Sometimes, Development Is Necessary

This guest post is by Elora Nicole, author of Come Alive and When Beauty Pursues You. She writes a blog called Whispering Prose. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter (@eloranicole).
Manuscript Development

Photo by Thomas Leuthard

When I sent off my manuscript, it held a little over 65,000 words. Now, published, it has over 90,000.

I sent my manuscript off believing the story was finished. I knew there would be editing and revision involved, but to be honest, I thought it would include more taking out then putting in and adding.

Isn’t that what people say anyway? When you edit you’re supposed to take stuff out?

So. When my editor contacted me and asked me to build some characters, strengthen the beginning and add about fifty pages, it seemed impossible.

Sentence Development

And then I remembered an exercise I did with my students every year.

I’d remind them of the process of building a home. First comes the foundation and then the frame. I’d ask what comes next and they’d answer the walls, the carpet, the paint, the decoration….

Then, I’d write a sentence on the board—something adapted from a novel—something like He ran into the woods or She took a sip of water—and then would tell them this sentence was their frame.

For the next few minutes, I’d allow them to create. Through the power of words, they’d transform the simple sentence into something completely different and always original. What started as something everyone had become something they could individually possess.

Because in the end, everyone had a much longer sentence with more strength, more imagery and more depth that echoed their individual voice.

Back to the Manuscript

This is how I approached my manuscript. Even though finished, I chose to see it as the frame of my story. I went through and page-by-page built it up and made it my own.

When I got to the last page on the third read-through, I knew it was a better story. It felt complete.
It took about 30,000 words to get there.

Sometimes, brevity is brilliance. Sometimes, saying what you need to say in as few words as possible is needed.

And sometimes, development is the key. Sometimes, it’s not enough to have it be cold. Sometimes, your character needs the icy wind blowing against her cheeks in order for the reader to really understand.

Have you ever written something that needed more development?


1. Build this sentence: He walks to the front door.

Note: do this before reading any other sentence below! You want this to be you and not inspired by someone else’s words.

2. Share your new sentence in the comments

Extra: take a look through some of your old writing. If you have a blog, take the piece through a reading and see how you can develop it – building tone, imagery, maybe even characterization. Link to the new and revised post in your comment.

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • Jte3rd

    When the doorbell rings for the third time, he leans over the arm of his
    recliner, sucks in his breath at the pain that runs like a
    swordthrust through his leg, and retrieves his crutch, which he uses
    to push the lever and force the chair upright, then, using both
    hands, he extends the crutch as far front as it will go, and, as much
    leaning as standing, rocks forward to his feet, kathumps across the
    living room floor, the crutch squealing against the hardwood, all the
    time muttering, “Why? Why? Why me?” because he knows by the
    persistence of the ringing that it’s Myrna, and it’s difficult enough
    being injured without having to bear the aggressive sympathy, the
    bottomless cup of camomile, Myrna’s too-close breath on his cheek as
    she pulls the blanket over his knees and says, “There, there,
    Winchell, isn’t that better?”

    • Nice work!  Aggressive sympathy – nicely worded my friend.

    • Marla4

       I agree.  I love the term “aggressive sympathy.”

    • Interesting. Makes me wonder where you’d go with this because there’s SO many options. And I’m with everyone else: I love “aggressive sympathy.” 

    • Maybe this means I’m a real Southerner now but it took me a minute to realize he’s on the inside of the house… Recliners are not unusual porch decor here. Great post!

    • Tamera

      I love “the aggressive sympathy, the bottomless cup of camomile, Myrna’s too-close breath on his cheek”.  I could feel this piece.  Fantastic.

    • Yvette Carol

      You made me feel what your character feels. Brilliant

    • Marianne

      Oh these are great characters.  The aggressive sympathy, the bottomless cup of tea.  What great succinct description.  

    • Oddznns

      The bottomless cup of camomile … There, there, Winchell, isn’t it better. Poor Winchell. Just the right tone.

