“She’ll think you don’t like her,” my dad said.
I was on my way out the door. I had a date and I hadn’t had a date in a year. I bit the inside of my cheek. “What do you mean?” I asked him.
“A– will think you don’t like her,” he said. A– was his live-in girlfriend (and now she is his wife).
“She’ll think I don’t like her because I left my purse on the kitchen table?” I said. A– and I got along well. Everyday I reminded Dad of this.
“You don’t want her to think you don’t like her,” he said.
“What if,” I said, my stomach churning because I knew I was about to say something I wasn’t allowed to say. “What if my feelings were hurt because I wasn’t allowed to leave my purse on the kitchen table?”
My dad frowned. “That doesn’t make any sense. I just don’t want you to hurt A–‘s feelings.”
“Fine. I’ll be more careful. Now, I have to go.” I head toward the door.
“Don’t forget to tell A– good-bye.”
In my dress shoes I stomped through the garden, around to the back of the house, past the pool, and to the shed. “Bye, A–,” I said. She was watering flowers.
“Don’t you have a date?” she asked.
“Then what’re doing back here?” She shot water at her rose bushes.
“Dad, wanted me to be sure to tell you bye,” I said.
She tilted her head. “Why? What’s he thinking? You got a date–don’t listen to your dad.”
In your own life, what people really mean when they speak (and the words they actually use) can drive you mad. I thought I knew what my father really meant–prove to me you’re not going to ruin this relationship of mine like you did my second marriage. You know those veiled conversations you have with family that no bystander can grasp.
Maybe I was wrong about what he really meant. Not like I’ll ever know.
I love writing dialog in fiction. I know what every character means, and I can make them say what I want. They can be clever or obtuse. They can evade or be blunt. I can play with the line until it is missing just the right part to make the other character mad. Or fall in love. Or whatever I please.
I love power over words. Which isn’t to say I’ve come close to mastering that power, but I keep trying.
If you could hire any writer to write a dialog for your life, who would you hire? Do you think it would help to have a writer tell you what to say?