May 9, 2017

Standard

The Wedding 

The older enters the room. Sees her younger sister staring at the mirror blankly.

OLDER: You want help with your hair?

YOUNGER: I’m fine.

OLDER: Not having second thoughts, are we? You know you two are perfect for each other, right? 

YOUNGER: I’m not so sure about that.

OLDER: Why not? You’re literally one half of each other. 

YOUNGER: Maybe he’s too similar.

OLDER: You’re kidding me! You’ve been dating for how long?

YOUNGER: Almost seven years…

OLDER: Exactly! It’s not just any two people who can stay together for that long. 

YOUNGER: But what if I just settled for the first guy who showed any real interest in me? What if he’s just settling for me?

OLDER: Honey, if I know anything, it’s that that handsome young catch of yours loves you more than his own life.

YOUNGER: You don’t know the whole picture.

OLDER: Girl, you’re an open book. Of course, I do!

YOUNGER: Then you would know that for most of those seven years, he’s been cheating on me. 

OLDER: Nuh uh!

YOUNGER: The worst part is, that I’ve known all along and I still stayed with him and I still said yes to… to all of this.

OLDER: Did he stop?

YOUNGER: Yes.

OLDER: You can’t let the past hurt your future. So what if he’s done something so utterly stupid as a baton my little sister? He stopped and that’s what matters.

YOUNGER: He might do it again. 

OLDER: That’s just speculation.

YOUNGER: No, it’s a pattern. I’ve talked to his ex–

OLDER: No!

YOUNGER: Yes–and she said he’d done the same to her

OLDER: But you’re different. Prettier. Sweeter. You’re anything a guy could ever want.

YOUNGER: I’m just not sure I want the kind of guy he is.

OLDER: What, handsome, strong, hardworking? You’re lucky I found him.

YOUNGER: If you think he’s as great as all that, you marry him! You’d be a great match, a cheater and a stealer.

OLDER: That was once!

YOUNGER: Once is more than enough to leave scars.

OLDER: You’re the one who kept the poor boy depraved.

The younger stares her sister down for a beat. Standing… 

YOUNGER: I need you to leave.

OLDER: Not if you’re gonna be a runner.

YOUNGER: I’ll run if I want to. 

OLDER: Imagine what mom and dad will think. Another daughter might hit her forties without a husband. You know they want to meet their grandkids before they die.

YOUNGER: I think mom and dad will be okay if I wait until I find someone who will actually make me happy.

OLDER: But you’re getting older. You won’t always have the benefit of your youth. And weren’t you the one who couldn’t shut up about “When I have kids…”? 

She taps her watch.

OLDER: Tick tock. Tick tock, little sister. You’re getting old. Soon, kids will be out of the question.

YOUNGER: Why do you even care so much? 

OLDER: I’m just looking after my baby sister. Isn’t that my job?

YOUNGER: I haven’t needed your protection since you betrayed me.

OLDER: Is that what you’re calling it now, betrayal? You always were quite the comedienne.

YOUNGER: I need you to get out.

OLDER: Why, so you can pack your things and leave yet another poor boy depraved? It’s no wonder he cheated.

The younger pushes her sister towards the door.

YOUNGER: He deserves to be depraved. He deserves to be abandoned. He deserves a scheming little wench like you for a wife.

OLDER: Perhaps. Or perhaps he deserves one like you.

YOUNGER: Screw you.

A shove and she slams the door in her sister’s face. 

***

Prompt: A dialogue writing exercise we did in class today.  My (probably laughable) attempt. The prompt was two characters and a location, their motivations, and the protagonist’s secondary (and conflicting) motivation. 

May 2, 2017

Standard

Distractions 

Ian stares at Casey as she checks her phone for what seems like the millionth time in the last five minutes alone. “Are you done yet?” he asks, irritability seeping into his tone. They came here to study, as the books piled around them clearly tell, but Casey can do nothing but stare at her phone and ignore her friend. Ian takes a drink of his coffee, tasting more bitterness and anger than actual coffee. 

