Footprints in the Hallway

The Website of C.L. Mannarino

Tag: creative writing

Describing Sarcasm, #ROW80

It’s the biting comment you make after someone in a position of power over you says something mind-bendingly stupid, and yet those in the room fall for it.

When you roll your eyes and plaster a fake smile on your face, just so you can get through the conversation without screaming.

It’s the laugh you emit when people try to convince you they’re interested in what you have to say, even though you’ve been bought this way before, and it didn’t end well for you.

When you play nice and agree to work with something that clearly isn’t right, so you make every act elaborate and unnecessary to make sure everyone knows what position you’ve taken.


Forgot this part until about half an hour ago. 🙁

Handwriting the book 2 prequel short story. It’s either going to be longer than expected, or just the right length, with some changes I had no idea I’d have to make because what plays out in my head is different than how I planned it at the end of 2015. Go figure! Now, to choose which version to go with: the longer, or the more pre-planned…

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

Describing Judgment, and #ROW80 Progress

It’s making fun of my mom and Sister 2 for watching the Bachelor a couple years ago, and then stopping every so often, mesmerized and yet self-loathing for allowing myself to become so captivated.

It’s falling in line with the two of them, but in the “okay” sort of fashion: the one where you sit with popcorn in your lap, sneering at the lines of women who sign up for this show. But not just the fact that they signed up: the fact that they’re dressed in gaudy clothes, and three layers of makeup. The fact that they all look the same, sound the same, act the same, treat each other the same, but in different shades of cruelty.

It’s asking each other “but why would any self-respecting woman even begin to think she can actually find love on a TV show?

It’s feeling like a bigger, better, smarter person for not falling for it, not signing up, not being one of those clone girls who says the same thing every other clone girl does when she gets interviewed in their one-on-one back rooms: I’m just so in love. I think I’m falling for him. He’s so hot. This is the most incredible experience.

It’s watching them get googly-eyed over a guy they’ve never met, and know nothing about, and rolling my own eyes. It’s listening to them get jealous and petty when other girls express the same interest, and scoffing at them for not remembering that all the girls who are on the show are on it for the same reason. It’s watching them cry and sob when they start interpreting the guy’s actions, or get booted off the show, and laughing to myself because “you didn’t really know him” and “you went on one date, how can you say you’re in love?”

It’s yelling, “This is what you signed up for!” at the screen when they all, inevitably, tear up about how they didn’t expect it to be like this, they didn’t expect it to be this hard, they didn’t expect to have to fight for someone’s attention.

It’s listening to them talk about all the reasons why they’re doing this as a “last resort,” and hearing the same fears I had about being lovable and finding someone, and realizing they’re just like me, at the core.

What right do I have to judge? Hell, I thought of online dating as a last resort to finding anyone. Sure, the show is designed to be fake, with set-up drama, but the people involved, and their emotions, are very, very real.


I’m making progress! I think I’m almost at 30,000 typed words, but there’s a notebook on my desk with at least 5,000 in it. The notebook is probably the least rambling part of the whole story. On the computer, Swans 2 reads like my college diary: lots of speculative thoughts from a young woman who believes she’s in the throes of a real relationship, but has plenty of doubts and is still, at the core, dramatic.

Which is unlike the shero of Swans 2, who is still a teen, and is actually in a real relationship. Otherwise, the story and my diary are similar. I have a ton of revision to do, and a two tons of pacing to increase to actually, you know, get to the end by the end of this ROW80 session. We’ll see. The side plots are definitely pushed to the side in favor of the romance between the hero and shero, and I keep thinking “if you bring in those plots, you can both weave them into the story, and you can have them written up, all before you revise, so that you don’t have to go back and actually write the parts you’re avoiding.”

Except my brain is having too much fun throwing things at me when I’m not looking. It’s making this particular car very hard to steer in the direction I was aiming for. But all writing is rewriting, and just because this draft isn’t doing what I like, doesn’t mean I can’t rearrange it later.

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

Describing Remorseful

When you get angry at someone for disagreeing with you, and you snap at them without thinking, it’s the feeling you’re left with after realizing you were wrong.

