The Funeral

Author note: This was a class writing exercise. The assignment was to write a scene in first person point of view from one character’s perspective and a third person point of view from another character’s perspective.

Chloe

People all around me were crying, but I couldn’t seem to join them. I knew that I should, considering this was my mother’s funeral. No tears came, though, just a mix of good and bad memories. More bad than good, especially when I thought about the final time I heard my mother. I didn’t actually speak to her because I forced her to leave a message and then never called her back. She had asked me to come and visit her. Although I knew she was sick, I didn’t think that she would really die. I thought that I had more time. I hadn’t spoken to her in three years, when she told me that she wouldn’t support my new relationship. Kelly and I had actually broken up since then, but I still wasn’t willing to talk to my mother again, at least not yet. I wished now that I hadn’t been so stubborn, though. Perhaps we could have found some common ground.

The minister was speaking about my mother and reading bible verses. She had always been a regular church-goer, but I hadn’t been here in a long time. I couldn’t seem to stop fidgeting. It didn’t help that people around me were staring at me and whispering. I knew they were talking about my estrangement from my mother. They were probably surprised I went to the funeral. In a way, I was a little surprised, too, but I had to at least see her one more time, even if it’s just her body.

As people lined up to go up to the altar and pay their respects, though, I started to wonder if I should even go up there. Was there a point to it? My mother wasn’t there anymore. All I would see was her body. There was no hope of reconciliation now. Just as I was beginning to think about leaving the church and never going up there at all, my aunt came storming up to me. “So, you decided to show up to your mother’s funeral…” she began. I couldn’t even bring myself to listen to her. I just stared down at the ground and thought about all the times I could have fixed things with my mother and failed to do so. I didn’t even try. “Well, it’s too late now,” my aunt said as if hearing my thoughts.

Now, after not being able to cry for days, tears came to my eyes and I looked up at Linda. “I wish that I had come to see her when she was still alive. We had a difficult relationship. You know that. She didn’t support me. Still, I wish that I had at least said goodbye to her. Maybe we could have forgiven each other. But, as you just said, it’s too late for that now.”

I looked up at the altar, and there was nobody there now. So, I walked up to the coffin, not even knowing what I would say to my mother’s body, not even sure why I was bothering to do this. She was so pale as I looked at her. All I could think about was how full of color and life she was, even when we were fighting, which was often. “I’m sorry, Mom. I’m not sorry about who I am or my relationship with Kelly, but I’m sorry that I didn’t even try to talk to you again. I’m sorry that I shut you out completely. I wish that I could go back in time and call you back and actually come to visit you, but I can’t. And I loved you, despite everything that happened between us.” I gave one last sad smile to my mother before I walked down the stairs, ignoring all the people looking at me and whispering about me, and headed back out the door.


Linda

The church was quiet except for a few choked sobs, a few whispers here and there as those who knew and loved Alice Thompson paid their respects. As Linda Foster walked up to the coffin, all she could think about was how much Alice had wanted to make up with her daughter in her final moments. Yet her daughter never came when she was alive. Here she was, though, at her funeral.

Linda had been watching Chloe throughout the funeral. Even as the minister was speaking, Chloe had just looked around and fidgeted. Linda smiled one last time at her sister and walked back down the stairs. There was Chloe, standing near the end of the church, looking like she was about to make a run for it, not even trying to go up to see her mother’s body. Linda pursed her lips. How could Chloe be so disrespectful at her own mother’s funeral?

Linda marched up to Chloe as it looked like she was about to walk out of the church. “So, you decided to show up to your mother’s funeral. How nice of you. It’s too bad you couldn’t find the time to actually talk to her while she was alive. When was the last time you spoke to her, three years ago? Well, it’s too late now.”

Chloe was looking down at the ground as Linda snapped at her. When she finally looked up, Linda was surprised to see tears in her eyes. “I wish that I had come to see her when she was still alive. We had a difficult relationship. You know that. She didn’t support me. Still, I wish that I had at least said goodbye to her. Maybe we could have forgiven each other. But, as you just said, it’s too late for that now.”

Chloe finally walked up to the coffin as Linda stared after her. Chloe stood by the coffin, talking to her mother for a few minutes. Finally, she turned around, wiped her eyes, and walked down the stairs and out of the church without a word to anybody else.

Looking Up

I came of age in a time of no heroes. I grew up hearing the stories of heroes who lived long ago, but none existed now.

My brother and I used to sit and talk about all those stories we had heard when we were children. John used to believe that he could be a hero. That was before the accident. Well, it was supposedly an accident. Nobody really believed that, though.