Casey glances between her friend and her phone, hesitating a moment longer than she should have. Ian sits back in his chair, distraught. “I didn’t mean it like that, Ian!” she protests, but at that very moment, her phone buzzes and her attention zips to it, contradicting her previous statement. Seeing the name JARED PFAFF 😎😍 appear on her screen, she cannot contain her excitement, her chair clattering to the ground as she stands. Her fingers fly over the buttons on her screen, letters filling the box. 

When Casey looks back up to her friend, Ian has disappeared, the stacks of books and empty cups and plates littering the table as before. Casey feels her heart drop to the pit of her stomach, a sickly feeling arising. “I didn’t mean it like that, Ian,” she says, despite the addressee’s absence. Packing up her books and Ian’s too, she heads out. 

Meg, I think I screwed up. 

Her phone buzzes and the name BEST SISTER IN THE WORLD 😘💕 appears on her screen. 

What happened, Case?

Releasing a breath of relief as she reads the words, Casey knows her sister’s concern from those three words. 

Ian left in the middle of our study date. 

She pauses before sending the next text: 

I think I deserved it, though. 

Her sister’s exasperation shows in her response. 

What did you do this time? 

Casey winces. She hears the words ringing in her head in her sister’s voice, tone and cadence clearer than their obvious relation. 

I couldn’t stop looking at my phone. Which in my defense doesn’t bother most people anymore. 

Meg’s reply wounds Casey to the core, the words hitting her harder than she knew words on a screen could. 

Ian is obviously different, Case. He’s one of those special few who want a genuine connection with people, and especially with you. Have fun gaining his trust back. 

Casey slips her phone into her pocket and trudges back to her dorm room, losing the emotional battle warring inside her. Ian is one of her only friends–other than her roommate and her sister–and to think that she may have screwed that up sends Casey into a minor panic. When she arrives back at her dorm, she drops her bag to the floor with a heavy bang and curls up in bed, nestled under her covers, and sobs. 

***

Prompt: Write a story about characters in a work in progress. Revisiting Elegance and Idiocy here again! 

April 24, 2017

Standard

Let the Adventures Begin!

EXT. HOSPITAL 
Reva hugs Philip and Susana before grabbing her bag and heading inside. 

Susana waves to her husband, who awaits Reva at the doors of the hospital, and directs Philip back into her car. 

INT. HOSPITAL LAB 

Kumar leads Reva into the lab where Moss hands her a hospital gown and Fowler ushers her into a nearby bathroom. 

While they wait, Fowler straightens the sheets on the bed once more. Belrose and Kumar check the machine one final time. 

Upon Reva’s exit from the bathroom, Moss takes the bag from Reva to stash it away. 

Fowler leads Reva by the elbow to the bed, where she hands her a clipboard full of paperwork. She points to a few spaces.

FOWLER 

Sign, please. 

Reva takes the pen and signs, finishing just as Fowler removes the clipboard. Fowler bustles to the other side of the room to hand it off. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

Hook her in, Belrose! 

Snapping to his task, Belrose eases Reva baking against the pillows before he drags each wire and places it in the exact position required.

BELROSE 

Excuse the cold hands. 

Moss moves in to connect Reva to an IV. 

Fowler stalks back over, planting herself beside Reva’s bed, arms crossed over her chest. 

FOWLER

I assume you understand how this works. 

Off Reva’s nod. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

Once we get you hooked up–

Belrose and Moss look up from their tasks, to Fowler, to each other, before returning to their duties at a faster pace. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

We’ll start the procedure. Last chance to listen to your mother.

 Reva stares up into Fowler’s eyes, a challenge sparkling in her own. 

Fowler huffs and turns her back on Reva to face Kumar. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

Stubborn girl. I like her. 

KUMAR 

She takes after her mother in that. 

But Fowler has already moved on. 

MOSS 

Done! 

BELROSE 

Done! 

FOWLER 

Excellent.   

Fowler injects the drug which will induce a coma. 

FOWLER 

Nighty night, Sleeping Beauty.

***

Prompt: Another excerpt from The Aurora Project. Hopefully, I won’t give too much away. The first act was just pretty self explanatory. The second act should get more into the fun part of thestory, the more or less unexpected part. 