  • Margiedeeb

    He stands, checks his back pocket for his wallet. Yes, the license, the credit card, the medical insurance card are there. He presses his hand against his chest. Breathes in slowly, deeply.  He walks towards to the  front door. Stops before opening and reaches for the keys hanging on the rack to the left of the frame. One of the hooks is empty. He quickly looks away. Opens the door. Looks out, straight forward, seeing nothing.

    •  Oh no, I hope he’s ok.

    • Marla4

       Makes me want to read on!

    • Nice!

    • Great start, Margie. What happens next?

    • Marianne

      It is like the empty hook has almost blinded him so that when he looks out, looks forward, he sees nothing.  I assume there has been a break up and I would read on if this were the beginning of a story.  

  • novelgal

    He looks around the kitchen with approval. It’s nice here, he thinks, with the polished wood doors and the flashing gold pulls. He looks in the drawers quickly, seeing all the paraphernalia of cooking, mostly items for which he would never guess a use. He finds the knife drawer, too late for the woman on the ground, he thinks and notes the blood spreading from the wound in her back. He closes the drawer with something akin to sadness. She could have stopped me, he thinks, but I came in while her back was turned. He looks into the refrigerator, suddenly hungry. His hand is on a plastic container of something leftover, when he hears a car pulling into the garage attached to the house. He closes the refrigerator and walks to the front door. 

    • Nice.  I assume since he didn’t run, he’s going to kill the next person who walks in that door!  AHH!

    • Marla4

       Great use of mood and setting.  Powerful.

    • Nice. Your third sentence totally took me by surprise and hooked me in to the story. I love this, @7054013c2edc1f2aebfd5176530749bd:disqus . 

      • I agree Elora. That third sentence made me laugh with a shocking “someone just jumped out from behind a door” scare!

        And such a nonchalant, cold sociopath. 

    • I’m officially going to make sure there are never good leftovers in my fridge. You know, just in case I get murdered. 🙂

    • Tamera

      Yikes!  This one will stick with me.  Compelling.  

  • Having thought about it for a year, Darnell moved toward the door, knowing that as he stepped outside, his whole life would change.

    • Marla4

       Great opening sentence.

    • Marla4

       Great opening sentence.

    • Oh my mind just went crazy – why? Why will his life change? Where is he? What’s outside? Perfect. Love it.

    • This makes me think of Amrose on the TV show Monk who hasn’t left his house in like 20 years.

    • Marianne

      Great first line.  

  • Dave H

    His walk was deceptive; step, shuffle step, step and he was at the door before them, his competitive drive gave him away again.

    • Marla4


      • Dave H

        Thank you.

        Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4GLTE smartphone

        —– Reply message —–

    • Another one-sentencer that packs a punch. 

      • Dave H

        Thank you.

        Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4GLTE smartphone

        —– Reply message —–

    • Marianne

      This is interesting.  Was her trying to trick them into thinking he was disabled but then gave himself away because he wanted to be the first to open the door?  

      • Dave H

        No. I knew a guy who used to cover ground quick by doing this little walk trot. He moved fast in a surprising way. The idea of competition popped into my head as I thought of the walk and that was the way it formed. The guy I knew wasn’t necessarily competitive more of a nervous twitchy type. Just an idea.

        • Marianne

          Well it’s  a good start.  I like the idea of a twitchy guy doing a walk trot.  He could be a great character. 

  •  Every morning he walks to the front door and stares out to the quiet neighborhood.  He expects to see her, but she’s never there.  Sometimes he’ll see someone out of the corner of his eye, but there’s never anyone there.
    He looks left and sees the maple trees looming over the sidewalk, blocking the sun from lighting up the pavement.  He expects to see her in her long white dress walking toward him, walking down the sidewalk.  He looks to the right and sees the dirt road in front of him; the metal mailbox gleams as if a star sat on top; maybe that star made sure the red flag never went up.
    Every morning he walks to the mailbox and takes a deep breath.  He opens it quickly and glances inside; it’s always empty.  He is surprised a spider, or cave dweller hasn’t sought shelter in it.  Slamming the mailbox, he walks to the front door empty-handed.

