Halfway through our second month of writing workshops with Helen, I thought I’d share a little excerpt. I can’t give you much context for it, like what happens before or after; we just don’t know. Megan and I are writing this thing like a disco ball, collecting little bits that reflect something interesting, and sooner or later we’re hoping it will assemble itself into a shape. This month we’re working on generating as much material as we can, and then we’ll bust out the index cards and post-it notes all over the floor and put things in some kind of order. But for now, here’s a taste… enjoy!
When we were together before, there was a rulebook. Like it or not, at least I knew what I was supposed to do. Everywhere I turned, there were people to tell me if I was doing it right. Be nice. Get married. Have babies. Be nice to the babies. Follow these simple instructions for assembling the rest of your life. I guess I broke a lot of rules when I went with Paris. To be fair, he broke them first. But there’s no tracing back that chain of dominos. Then Menelaus broke some other rules to get me back. And now there are just no more rules. They’re in pieces on a beach in Troy, smashed by our selfish disregard and the furious waves.
You’d think we’d be free now, with no rules to follow. But really we just don’t know what to do. When we first got back, we just sat around, hoping the other would make the first move, to break the silence, to give us a starting point for the rest of our lives.
Every time I looked at Menelaus, he was looking at me. I couldn’t blame him. After so many years of yearning to see my face, of fighting to be near me again, of course he would be hungry to drink his fill, to gaze on me ceaselessly, never tiring of the simple intoxication of staring at every curve of my face. It went like that for hours. And finally, I said, you know, I said “Hi.”
And I think he didn’t know what to say, or he had forgotten I was actually there under the skin his gaze was piercing. Because he looked surprised for a second and then just got up and left without a word. But I guess he can do that now. I guess we don’t have to talk to each other. The time for being nice has passed. I guess we can just sit and stare at each other all day, trying to figure out what is going on in that mysterious brain behind that strange, dark face that used to be so familiar. I guess we don’t have to say “I love you” anymore. I guess there’s no one left to tell us if we’re doing it right or wrong.