Here’s the second post in this series. This exercise was all about being able to summarize a story that takes place over several years. I have to say, at first I wasn’t inspired, but once I found the character’s voice the words flowed easily and I ended up really enjoying it. What a wonderful surprise. Don’t forget to check out the others who signed up to participate too:
I press the record button on the tape recorder as she takes a long draw from the cigarette she holds between the first and second fingers of her right hand. The cherry flares hot and red, crackling as the smoke irritates my nose. “Well,” she says, blowing out the smoke and trying to keep it away from my face, “I found the lump in my tit about seven years ago.” Chuckling, a low throaty laugh, she flicks the filter of the cigarette with her thumb so the ash flies away into the grass. “I guess you could say my husband found it.” Bright spots of color bloom on her cheeks. “Course I thought fer sure it’d be the tit cancer that got me.” Her chuckle turns briefly into a rough, junky cough and she takes another puff of her cigarette. The breeze pulls her hair, dirty blonde, into her eyes and she tucks it behind her ear with her other hand.
“Then they started me on the chemo, ya know, and my hair all fell out. Eventually they decided to cut ‘em off, both of ‘em.” She points to the center of her chest with the thumb of the hand holding the cigarette. “I was ok with it, though. I was done tit feedin’ my babies and I wasn’t havin’ any more, ya know.” She drags on the cigarette again and looks away, blowing the smoke through pursed lips, trying to blow it downwind. “But after that Mike didn’t want nuthin’ to do with me and he starts foolin’ around with Lisa down the block.” Tossing her head, she pauses and stuffs her free hand in a pocket before putting the cigarette to her lips again and taking another hard draw.
“They over at her place now. Him and the kids. Which is fine. I got shit to do anyway.”
Yeah, like write a will, I think wryly.
She’s looking at her feet, nudging the dirt beneath the brown grass with her toe. “I guess that’s life, though,” she goes on. “Life’s a bitch and then you die.” She laughs. “That’s what me and my girlfriends all used to say when we was in high school. Didn’t know how true it was until now, though.”
She takes a last draw on the cigarette and flicks it over into the weeds and then she rubs her hands on her thighs. “I wasn’t the same after Mike left, though. I had a hard time finding work since the paper mill shut down. Guess the whole town was shit out of luck after that, huh? I could’ve got a job back down at the strip club ‘cept I couldn’t afford me a pair of tits and Mike wouldn’t buy me none. Bastard. I did finally find me a job tendin’ bar. Shithole of a place, but I could pay rent most of th’ time at least. No health insurance, though. So when I started gettin’ bad sick I couldn’t go see a doctor. Hah,” she says, mirthlessly. “I never thought it’d be lung cancer that get me. I thought fer sure it’d be th’ tit cancer.” She sighs. “Not much t’ be done about that now, is there?”
I nod, trying to put an empathetic expression on my face. I doubt I’m successful.