April 23, 2017

Standard

Familial Confrontation

INT HOSPITAL ROOM – AFTERNOON

Staring up at the ceiling, Reva lies on her bed. Her food tray sits untouched. In her hand, a crumpled picture: she and Jacob on one of their first dates. Her fist closes around it.

The door opens and Philip runs in, jumping up onto the bed beside his mom, his joy returned a hundredfold. Taken aback, Reva hugs him, overwhelmed. 

PHILIP

You’re okay!

He pulls away from her, looking her straight in the eyes

PHILIP

You scared me, Mom.

Reva brushes over it, ruffling his hair and plastering a smile on her face which fades as she sees her mother and father standing in the door, waiting for her attention.

Dev lifts his hand in a timid wave, which Reva returns.

Susana, having received her signal, pushes past her husband and perches on the chair near Reva’s bed. She folds her hands in her lap, all business.

REVA

There’s no need to lecture me.

SUSANA

I wasn’t going to lecture you, Honey.

Reva’s eyes burn into her mother’s skin, Susana shifting under their gaze. 

REVA

Mom, lectures are kinda your thing. You’ve given me the same one over and over again.

(Hesitant)

But I understand what you mean. 

Susana glances from Reva to Dev, unsure if she heard correctly. Dev sets a hand on Susana’s shoulder, squeezing comfort, assurance, into her.

SUSANA

Well, that–

Noticing Reva tensing, Dev squeezes Susana’s shoulder again, a warning.

SUSANA

–is good to hear, Sweetie.

REVA

It doesn’t mean I’m going to do it your way, Mom.
SUSANA

I wouldn’t expect anything different.

REVA

I’m going to do it my way in my time. I don’t want you interfering in this. 
KUMAR

I promise I’ll hold her back if she gets antsy.

Reva nods, a little smile flitting across her face, but her tension doesn’t ease.

REVA 

Thanks, Dad.

(Pause)

It’s good to see you. I hear things have been busy at work.

Dev chuckles. 

KUMAR

Audra won’t let things slow down. Never has.
REVA

Mom said that you were working on a new machine.

Dev stays silent for a moment, glancing down at the ground.

KUMAR

Maggie and Chase finished putting it together just before…

Reva interrupts him before he goes too far.

REVA

So progress. That’s good.

(A beat. A breath.)

How long can you stay?

KUMAR

Not long. I’m sorry, Reeves.

Reva’s face falls as she nods, pushing her disappoint away. 

REVA

No, no, I understand. This project is important.

KUMAR

It could help a lot of people, Reeves.

REVA

It’s a big accomplishment, Dad. I know how much it means to you. 

Dev nods, stays quiet. His heart aches with how much he wishes he could stay. He slips his hands into his pockets and his face brightens.

He pulls out his wallet, opens it, and pulls out something. A picture: a much younger version of himself with a three-year-old Reva on his lap, laughing her heart out. With a smile, he shows it to Reva. 

KUMAR

I’ve carried this picture around with me since it was taken. 

Reva takes the picture, her hands shaking as she holds it almost reverently.

KUMAR

It reminds me why I do what I do, Reeves. That little girl in the picture… She’s counting on me and I can’t let her down. 

Reva hands the picture back to him. 

KUMAR

Keep it. You need the reminder now more than I do. 

Dev reaches out and closes his daughter’s fingers around the picture, holding her hand between his. 

KUMAR

If I can do anything to help people who are hurting, I will, and right now, my little girl is one of them. You’re the real reason I’m so focussed, Reeves.
REVA

Dad…

Reva reaches up and pulls her dad into a hug, her chin resting on his shoulder.

KUMAR

Listen to your mother, Reva. She loves you as much as I do. She just wants what’s best for you. 

Speechless, Reva nods as her dad pulls out of her grasp. He squeezes her hand once more. 

KUMAR

If you ever need me, I’m right there.

With a quick kiss on the top of her head, Dev leaves, not turning back for fear he will stay longer.

Silence. Susana stays for a moment longer before standing. 

SUSANA

I don’t want to impose.

Philip grabs her hand.

PHILIP

Don’t go, Grandma! If you go, that means I have to go. 

Susana looks to Reva. Reva glances down at the picture in her hand of her and her dad. Without lifting her head, she nods.

