the picnic

In this workshop, run by Cassie Gonzales, we were asked to write a scene at the end of a couple's relationship followed by the preceding first date scene. By creating a collection of objects and actions in fiction writing, we can unveil character needs. Exposition.


As it begins ...

She arrived at the door quicker than I expected. “Hey, welcome.” She’s just as bubbly as I remember. It kind of sounds like she’s singing when she talks.
“Thank. Yeah, cheers. Great.”
“I mean, how are you?” She laughs loudly at my fumble, but not in a mean way, kind of like she’s laughing with me and not at me.
“So,” she continues on as she pivots on her barefoot and walks the few steps into the lounge, “I’m not much of a chef, but I do make a mean picky platter.” I’ve already noticed the spread on the coffee table; some of the cheeses barely holding onto the rounded edges.


“Ta da.” That laugh again. This time at herself.
“It’s an urban evening picnic! I’ve trademarked the idea so don’t try and steal it.” I need to say something really flattering here. The thought is so perfect; her creativity works even at dinner time, of course it does. Shit, she’s utterly brilliant. “What an awesome idea. I would have just made spag-bol. I’m so bland.”
“Not bland.” She smiles directly into each iris, “everyone has a well of untapped creative energy - perhaps you’ll find yours at the bottom of this glass.” She thrusts a fishbowl-sized red into my hand. I want to guzzle it but I take a pursed sip.


As the picnic dismantles delicately, one dip bowl at a time, I try to stop my eyes from darting to the mess we have made on the floor. A rug that looks like it has a story to tell, perhaps one of hers.
“Let me clean this up for you.” I dodge a cracker as I stand to find a brush or something, hoping my movement will be met with directions. “Don’t be silly!” she almost yells but holds my arm with playfulness. Her nails are all different colours, some chipped, some painted right to the padding. “It’s just a few crumbs, let them be. They add to the lived-in ambiance I’m fashioning here,” her arms fluidly spanning the tight room. “That’s another trademark of mine.” She winks. I sit.

 

... so shall it end

The elevator doors open in front of me. The tiles leading up to it have been recently polished, I can tell. It almost looks like the floor hasn’t been walked on yet. But it must have been; busy suits stilettoing their way to client lunches or morning meetings. It would have been polished last night, Monday, Alex’s night on shift.


I take time in front of the mirror before pressing number three. It gives me time to fix the curve of my part. I think I made the right decision parting it to the left, the way she taught me. Fuck, maybe I should have worn it how I usually have it, she’ll know I’m trying too hard.


The doors open on the other end of my ascend. Now it’s time for the carpet to cushion my pursuit. It’s funny how this floor hasn’t been cleaned. I can see flecks of punch holes and tiny bits of debris that have been dragged in from outside. Maybe Alex was unwell and didn’t make it to the top of the building. I quite like Alex. I wonder if he still brings the other partners chips while they wait for their other halves to finish that last email. He probably does. I don’t have a monopoly on the chips.


Walking past Jo’s desk first. Even if she sees me she won’t look up. She’ll stay in her own world of starbursts and fonts. She’s not a threat to my mission’s completion.
“Hey man, what are you doing here?” The other Joe, the one with the moustache.
“Em said you guys broke up.” Never subtle.
His next punch doesn’t require eye contact, just a secure gaze on my full hands: “Not sure she’ll be keen for another picnic lunch at her desk today, man.”