It’s the feeling you get while you’re pacing the room, running your hands through your hair, and over your face, trying to figure out what they think of you now, what they’d say if you admitted you were wrong, how long you should wait to say something, and how to make things right again.

When you ask your friends, it’s the heavy feeling that sinks your gut when they point out how out-of-line you were, and the pressure of knowing that you’re going to have to work twice as hard to make up for it.

It’s the terrifying blankness that comes over your mind when you’re coming up with apologies, and nothing seems to ring right. You just can’t get it to fit the situation without making things worse.

When you finally try to just apologize already, it’s the dodgy look they give you, and you realize that they’re no longer sure they can give you feedback when you ask for it.

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Short Story: You’d Like to Know

Copyright © 2013 C.L. Mannarino
All rights reserved.

“I feel so dirty.” Clare hid her face in her hands, closing her eyes as another wave of nausea passed through her. A hand rubbed her back and the couch creaked as her friend, Shay, leaned closer. Clare could feel her friend laughing a little. There was uncertainty in the sound.

“It’s just being pregnant,” Shay said in a low voice. “It’s not the end of the world—“

“I don’t even like him that way!” Clare said, lifting her head. She watched as Shay’s wide eyes and tense smile froze under her scrutiny. Another wave a nausea rolled through her stomach and Clare rested her chest on her thighs, staring at her chipped pink toenail polish. “And it’s not just being pregnant. It’s never just being pregnant. There’s so much more involved than that. You can’t just be pregnant.”

Silence fell between them. Then, “Does he know?”

Clare felt something trigger in the back of her head and then the tip of her nose began to sting. She dropped her arms to hang beside her legs. As she traced the edges of her feet with her fingertips, she snuck a glance into the next room. Her roommate Jason’s dark head hovered above the top of his chair, profiled in the light of the computer. Beside her, she could feel Shay sit back.

“I’ll take that as a no.”

“What the hell am I supposed to tell him?” Clare hissed in a low voice, sitting up in her seat. Shay’s honey-colored hair seemed to glow in the mid morning light, haloing her head, and for some reason, this angered Clare even more. Her face, already pinched with frustration, darkened even more as she mimicked the conversation. “‘Oh, hey, Jason, guess what? I missed my friggin’ period for the second time in two months, so I took a pregnancy test and guess what? It came out positive. How could this happen? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it was that one time we both got smashed talking about our exes and wound up fucking in the bathroom!’”

Clare felt the prickle in her nose travel to her eyes and she pressed the heels of her palms to her forehead, breathing through her mouth. Her hands shook. “We were old enough to know better. We were old enough to know not to mess around like this…”

“You wouldn’t know that if you were drunk—“

“When you’re twenty-seven you do,” Clare said too loudly. She froze, lowering her hands from her head, and both girls looked towards the other room. The only movement he made was to tap his foot against the leg of his desk.

Shay took her hand from Clare’s back and folded both of them in her lap. For a moment, the only sounds they could hear were the clicking of a computer mouse and the low rumbles of Jason’s giggling. They grated on Clare’s nerves and she curled her fingers, digging her nails into the soft skin of her palms and stretching her arms out in front of her. She took a deep breath and then relaxed her whole body with a sigh.

“You think I should tell him,” she whispered.

“Yes,” Shay said. Clare could feel her friend staring at her shoulder, something they did so that the other didn’t feel pressured to meet someone’s gaze.

“I don’t even know if I’m keeping it.”

She saw Shay shaking her head from the corner of her eye. “I still think he deserves to know. He’s not a bad guy, and he’s as much a part of this as you are. And I think that if you were in his place, you’d want to know, too.”

Clare stared at the floor for a moment before it hit her that Shay’s right, I really would like to know, if I were him. She nodded and took another deep breath. On her exhale, she pushed herself up from the couch with both hands and walked into the next room. Her fists were clenched at her sides. “Jason?” she said.

Shay saw Clare’s roommate glance up from his computer, swiveling around in his chair. “What’s up?” she heard him ask as Clare closed the door behind her.

Prompt: I feel so dirty.

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

From writeworld.

Photo credit: Jackie Sullivan