writing exercise #5

Thumbing through my notebook and found this. My contribution to one of our writers’ group assignments. The practice of conjuring scenes makes me feel more like a writer than anything else. Perhaps someday I will have enough scenes to string together into a story, a novella, a book, something with a beginning, an end, a point.

——————————————————————————————————————

Mark wondered what he was doing here. Everyone else was at least ten years younger and better-looking. Even ten years ago, he wasn’t as appealing as Justin, the ambulance driver with the easy smile and fondness for fruity beers. Nor had he exuded as much confidence as Tony, the guitar player who, at six-foot-four, easily fit a girl under each arm. And the girls! Mark could scarcely think of them as women – could scarcely think of them at all, they were so young, closer to his daughter’s age than his wife’s. Faces unlined by the years. Hearts, he supposed, yet unbroken. Their faces shone with a fervor suggesting they still believed in true love, love everlasting, happily ever after and that someday, somehow, extraordinary circumstances would imbue their lives and produce the prince they’d been expecting.

Pot smoke wafted by. “Are you having a good time?” Clarissa asked. He’d seen her walking toward him, of course, pretended he hadn’t.

“Yes,” he answered. Then corrected, “Yeah.” Slouched back. “Nice group of people.”

“I’m glad you came,” she said. “Everyone loves your work.”

Mark shrugged. The work, well, the work was the work. Enough people liked it to keep his name in the paper, the bills paid, vacations possible, but it didn’t assuage the loneliness he took to bed with him, didn’t keep the bitterness at bay. “It’s easy for young people to love things.”

Clarissa’s expression shifted from sunny to partly cloudy. He could see her struggle for a response pass over her face. Confusion, disappointment, eagerness to please, insecure about her place, afraid to offend. A puppy had more guile. “It’s okay,” he added. “It’s cute.”

“Your work speaks to everyone,” Clarissa braved. Tony guffawed across the room as one of the interchangeable blondes batted Justin away with a giggle. Mark cocked an eyebrow. The only advantage of age was the ability to play the world-weary card, he thought. The I’m-so-bored-with-you card. The I’ve-seen-it-all-before card. Young people wanted so badly to be taken seriously. Power lie in refusing to do so.

“Step outside?” he invited.

“Sure,” Clarissa answered. “It’s too loud in here anyway.”

They slipped through the patio door. The sweetness of jasmine weighted the air.

“So…?” he said.

“So…?” she answered, poised as if she expected him to kiss her. And because she did, he refused.

“I should get going,” he said.

“Oh.” Her smile dropped into a pout. “Maybe lunch tomorrow?”

“Sure,” Mark shrugged. “I’ll call you.”

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