    • Marla4

       Beautiful writing.  I love, “blocking the sun from lighting up the pavement.”  This reads like poetry.  I also love the dirt road and the metal mailbox.

    • Such vivid description. I love it – particularly the sentences with the mailbox.

    • Great practice, Karl. I enjoyed your descriptions and how well you told a simple story of heartbreak and longing. 

    •  Oh you guys are sweet hearts. 🙂

    • Marianne

      Excellent writing here. I like your description of the sun shining on the mailbox after you have mentioned the shade cast by the maples. It makes me think of a gem, a diamond shining in the dark.  I enjoyed this. 

    • Oddznns

      Karl, you’ve captured the waiting perfectly. The detail about the spider not seeking shelter in the mailbox ties up the loneliness perfectly.

  • Marla4

    He walks to the front door. 
    If he opens it, if he grips the handle and turns it, he will have made
    his decision.  If he turns around to look
    at you, if he sees the muddy mess the mascara made of your eyes and if he looks
    at your shaking hands, he might turn back.

    But he will not.

    In the minutes that follow, you’ll think of things you should
    have said.  Go to hell is one of
    them.  Please don’t leave me is
    another.  The phone will ring and you will
    grab it, but it won’t be him.  It will be
    your sister, calling from Auckland, where’s she’s recently moved on her latest

    She will tell you the story of walking up Queen Street where a
    clutch of musicians surrounded her, the bongo drums keeping time with her
    steps.  A mime walked backwards in front
    of her, she will say, making faces, his gloved hands like white doves trying to
    take flight.  She will tell you they were
    wearing togas and chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.  She will say start the story by saying,
    “Today I led a parade.”

    She will not here the despair in your voice, or notice the
    ragged breathing, your throat now raw from crying.  She will make you promise to come see
    her.  “America is so overrated,” she’ll
    say.  “Come be with me.”

    You will hang up then. 
    The TV will have been on all day, and you will turn to it.  The news will catch your attention, and you
    will watch the crawl scroll by beneath the brittle face of a too-old blond who
    will tell you there has been a bus crash. 
    Fatality, she will say.  On the
    crawl, there is will be the same story, this one in word only, and you will
    think how the tragedy is doubled. 
    Fatality, fatality, you will say. 

    By nightfall, you will have risen from the couch.  You will have set a saucepan on the stove to
    boil water for tea, but you will forget it, and when it runs dry it will jump
    on the burner and the sound will alert you.

    You will have become a woman who can’t make tea.

    It is in this moment that you will remember the look in his eye,
    like pity, you will think.  You will have
    become a woman to pity. 

    You will go to the front door, you will hoist it open, you will
    let the wind whip through your stale house. 
    Everything is broken, you will think. 
    And then you’ll hear your sister’s voice saying come be with me.  And so you will.


    • Wow. This is powerful, @Marla4:disqus .

      • Marla4

         Thank you so much!

    • Tamera

      This grips me.  Wow!  I love the repetition of will. 

      • Marla4

         Thank you so much.

    • This is great, Marla! I’m usually skeptical of the second person POV but you pull it off well.

      • Marla4

         Thanks Katie.  I agree about second person.  I really wanted to try, though.

    •  This is my favorite so far.  I really enjoyed it.

      I question your word choice toward the end, though.  When you use the word hoist, I have this image of  the door being lifted rather than opened.

      • Marla4

         Good catch, Casey.  I believe you’re right.  Thank you.

    •  Amazing!  I love the parade! 

      • Marla4

         Thank you!

    • Marianne

      Beautiful Marla. I love the parade, the mime with his hands that flutter like birds, the Hare Krishnas, but most of all I love that she goes there.  I like the second person voice too.  I am afraid to use it anymore because so many people don’t like it but I do. 

      • Marla4

         Thank you!  I thought I’d try second person.  I think it’s difficult but there are times when I really like it.

  • The elder soldier’s prosthetic clacked sadly as he limped toward the front door of his abandoned childhood home.

    • This is only one sentence but it is SO rich. 

