Today’s Teachers’ Write assignment was this: TAKE A SCENE WHERE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER CONFRONTS THE ANTAGONIST, AND REWRITE IT FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE ANTAGONIST.
Problem: I haven’t started writing. There was an option for this. I could have rewritten a scene from the novel I’m reading. While it seems like a worthwhile exercise, why not simply write the original confrontation scene? This is the teachers’ write assignment that finally gave me the kick in the butt to stop ‘planning’ my novel and just start writing. Now that I have a scene, I can write from the antagonist’s point-of-view. I’m happy with 688 words for my first session. If I could do that five days a week for a year, I’d have my draft finished next year this time! That’s exciting.
Aw hell no! No fucking way! No fucking way she gets to pretend she’s got her shit together and start telling me what to do. For 17 years I’ve wanted nothing more than for her to be the parent that she’s never been capable of being and now she’s six weeks sober and she wants to start telling me what I can and can’t do, who I can hang out with and where I can and can’t go. I don’t think so. I’ll be 18 years-old in eight months, and I’m not saying it’s been a piece of cake, but I’ve managed to get by, take care of myself and I haven’t done too shabbily. I screamed at her, “Fuck you, Denise!” as I slammed the back door to our dumpy little single wide. Cursing was commonplace in our house, but I knew calling her Denise would cut deep. The only other time I called my mother Denise was during a particularly bad argument the summer I was 12. She had gotten so angry that I have never said it aloud again until today. Even though I call her mom, to me she’s been Denise ever since I realized that she didn’t act like a mother.
A few weeks ago, Denise had a come to Jesus moment in the middle of the day. When I came home from school and she was crying and screaming; she apologized to me over and over for being a shitty parent. She swore she was going to sober up and get her act together. Of course, I’d heard this before, never with such emotional fervor, but it was a new tune with the same old lyrics. I figured she’s just had too much to drink, I mean, more than usual, so I tried to put her to bed. Usually, when she gets all emotional that works. Not that day. I ended up bailing and hanging out in the park until it was getting dark, because she just wouldn’t calm down and I didn’t know what to do. I just sat on the swings texting my friends for hours, until my phone battery dies. When the street lights came on, I figured it was time to go home. When I walked in, at first I thought she had passed out, but she was on the couch with my laptop. She barely looked up when I came in. I didn’t want to know what she was doing. “Night,” I said over my shoulder as I kept walking through, “I’m going to bed.” I didn’t want to make eye contact, but clearly there was no danger of that.
When I got up the next morning, mom was passed out with my laptop precariously balanced on the end of the sofa. I picked it up, to pack it in my bag for school. “Great!” I muttered, “dead, just great!” Hopefully Mr. Jacobs would let me charge it during bio, because Mrs. Mathers would eat my face if I tried to tell her I couldn’t work on my memoir during second period English Lit because my laptop battery was dead. I was in no mood for one of her tirades today. Usually when Denise was out cold like this I could do anything and she wouldn’t wake up, so I wasn’t being gentle or quiet.
“Oh good, you’re up,” she said as she rolled over, groggy and almost fell onto the floor. “Janelle, I have to tell you something,” she said expectantly, a smile starting cross her sleep lined face.
“Whatever it is, it’ll have to wait,” I said. “I’m late for school and I can’t miss the bus.” I picked up the pace and hurried out the door. I didn’t even have breakfast and I wasn’t really late, not that Denise would ever know. She was almost never awake before 11:00AM. I took my time walking to the bus stop. I shouldn’t have been so short with her. I didn’t really know what she was going to say. That was my imperial flaw; I always gave her the benefit of the doubt. Well, not this time.