The idea is to post a scene where a character receives bad news. That’s the only qualification! I love it when I have a lot of creative freedom!
This scene comes from the novel I have on sub right now, The Clearing. Ethan has just broken the news to my MC, Natalie, that his mom has died. Things get awkward when Ethan’s girlfriend (who also happens to be Natalie’s roommate) comes in the room. Enjoy!
* * *
He smiled, and put his hand on my arm again. It felt like my skin was conducting some kind of electric energy where he touched me. “Thanks for letting me talk to you.”
I smiled back.
Just then, the door burst open, and Michelle Donahue’s furious face came blazing into the room.
“What. Is. Going. On?” She fired each word like a bullet, her eyes burning with indignation.
I was suddenly very aware of the scene Michelle had just walked in on: Ethan and I alone together in the dorm room.
The two of us sitting together on my bed.
He confiding in me, and not in Michelle.
His hand resting on my arm.
“Michelle,” I said carefully, as if I were trying to talk her down from a ledge. “This is not what it looks like. Ethan’s mom – ”
“Shut up, Natalie,” she spat. I blanched at the venom in her voice.
Chelsea materialized beside her then, and observed the scene with narrowed eyes. “Well, well,” she said. “What’s wrong, Nat? Liam Abernathy just not man enough for you?”
I laughed in disbelief, frantically searching for the words that might get me out of this alive.
“You think this is funny?” Michelle snapped.
“No, I don’t,” I replied as calmly as possible. “I laughed because I can’t believe this is actually happening. Michelle, nothing is going on here, okay? Ethan was just – ”
“I don’t care to hear your lies, thank you,” she growled.
“Leave her alone, Michelle,” Ethan said. “She told you, it’s not what it looks like. I tried to call you earlier, but you didn’t answer, so I came here to talk to – ”
“You idiot!” Michelle snarled. “I told you I was hanging out with Chelsea tonight! Why can’t you ever remember anything? And what’s wrong with your face? Are you crying?”
My vision went suddenly red. Why couldn’t she shut up for two seconds so we could explain?
Slowly, I stood up. I felt Ethan’s hand slide off my arm as I lifted myself off the bed. Had it really been there the whole time?
“Michelle,” I began, my voice shaking with fury, “Ethan’s mom died today.”
There was a long pause in which the only sound was the faint buzzing of the fluorescent lights above us.
“Oh,” she said finally. She shifted her weight from one leg to another. “Well.”
I glanced over at Chelsea, who was staring at Ethan with a strange mixture of pity and disgust on her face.
“Um, when is the funeral?” Michelle asked blandly.
“When is the funeral?” I echoed, my blood boiling. “Is that really what you should be asking him right now?”
“What business is it of yours what I ask him?” she shot back at me.
“I don’t know, but you didn’t even answer his calls tonight, and now all you can do is ask him when the funeral is? How about comforting him? How about crying with him? How about saying you’re sorry for calling him an idiot?”
Michelle looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language, then shifted her gaze back over to Ethan.
“You know what?” Ethan said. “I don’t think I want you to comfort me, Michelle. In fact, I don’t think I even want to date you any more. So don’t worry about when the funeral is, because you’re not invited.” He brushed past her and out the door, leaving me alone with his ex-girlfriend and Chelsea Bennett.
I didn’t have long to feel awkward. Chelsea and Michelle made a quick exit, heading the opposite way down the hall from the way Ethan had gone – down the stairs towards Chelsea’s room. Michelle would probably spend the night there. I shut the door quietly and leaned against it, sinking to the floor.
Then I put my head in my hands and wept.