, and you showed it very well here. In the course of her movements, the drab of life around her..all portrayed incredibly well. I’m wondering what she is running away from all the time, but I know that is still to come. I’m anxious to see what happens next!
    I really truly enjoyed every bit of this. I’m hooked.

  3. I thought the moment by moment descriptions were perfect for getting the point across that Grace ain’t blue skies and palomino ponies.

    As someone who has social anxiety disorder, I know that life can seem very gray. I thought this was close to perfect. I’m anxious to read about Grace’s affect on others and vice versa.

    • Thanks for stopping by Lance and being honest here in your comments. Depression and anxiety disorder are similar in many ways both have too many negatives but can bring out some real writing. Hope you’ll be back to read more.

  4. I’m going to assume what she’s running away from is herself and the depression she feels she inflicts on those she loves. Having dealt with depression myself, I think you captured the out and out exhaustion of life that it is so easy to be swallowed up by.

    • Thanks Bridget. At this point i think she’s running from something more sinister but the running and being away from her family has brought on the depression. So glad you stopped by today.

  5. I love your piece, Julie. Your description of Grace is very vivid. When I think of moods, I think in terms of color so I really appreciated that you use color in your descriptions. Even the normally vibrant colors in the quilt seem dull to her. I wonder what colors are to come if she feels better.

  6. Ok, I can’t really comment on the feeling of depression, but you do paint a good picture of how it can feel. I’m trying to narrow down a broad piece of advice for you, and I think I have something. If you don’t understand the comment, please email me.

    In your descriptions, I think you still struggle a little bit with the concept of “show-don’t-tell”. It’s not an easy thing to grasp, so don’t get frustrated; just keep practicing. Try this the next time you write a piece—write it like you normally do, but focus on your editing. (The next prompt should give you some great practice.) As an example, look at this statement:

    “The heavy patchwork quilt made of soft cotton lay against Grace’s numb body. The colors of bright red, navy blue, evergreen, vibrant yellow, and burnt orange that once stood out to her now seemed drab, dull and colorless. This covering that once brought comfort gave nothing now.”

    In this piece, you “tell” me there is a quilt and you describe the traits of a normal one. Then, you do a great job of “showing” me the colors. I love how you used words like “evergreen” and “vibrant yellow” – my mind gravitates naturally to my vision of those colors. Then you move back into kind of telling me how they made her feel once, then no more.

    When you edit, look back over this and see what words/statements tell what they want me to see vs. the ones that show me a picture without any effort. There’s a different feel to them—almost like you are conscious that you are reading the first bit and the last, but in the middle, I’m watching a movie or seeing it in front of me. Can you see the difference? Work on showing all of it.

    Please continue this as often as you can. As sad as it is, I think it’s a great story line. I’m always impressed when someone can write a book or longer story as they go along with prompts! Very interesting to me… (sorry for the length of this; I hope it made sense!)

    • It makes sense but could you give me an example of how you would word the first paragraph to show not tell or take another sentence in piece. I do much better if I have an example. Thanks for the concrit. Love to learn to improve.

      • I think if I was rewriting, I would put it like this (or similar, anyway) –

        Before: “The heavy patchwork quilt made of soft cotton lay against Grace’s numb body. The colors of bright red, navy blue, evergreen, vibrant yellow, and burnt orange that once stood out to her now seemed drab, dull and colorless. This covering that once brought comfort gave nothing now.”

        After: “Grace lay numb under the weight of the quilt, staring at the patchwork. The bright reds, navy blue, evergreen, vibrant yellow, and burnt orange squares that once stood out to her now seemed drab—lifeless. The over-sized, soft, cotton blanket that she once buried herself in, relying on it for comfort, now gave her nothing.”

        All your words, just in a different order! Pretty neat, huh? Hope this helps.

  7. Very touching scene, especially the line where she was looking into the mirror and saw a woman she hated but desperately needed to find the good in. I could truly feel her pain in that moment. I think we have all gone through periods of depression and self-doubt in our lives, and you captured those common emotions very well. I can completely see her reaching for food as her “drug” of choice for coping with the overabundance of emotion. It’s no different than reaching for real drugs or alcohol as the way to numb the pain. Very well written.

    • Thanks Donna. I was trying to reach for her deep pain. Yes food is a drug but most don’t see it that way. One goal I have is to write conversation like you. Loved your piece today.

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