Susana sits back down, a smile playing at her lips. 

INT. HOSPITAL LAB – A LITTLE LATER

Kumar enters the lab, spotting Fowler and the younger two gathered around the computer screen. He clears his throat before joining them. 

KUMAR

Is this the list of potential candidates?
FOWLER

Yes.

MOSS

Doctor Kumar, is it true about your daughter?

Belrose elbows her in the stomach in an attempt to shut her up.

With a glare in Belrose’s direction, she takes the mouse from Fowler and highlights one particular name on the screen: Reva Novak. 

MOSS

Is she doing okay? I didn’t think things were this bad.

Kumar stares at the name on the screen.

KUMAR

Take her off the list.

MOSS

But, Doctor Kumar, she’s the perfect– 
KUMAR

I said, take her off the list.

Moss shrinks back from Kumar, a look of surprise on her face as she nods the tiniest of nods. 

KUMAR

It’s too risky. And she probably wouldn’t even say yes.

Fowler presses the delete button and Reva’s name disappears from the screen.

* * *

Prompt: Another excerpt from ”The Aurora Project.” Since that’s what I’m currently working on. 

April 22, 2017

Standard

The Beginning 

Casey Aitken stared up at the buildings in front of her, excitement as thick as the summer heat coursing through her veins. She gripped her bags, her knuckles white on the straps. A bounce in her every step, she glanced at her sister, Meg. For the past two or three years, Meg had attended central, spending her lime divided between the social scene and minimal effort in her studies. The sight of her enthusiastic baby sister bobbing through the campus amused her.

”I can’t believe I’m actually here!” Casey said, her voice more controlled than Meg had expected. The younger girl looked around. The buildings stood low on the ground, short and squat. They didn’t sing of elegance, money, and overabundant intelligence, like those of older colleges. They didn’t warn of evildoers or reak of poverty. The buildings of Central instead stood with arms wide open, offering a warm welcome to students of all varieties. They smiled on each new face that stepped onto their grounds. Central accepted everyone with the same warmth of a grandmother greeting her long-Iost grandchildren, for that was how central saw its students: long-lost children in need of schooling.

Or at least, Casey saw Central in that light. Many others saw a different, darker side to Central, her sister included. These students saw in their university a pal, a drinking buddy, a comrade in alcoholic arms. To them, their university helped to cultivate the culture they demanded, a culture rampant with behaviors once called immoral now called fun, because the university, helpless to stop it, turned a blind eye and allowed it to grow and flourish.

Casey hadn’t come for that version of Central. She wanted the grandmother. The university that would teach her and help her to grow and flourish as a person. Because of these ideals, Casey had convinced herself that the other side of the school, the part hiding (not so well) among the shadows, existed nowhere but in myth and legend. She refused to believe otherwise.

Until she met Jared Pfaff, prince of the dark underworld of Central. From the first moment she saw Jared, the young man charmed her. That came as no surprise to anyone on campus. Jared charmed anyone he met, male and female alike. Many a freshman fell prey to Pfaff and his apparent magnetism. Year after year, from his first semester at Central, Jared left a trail of tears and a path of broken hearts in his wake. Jared Pfaff destroyed more lives than any number of natural disasters, but his charm, no matter how many warnings against it they received, always drew in the kindest, most conservative and romantic young women on campus. His charms didn’t fail on Casey, perhaps the most idealistic young woman of them all, just as Meg had predicted.

“Don’t let Pfaff run away with anything, Case,” Meg warned. “He’s known for hurting girls like you.”

Casey’s friend Ian Martz, a young man she had met while on an orientation tour, joined Meg in her protests. Ian worried for Casey’s well-being. A kindred spirit, Casey Aitken had become his friend before he could say his own name backwards. She made him laugh, a side not everyone knew existed in academic young lady. Her smile never failed to bring one to his face. Every minute he spent with her felt more worthy of his time than even his studies, on most days. Lucky for him, most of the time he spent with her, they spent studying.

Ian would rather die than see the lovely girl he cared so much for get hurt. He told her so, though not in as many words. “Casey, please,” he begged. ”Everyone has heard of Jared Pfaff. He’s bad news.”

