How are you?
I’m good. You?
Good, good. Yeah.
Been up to much?
Not really. How are things up there?
It’s getting warmer. The orchard is coming into bloom. It’s really beautiful. How’s the weather where you are?
Same as always. Cold. Miserable. You wouldn’t like it.
I guess not.
How’s your mother?
Same as always. She asks after you, by the way. Hopes you’re well.
Why do you always have to think the worst of her?
Did she really say that?
Your fingers are crossed.
You just uncrossed them, didn’t you?
You can’t see me.
I don’t need to.
I… wish I could see you.
You’re the one who left, Sephy.
That’s not fair.
It’s just a fact.
You know why I had to leave. You know what my mother’s like when I’m not around. She needs me here right now.
So she says.
There you go again. She’s your mother-in-law as well as my mother, you know? Can’t you at least try to make an effort with her? What do you have against her?
I just think that she’s manipulating you. She knows you’re too nice to say no.
That’s ridiculous. Not everyone’s family hates each other, you know.
But she hates me. The way she talks about us, she’d have everyone believe that I kidnapped you or something equally ludicrous.
She’s just a lonely, old woman. Maybe if you came to visit her she would-
-you know I can’t. I have work.
You always have work.
Well, you know what they say. The only certain things in life and all...
Yeah, yeah. Still. Even the taxman deserves a holiday on occasion. Surely you can take leave too?
This place can’t run when I’m not here. Believe me. I’ve tried to get away before. Long haul just isn’t feasible.
Not even for a day?
Not even for me?
...I’m sorry. It’s just not possible.
Well… I have to be out here.
You’re not holding it against me or anything?
Of course not.
The dog is fine. Looking a little less round now that there’s no one about the place spoiling him.
But a good boy deserves to be spoiled. Is he there? Can I speak to him?
You rang for the dog, didn’t you?
I mean… not entirely. You’re ok too.
High praise indeed.
I was being sarcastic.
Really? It’s so hard to tell.
So is he there?
That’s weird. I can’t hear him. I swear that dog’s snores could trigger an earthquake.
Well, he’s had an eventful day. Must be well away.
Do you think he can hear my voice?
What’s he doing?
I told you. He’s sleeping.
Describe it for me! I need details!
He’s… a dog, ok? And he’s asleep. He’s curled up in that bed you bought him for his birthday and sometimes his paws twitch. Like he’s chasing ghosts. He forgets he’s bigger now, so he’s hanging like… sixty percent out of the bed. His tail keeps thumping on the rug. That’s it. Was that ok?
That was pretty good. Now go tickle his belly for me.
He does not want his belly tickling.
Of course he does. He loves it when I do it.
It’ll wake him up.
Good. Then I can talk to him. He’ll want to hear his Mummy’s voice.
I… am not going to do that.
Because I… am still at the office.
Is with the dog sitter. I’ll pick him up when I leave.
Oh. Ok. I see.
You keep telling me to spend less time at work. I didn’t want you to bite my ear off about it again.
Is... someone else there?
There might be a few still about. I don’t know. I don’t keep tabs on everyone.
I mean is there... someone else?
When I’m not around... is there someone else? Is that why you haven’t chased me? Why you don’t seem to want me back any time soon?
Why would you think that?
Well, just look at your brother-
-don’t bring him into this. We’re nothing alike.
Fine. But you’re not denying it.
I shouldn’t have to. Where has this come from?
You're being so weird. I can’t read you any more. I can’t see your face and you just have this tone and it’s just… dead. I can’t form a picture of you. It’s like… I don’t know who you are any more. All I know is that my mother needs me. And I’m not convinced that you do.
Our relationship isn’t an obligation.
What the hell does that mean?
Whether I need you or not doesn’t come into it. We don’t owe each other anything. I don’t love you out of a sense that you would cease to function if I didn’t.
But do you? Love me, that is?
...don’t make me say it.
I’m not making you do anything.
If I say it now it won’t mean anything.
But I need to hear you say it. I need you to tell me.
Are we breaking up?
We are, aren’t we?
Is that what you want?
It’s not about what I want right now. I am asking you. You’re just going to let me leave again, aren’t you? Aren’t you going to fight for this? For us?
...I wasn’t aware that we were a war that had to be won.
Maybe. Maybe that’s what marriage is. Every single day you have to fight just a little bit harder to stay together.
That’s not the kind of marriage I want.