      • Yeah, I sorta misunderstood the assignment. LOL. But thanks.

        • No! Not at all. I think my “but” was misleading. I meant to say this is just one sentence and it STILL has just as much power as some of the paragraphs. 🙂

    • Yvette Carol


    • Oddznns

      It’s rich with possibilities, this sentence.

  • Tamera

    His hand slips off the knob, too wet to turn it.  He rubs his right hand down the leg of his
    jeans, gripping the keys with his left. 
    Maybe he shouldn’t leave just yet. 
    He turns with a sigh and heads back into the mess.  She’s still sitting there, in the middle of
    it all, but the crying has stopped.  The
    QVC saleswoman repetitively pressures them to call now, there are only 10 left.  He fishes the remote out from under the
    tissues, books, and broken wine glass. 
    Click.  There, that’s better. 


    “Mom, you okay?”  She
    doesn’t answer.  He’s out of ideas.  It seems they’ve been here so many times
    before.  He tries to think of a new way
    to approach it, a new answer to this riddle charged with anger and confusion.
    He tries again, “Mom, are you okay?”  She
    stares at him with empty eyes.  She gives
    no words.  He kneels down and carefully
    starts picking up the pieces of glass. 
    One piece is stuck in the knee of her khaki pants.  He pulls it out, only then realizing it was
    pierced into her knee.  The hole is pink
    trimmed with blood, but she seems to feel no pain.  He tosses it all in the garbage, trying to
    ignore all the other things that belong there but aren’t in there.


    She now barely weighs 90 pounds, so it is easy to lift her
    back to the couch.  He finds a washcloth,
    drops it to the carpet over the wine spill, and steps on it with his boot.  While he waits he counts.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.  He decides to leave it there.  The handmade quilt Grandma Jean made is lying
    on the floor too.  He shakes off the
    clutter and gently tucks it around her bony body.  He fills a glass with water, and places it on
    the table nearest her. 


    “Okay Mom, I’m going now. 
    I’ll be back tomorrow to check on you.” 
    He almost says I love you, but he starts to feel things he cannot feel
    until after he leaves. She says nothing. 
    As he walks to the front door, he hears the QVC saleswoman again.  This time she is selling something new.  Better call, before they are all gone. 

    • Marianne

      What a sad scene.  I like the line “she give no words”.  It makes it seem like neither she nor he knows what makes her drink, what is at the base of her problem.  

      • Tamera

        Thank you Marianne.

  • He walks to the front door. A Christmas wreath of plastic bags and dusty silver ornaments now hangs there. His gut tightens with a fresh awareness of how he and Chloe sat at the kitchen table and tied it together with a pile of used bag ties. “She was in 1st grade?” Whispering, he answers himself, “Yeah. 3 blurry years ago. Crap.” Colorless thoughts slam his heart of how stupidly impatient he was with her. She was just a 6-year-old. What a fool. Could he ever forgive himself for yelling and the way he’d grabbed her arm so hard that it left fingerprints? “What a damned fool,” he says out loud hoping no one heard him. 
    Now, sobriety, almost 4 months of it, is opening the floodgates to memories that used to be so easily washed away. Since early September, he knocks only once a month on the “stranger’s” door of what was his home. As he raises his shaking hand to do so, he realizes he’s not breathing, tears begin to squeeze out. But he can’t. Not now. God, how he longs for a soothing pull of … he checks himself, wipes his eyes and slowly blows out a breath.

    • Tamera

      I especially like ‘colorless thoughts’ and  the image of the Christmas wreath of plastic bags.

    • Marianne

      What an arresting image to begin with.  He is a character that I can’t feel sorry for though. He is still only thinking about himself.  If you use him as a protagonist you might want to make him think about what impact he had on his family, have him realize how they felt, that would make him more sympathetic for me anyway. 

      • Thanks Marianne, for your comment. I thought your take on him was interesting. I wasn’t thinking so much in terms of sympathy, but that he is pitiful. Trying to hang on.

        I appreciate it.