Either way, nothing could be done about it. My brother was gone.

I was walking down the street, not looking up at anybody. Nobody ever looked at each other. That might force people to admit just how horrible this world really was. Nobody wanted to do that because then they might feel the need to do something about it. My brother thought that he could do something about it. Look how that turned out.

I could almost hear him now. “Andy, we could change the world, you and I. We could make this place like it used to be.”

John didn’t believe in minding his own business. He always looked around when he was walking, pointing out the things that needed to be changed. One time, a man and a woman were arguing, and he hit her. John went over and confronted the man. The man punched him, and the woman just stared at him and walked away. I told John that he shouldn’t have gotten involved.

“We have to get involved, Andy,” he would say. “If we don’t do something, who will?”

“Isn’t that the job of the police?” I would answer, even though I knew better.

“You know they won’t do anything. The people in charge are too corrupt. That’s why you and I need to change things.”

That sort of talk could get someone killed, if the wrong people heard it. He really believed that he could make a difference and that I could even help him. There was a time when I was starting to believe him. That time was long past.

I had almost reached the store when something stopped me. It was a boy crying in pain. I wanted to walk past, but I could hear my brother’s voice in my head, telling me that we could help people.

But, he was gone. Still, I found myself walking toward the sound of the crying. The little boy looked to be about 4 or 5. He was on the ground, both of his knees and elbows bleeding.

I leaned down. “Did you fall?”

He shook his head. “No, those boys pushed me,” he said, pointing at a gang of teenagers down the street.

I wasn’t about to do anything about the gang. That would just be stupid. Still, I asked the boy where he lived, and I helped him up off the pavement.

“Thank you,” the boy said after I dropped him off at his house. He smiled. “I’m Joey.”

For the first time in a long time, I smiled, too. “You’re welcome. I’m Andy. ”

It wasn’t much, but I suppose my brother would be proud of me anyway. This time, I looked up as I walked down the street.

Worlds Away

Fairy tales hardly ever come true for quiet girls. That is why Molly’s jaw dropped as she looked around her. Of course, this kind of fairy tale didn’t really come true for anybody, did it? And yet, here she was.

This place looked like it came straight out of a fantasy novel. The colors were vibrant and like nothing she had ever seen before. A bright green dragon flew overhead, and a unicorn was standing right in front of her, munching on grass. She slowly walked toward something shimmering in the distance, which turned out to be the tallest waterfall Molly had ever seen. She couldn’t figure out where it began or ended. It was as if that waterfall went on forever. She had no idea how long she stood there, just staring at this strange and majestic world around her.

“Are you alright?”

Molly turned around. A young man who looked to be just a bit older than her with dark brown hair and bright green eyes was walking up to her. He stared at her for awhile before he said anything.

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

Molly shook her head, unable to speak for a moment. Finally she found her voice. “Where is here, exactly?”

He just smiled. “You should probably go back to where you came from.”

Molly looked around again. She couldn’t even figure out how she got here. How was she supposed to get back? And why would she want to go back?

Finally, she started to realize that this might be a dream. She turned back to the young man. “This isn’t even real, is it?”

He smiled again. He had sparkly white teeth, which didn’t seem to go with his medieval outfit. “What do you think?”

A cat nearby meowed, and Molly searched around for where the noise was coming from. The next moment, she was staring into the hazel eyes of her own cat, Prince Charming, who was standing on her chest. The new fantasy book she had just picked up from the library, Dream of the Storm, was lying open beside her. She hadn’t even gotten very far in the book. She had only started reading the first chapter before she fell asleep.

She moved Prince Charming off her chest, put a bookmark in the book, and sat up. She had fallen asleep with her clothes still on. As she put on her pajamas, her parents’ voices drifted through the open door.

“I can’t believe you forgot to pay the electric bill! What’s wrong with you?”

“Why do I have to do everything around here?”

Molly quickly shut the door and lay back down on her bed. Perhaps she should try reading the book again and see if any other interesting dreams come about.

Her parents’ arguing was more and more distant as she became immersed in the novel. The description of the world was exactly as she had seen in her dream. And the prince, Bralan, was nearly the same on the page as he was in Molly’s head, which was interesting, since she hadn’t read about him yet when she had the dream. She was reading about the prince’s quest to slay a dragon, but she was having more trouble concentrating as her eyelids started to droop.

She was less confused when she found herself back in the fantasy world again. She knew now it was just a dream.

“You’re back.”

She turned around, and Prince Bralan was standing in the same place with exactly the same smile.

“Yes, but I know this isn’t real now. And I know that your name is Prince Bralan.”

