Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Character

I'm late this week, and since I'm participating in a character workshop tonight, I figured I'd stick to the theme and post a Character sketch WIP from an exercise my writing group did.
Without further ado, here she is...

If curiosity killed the cat, Myra was well into her last life. She liked nothing better than to accidentally overhear some juicy tidbit. Gossip was her art form, and she worked in it like Rodin chipping away at a block of marble. She savored each delicious morsel, allowing her "news" to stew and churn for hours at a time before dashing off to propagate her latest rumor in the unsuspecting ear of anyone who was handy.
Myra lived to whisper, craved a steady stream of other people's business to the point that she was often found lurking at the borders of her neighbor's hedges, or seen popping from behind a display in the supermarket's narrow aisle ways. Satisfied, she would flash a grandmotherly smile from beneath the eyes of a predator.
"Gottcha!"
***
She could smell the tall woman's perfume through the tiny holes in the cheap metal shelving. It was too strong, made her nostrils tickle and started her brain scurrying for possibilities. Was she covering up the scent of an afternoon tryst? Was the nasty, sweet cologne a gift from a long lost love?
Myra shifted her weight to her other foot and pushed aside a line of Maybelline eye pencils that were blocking her view. She squinted sharply and the woman's face came into view through the myriad punctures in the thin steel. "What possessed her to wear that?" She thought. The skirt was far too short, and the blouse only "nearly" matched that particular shade of taupe.
She stopped herself midway into an involuntary derisive snort, scanning quickly to either side of the wide, brightly lit, aisle to be certain she was still alone amongst the cosmetics. The tarty woman in the opposite aisle hadn't heard her. She continued to browse the shelves of lotion, bath salts and sponges oblivious to Myra's' scrutiny.
Myra's eyes were beginning to water. She considered fleeing to the lingerie section, where she could circle the changing rooms and listen under the protection of the racks of bras and panties. The changing area was always a treasure trove.
Before she could bolt, however, the tight, thin-lipped voice of the miss-matched woman froze her tired feet in place.
"Glenda?"
Myra peered closer at the holes, nearly stuck herself through the eye on one long metal product hook. The woman had a cell phone tucked up against her left ear. Her painted mouth pressed into a frown.
"Yes, tell her it's Ellie."
The long pause drove Myra to shift her weight back to the other foot.
"Glenda, Hi. Yes." The woman called Ellie nodded. "Right. Listen, I'm sorry, but I need to cancel this afternoon."
Myra leaned so close, her lashes brushed the steel shelving.
"Something came up. You'll never guess."
A shiver ran through Myra's short frame.
"Um Hmm. No. You won't believe it."
Myra nearly swooned, softly reached a hand to steady herself against a rack of lipstick.
"All right, all right. I'll spill, do you remember…" Ellie's face was alight, shining with secret knowledge like a beacon. Myra couldn't look away. "Glenda?"
Myra watched, forgot to breath as the woman glanced at the cell phone and frowned.
"Damn." The painted mouth whispered.
Myra watched in horror as she folded the vile metal thing and slid it back into her ugly purse. The purse swung at the side of the taupe skirt as the woman turned and walked away.
Myra's chest hurt. Her eyes burned from the stink of perfume and as she pushed sharply away from the shelf, a cascade of eyeliner tumbled noisily to the white tiled floor. She ignored the stabbing chest pain, stepped over the mountain of eyeliner, and headed for lingerie.

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