Recently, as part of a writers workshop group I’m a member of, we had an exercise about writing emotion. Frankly, I find that rather difficult. How much is too much? How little is too little? Does the reader really get what I’m laying down with this emotional moment or is it really a piece of creative flatware, going nowhere. The piece I wrote was entitled Happy Darkness, and it tells two distinct scenes, both dealing with the characters happiness.
The first scene is a conversation over the telephone between two sisters, the second scene is a conversation by a stalker standing alone in the rain.
I actually rather liked it. It’s very different from what I usually write, but the feedback on it has been really positive. Based on that, and the fact that I most definitely need to become more comfortable in creative writing for an audience, I decided to give the story a slight tweak and post it here. So I give to you, Happy Darkness. Feel free to leave a comment below, letting me know what you think of the story, the characters etc. I’m half considering writing it into a longer format, so let me know if you think that’s a good idea or not too.
Rain snuck under the up-turned collar of Jasmine’s coat as she struggled to get her keys out of her pocket. The mobile phone in her red leather purse continued vibrating to a shrill rendition of Rihanna’s Diamonds, signalling Heather had something important to tell her. Or simply that she’d found herself with a few spare minutes in the car.
“Dammit to hell” she said. Finally Jasmine managed to shake her keys loose from the corner of her coat. The resistance giving way with a sharp tearing sound and Jasmine was sure the newly purchased all weather coat was no sporting a nice hole in the pocket.
“At least it’s not a cigarette burn for a change,” she thought.
Unlocking the door, Jasmine dropped her umbrella into the stand and answered the phone just before it diverted to voicemail.
“You always have the worst timing little sister,” she laughed into the phone as she kicked the front door closed and shrugged out her coat.
Heels made a sharp clicking motion on the polished timber floorboards as she walked to the kitchen at the back of the house.
“Guess what?” Heather said, her voice vibrating with excitement and slightly tinged with fear.
“How the hell do you always know what I’m about to say Jas, it’s annoying?. But yes. Excuse me for a minute, I need to squee again”.
Before Jasmine could make any comment, her sisters high-pitched squeal tore through her left ear. Jasmine allowed herself to smile. Playing coy or not, this was a moment she’d remember forever. It was one a long time in the making.
“You regained your composure yet?” Jasmine asked as she filled the kettle. Leaning on the marble bench she kicked her shoes across the kitchen and waited for Heather to stop laughing.
“Almost,” Heather said. “I’ve been busting to tell you for ages, couldn’t though. I wanted to get to a point where I felt safe to share. How did you know anyway?”
“Gut instinct little sister. Besides, you’ve stopped talking about babies for the past couple of months. I figured something was up, given it’s been the majoring topic of conversation for years.”
“Sometimes you’re too clever for your own good,” Heather said.“You know that right?”
Jasmine poured boiling water over instant coffee and breathing in the scented steam deeply.
“I’m not the only one,” Jasmine said with a laugh. “So tell me the details. When is the baby due?”
Somewhere in the distance Jasmine heard a door banging. Sticking her head out of the kitchen, she realised the front door was open.
“Dammit,” she said cutting Heather off. “I left the front door open”.
“Hey,” Heather said. “I’m the one with pregnancy brain and you can’t have it.”
Jasmine laughed, making her way down the hallway. The phone clamped between shoulder and ear, hot coffee in hand.
“Smart arse, so any names picked yet?”
Jasmine reached out and pushed the front door closed, sliding the bolt into place.
“Only one,” said a male voice behind her.
Jasmine screamed, dropping the phone and coffee.
Rain has never really bothered me. It’s peaceful. You can hide in it. Only crazy people walk in the rain, at least that’s what my father used to say. He doesn’t say much anymore, he’s discovered Twitter. Now he tweets.
I’ve been watching her. Her name is Jasmine. I know this because I borrowed one of the letters from the letter box. She lives alone. I know this too. I do my research. I’ve been watching.
I hadn’t planned to come over tonight. Not because of the rain, but because on Thursday’s Jasmine usually goes out to drinks with people from work. I don’t like being in pubs. It’s too hard not to smoke. I’ve quit recently. Jasmine doesn’t like smoke, or smokers. I heard her tell that annoying blonde girl who giggles all the damn time.
So I quit the cigarettes. When you have a good enough reason anything is possible really. And Jasmine is as good a reason as I could come up with. How do you have a relationship when only one of you smokes and the other thinks it’s a deal breaker.
I saw her come home minutes ago. Diamonds was playing in her purse. That is our song. I’ve heard it almost every time I’ve seen her. These days, whenever my phone rings I think of her. I changed my ring tone too. Just for her.
Winter in the rain is a bit uncomfortable. I’ll agree to that. But what’s a bit of being uncomfortable when love is at play. Sitting here, behind the big tree in the front yard, I can see her struggling to get her key out of her pocket. She’s wearing a new coat. It suits her. Yellow, bright and cheerful, just like she is.
Oh it’s Heather on the phone, she calls a lot. I should like to meet Heather one day. We’re not at that point in our relationship yet though.
The front door is open. She always knows to expect me, even when I don’t know I’m coming over until the last minute. Usually, she’s not home when I pop in, but I’m always careful not to leave a mess. Relationships are built on courtesy of course. It’s where the term courting comes from I think.
It’s much warmer in here, than it is outside. I’m standing in the foyer and I can hear Jasmine in the kitchen. She’s running water. Must be time for a cup of tea.
I look a wreck. There’s a mirror over the runner table in the hall. My hair’s flat to my head from the rain and the I’m dripping all over the honey-coloured floorboards. That’s much too rude, definitely not the courtesy expected of a guest. I’ll head upstairs, see if I can find a towel to dry myself off a bit. I’m sure she won’t mind.
The door downstairs bangs. I should have closed it properly. I’m such a silly duffer. Now she’ll be worried. I’m descending the stairs when I see her. She’s so beautiful. The phone is clamped to between shoulder and ear and she’s holding a mug.
“Dammit.” she said. “I left the front door open.”
Her voice is wonderful. Husky, silky, smooth. It makes me smile. We’re going to be so happy together, I know it.
I can feel the cold metal blade as I slide my hand into my pocket. I pull it out, stroke the blade and smile. So happy together. Forever.
“Smart arse, so any names picked yet?” she says and I know she’s not talking to me. Heather must be having a baby, that’s wonderful news.
Why else would she be asking about names, I wonder? It could be she’s bought a puppy, but I know Heather’s been trying to have a baby for a while. They were discussing it a couple of months ago when the had lunch at Lagarno’s.
“Only one,” I say to her as I run down the last few stairs.
I catch her in my grasp, as the blade slides into her throat, ending her startled scream of joy at seeing me.
This is the happiest night of my life. She lies in my arms, and doesn’t struggle like the others did. I knew it. I knew we’d be together.