Footprints in the Hallway

The Website of C.L. Mannarino

Describing Shame, and #ROW80

It’s telling your best friend something private and secret about yourself, and then listening to her reprimand you for even having those thoughts at all.

It’s the hot-cold flush you feel afterwards, like the room is too big and too small all at once.

It’s the way you hold your hands in your lap, averting your eyes, trying to shrink until she forgets what you said, forgives what you said, so maybe you can, too.

It’s the gulf you feel growing in the space between you as you finish whatever it was you were doing — why are we even here? you ask yourself, watching the TV flicker and the evening light grow dim. oh yeah, you remember, shaking your head a little bit and not enough to attract her attention, thank god. we were hanging out. — and wondering how fast you can make the day end without seeming rude.

It’s the way the blood drains from your cheeks whenever she talks to you for the rest of the night. It’s the way your words stick to your throat as you try not to ask, are you still mad, any time she asks you a question and you have to find a way to come back to center, bring yourself back to the room, warm up to her again, act like nothing’s wrong.

It’s the way she won’t look at you for more than two seconds. It’s the wondering if she’s embarrassed, too, and then the voice in the back of your head hissing, of course she’s not, you idiot. what does she have to be embarrassed about?

It’s the wooden feeling you get when she hugs you goodbye at the end of the night. It’s the regret you feel watching her leave, the sadness you feel that there’s so much between you that’s now locked up and closed in and can never be let out again. It’s the gladness that she’s gone, and the fear, to:

Will she take what you said to the grave? Will she let it out? Is it really as bad as I think it is? How long do I have to lock it up for?

#ROW80 update:

Right now, Swans is still going pretty strong, and I’m fairly confident that the real bones of the story are there. It’s going to need way more meat, though. Tons of reorganizing, too. But this is okay! Bare bones drafts are fine by me. I tend to need to add more later, anyway, because my ideas come too fast sometimes, so when characters start talking, all those surrounding nuances get lost.

I’m learning that I love first drafts for their sheer messiness. I love them for being the place where I can tell, not show, the story. And I love revision for being the slower, more methodical place where I can study what’s going on, make sense of it, and then recreate it so that you all can get the best of everything in the story.

Also, I’m working on a quick intro short story for my second book in the Almost Human series. Let me clarify: it’s a deleted scene that I deleted before I got to write it because it didn’t start close enough to book 2’s main story line to keep around. But now, I’m writing it up, and I’m not sure what exactly I’m going to do with it just yet, except that if you’re a news friend, you’ll be the first to read it when it’s done. <3

Like this? Then come get up close and personal with me and my projects on the first Monday of every month.

4 Comments

  1. Sounds like you’re making progress on your goals!

    That description is a very good one. Shame is such an awful feeling, and it’s usually the people closest to us that make us feel it most. For good reason, sometimes, but also sometimes the way you describe, when you’re just trying to get something out and they turn it on you. It’s horrible. Especially if they then go on to characterize you by it instead of by the person they’ve known you as all along before you mentioned anything.

    • Thank you! Yeah, I had a conversation with a friend about this, and it really struck me just how deep others’ reactions can be to the decisions we make. And it really helped me to write out some of those different layers of backtracking you can go through because I hadn’t examined them as much outside of those individual experiences of feeling shamed.

  2. Shame was a fundamental part of my family-of-origin dynamic. This is a potent description. I wanted to reach in and hug the shamed character!

    Nice progress on your goals, too! =)

    Boldly Going Through the Alphabet!
    @shanjeniah
    Part-Time Minion for Holton’s Heroes
    shanjeniah’s Lovely Chaos

Tell me what you're thinking:

%d bloggers like this: