Falling Apart

27 Jan

As the late afternoon sunlight filters through the kitchen window, it accents the dust floating in the air of this neglected house. She sits at the kitchen breakfast bar with a bottle of pills and a glass of wine. She knows it’s the easy way out, the coward’s way. She will cause those she loves more pain. But she doesn’t have the strength or willpower to pick herself up anymore. She cannot repeat her morning mantra for one more day – I’ll see him again someday. He’s in a better place. Someday, it will hurt less. Everything happens for a reason.

She stares at the makeshift shrine that has sat atop the counter for six months. The stack of prayer cards from his funeral mock her, in their dusty, haphazard stack. Her fists clench as she looks at the ugly angel pictures and sappy poems instructing her not to cry anymore or telling her that her loved one is “safely home.” A small vase holds three roses from his casket bouquet. The roses are dead and crispy, blackening around the edges. There is a stack of sympathy cards smeared with every trite and useless consolation people offer up when someone dies.

She raises her arm and with a scream knocks it all off the counter. She is comforted, for a moment, by the crash and breaking glass. For a moment, she is not the only thing falling apart.

She can’t face one more day of sitting in her empty house, looking at pictures and trying to conjure physical memories of him in a vain effort to preserve them – the tightness of his little fingers gripping hers, his smooth cheeks under her lips, his giggle. But her memories continue to float just out of reach, fading and softening around the edges.

They used to fall asleep together, tucked into a corner of the couch, his weight heavy on her chest. But pain is the only thing pressing against her breastbone now and she can no longer sleep. Her arms are empty, her soul hollowed out by grief like a pumpkin scraped clean of its insides.

She clutches the pill bottle. Shakes it. It’s almost full.

This post was inspired by a prompt from Write on Edge:

This week we challenged you to try a piece using one of the writing tools you’d like to polish a bit. Some examples we talked about in our twitter chat were writing from a different point of view, engaging our characters in conflict, or improving descriptive writing.

There were no subject restrictions, but a photo was provided in case you needed a little push.

This is the first piece I wrote about Grace and I’ve been trying to polish it ever since. Today I tried to work on not using so much “telling” and a little more showing. I owe a big thank you to Angela who reviewed this piece for Write on Edge a few weeks ago.


8 Responses to “Falling Apart”

  1. Venus January 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    This is very powerful and moving. Especially when it becomes clear that the person she’s mourning is her son. I think your “showing” is really well-done. My only quibble is with the “pumpkin” imagery. It doesn’t flow well… everything else is so raw and truthful, and then the pumpkin comes and feels, well, corny somehow. Like Halloween. If you can find a different image more in line with the rest of the piece, I think you’ll have something perfect!

    • Kristina January 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      It’s so funny you mentioned the pumpkin thing. I asked a writer friend about it and she suggested changing it too, but I was having trouble thinking of something new and wanted to get the post up. But she suggested “a seashell scraped clean” and I’m liking that more and more.

  2. beckyday6 January 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    This is hauntingly beautiful. It makes me want to know more. What happens next?!?!?

  3. Carrie January 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    It’s a very emotionally charged piece.

    I have a small critique and that is near the beginning you use the word “stack” quite a few times in one paragraph. So maybe try to vary that with other phrases?

  4. Life of a Doctor's Wife January 28, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    I’ve seen this in another iteration, but it seems even more vivid and wrenching than my memory of the original. If your intention was to do more showing, I think you completely succeeded.

    This line got me: For a moment, she is not the only thing falling apart.

    (Which is funny, since that’s a moment of telling. But I think it’s this moment of honesty about the situation that breaks into the imagery and all the vivid “showing” of the rest of the scene makes it powerful.)

  5. Denise January 29, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    “For a moment, she is not the only thing falling apart.”

    I think that is my favorite line from the entire piece. It is a simple, but powerful statement.

    This is great, Kristina! The one critique I would give is the redundancy of the “kitchen breakfast bar.” Most people would automatically assume the breakfast bar is in the kitchen.

    Keep writing more. Can’t wait to learn more about Grace’s journey.

  6. Cameron January 30, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    I like the way that you use the physical objects to show her grief, the sympathy notes, the prayers cards and dead roses.

    I agree with Venus that the pumpkin simile feels forced, though I understand the scraped out idea that you’re going for, and the seashell idea you mentioned feels stronger. There’s more inevitability associated with the seashell, and the sense of something left behind and tossed by forces beyond its control.

  7. lovinadoptin February 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    Gripping and moving. I first read the excerpt at writeonedge.com and had to stop by and see your blog. Like beckyday6, I also want to know what happens next. 🙂

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