Casey simply couldn’t see it. How could she? Their first meeting was, after all, straight out of a story book.

Her nose stuck in a book, as an bookish freshmen tend to do, Casey almost walked right past Jared Pfaff. If only, if only! As she walked by him, she spotted him doing what his sort do best: preying on unsuspecting young freshmen. When one particularly shy young girl tripped as she passed, her nerves getting the best of her, Casey witnessed Jared lean down and help the poor thing to her feet. He even gathered her books, replacing them in her bag. A moment of redemption for the resident Prince of Darkness! If only our dear, sweet Miss Aitken could peer into the soul of this man, she would see his true colors and the blackness of his heart.

***

Prompt: Write about characters in a story pre-developed. Revisiting the Aitken sisters and Elegance & Idiocy!

April 10, 2017

Standard

A Man Like Her Father

“What do you think you’re doing,” Jared shouted at her, “hanging out with that freshman freak you call a friend? I don’t want you hanging out with him anymore.” 

Casey’s jaw dropped as she stared at Jared. “Freshman freak? You mean Ian? He’s my best friend here, Jared!” She and Ian, Casey would admit, did spend a lot of time together. They helped each other study, proofread each other’s papers, and made sure the other got to class on time. Ian was the kind of friend that Casey felt she could talk to about anything, from the most trivial matter to the most philosophical. During orientation, they had been put in the same tour group and immediately bonded. “And in case you forgot, Jared,” Casey continued, spitting her words out, “I’m a freshman freak, too.” 

“You can’t hang out with him anymore,” Jared stated as a matter of fact. “He likes you.” He meant the words to sting, but Casey simply laughed. 

“There’s no way! And even if he did—“ He did. – “he would have the sense to leave me alone. He knows I have a boyfriend. Unlike some people…” She stared directly into his eyes, hoping he understood her insinuation. “He has some self-control in regards to women.” 

Thinking she had put Jared in his place, Casey turned on her heel, headed for the door, but Jared grabbed her by the arm, yanking her back to face him. 

Her thoughts fill with confusion and fear as her parents’ shouts echo down the hallway, entering her room. She glances over at Meg, lying on her bed texting, and then glances back at her book. She flips the page, finding herself on the story of Cinderella. Her favorite. Telling herself that the shouting would pass, she forces herself to focus on the words filling the page before her. 

Before she reads even two words, the bedroom door swings open, slamming violently into the wall behind it. She winces as her parents stride in. Her mother, frantic and flustered, her face bright red, urges the two girls to get out of the house, to get to the car. Her father grabs her mother’s arm and yanks her back, turning her to face him. 

Casey swallowed the lump quickly rising in her throat. “Let me go,” she said through gritted teeth. Tugging at her arm, she attempted to free herself from his grasp, but Jared was much taller and much, much stronger than she was. As tears began to rise behind her eyes, she forced herself to blink them away before they could show Jared how weak and vulnerable she really felt. 

“Let me go,” she repeated, but Jared still didn’t listen. In the heat of his anger, he slammed her against the wall, her head knocking sharply against the surface behind her. She could feel a bruise forming. 

Casey can’t take her eyes off the dramatic scene before her. Meg crawls off her bed, dragging Casey closer to her and holding her in her arms, protecting her from all harm. Squirming far enough out of Meg’s grasp to be able to see what happens, Casey peers out at her mother and her father. 

“Either you stop yelling or you let me take the girls! Those are your choices, Darren!” her mother shouts. 

Her father replies, his voice even louder and angrier than her mother’s, “Bullshit. I won’t let you take the girls away from me. You’ve taken so much already. My time. My life. My money. The least you can do is leave me my children.” 

“Your children?” her mother spits, pulling herself up and puffing herself out with confidence. Though Casey gets the feeling it’s more of a show she puts on for their sake than anything. “You hardly ever talk to them. You never do anything with them. The only way you’re their father is biologically, and you know as well as anyone that biology doesn’t mean squat unless you actually put in the effort to be their father.” 

“Don’t you bring my dad into this!” her father warns. 

“Why not? You’ve turned out just like him!” her mother shouts back. 

