EXERCISE Feeling Regret

Discussion in 'DEVELOPING CHARACTERS & CULTURES' started by Minibit, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. A good way to round out and "get to know" your characters is to put them through various situations and figure out how they would deal with them.

    In this exercise, choose a character, and write a scene where they deal with feelings of regret.

    The rest of the details (such as whether or not they are able to resolve these regrets) are up to you, but if you're not so good at the 'no format' thing, here's some ideas of ways you can present regret in the scene where your character can deal with it.

    • An opportunity has just been missed.
    • Something reminds them of a past regret
    • They see something they wish they had, but can no longer get
    • Get introspective, show their thoughts
    • Show how their feeling of regret affects their actions
    • Love Love x 2
  2. "I mean, I do regret not being able to go to university, but I don't regret having Austin."

    Dmitri feels uncomfortable sitting across from this woman who he once knew as a friend, her arms wrapped around a wriggling, squirming, laughing three year old. Not just because she keeps glancing at him, obviously uncertain about how to act. At least he hasn't had to correct her on what to call him. But then again, it's been a while and now he's widely known as male. Not the awkward hide-in-the-corner half Russian girl from grade nine nor the senior who wore push up bras and low cut tops in an attempt to attract attention.

    She talks about regret like it's nothing but looking at Austin, his curls of blond hair and big green eyes and chubby little cheeks, Dmitri feels a sharp ache in his chest. Up until this point he hasn't cared for children but there's an affection in her eyes, a kind of love that he knows he'll never have, now. At the time, filling out the paperwork, saying yes to the procedure and even lying on the operating table, the hysterectomy had seemed the only thing. No menstruation, no needing to worry about pregnancy, even less about his body to bother and worry him. Nothing that would put him out of commission if he needed to work.

    But now, he's amazed because he never imagined feeling regret about it. Never thought that someone as simple as seeing a friend with a child would make him feel so much like he made a mistake.

    "He's very cute."

    "Are you okay, Dimi?"

    He swallows and sets down the cup of coffee he has on the table, nodding. "I'm fine, just thinking about things... I can't have kids, now, so it's a bit odd to think about."

    Her eyes soften as if she understands and she nods. Her fingers comb through Austin's hair as he shifts and tries to peer at the fishtank, the prints on the walls, the fireplace. His curiousity is obvious and Dmitri wonders what it would be like to see his own eyes in the face of a small being, a tiny human who he helped bring into this world. But he knows that it isn't an option anymore and that... hurts. Adoption is always open but it somehow seems different. He knows that he would love a child as much either way but it's almost like he's destroyed an experience for himself, trading it off for something just too different to compare. But he keeps those thoughts to himself, buries them. He doesn't share his inner feelings, knows how that goes. It's safer to hold it all in, even if it fills the back of his throat with something bitter.

    He stands and holds out his arms for Austin as something to do, ignoring the curious glance he gets. The toddler is surprisingly heavy, chubby and giggling, pulling at his hair. But he sets him down on the floor and keeps a hold of the tiny palm. "Come on, I have some crayons and paper-- you like that?"

    (I've been wanting to use this character since I made him a few days ago... figured I should get in touch with him a bit. For clarity's sake, he's trans male)
    • Like Like x 1
    • Love Love x 1
  3. What time was it?

    Nadia sat up, rubbing the itchy, red indentations in her cheek from falling asleep on her book at the rickety brown table she called a desk. If you'd asked her how long she slept, she couldn't have been sure if it was five minutes or a thousand years, but it had been as deep and dreamless as the foamy slate-green sea outside. The brunette rubbed her cheek again and looked at the book she'd fallen asleep on, one with giant pictures or animals and very matter--of-fact captions beside each. She'd meant to get through the whole thing, but she'd only made it to "luna moth" before the thunder and rain had lulled her to sleep. Now a tentative sunrise struggled through the clouds, and as soon as she saw it her stomach tumbled into the root cellar.

    The rain was over. She'd slept all night.

    Nadia leapt out of the chair before even engaging her legs, causing her thin, knobby body to fall flat on the rough wooden floor. Like a terrier after a rat she scrambled on all fours until she was up and trying to make it down the cramped attic stairs in a way that made sure she'd have enough intact bones to reach the barn on the edge of their property.