    • Oddznns

      Well, I like the hopeful bit at the end. He does stop at the soothing pull of… But why is he crying? For what’s he’s thrown away? Or what he’s ruined?  That’s the rest of the story waiting to come out from the selfpity that’s this beginning. Wiating to hear it Garry …. 

      • Yeah, thrown away and ruined. Totally. 

        This is interesting. I’ve written life experience, marketing, business copy but not fiction. Well, unless you consider marketing … you know where I’m going….

        So, where to go with this? Hmm, a bit intimidating. I’m not sure. Perhaps I’ll explore it. Thanks for the comment and the push.

    • I like the honesty here. The way you get inside the head of an addict. I also like the image of the wreath and how you connect that with the six year old. It invokes sadness for everyone concerned.

      • Although not one myself, I’ve been touched by a number of addicts/alcoholics. Most have, I’d say.

        Thanks for your reply Susan.

    • annepeterson

      I liked it Garry. Saw the pitiful person you were trying to portray.

      • Thanks Anne. That’s funny. Since you’ve read it, I think I see some changes I believe you’d suggest! 😉 

  • Yes, I discovered the truth of ‘development being necessary’ this year also. I took an online writing course at the beginning of the year with the Lawson Writing Academy. For the exercises, and essays I submitted pieces of prose I considered the best I could offer. Yet, each and every time the tutor wanted more. What’s happening in the scene? Who’s doing what? What does it look like, smell like? What can you hear? She said always add more than you think you need, you can always cut words later. It seemed to me at the time to be OTT, and yet, I’ve applied that to my writing ever since and what do you know, she was right, the resulting work is better.

  • Patrick Marchand

    Suddenly, he heard a knock. He had been so wrapped up in what had just happened that he had not heard anybody walk up the stairs. Not knowing what to do, he just stood there, as if ignoring the problem might just make it go away. For a moment, there was silence, and he thought that maybe, just maybe, he was saved. But the second knock made him realize that nothing would make this go away, he had gone too far. So, mustering all his courage, he slowly made his way toward the front door. wrapped his hand around the handle and opened his way to a whole new world.

    • Marianne

      I like the silence before the second knock, the feeling that he was going to be passed over.  It makes me wonder what or who has come for him. 

    • …….Good!  Makes me wonder if the person on the other side of the door is wearing a badge!

  • Hearing a knock, he walks to the front door on legs that feel somehow stiff and rubbery at the same time, puts his eye to the peephole, and is both relieved and disappointed to see that no one is there.  Well, time to get lunch anyway. He pulls the door open, walks out, locks the door, thinking, home.  Snorts derisively.  Clambers awkwardly down the stairs to his car, keys the door and unlocks it,  as a pair of his African-American neighbors walk by and eye him either apprehensively or mockingly, he’s not sure which.  The hatred rises in him as his mood plummets.  

    Which joint this time?  It doesn’t much matter.  My problem, he tells himself as he drives out of the parking lot onto the street, is I’ve got no one left to argue with.   I’ve either out-lived the s.o.b.’s or banished or escaped them in one way or another.   

    I’ve certainly gotten away from my raisin’, as they used to say.  

    Stopped bein’ a conservative at a young age — as soon as I figured out what that word really means.  Got tired of bein’ shouted down in family or work-place arguments by people with quicker tongues and louder voices.  So now I keep m’ head down and avoid entanglements.

    And if they’re dead, I don’t hafta argue with ’em anymore — in fact,  as far as dear old mom and dad and sister Sue, I can probably even take a little credit for hastening their deaths along; not to say I’ve won all the arguments, but I’ve gotten my punches in.  

    Still hear their stubborn voices gratin’ in m ‘head, though.

    So now we got this “polarization” in the country, with at least two sets of “facts” and a “need” to get other folks to change their thinkin’.  T’ me it just sounds like the rulin’ class is takin’ a page outa my ol’ man’s book  — he had it down fifty years ago.  

    He lights the Marlborough that is the highlight of his day so far.

