Write a scene of a fight or an argument or a disagreement (as violent or as subtle as you like), based on a remembered altercation between you and another — it might have been a partner, a friend, a parent, a teacher, a boss or a colleague. Write this in the first person — or third person attached. Take fifteen minutes and no more.
Then, in another fifteen minutes, write the same scene again from the point of view of the other person.
Try not to favour either person involved.
The Fight by Ronnie Whitaker
“We have to go now. I want to miss the traffic” said Sophie.
“But Bill’s just ordered French champagne!”
“Tough. There’s enough people around to drink it. We have to go.”
“Shit” thought Lucy. “She’s in one of her moods. I knew this was a bad move.”
Sibling rivalry was still there, even in middle age.
“I will bring her home” said Bill. “We ordered French champagne to celebrate her triumph – as well as the birth of my first grand child this morning in the USA! You can’t deny a new grand father that pleasure?”
Sophie glared at him for what seemed an eternity.
“Fine!” She turned to Lucy. “See you later.”
Lucy was on a high. Sure, it was a phallic symbol, but as long as she was the resident bimbo with her hair blowing back at 160k on the highway, “You make me think of dancing” blaring out of the mega Bose sound system, phallic symbols were ok.
Sophie was rustling through packets of supermarket goods when Lucy burst into the apartment.
“I wish you’d stayed! We had such fun. I feel 26 again. Bill even had his hand on my knee driving here. Some larny sports car. God! I can’t believe I didn’t even notice what it was. Must be a Z4 … that’s what they buy in their 50’s isn’t it?”
She had prattled on for a good five minutes before she realized that Sophie was just standing there, glaring, murderous actually.
“Can’t you shut up for one minute! I’m listening to the market report. I have to know what’s going on in the financial world in my job. Not that you would understand that.”
“Here we go” thought Lucy. “She simply had to toss the career success in my face, today of all days.”
“Sorry. Sorry. I’m just on such a high .. and totally self absorbed.”
Lucy walked through to the guest suite, Godzilla following her, breathing fire. She could feel the heat on her back, burning.
“And – how dare you bring Jane up to my flat. And how dare you tell people at the table where I work”
“What are you talking about? I never mentioned you at the table. I was too busy talking about myself. And you know I had to bring Jane up so I could give her the extra copy. What else could I do? And what the hell’s the problem with that?”
“I’m just sick of you.”
“Do you want me to move to a B and B for the rest of my stay then?”
“That’s a bloody good idea. You can leave at 6.30 when I leave for work. Until then, stay out of my sight.”
She slammed the door.
“No supper then, I presume” muttered Lucy.
Sophie had taken a day’s unpaid leave to attend the book launch. The day started with a flat tyre!
Lucy was standing there, calling a taxi service, instead of helping change the tyre. She had always been so fucking useless.
Sophie made her cancel and sent the taxi driver packing, as she had changed the tyre by the time he arrived. Sometimes one just had to make a point. If Lucy had been a little less spendthrift, she might have had more to her name at this stage of life.
There must’ve been 300 people at the luncheon.
“I wish I could be more sociable” thought Sophie. “But these pretentious obnoxious people just make me uncomfortable.”
Lucy met up with an ex boss in the crowd and immediately forgot about everybody at the head table. Sophie was left to make small talk with women who had never worked a day in their lives, despite being draped in Versace and Prada and dripping in rubies and diamonds. Thank God she was seated next to the cartoonist Eidin. Sophie enjoyed her Irish humour. and at least she wasn’t a stranger.
Eidin’s introduction was wonderful – teasing but warm. She was obviously very fond of Lucy, who, by the way, had disappeared!
When Jane introduced the speaker, Lucy flounced in, dressed in the ridiculous costume. The crowd loved it.
Memory of Conflict by Helen Webster
After what seemed like hours of staring at the goldfish in the bowl, I snatched up the telephone and dialled the international code. Her voice when she picked up seemed obscenely close, in the next room, no, right beside me, startling proximity but no intimacy. Cold and formal.
“Hi.” Oh yes, she loved to think that at seventy, she was still hip. Kaftans, pottery beads.
“Uh, you know what we said when we last met? Um, you know, that um, thing, about Eric, possibly not being, uh, not being my dad?”
“Well, uh, my therapist thought I should explore that a bit more.”
“Well, I thought, seeing you were the one who brought it up, no, actually dropped it in my lap like a bombshell, I thought …”
“Listen, my girl, if you think you can use that tone with me, you…”
“Sorry! … Sorry.” Shit. What was wrong with me? All the time I practised this, first with Gillian, insisting I meditated and breathed deeply for three minutes before role modelling it with her. Gillian, a civilised, therapist sort of a mother. And then with darling Andi, who couldn’t take it seriously because he’d never known either of his parents, and it didn’t seem to bother him. Lucky, lucky Andi.
“Are you still there?
“Uh, yes, sorry, Ma. Could you? What I need is…”
”What you need is, is to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Do you think you are the only child in existence who has a few problems to deal with?”
“No! It’s just that…”
“Listen to me! Your father, Eric, brought you up as best he could, sometimes yes, he didn’t understand you, he was older. Life was difficult after the war, those boys who went away to fight came back as men. Most saw things we can only imagine. Horrors. We need to respect their memories, to …
I knew it was her calling. Been dreading it for weeks. What possessed me to let on? Too much whisky, and…missing him. Oh, god, missing him. Happiness isn’t measured in teaspoons or laughter but against those three weeks with my fair boy, my golden god. A relief she took after my side and grew up brunette.
Steel yourself, don’t let on you know it’s her.
“Mrs de Gaine here.’
“Hello, Ma.” Already the whine, the self pity.
“Uh, you know that thing you told me about Eric, not being my father?”
“Yes.” Oh, God, Alan, your daughter is demanding the truth and I cannot give it to her. I won’t. It’s too late. It will serve no purpose but to damage…
“Well, my therapist told me to phone you and find out more.” I would like an atomic bomb to be dropped on that mealy mouthed creature.
“Well, you told me Eric was not my father, seeing you dropped it in my lap like a bombshell, I …” No! I am not prepared to take this nonsense. Anyone can make a mistake, and you, my girl, you, were my biggest. Not that I’d ever tell you that.
“Please don’t take that tone with me!”
And now the snivelling apologies.
Has she gone?/Can I wish for a merciful disconnection?