In the heat of his anger, her father slams her mother against the wall, her head knocking sharply against the surface behind her. Casey imagines a bruise forming. 

“Don’t you dare talk back to me,” Jared hissed, his voice low and scratchy, his breath hanging heavily in front of Casey’s face. She almost gagged breathing it in. She raised her eyes to his face, looking into his flashing eyes, seeing there pain from the past and anger in the present. Nothing else but anger. All signs of rationality had fled. 

“I will if it means standing up for my friends,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. She could hardly control herself. Tears threatened behind her eyes, but so did word vomit behind her tongue. She wanted desperately to let herself loose on the man pinning her to the wall, but that would make her no better than he. She took a deep breath. Gently, she pried Jared’s fingers from her shoulders, where his fingernails had dug into her flesh. His grip loosened, but only just. 

Jared slammed her against the wall again, harder this time. 

Casey watches as her mother steels herself against her father. Even from her distance, she can see the determination glimmering behind her mother’s eyes. Never has she admired the woman more than in this instance. Her mother slowly, gently, moves her fingers to close in around her father’s wrists as she pulls them off her shoulders. Casey can see the red marks left on her skin and winces. 

Her father’s grip loosens, but only just. He slams his wife against the wall again, harder this time. “Behave, woman!” 

“Behave, you whore!” 

Jared’s words rang in her eyes, his final syllable echoing in her mind. Her breath caught in her throat. The tears began to spill down her cheeks against her will. The only clear thought in her head was that word, that hurtful word that he deigned to call her. He had no right. He had no reason. His anger had taken control of the wheel, steering him from deep within. 

Perhaps she should have seen it coming. Perhaps no one could have predicted what happened next. 

After she managed to tug herself out of his grasp, she stumbled a few steps towards the door, but his nails dug into the flesh on her wrist as he jerked her back towards him. “I’m not finished with you!” he screamed, his face right next to hers. 

“You’re finished with me if I say you are,” she replied, her voice stronger than she had imagined it would sound. It gave her hope. 

“I’m not finished with you!” her father shouts, pulling his wife back towards him as she tries to escape towards her children. His fingers dig into her wrist. Casey notices the deep marks his nails leave in her mother’s flesh. 

Her mother lifts her eyes, slowly, to look into her husband’s. “Not if I say otherwise,” she says, her voice oddly calm. She shoves the much taller and much, much stronger man away from her and stumbles towards her children. She kneels in front of them. Casey lifts a hand to her mother’s wrist, running her fingers over the marks in her skin. She looks up at her mother…

Only to see her father looming above them. He grabs her mother by the waist and throws her to the ground in the corner of the room. He kicks her squarely in the stomach, again and again, shouting abuse and profanities, word after word after phrase after phrase. With each word, he kicks her again. With each kick, he shouts something even fouler at her. 

Casey trembles in her sister’s arms, transfixed by the sight before her, wanting desperately to turn her eyes from it but unable to will the move. Her mother makes feeble eye contact with her, her eyes never filled with so much love. “Go,” she whispers, the word hardly breaking from her lips. 

The two girls run from the room. 

Casey shoved Jared away from her, somehow managing to push him to the ground. She raced for the door, her fingertips brushing the knob before his hand reached out, grabbed her by the leg, and dragged her down. Tears running down her face in streams, she kicked at him, she kicked and she kicked and she kicked. With each kick, she shouted at him. With each shout, she kicked. She kicked until she felt his grasp loosen. 

Then she pulled herself, hobbling, to her feet and she ran. She ran as fast as she physically could right out the door and right towards her dorm room. She didn’t once look back. She didn’t dare, too afraid that she would see his face looming above her to pull her down. 

She ran for God knows how long, out of the building, out of the campus, out of her comfort zone. Out of breath, she sat down by the nearest tree and wept. How did she not see? There must have been warning signs that she had blinded herself to. She could never have a future with a man like Jared, violent and manipulative and pure evil. Her father fit the same description, at least the picture she held of him did, and she had promised herself long ago, back when she witnessed her mother’s assault, that she would never marry a man like her father. 

And she was, dating a man exactly like him. She shivered at the thought. 

