Thursday, May 06, 2010

"You are standing in a doorway..." (writing exercise)

You are standing in a doorway. It feels almost like an Edward Hopper painting. The bright light from inside casts a warm glow on the car lined street. From the glow you could almost read the license plates-- that is if you had better eyesight.

If you were in a classic movie this is the part where you'd light a cigarette and slip into the shadows to share secrets with Jimmy Cagney types. But there's nothing quite so glamorous here.  Life is not film noir.

You're in the doorway with light fading and casting shadows outside. There's more than a slight chill painting a scent of fresh air against your nose. You're sure you're creating a draft, but not sure you really care. The wait will be over soon and you feel paralyzed by the ambivalence-- torn between the sense of finality and the hope for a new start.

Things ended months ago. You're about to make a fresh start but not until these last few loose ends get tied up. You suppose you should be angry. For some reason you're not. When all is said and done life is just too short to carry a grudge. Besides she couldn't help that her feelings for you had changed any more than you could help that yours hadn't. But that was then. You'd both since moved on. For you at first, reluctantly. You were the jilted one after all. For her it came a bit easier.

Enough time had passed that the fog of numbness had lifted. You'd started seeing someone else, long distance. In a few weeks you'll be joining her. Then you can close this chapter of your life, completely.

But here you still stand in the doorway waiting for this ghost from the past to arrive, to give just a little more closure. Truth be told, as long as you've stayed here you've remained tethered, albeit increasingly more loosely to the past.

When she arrives, you're taken aback. She's blonde. The whole time the two of you had dated she'd been a redhead.

"I dyed it red but we've spent so much time outside this summer the sun bleached it." She noticed your curious expression. A pregnant "we" had been uttered, insinuating all manner of new familiarities and intimacies.

There's an awkwardness hanging in the air as you invite her in. It all seemed so stiff and formal after the intimacy the two of you had once shared. You know that your new girlfriend is understanding of the situation, even if she's not exactly happy about it. You're guessing the new boyfriend involved shares your girlfriend's sentiments. As the two of you share idle chatter and small talk it's evident neither of your respective others have anything to worry about. The cordiality and friendliness is present but the heat that had once burned between the two has completely burned out.

It's not like old times, more like ships passing in the night. The two of you wishing each other well as your lives continue on their divergent paths.

So you show her to the door and part with a friendly but vacant hug before she walks away. Once you pack and are on your way you know you'll finally be able to shake this feeling of a life lived in limbo. Your heart was already packed and shipped to its new location. Now it was time for the rest of you to join it.
This is the product of an exercise from my writer's group.  Write a story with "You are standing in a doorway" as an opening line or just write a story about standing in a doorway.

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