Then what do you want? Do you even want to be together?
I want you to be with your mother.
So you don’t want to see me?
Look... I don’t need to see you, understand?
I think I’m starting to.
No. I don’t need to see you, because I can always picture exactly what you look like. I know exactly how your legs are curled up under you as we talk. I know the lines that appear around your eyes when you laugh, the exact shade of red you turn when you blush. When I go home, all I see are the spaces where you should be and the dog who keeps moping because his favourite person is missing. I spoil him rotten hoping he might look at me the way he looks at you and then I lie about it when you call. I stay at the office until late so I won’t notice how empty the place is without you in it. I don’t need you, Sephy. I just want you. But what I want most is for you to be happy. If you have to go away for half the year for that to happen, so be it. I know you have things to take care of, things you would regret not doing. I might not like your mother, but if this is what you need to do... so be it. You have your duties and I have mine. I can wait. As long as I know you’ll be coming home… I can wait.
...I want to come home.
It’s not time yet.
How long has it been?
Roughly? Six weeks, four days and nine hours.
No. Longer now.
Summer will be here before you know it.
The dog will probably be spherical by then.
Well, next time you’ll have to put him on the call.
Fine. But I draw the line at rubbing his belly. He’s meant to be a guard dog.
He couldn’t scare a fly.
You are literally the only person who could pet him like that and come away with both hands.
I don't know what you're talking about. He's just a big softie really.
You... know there's no one else, don’t you?
So... I’ll see you soon?
Yes. When summer ends. I’ll be home.
I’ll see you then.
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This had a really nice flow to it. I like how you italicized half the dialogue. The story itself was succinct, even though it clearly has a whole history to itself. As for criticism, sometimes more contrasting in personality felt necessary, especially since they haven't seen each other in a while. They both seem endearing and restless, but one of them should perhaps say something out of character- so we are reminded that these are people we will never truly understand. Lastly, I just thought that some of the phrases were a bit "Jerry Magui...
Thanks for the feedback- those are some great suggestions! Yes, I really wanted to make her quite bubbly and talkative and have him as more stoic and serious, but I agree that the differences don't really come across. If I went back, I would definitely add more asides to give their personalities more time to shine (especially for her!) I was trying to make him seem a bit abrupt and dismissive of her in that moment, but he does come across a bit melodramatic (is that what Jerry Maguire-esque is? 😅)
I like where this went. His monologue in the end was sweet. It took me a while to nail down their relationship, too. I thought maybe old friends or siblings. The "fingers crossed" part sounded like siblings-- maybe something that dated back to a shared childhood. He changed positions on the mother really suddenly, from she's manipulating you to this is where you're supposed to be. It happens. Maybe just acknowledge it in the dialog?
Good point! Thanks for the suggestion :) I’ve tweaked the monologue to try and show that he hasn’t just suddenly changed his mind and I’ve thrown in the words mother-in-law as near to the start as I could get them to clear up the relationship a bit earlier. As someone who often writes all the dialogue for a scene first and then goes back to fill in all the ‘boring fluff’, this has been a good one for reminding me that that stuff is really important 😂
Those are helpful changes.
I really like how you progressed the conversation, and you naturally escalated the tension. Great story!
Thanks for the feedback! Good to know that it flowed ok :)
This was definitely not what I expected...but in a GOOD way!! I re-read it a couple times and loved it every time!! The dialogue was great, we gleaned a lot from it, and this was a HARD prompt too - you did a wonderful job!!
Thank you so much! Definitely not what I'd usually write, but it was a good challenge. Glad you enjoyed it!
Of course!! :)
I loved how at first I thought it was a text exchange, the simplicity of the style. Next I thought, maybe these two are siblings and one is ticked that the other one got to leave and the care and obligation of the parent fell on them. Quickly, in marriage these simple conversations can take such a hard right turn and I feel like you captured that. In the same way they found themselves feeling uppity they quickly resettled back into what was right. Perhaps that obligation feeling was connected to the mother needing a caregiver? That felt l...
Thanks Shea! I was feeling a bit self conscious about this one and nearly didn't post, so glad you enjoyed it. I actually started out with the idea of writing a phone call between Hades and Persephone whilst she was on earth for the spring, and the next minute I was wildly out of my comfort zone 😂 I think given their relationships with the mother, he saw someone "needing" you as a burden and source of guilt, whereas she saw it as a sign of love and couldn't understand why he was distancing himself