Monday, November 7, 2016

Is Showing Better?

I thought I'd share some writing assignments I did awhile back on "showing, not telling." Some are true, some are not. You can decide.

1. My father was quiet.

Daddy hoarded words like leprechauns bury gold, sharing only with family. He developed a new disease called cacklephobia when my mom had her tupperware parties. I watched from the top of the stairs as each lady did her best to engage him in conversation only to be met with funeral parlor silence. Unable to accept his one syllable answers, they twittered like canaries finally drooping their wings and hopping off in a new direction.

2. She's always hostile.

My Aunt Sadie was an old maid, who reluctantly babysat me when no one else could. She reminded me of a very unfriendly bull my pop-pop had on his farm. Whenever I got within seeing distance of old Red, he charged the fence to get me out of his territory. My pleas to Aunt Sadie to play games or partake of dolly teatime were greeted with snorts, downward glances, and hunching shoulders just like old Red. I learned to steer clear of them both.

3. She was unhappy.

After a loose dog in her neighborhood attacked and killed her cat, Charlotte felt as lost and saddened as Jody in The Yearling when facing the reality of death. Her kitty, Sandy, was only a year old and trying to stay cool in the shade atop a tire on an old pickup truck. The German Shepherd from up the street escaped his yard, spotted her, and came barking. Even though little Sandy jumped down and tried to run, she never had a chance of avoiding his jaguar speed and vampire teeth. Charlotte chased the Shepherd off like a banshee and rushed to the vet with Sandy swaddled on a pillow. After a quick examination, the look in Dr Young's eyes gripped her like the fingers of the Boston Strangler, leaving her unable to swallow her grief.

4. The room was scary.

The phenomenon of floating enveloped me as the flourescent lights zoomed past like telephone poles. I shivered under the light blanket when the hospital aides whisked me into the dim, icy-cold room filled with blinking computer monitors. Awash with fearful anticipation, the thumping of my heart now seemed even faster than the 180 it had been registering on the monitor in my room. I was lifted from the gurney onto what felt like an ironing board, minutes away from the mysterious procedure called Catheter Ablation for SVT. Listening acutely to the broken English of my doctor, I understood he intended to block some of the overly abundant electrical signals making my heart race. He cautioned me to lie very still. Watching the masked men moving all around me, I felt like Alice, only I was on the table instead at the table. The ironing board became my intimate enemy during the next few hours, torturing my spinal column. I wondered if I would ever be able to walk again, but, just like the pain of childbirth, time and the joy of a normal heartbeat erased the memory of the suffered discomfort and fear.

5. My grandmother was a thief.

When grandmom babysat me, I looked forward to our afternoon visits with her two closest farm neighbors. Grandmom would grab my hand and we would take off on foot down the two-track dirt lane that led from her farmhouse to the slightly wider, dusty dirt road beyond. Hesitating only for a second, it was left to Mrs. Water's or right to Polly Wooleyhand's. She picked, I followed. Inside the neighbor's parlor, Grandmom expressed her special interest in seeing the neighbor lady's jewelry box. She would ooh and ahh over each piece like Queen Elizabeth had just taken it off. The next morning when I rode in the truck with Pop-pop to take the filled milkcans to the corner, he would make a stop at the neighbor's house we had visited the day before. Telling me to stay in the truck, I watched him go to the door and hand something to the lady of the house. I noticed his red face and sharp tone when he got back in and slammed the door ignoring my questions. Later, when I was older, Pop-pop told me Grandmom always "mistakenly" brought a favorite trinket home in her apron pocket.

6 He was self-conscious about his weight.

I never saw Joey wear anything but one size too big, loose-fitting clothes. At lunch he ate salads as we ate fries and burgers, and when I asked him about it, he turned red and told me to mind my own business. In PE, he always pulled the "I'm sick and gotta go to the nurse" routine. In the shower, his butt looked like it had been damaged by hail. I wanted to be friends but he kept putting "Fat Freddie" between us. It got old.

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