Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kill your darlings

This scene has no real point, except that I like it. So it's getting cut (mainly) from the story, just as soon as I can stomach it. Thank goodness for blogs--you guys take care of my darlings for me.


Her sons were in the front room, music and the tv and their two loud voices all at once. She hollered her greetings, and then meant to go put the groceries away. But she went into the front room instead, carrying the bags.

The boys looked her quizzically, searchingly, researchingly.

“What are you watching?”

Hal said, “We’re done our homework.”

Avery said, “There’s no basketball practice tonight.”

Hal said, “So we’re allowed our tv hour, right?”

Their mother said, “Yes. But that’s not what I asked. I asked what you are watching.”

Avery said, “It’s not violent, and there’s not swears.”

Hal said, “Much.”

She said, “I don’t care.” And then she “pursued the question independently” as her supervisor used to put it, back when she had a supervisor. She sat down on the couch between her sons, bags in her lap, and looked at the screen.

A granite-coloured word swirled on a pink and orange backdrop. She pursed her lips, longed for her notepad. “Mod as in modern?”
“What?” Hal pursed his lips, a mirror of her. Though the boys were identical, somehow he seemed to resemble her more.

Avery arched his eyebrow. “Oh, no, it stands for something, issa, whatcha—the first letters spell a word—”

“Acronym,” she said, her hand hovering above his knee.

“Yeah, that.”

She waited. Finally a negligeed woman with no two strands of blond hair cut the same length staggered onto the screen and began to exhort them all to dance. Hal and Avery looked immediately away from her gyrations, at each other then their mother. “It’s Much on Demand,” said Avery.

“Demand for what?”

Hal dropped his faux-hawked head into his hands. “Mom,” he said, facing the floor. “Much is MuchMusic, a tv station.”

She pointed at the translucent logo at the bottom of the screen.

Avery smiled gently. “Yes, Mom. And they do a request show, like people write in to ask for videos they want to see. They demand them. So it’s Much on Demand. See?”

She thought for a second. “They write in? No phone calls?’

Avery was watching raptly as the woman onscreen danced with her arms over her head. “I dunno. It might be phonecalls sometimes. We doan watch the part with the request. That’s boring.”

“Do you boys write in? And request songs?”

“Nah.” Avery turned to her and thought for a moment. “It’s like, we like what everybody likes. So even if we don’t say nothing, we still get what we want.”

Hal was crumpling some pieces of notebook paper and throwing them into the fireplace, but he nodded and smiled at her encouragingly, as if she had almost solved the math problem. “Yeah, we got real good taste. It’s only people who like weird sh—stuff that gotta call in.”

“But…if only people who liked weird shit called in, wouldn’t only weird shit get played?”

They were both looking at her now, but less encouraging, more special-ed. “It’s only the ones who like weird stuff,” said Avery, “who gotta call in. But lots of people who like good music like to call.”

Hal bounced a paper ball of his brother’s head. “Namely, girls.”

They snickered.

“Ah.” She nodded and stood up. “Thank you for answering my questions. This has been most beneficial.


short stories said...

The scene it good. I started reading it and wanted more. I really missed the end. What happens?

August said...

O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied? Would love to read more.

I like the interplay between "shit" and "stuff". It's a really clear indicator of the kind of relationship the kids have to their mom, actually.

Whenever I see verbal interplay like that I'm reminded of the scene in Richard III where Richard's dialogue seems polite on the surface, but he's actually being insanely, evisceratingly rude by shifting pronouns.

I love it whenever you can see whole power and family relationships played out in super small choices of diction.

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

Thanks, Short Stories and August--that's so great to hear. The problem with this scene (one of) is that it leads from and to nothing--after this she takes the groceries into the kitchen and the story continues in a completely unrelated direction. I'm trying to condense this section so I don't have to kill it entirely, but uphill work!