“Yes, that is my name. But why would you think this isn’t real?”

Molly looked around again. Dark clouds had just begun to cover the sun, and the waterfall was no longer sparkling. She turned back to Prince Bralan. Somehow the smile that had never left his face was starting to seem a little less friendly. That smile wasn’t reaching his eyes, which seemed to be an even brighter green than they were in the first dream.

“I was just reading about you and this place in a fantasy novel.”

Prince Bralan looked up at the sky. “A storm is coming in. You shouldn’t come back here, or you might never be able to go back.”

This time, the sun was streaming through the window when Molly woke up. She yawned and slowly got out of bed. Perhaps she shouldn’t read that book again. It really was giving her strange dreams.

Molly’s parents weren’t speaking to each other when she went downstairs. She just grabbed a granola bar and left without saying anything to them.

She kept thinking about her dreams throughout the school day. She barely listened in any of her classes, and she was usually a good student. Despite what the prince had said in her dream, she had to finish that book. She had to know how it ends.

When she got back home, she ignored her parents and went straight up to her room. She picked the book up again. Prince Bralan had just finished making his way through the terrible storm to slay the dragon. She started drifting off.

A booming clap of thunder greeted her as she found herself back in the fantasy world again.

“Oh, great,” Molly muttered as the rain started to pour down on her, soaking through her pajamas in a matter of minutes.

“I told you that you shouldn’t come back here.”

Prince Bralan was standing with that same smile. Why did he seem so creepy now when he seemed so gallant and brave in the book?

“You know, in the book you’re busy slaying the dragon right now. You’re the hero. Shouldn’t you have better things to do in my dreams that standing here talking to me?”

“Oh, I already slayed the dragon. Why do you keep saying this is a dream? And why do you think I’m a hero?”

Molly frowned. “Well, the whole novel follows your quest to slay a dragon.”

“Why does that make me a hero? Did you see the dragon earlier? Did he bother you?”

“Well, no, but…”

“I’m afraid I’m not a hero. I only wanted to slay the dragon for the power I gained. And now you’re trapped here, just as these people are.”

He gestured around them, where there were several other people walking around, dressed in pajamas just like she was, shivering in the rain. Why hadn’t she seen them before?

Molly pinched herself. “I’m ready to wake up now.”

But Molly wasn’t waking up. This world looked so dark now. The rain kept pouring down, the lightning kept flashing, and Prince Bralan kept smiling. His bright green eyes were glowing.

“I did warn you that you might not be able to go back.”

Was this real after all? What if she never saw her parents again? What were the last words she had said to them? She couldn’t remember. She couldn’t tell if the water pouring down her face was from her tears or from the rain. Surely she would wake up soon. She turned back to Prince Bralan.

“How do I get out of here? Why did you warn me if you want to trap people here?”

“I can’t answer your first question. As far as warning you not to come back, I’m obligated to do that. You have to want to escape your world enough to come back despite the danger.”

“But how…”

“I’m afraid I need to go now. Somebody else will get that book soon enough. Anyway, you wanted to live in a different world, didn’t you? Well, here you are. Welcome to your new home.”

Author note: I recently took a class where my instructor said that she tries to get as many rejections as possible every month, although she is of course happy when something she writes is accepted for publication. This was a rejected story, and I’m trying to learn to celebrate my rejections because it means that I took a chance and submitted something I wrote.

Trying the blog thing (again)

I’ve tried starting blogs a few times, and I usually get about as far as one introductory post and then perhaps a picture or two. This time it will be different (really!).

Anyway, on to the actual introduction to my new blog. My name is Julie, and this blog will be focused on the joys of writing and will include my thoughts on writing, my writing progress (and I’m hoping there will be a lot of progress), inspirational quotes from writers and others that seem to pertain well to writing, and some of my actual writing. There might be a few other random thoughts and photos as well.

I enjoy nonfiction writing, but I really love to work on short stories and novels. When I was in college, I majored in journalism, but I always enjoyed my few creative writing classes. My current day job is copy editing and proofreading scientific journal articles (I’m always pretty embarrassed when I discovered that I’ve spelled something wrong or made a big grammatical error in anything I write).

I’ve done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) several times and won twice, but I have yet to actually finish revising one of those novels. I’ve taken more writing classes since college, and I always feel that I still have a lot to learn. However, I think that my biggest obstacle is self-confidence. I need to learn to believe in myself to put more of my work out there.

I hope that everyone who reads this blog enjoys it. Please let me know your thoughts on anything I post. (Constructive criticism is good, but I would prefer not to read “This sucks!” Please at least tell me why it sucks.) Here’s to writing about writing!