    • Marianne

      Ha John.  That sounds like the guy who lives across the street from me, the one I avoid at all costs when out walking.  It’s well written.  He would be a good character for a story.  

      • ………it somewhat pains me to admit that sometimes I AM that guy, to one degree or another!  Thanks.

        • Marianne

          You don’t seem like that kind of guy on here.  Maybe we are all like him to one degree or another (and getting more that way as we get older ; )) 

  • At the sudden knock silence fills the smoky, low-ceilinged room. The amity of
    previous moments dissolves in a sweaty claustrophobic intimacy that all now
    realise cloaks a betrayal.
    Sidelong glances flick left and right and muscles tense imperceptibly.

    The tall man with the unpronounceable name rises stiffly from the bench. Five suspicious pairs of eyes track his movements – his legs and gait disconnectedly wooden as, fighting his instincts, he wades through eddies of tension towards the inscrutable red front door.

    • Marianne

      This is interesting with well chosen words.  I think it is great writing for a small section of something but it part of a larger work you might want to add some more details so the reader knows what’s going on.  I love the second sentence.  It says so much, same for the last sentence.  You get a lot of information out with these words.  Well done.  

      • Thanks Marianne, it’s not part of anything, just what came to mind from reading the sentence – a brain snapshot!

  • The world is unrelenting in its spinning when Lydia pulls herself off the floor of her best friend’s apartment. Shadows of a night well lived drape the once vibrant TV room. The drapes, for one, hang by only a single ring, sunlight blasting the still-sleeping inhabitants of Dariah’s floor. In the kitchen, the lady herself is cooking up eggs. 

    Lydia waves across the counter. It takes a herculean effort. Empty bottles are cockroaches, staring up at her from every inch of the carpet. Dariah slides an omelet off the pan onto a white plate. “Grub?” she asks.

    “No…I gotta get home,” Lydia says. “Do you need help? Cleaning up, I mean.” 

    Dariah sets the omelette on the counter and props herself up on her tiptoes to peer out at the bottles and bodies. “Nah, I think I’m good. Shouldn’t take more than a minute to sweep all that up.” Dariah’s hair is a mess and it’s painfully apparent that she slept in her makeup last night.

    “I feel bad. I mean, I could just…” Lydia was cut off by a man she didn’t know rolling over on the floor and grumbling something about her needing to shut up. People were sleeping. 

    “Get outta here, I got this, babe,” Dariah said. She smiled and waved her spatula toward the door. “Call me when you get home. Let me know you didn’t puke your organs all over the road.”

    Lydia scrunched her face up. Just the talk of vomit made her pale. “Yeah, okay,” she said and headed for the door.

    • Marianne

      What a horrible morning after.  The details are great, the part where they bottles look like cock roaches is great, and I like the dialogue.  You are such a good writer.  

      • Thank you so much Marianna! I’m glad you liked it 🙂

  • Alexis

    When at midnight, the bell rings, a booming sound that swallows all the whispers in his heart, he walks calmly to the front door, his fear gone and his legs steady now that IT has finally come for him.  

    • Great imagery Alexis. 

    • Marianne

      This makes me feel like I don’t want to know what IT is. You get a lot of info into one sentence.  

  • Mark stood in the window of the upstairs bedroom that overlooked the
    street, his binoculars aimed down the at the Honda parked two houses
    away.  His daughter Carmen was in that car; he could see her red blouse
    through the windshield.  Her date Mark couldn’t see very well except for
    the occasional flash of his white hands in the darkened interior.  When
    that hand cupped Carmen’s breast and her eyes closed, Mark decided
    that he’d seen enough.  He thumped the binoculars down on the window
    sill and stalked from the room and down the stairs to the front door,
    pausing only long enough to snatch his son’s Louisville slugger from the bedroom floor before
    going out to meet his daughter’s date.

    • Marianne

      Well that is a s strong beginning Casey.   I love the idea of an overprotective father but I hope he isn’t going to totally kill the guy.  Good writing as always.  

  • He walks to the front door. Not expecting a UPS delivery, he knows it’s not worth answering. He lives in a rural area. Trees shroud them in privacy instead of curtains. Gravel crunching heralds scarce visitors.