*** 

Prompt: Use flashback in a scene to portray a character’s thoughts and emotions. 

April 1, 2017

Standard

Apparently what I wrote yesterday, I didn’t post. Here it is, a day late.

Stupidity and Humanity 

If one word only must be used to describe Casey Aitken it would be “romantic.” Her heart overflowed with dreams, both plausible and out of this world. She believed wholeheartedly in marriage, seeing it as a beautiful thing. Men made her heart skip a beat; she could see something good and beautiful in every one she met. Most often, she spent her time reading. The classics were her favorites: Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, Oliver Twist, To Kill a Mockingbird. Many of her peers teased her for her seemingly outdated interests and views. They thought she was old-fashioned to the point of ridicule. They laughed at her ideals, saying they were bogus, telling her to give up on them, wholeheartedly believing that she must be wrong. How could a good man and a good woman somehow find each other in this mess of a world, fall in love, and keep their marriage in tact despite all the temptations and catastrophes that life might throw?

If Casey was a romantic, her sister was the exact opposite. Meg fell more in line with the rest of the world. To her, falling in love was a beautiful feeling but it could hardly last. She had contented herself with dabbling in affairs of the heart, rather than committing herself to one man in particular. If she didn’t believe in the power of marriage, why should she expect her man to? Meg proudly identified herself with the rest of the world, sometimes tossing her own teasing and insults at her younger sister (though typically, her words held much less sting than those of others). 

Despite their opposite views and opinions, Casey and Meg were close enough that people often confused them for twins, when in fact Meg was two or three years Casey’s senior. The two sisters did everything together. They would go shopping together, showing off their possible picks for the other to get her opinion. They would go to the movies together, joking that they were each other’s date, particularly on such romantic holidays as the overly commercialized Valentine’s Day. Every little thing in their lives, they shared, their secrets and their deepest hurts. If Meg experienced heartbreak, which she did more often than a woman of her ideals would prefer to admit, Casey always lent a listening ear and a loving embrace. If Casey had a particularly poor day, Meg always put on her favorite comedy, popped popcorn and poured glasses of their favorite beverage, and forced Casey to watch the movie until she had a smile on her face. The two were practically inseparable. 

When Meg went off to college in Casey’s junior year of high school, Casey found herself lonely, watching her sister from afar as she ran off to study—her dream, like her, practical—and to fall in love with boy after boy. It felt like Meg had met someone new every week, and Casey worried about her sister. Love didn’t work that way, not in Casey’s perspective. Love lasted longer than a few short minutes or hours, weeks if you were lucky. Love lasted a lifetime if fought for like anything worth having deserves to be fought for. She did not see her sister finding any such love in the near future. 

Two years later, Casey followed her sister to college, even to the same one, though their courses of study couldn’t be further from the same. Meg studied medicine, hoping to help those in need, while Casey took a more traditional, intellectual route, spending all her time in the liberal arts, the literatures and the writings and the philosophies. Casey dreamt of a career in writing, or maybe as a teacher, or maybe as an academic. Meg, on the other hand, only attended classes because she needed them in order to follow her childhood dreams. 

Even in their love lives, the two sisters differed vastly. Meg continued to have a new date every week. Sometimes, she brought the same guy home two or three weeks in a row, pleasantly surprising her sister. Those moments gave Casey small bursts of hope–maybe her sister wasn’t as hopeless a case as she had originally thought!–but then Meg would come home the next week with a different guy, shattering all possibility of any change. 

For the most part, Casey didn’t search for love. She believed that love would find her if it was meant to be. She still found herself pining over guys, as all young girls of eighteen or nineteen do, but for the moment, she wished to focus on her studies. A liberal arts program, she found, was quite taxing and it took much of her energy away. Her social life slowly started to disappear as she melted into her studies, sometimes hardly distinguishable from the stack of books surrounding her. 

The only friend she had was a young man, her age and class, named Ian Martz. Ian Martz had big hopes himself, dreaming of big things to come. The two got along famously, similarly minded and tempered. Both believed in the beauty of a lasting love, which would theoretically make them more compatible than any other pair, but neither of them could see it. They viewed their relationship as fraternal, certainly not romantic. Romance would be weird in a relationship such as theirs. It had no part existing there, and they both heartily agreed to stamp it out if it ever arose. 

