Assignment: Putting a Bullet in the Brain of My Character

Assignment: Using “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff as a reference, pick a character and shoot him/her in the head. Name five things that your character would NOT remember, and name one thing that he/she would remember. Continue reading Assignment: Putting a Bullet in the Brain of My Character

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Christmas Party

Prompt: Your protagonist has just lost a child, mate, parent or sibling. Describe him/her entering a party or class or bus, any place where there are other people. Don’t mention the loss.

Walking the dog wasn’t supposed to be a stressful event. However, it was a series of urgent tugs and pulls, uncharacteristic for a normally mellow dog. Somehow the enthusiastic border collie sensed his owner’s anxiety. Zoe wrapped the long leash around her hand several times to make sure that she wouldn’t lose her furry companion.

“C’mon, let’s get this over with so I can go to my stupid party,” she groaned. The chilly December wind was picking up strength, prompting Zoe to pull her hat down farther over her ears. It didn’t help that the sun had set hours earlier. She felt the dark cold seep into her bones, making her body ache . “Should’ve built that fence so you can do your business while I stay in the house!” Zoe ranted out loud. The dog continued with his investigation of a dry patch of grass. Another one of those projects that was pushed aside for a better day, she thought. The dog’s mission was accomplished, and owner and companion scurried back home against the wind.

Back inside the house, Zoe considered just staying home for the night. It had been over eight months since she had been to a social gathering of any kind. The last time that she saw everyone together was for less festive reasons. She wringed her gloved hands, feeling the bulk of her wedding rings under leather gloves. They might not like it, but everyone will understand. Everyone but Chelsea. Damn. I have to go. Best friends can be so annoying sometimes.

Zoe took a deep breath for courage and climbed into her car. She paused at opening the garage door while Chelsea’s voice echoed in her mind.

“Zoe, you’ve gotta come to our Christmas party! It’s the holidays, and you should be surrounded by friends and people who love you.” Chelsea gave a comforting rub on Zoe’s arm, but Zoe could tell that she was hovering even though she was trying not to.

The party started at 8:00, but Zoe arrived fifteen minutes late. She had hoped to slip in unnoticed by everyone and then slip away shortly after making an appearance. She let herself in the front door and her stomach sank when she realized she was spotted right away. Even though Christmas music was playing in the background, the room seemed to hush for a moment when Zoe stepped into the room. She felt a weight pressing on her chest and immediately questioned the bright idea of appearing at a party. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. All the pathetic looks and stares—why can’t they just act normal?

Chelsea greeted her guest with a big hug and steered Zoe to the bar. Chelsea poured her a generous glass of Chardonnay and proclaimed, “Have as much as you want because you’re staying tonight. I’ve got the guest room all set up for you.”

Zoe caught herself mid-sip, almost spilling her wine. “Whoa, I-I can’t stay tonight. I appreciate the offer, but I can’t stay. The dog would never forgive me.”

“Well, ok. If you change your mind, the guest room is yours.” Chelsea didn’t want to push too hard, but she was anxious for her friend to be happy again.

“I’m fine. I’m good. Really.” Out of the corner of her eye Zoe could see that other people in the room were looking at her. She scanned the room seeing familiar faces, but also noticed the mixed range of sympathy and discomfort all around. It had become too familiar.

“I’m fine. I’m fine,” she mumbled under her breath. The glint of the diamond on her finger caught her attention, and she felt the weight pressing on her chest again. She retreated to the fringes of the room, waiting for the attention to wane. Zoe sought out a chair in the corner of a quiet room, fought the sting of tears and rocked herself forward and back. I’m fine. It will all be fine.