    "Nadia, what--" her mother called from the stove, but Nadia didn't stop and instead threw herself out of the banging screen door and down the crooked little back steps, their white paint more flaked and peeled than the morning before. She ran past the straggling field where her father was plowing, arms pumping on either side while her blue dress flapped behind her like a banner. The too-small, scuffed black shoes pinched her feet like the little crabs that hustled along the shore line, and a small part of her told herself that she deserved it even as another hoped that was not true.

    By the time she reached the barn she was gasping for breath, but she didn't stop running until she got to the back of the barn where most of the dented, spongy earth was flooded with muddy rainwater. It was quiet back there, a leaden quiet that told Nadia everything she needed to know. There were no kittens mewling like there had been the morning before. But there was a puddle that held more than just water.

    Nadia sank into a heap and covered her face, bowing into the soggy earth and crying in great gasps and wails. The wet earth swallowed every sound until she'd worn herself out and had sunk a couple of inches into the mud. On her hands and knees she crawled like a newborn calf to the kittens and gingerly lifted one up, taking a dry corner of her skirt to wipe the mud away from its closed eyes and tiny nose. It was a tabby, and so small it fit in the palm of her hand. There was a bucket nearby that had collected rainwater, but it seemed cruel to douse the thing in more water. Casting about for somewhere to put the kitten, she carefully removed her apron and laid it out, placing the little tabby on it to keep it out of more mud.

    "I'm so sorry baby. I'm so sorry," she murmured hoarsely, kissing its tiny head before lying it down. Each kitten she did the same with: the other tabby, the orange runt, the white one, and its mottled sibling. Each of them was as clean as the day before, her skirt now coated in mud instead. For a long time she looked at them, but could not bring herself to pet them as she often had before. It didn't seem to be her right anymore.

    If only she'd gotten up when the rain started.

    And now her parents would just stick them in the back of the lot.

    They'd be treated like they'd never existed.

    Another bout of tightness bubbled up on her throat and she covered her mouth, squeezing her stinging eyes shut. They'd be thrown away like trash and it was all her fault. She'd let this happen to them, and part of her wanted to be thrown out with them. Each of them hung on her like ship anchors and she wiped her eyes, smearing mud on her cheeks and nose. It might have been her fault, but they didn't have to be forgotten. She couldn't bring them to life again, but she could try to make some reparations. There was someone who would want them.

    Carefully Nadia placed them closer together and bundled the apron up, walking slowly with it to the very back of the lot where there was a little pyramid of mismatched stones. Beside it she began to dig, turning over handful after handful of soft earth until she could sink her arms in halfway up to her elbows. Once satisfied she kissed each kitten once more before placing them in the grave, hiding them underneath the soil where no one could discard them like trash. When she'd finished she lay down in the wet, cool grass and put her cheek on her arm, watching the wind make waves of grass shiver.

    "Flossie, I know I gave you some toys at Christmas, but these kittens... I thought you'd want some real playmates, so I buried 'em here," Nadia began, looking at the pile of stones.

    "Nobody wasn't gonna remember 'em, but I know you would. It's-- it's my fault. You'll look after 'em better than I did."

    She picked up a small rock in the grass and put it on the new grave. Tomorrow she turned thirteen, and Nadia resolved that she was going to take better care of everyone. Thirteen meant she was a woman.

    And she'd save them all from now on.
    • Love Love x 2
  4. When grandma took her first trip to the hospital, it was a crisis. The second time, it was still bad. Soon, it became a normal - though infrequent, part of our life. In the nursing home, she was removed from any risks, and old age eventually caught her. When my brother and I said 'good bye, see you tomorrow', the phone ringing the next day caught me by surprise.

    I was so desperate to cry, and when I did by the hospital bed it came as a great relief, that I could be genuinely sad about her passing. I reminded myself that I was supposed to be sad when they winched her coffin into the ground, and managed to squeeze a few more tears out.

    Time passed. I graduated highschool, university, and got a girlfriend. I think I took her to grandma's grave.

    I was walking with my parents. We were at a wet market, surrounded by styrofoam boxes of vegetables. Colours of the earth everywhere.

    "Mom ..."

    "That day, I knew." I leaned over grandma to whisper 'good bye, see you tomorrow.' She mumbled back. Her eyes were shut, maybe delirious. "Something ... I knew. I knew. I don't know why. I wish I had told you." I wish I had not robbed you of your last chance.

    "I wish you had."
    • Love Love x 1