Ian failed in his task. Day in and day out, he had to watch as his closest friend and the darling of his heart slowly fell for someone else. She became blinded to the man’s faults, seeing only the slim goodness and light that no one but herself could see. The man became a myth in her mind, more fiction than fact. Ian often found himself advising her against any emotional attachment to the man, protesting about his inherently evil self, but Casey could not see what Ian could. 

Slowly, Ian watched as she fell apart. The man toyed with her, playing her like a puppet, playing with her heart like a child plays with his toys: distractedly in spurts, moving on to the next thing that catches his eye. Casey began to lose the vibrancy he had come to associate with her, her life draining as she put herself through the hell that was an on-again-off-again relationship with the man she thought was her future. Her ideals had fallen to the wayside when she met the man, believing that love will work out always, believing that whatever it was she had with this man was love. Ian’s heart broke along with hers as he watched. 

One day, Casey had had enough. She couldn’t take this anymore! No more of this nonsense, she told him, either they were going to be an actual couple who stayed together or they would never again see each other. Too quickly he chose the latter. He left as soon as the words escaped his mouth, his steps betraying his smugness. He had no shame. Betrayed, Casey sobbed until the sun went down right on that very spot. 

Ian found her as he returned from his final class of the day, standing in the shade of a tree, her eyes red and heavy with the tears still forming behind them. Immediately, he rushed to her side, taking her into his arms, holding her tightly against his chest, his hand cradling the back of her head, his touch gentleness itself. He whispered in her ear, soothing words that passed between them in the relative silence. He didn’t ask what had happened. He didn’t need to. Rather, he took her by the hand and led her back to her room, where they sat in silence until she felt the need to speak. 

“How could I have fallen for him?” she asked, her voice numb as she stared blankly ahead of her at the wall. Ian began to protest, but she interrupted him, “I feel so stupid! You warned me. You knew this would happen. How could I have been so stupid as to ignore you?” 

Reaching out to wipe the new tears on her cheeks, he said, “You weren’t stupid, Case. You were human.”

“It’s the same thing, Ian.” 

That moment, Ian determined to prove her otherwise. “You want to see stupid versus human?” he asked. Sheepishly, she nodded. Clearing his throat, he stood before her. “Exhibit A: stupidity.” He then proceeded to reenact his protests and his giving in too soon, demonstrating for her the thoughts that had raced through his mind that he wished he had found the courage to voice. The doubts and the strengths that flooded through him. 

“Exhibit B: humanity.” Pausing briefly, he took a series of deep breaths: one, two, three, one, two three, one, two, three. He raises his eyes, connecting with hers and refusing to drop the connection. “Catherine Aitken, you are my best friend. You have been since we met two years ago. Immediately, I could see that you were a lovely, independent woman. You didn’t care what the world wanted of you, what it said you should believe or want or ask of it. You had your beliefs and you stuck to them. You’re funny and sweet. You’re the most caring person I’ve ever met. Casey, I…” He let his voice trail off as he took in her face, a confused and tear-stained expression painting it. “Casey,” he continued with another deep breath, “I love you. I love you as my friend and as my sister, but as so much more. I hated seeing you get your heart broken as it happened. Seeing your pain tortured me. I wished I could do something, but I had to let you tackle it by yourself. Now that you’ve seen the real Pfaff, I hope you can turn to me as you always have and let me in. I want to help you, Casey, because I love you.” 

Casey stared at Ian, jaw open and a different brand of tears staining her cheeks. “Ian, we said no romance!” she laughed, wiping her tears away. 

“I know, I know,” he protested, swooping in to take her hands. “But can I help falling in love with the most beautiful woman I know, who just so happens to be my best friend?” He settled his hand on her cheek, cupping it with great gentility. “You deserve so much better than Pfaff. So much better than even I can give you, Casey.”

“No one could give me better, Ian,” she mumbled. “No one.” 

*** 

Prompt: Write a story with a pre-developed character. (From my currently in development miniseries Elegance & Idiocy)