Saturday, July 25, 2009


I wrote this two months ago at an RWA meeting -- so it has a romancy theme, though not exactly romance (and I don't write romance). The idea of the exercise was to write a piece that included 20 some-odd things -- like taste and smell, background sound, and lighting. I can't remember the entire list, but I think I got everything. I read it out loud with accents in appropriate places.


"Thanks for coming. I'm not looking forward to this," said my sister Annie. I stood at the door to her studio, the divorce papers clutched in my sweating hand. I wasn't looking forward to this either. Behind her, I could hear her husband Gerard humming softly and slapping wet clay. Annie and I stood awhile, gazes locked. The late afternoon light passed through the willow tree in her yard ad danced on her forehead. I looked down.

"Let's get this over with," I said. We went into the studio. Gerard was at the potting wheel, shirtless, impossibly buff for someone who shunned exercise. He was gnawing on a fuming Cuban cigar as he caressed a lump of clay in such a way that left me red-checked just looking at the undulating, controlled, expert movements of his hands. He cocked his head this way and that, observing each ripple of the slip. With his large hawk nose and protruding cigar he looked like a large featherless bird hunting larvae in a tree trunk.

"Um, Gerard --" I said meekly. He looked up with a start. A big grin spread across his face. He stood abruptly and whipped the cigar out of his mouth.

"Allo! Mon soeur! How ezz zee deevorce biznezz? Av you come to tell us juicee storiez? Ah -- I am sooree, You are family. We should not talk biznezz. Come, let me give you a hug."

"Actually it's quite alright--" Before I could finish my sentence he had bounded across the room and squeezed me in a tight embrace. I forced out an "um" through a half-crushed windpipe, then he planted a clay-covered hand firmly around my lower left cheek, and like a vampire, sucked in a patch of skin on my neck in a slobbery, scratchy kiss.

Annie gave me a look of consternation, tugged roughly on his arm, and unvelcroed him from my body. In the process he gave me a sly wink. I just wanted to get this over with. I summoned the courage to do what I was there for and shoved the envelope in his face.

"Annie wants a divorce!!!" I shouted; Annie winced. Gerard stood there a moment and blinked. Then his eyes darkened, if that was possible. "I'm sorry," I whispered.

"What!!" he bellowed. "What!?" He glared at Annie, shoved the cigar back in his mouth, and stomped back to the potting wheel. "What??" He sat down with a thump. "Why?" He looked up at Annie pleading. "Don't I pleez you every night? Several times in zee night?"

"Well, no complaints there, uh," she said, blushing, "It's just that you can be, well, you can be a little, um, impetuous."

"What?" he said. "What ezz this word? Impetuous?" He said it laboriously.

"Oh. Well, it means that you don't have a lot of, um --" The color was quickly draining out of Annie's face, as she struggled with what she needed to do.

"It means you have no self-control," I said out of sisterly loyalty. And I regretted it.

"What!?" he bellowed again. "Are you crazee? I av plenty of zelf-control!!" He stood up and stomped to the drying rack. "I will show you." He picked up one of my sister's ceramic unicorns (apparently there is quite a demand for them on the internet, though I've never seen the appeal).

"Theez, theez eez ugly." He spat on the floor. "I ave zee zelf-control to deestroy it!" He threw it against the far wall and it shattered in a spray of tragic unicorn bits. He picked up another one, identical. "And theez, theez is even uglier zan zee first!" He threw it to the floor, then gave it a little stomp and flourish like a matador.

"Sweetie, please--" said Annie.

"No!" he pointed at her with a long, lean finger. "You do not sweetie me!" He picked up a cherubic leprechaun from the rack, and gave it a disgusted look before dropping it to the floor. Below the leprechauns was a shelf with smiling bears holding fishing poles. I HATED those bears, and I secretly wished he'd pick one of those up and smash it. Instead, he lifted his hand to his head and sighed deeply. "You do not love me. You av never loved me." He began to cry.

"Oh don't give me that crap!" screamed Annie. I was shocked. Her whole life my sister was meek.

Gerard picked up another leprechaun. "No!" I shouted. I wanted to add, "throw the bears," but luckily I stopped there.

"You!" he said. "You av talked her into theez!"

"No, it was my decision Gerard!" said Annie. She walked over to the potting wheel. "You see this? This is not art, this is a mess. You make a mess of everything!" She picked up the half-formed pot and threw it at the wall, where it stuck.

Gerard stared at her, his eyes darkening again. He crushed the leprechaun he was holding in his hand. Annie picked up a handful of wet clay and threw it near his feet. Gerard gave the entire rack a shove, and a cascade of doomed kitschy animals fell and died in pieces on the floor.

Annie's face grew red, her chest heaved. She picked up one of his pots from his worktable and flung it at the wall like a discus. She stepped closer to him, challenging him. He picked up a jar of glaze and poured it out in ribbons on the floor, then smashed the jar against the wall with a flick of the wrist. He stepped closer to her. She picked a bowl of slip and spattered it against him with her fingers, and stepped closer. He picked up a handful of brushes and flung them into the air. They danced and banged on the floor when they came down. He stepped closer. She stepped into his arms.

"Oh, Gerard, I do love you. I, I want you," she said.

"Ov course," he said. They went into liplock so close I thought they would turn inside-out on each other like sea cucumbers. It was time for me to leave.

If only all of my clients could resolve their differences so easily -- I'd be out of a job. I was just happy I got to see all those hideous bears meet their demise.