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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)

TITLE: You're Better Off Worrying
By
10/27/10


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I'm not apprehensive about my reunion with Portia—even after sixteen years. We had shared too many hours on my four-poster, dissecting the most intimate details of life—which, of course, centered on love. It's a wonder we didn't get sick of analyzing those bridal magazines we fanned out like royal flushes. Two silly girls, searching for the winning combination of musical scores, color swatches, and menu items.

How had it not mattered to us that down a single flight of stairs my father was hurting my mother? Yes, silly girls.

Portia seemed happy to hear from me, as far as I could tell from her exclamation points to my email. And though she's never been to this particular house, her coming here seems natural.

I'm waiting at the stereo when the bells chime. The pressing of a chrome switch releases the beginning strains of Mozart's Concerto for the Clarinet. My heels rap along Brazilian hardwoods leading to the front entrance. There I find that Portia's honey-colored beauty hasn't faded. On the contrary, I imagine there are several lenses left to click into place—each bringing her loveliness into sharper focus.

"Portia!" I kiss her cheeks. "You're gorgeous!" I won't begrudge her beauty, not when I've been blessed with the means to create and maintain my own. "For goodness sake, come in."

She steps into the house. Neither she nor her leather flats make a sound. I watch to see if her eyes roam over gleaming surfaces, rich fabrics, the well-placed objet d'art. The Portia I knew would be curious, have some degree of awe for each element.

"Have you gone mute?" I joke, pulling her across the foyer to the front room.

"I was just so surprised to hear from you, Bridgette—out of the blue like that."

"Please, sit—relax." I proffer a tray on which two tall glasses sweat. "Lemonade?"

She lifts one in a weak echo of our familiar salute as Mozart's concerto enters a forlorn passage.

"What on earth is wrong, Portia?"

"I just can't believe you got in touch."

"But why wouldn't I?" Even as I say it, I'm remembering what it was that had torn us apart. "You're not still worried about those letters, are you?"

"Well—"

"Listen—we were young. To be honest, I'd completely forgotten all about it."

"Really?" Portia scoots forward, returns her glass to the tray. Her eyes linger on nothing. "But we were horrible to him—to each other."

"What I remember is how funny it was. How many letters do you think that idiot wrote? Fifty?"

"Seventy-four."

"What a fool. Do you remember the one he sent inviting me to the movies? He'd sketched a ticket stub, asked for the pleasure of my company." I smiled in lingering mirth. "That was the first time I stood a guy up—"

"He was completely in love with you."

"Like I said—a fool."

"I married that fool."

Light from my diamond wedding band refracts onto the west-facing wall. I had painted it the color and texture of parchment paper. My wedding pictures used to hang there. All that's left of my marriage is to take off this ring. Ah, Edwin, maybe you would have been a better choice. The smartest boy in school, in love with me, and it had been so easy. Lying is only difficult when you have to look someone directly in the eye. My penned sentiments to him had been bold fabrications. Words on paper allowed for far less scrutiny—even as they took on an authenticity that increased with every reading. "He was a nerd, but so darn sincere, you almost couldn't help but like him."

"You were cruel."

"And you were right there with me—dictating the very best lines."

"But I regretted it." Portia presses her lips together, flattening the curves. "What did you do with his letters?"

"Threw them away."

"Every single one?"

"Mmm-hmm."

"It's just as well, I suppose." Her lips retract.

I squeeze her knee. "Maybe it's time I make this right—the poor guy. I could do it in a long eloquent letter—fitting, huh?"

"He doesn't need your vacuous apologies."

"Ouch—why would you say that?"

Portia shrugs. "Because I never told him you didn't mean what you wrote. News flash: love protects." She pushes herself off the silk brocade. "Strangers on the Shore?'" She's referring to the clarinet selection that's begun playing. "Now that's fitting."

So much for not having been apprehensive.