    He sees two heads reaching half way up the glass insert. Kids peddling cookie dough or Florida oranges for band boosters.

    Hesitating, he ponders ignoring their knock. His back aches from unloading trucks and paying business taxes. He was on his way to the garage fridge for a cold ale.

    Obligated, he opens the door efforted with a slightly turned up mouth.

    “Hi guys. What ya’ got?”
    He recalls a sweaty brow in South Florida and a large empty envelope as he lugged a box of chocolate bars…knocking door to door.

    • Marianne

      I like the details here. I can picture this scene completely as well as remember walking in the sun door to door selling stuff.  Well done. 

      • Thanks, Marianne. I appreciate your encouragement. Having looked at it for the 30th time, Ha, ha,,, think I would have used the word, ‘considers’ rather than ‘ponders. in the sentence, Hesitating, he ponders ignoring their knock.  I love this writing community!

  • Andrew Pass

    Great post.  I love the idea of asking students to do this in the classroom.  It’s so important that we empower them to use their creativity and personalities to strengthen their own writing. 

    Andrew Pass 
    Looking for writers 

  • Michellepdbwrites


    Slowly he walked to the
    front door. The door held back the world and walking through it would
    bring all the problems he had been hiding from these past few weeks.
    Walking through the door would bring burdens and questions and
    judgements. “How could you…”, “Why did you … “. He
    imagined them all gathered round the door looking at him accusingly.

    He reached the door and
    put his hand on the handle, steadied by it’s solidness, it’s cool
    calm. He opened the door and felt the warm sun on his face, birds
    singing in the tree over a distant lawn mower. The sky was endless
    the air was fresh. Maybe it would be okay.

    • Marianne

      What a great switch in mood. Good writing.  

  • annepeterson

    He slowly walks to the front door. Looking out he sees the squad car and freezes. The officer starts up the steps. If only there were a way to freeze this scene. He knows well enough why the police are here. But perhaps if he can stop time he won’t have to hear what they have to tell him. And if the words aren’t said, it can’t be true. 

    Freeze. Just Freeze. I can’t lose another child. I just can’t.

    • Marianne

      What a horrifying beginning.  I think we all know that feeling of just wanting to stop time but this is for such an awful reason. 

      • annepeterson

        Some months ago I read a story that started sadly. I guess it made more of an impact on me than I remembered. But remember, I never did say what the police man wanted. I just had the man going to the door reflect. And sadly, when you’ve had negative experiences, your mind sometimes goes there first. 

        This time I’m speaking from my experience.

        • Marianne

          Yes the police at the door it usually not a good thing. 

          • annepeterson

            Still, I think I could make a twist unexpected. 

            Finally he had the courage to move again. And looking closer he recognized it was his friend Bob. 

            “Hi Bill. Wanted to come in person for this call.”

            What is it?” Bill managed to get out.

            It’s your son. He was in an accident, but he’s okay.”

            Bill started breathing again. One by one his fears started diminishing.

            Color entered his world again. He noticed the television was still on.

            “Come on, you can drive with me, Bill. I know he’ll want to see you.”

            Flipping off the television set. Bill grabbed his coat and walked out that same door. Suddenly it looked a lot smaller.

    • Cool. “And if the words aren’t said, it can’t be true.”

      Anne. You say so much with so little. 

      • annepeterson

        Thanks Garry.

        • Yeah, first one I’ve done. Fun stuff! Scroll up a few when you get a chance. 

  • Marianne

    He walks to the front door.  Mimi notices that the heels of his boots are worn down and scuffed, but he struts like he’s a movie star,  or like he’s wearing the shoes they wear on Wall Street, that maybe cost a thousand dollars, and she knows that something she loves about him is that he has confidence.  There are other things too like that he loves her, and he works hard, and he loves his family, including his mama and his daddy and all his sisters and brothers.  

    “Hey,” she hears him say as he opens the door.  

    Then she hears the familiar voice of her own mother, the voice of discontent of negative perfectionism.  

