I was cleaning out a notebook and came across this bit. It was a workshop exercise at a meeting of Idaho Writer’s League, more than a year ago, but I don’t remember what the assignment was or what spurred this particular narrative. I wanted to capture it here before I throw away the scrap of paper. It was written on the fly, no thought beforehand, and is basically a brain dump. But I kind of like it.
Her biggest problem was that she felt too much. And also her greatest asset.
An asset, because empathy made her everyone’s best friend. A problem, because she wasn’t the sort of best friend who got invited to parties or dinner (especially “couples” dinners), or even for Holidays, when everyone knew she lived alone.
No, she was the best friend people called when they needed a good whine about their first-world problems, their busy schedules, their spouses, who just didn’t understand.
She was the “good listener” who absorbed everyone’s trivial trials like an overnight Depends.
She never forgot birthdays or anniversaries, and remembered what everyone took in their coffee.
Were she to ask any one of her “best friends” what her favorite color was, they’d likely say, “beige” when she wanted them to say “fuchsia.” (Of course they would say beige. Beige blends and goes away altogether when something more colorful, like them, is laid against it.)
If she were to ask any of them where she would like to travel to someday, they would stare blankly, because she wasn’t the sort of best friend who one thinks about having hopes and dreams and aspirations.
So she created her own best friends, whose skeletons and flesh were comprised entirely of ink and paper. Her best friends lived vibrant, happy lives in which she was an integral component. Or they lived lonely, tragic lives—but let her be the whiner, pouring out her soul in their creation.
Her real best friends, though not of genuine flesh and bones, tucked her into bed at night, as she thought of their next plot twist. They greeted her each morning with their voices in her head, begging to be written in witty dialogue.
Her biggest problem (and asset) was that she felt too much.
(And, no. I don’t think this is entirely autobiographical.)