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This article has been read 750 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 10/28/10
Wow! This was soo unpredictable! I love how you wove the clarinet concerto through your story. Your character development amazes, Bridgette --"with the means to create and maintain" her beauty, and her shallowness to apologize with a "long eloquent letter." I loved that Portia "never told him you didn't mean it." [Great character names, by the way!] Your title complements your story!
Caitlyn Meissner10/29/10
It was interesting to see how these two friends had drifted apart. I liked the spiritual message at the end. Good job!
william price10/29/10
Very well written. i love the contrast between the two characters. This is an awesome job in 750 words because there is a lot of back story I am intersted in. Your characterization really drew me in. The writing is seemless. Descriptions of background as apt as the music theme weaved throughout. The ending is classic. And I ended up with compassion for both. Excellent. No gimmicks, just great writing. God bless.
Barbara Lynn Culler10/30/10
I like the word pictures you portrayed for the characters- I could visualize the entire scene.

I was curious at first as to what the mention of the abuse of her mother meant to the story. But then I realize how Bridgette emotionally and verbally abuses the boy with her letters.

Masterfully written-as usual!
Rachel Phelps10/30/10
Wow - there's so much packed in here. I am in awe. I loved the contrasts between the characters. Masterfully done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/30/10
Your characterization, as always, is magnificent. I can see the two women clearly in my mind and have no trouble knowing which one I like better. You have a gifted pen--or is that computer?
T. F. Chezum10/30/10
Very well written. I like your take on the topic. Very original.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/30/10
Wow I love your title. The lesson in your story is one so many of us need to hear. You did an outstanding job on this one.
Gregory Kane10/31/10
I knew I was in for a treat when I saw this line in your opening paragraph: "bridal magazines fanned out like royal flushes." Excellent as always.
Virgil Youngblood 10/31/10
A fitting title to an excellently written story. Enjoyed the twists and turns all the way through to the end.
Nancy Sullivan 10/31/10
A very sophisticated cast and setting. Makes the reader want to reach out to a friend from the past - or not ;)
Lyn Churchyard10/31/10
I want to write like you when I grow up :-)
Connie Dixon10/31/10
I love the depth in your writing. I ALWAYS look forward to seeing what Lisa's going to pull out of the hat. (I'm with Lyn)
Henry Clemmons11/02/10
Very intriguing. I like the background details beginning with Mozart’s concerto for the clarinet. The piece stands out because of its delicate interplay between the soloist and the orchestra. That is what I like about this, the delicate interplay between you and your reader, and the delicate interplay between your two characters in the “orchestration” of the stories background.
Then, as the mood of your story changes, so does the music, to Stranger on the Shore, another piece written for clarinet. I loved this story because I could hear the music, it's switch in moods, the sound of Bridget walking, the look on Portia’s face and the skip of Bridget’s heart when she heard the news. Did you know Stranger on the Shore went to the moon with Apollo 10? This entry is over the moon. Superb.

-Henry C.
Edmond Ng 11/03/10
Great characterization and masterful collation of background story!
Amanda Brogan11/03/10
This drew me right in with the opening paragraph about looking through bridal magazines. :) What girl doesn't love to dream of marriage?

Then you showed that life doesn't always go as planned. Love the twists and turns here.

I only wonder -- did Portia break up with Edwin and now he's wondering about Bridgette? Oh, the suspense!
Catrina Bradley 11/03/10
I read this twice it was so good! So many subtle nuances that speak volumes. Your talent astounds and humbles me.
Amanda Brogan11/04/10
Congrats on getting second place and an EC, Lisa!!! :D You rock, girl. ;)
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/04/10
So proud of you for another well deserved EC. Your stories are wonderful!
Marita Thelander 11/04/10
I love the first paragraph. I smiled at the easily imagined scene.

The depth of your writing and thinking is so masterfully artistic. Top 10 talent, for sure. Congratulations on your EC.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/04/10
Congratulations on your EC!
stanley Bednarz 11/04/10
Suberb dialogue as always. When does the class begin? One for fleshing out character's too? Stan....
william price11/04/10
You just keep on amazing me. You're consistantly brilliant with a different voice every week. Congratulations on again being recognized for your incredible talent.
God bless.
Charla Diehl 11/11/10
The shallowness of Bridgette gave me chills; and the mature love of Portia warmed me. Superb, excellent, and (need I say it) masterful writing. Big congrats to you.