    “She’s lying down Lena. She ain’t feeling good,”  says Araon.

    “She isn’t feeling good? I definitely need to come in then. You men can’t take care of anybody when they’re not feeling well.”

    “No Lena,  she don’t want to see you.”

    “I need to see her Arron.  She needs to be eating right if she’s expecting.  Is she drinking milk and eating salads and calve’s liver? She needs to be eating liver to keep her iron up.  You probably don’t care about the child but I do.  It’s my grandchild.”

    Mimi smells the liver with onion gravy and she imagines the tupperware container with the blue lid in her mother’s hands.   Familiar waves of nausea pass over her leaving her trembling.  She had hoped for lemon cake or brownies.  She starts to get up.  She wobbles to the living room.  

    “Yeah and he’s my son, but right now she don’t want to see nobody,” Arron’s voice has become more insistent.  

    “How did you learn to talk like that Arron?  I hope you don’t teach you son to use double negatives,” Lena pauses, her eyes frown a little, the thick iridescent beige shadow around them, wrinkles. “Did you say a boy? You all are having a boy?” 

    “Yeah we’re going to name him, Jack, after Mimi’s dad.”  

    Mimi gets up and walks down the hall, a pink terrycloth robe belted around her belly, a belly that her hands cover protectively.  as she looks at her mother she moves her hands closer together and interlaces her fingers.    

    “You are having a boy?” says Lena.  “I told you I wanted a girl.  A boy will turn out just like your father or like him,” she gestures toward Arron.  

    Arron is still standing between his wife and his mother-in-law.  

    “Go home Lena,” he says. “Please just go on home. This is my house and I don’t want you bothering my wife.”

     Mimi looks down at the floor and her eyes light on Arron’s scuffed boots.  She remembers his strut.  Then  Mimi is beside him. She puts one hand around his arm, and continues to cover the baby in her belly’s ears, with her other hand.  

    “Mama go home.  And I don’t like liver. I ain’t eating it.”

    “Did you say ain’t?”

    “Yes I did, but I want my baby to be bilingual,” she says, then she takes her hand off of Arron’s arm and slams the door in her mother’s surprised face.   The last thing she notices is the lips lined perfectly in Lancome Garnet Lipliner making an O shape.  

    “How are you feeling?” says Arron. “You want a coke?” 

    “Yeah a coke and maybe later after my stomach settles I could do with some lemon cake.”

    • Funny and well-written and real — another happy family!

      • Marianne

        Thanks John.  

    • Oddznns

      Marianne… Lemon cake, exactly what the heart doctor ordered even if the doctor doctor didn’t. I love the way Mimi looked at the boots, THEN held on to Aaron, then slammed the door.

      The family dynamics are so well described. Just a few sentences and we can see how Lena’s been disappointed by men.

      I love it.

      • Marianne

        Thank you so much.  I always appreciate your thoughtful comments.  

  • Oddznns

    He walks to the front door.

    In those black and grey stretch bicycling clothes. Dr. Loh is naked. And the body I see is hard and dangerous, ready for action. It does not look like a body that belongs to Christine’s polite husband, the man who walks to the front door and greets me covered in a starched shirt and pants with two sharp lines down the legs.

  • He walks to the front door. Fatigue stiffens his limbs like
    lead. With each nearing step, his heart grew heavier and his mind clouded over.
    He shook his head slowly. No, he would make it this time. He reached out his
    arm and turned the knob. Each tiny click was like a crash in his ears. Soon, shards
    of light burst into the room. He smiled widely to receive this surprise visit.
    As he fully opened the door, the smile fell from his face. He began to swoon,
    as he realized the ringing of the bell was not coming from the door but from
    his head. He moved to close the door, but instead fell back with a thud. Sleep
    came like an unwelcome bandit.


  • Claudini

    After several awkward moments of silence, he took a ragged breath, cleared his throat, and straightened his sagging shoulders. He snatched his mail from the table and sidled uneasily toward the half-open front door, ready to make a quick escape.