Memory is a tricky thing. We ‘remember’ events, but our mind can change those recollections so that they have no bearing on fact. Eye-witness testimony, for example, is notoriously unreliable. Three people can witness the same event and have three different stories about what happened. Strange, isn’t it? Yet we can use this tendency for Story.
From Exercise 2, Chapter 1: “Two to three pages. Write down your first three memories. Can you make a story out of any of them? Try. Even if you aren’t sure what you remember exactly, keep going. Imagine that you remember more than you do. Expand and rewrite in the third person and forget it’s you. This could be precious material for you. Renowned psychiatrist Alfred Adler thought that first memories reveal the psychological leitmotif of your life. Objective: To begin to write stories that deeply matter to you.” (Novakovich, Fiction Writer’s Workshop)
Bill arrived home late. He could hear Anne in the kitchen, cooking again. That was all she seemed to do these days. Ironic, really – when they’d moved to San Francisco, they’d tried out all the new restaurants. Seafood, Chinese, French… it didn’t matter. They tried everything to see what was good. He’d gained weight and so had she. But instead of letting that go, or walking more, she got obsessive. Refused to go out with him anymore and stayed home to cook.
It was a good thing she could cook, or things could be a lot less pleasant.
Still, he missed the restaurants. Scoma’s, in particular, was his favorite. A little touristy, down on the wharf just north of Pier 39, it nonetheless boasted some of the best fish in the city, and their Lobster Newberg was to die for. He wondered if he could sneak a visit… He did have a client meeting coming up. Maybe he could convince Johnson to go there with the client for lunch. Lunch wasn’t dinner, by any stretch, but it was at least in the restaurant.
“Hi, honey! I’m home!” he called, hating the trite expression the minute it was out of his mouth.
“You sound like Mr. Cleaver,” Anne complained, coming to the door of the kitchen. “Here, try this,” she ordered, thrusting a spoon full of something white with floaty bits. They jiggled and swooned as the spoon came toward him and he stepped back, purely out of reflex. “Oh, Bill.”
“Well, I don’t want to get it on my suit!” he protested. He came forward again and sipped at the stuff. “This is good!”
“Well, don’t sound so surprised, then,” she snapped and disappeared back in the kitchen.
“What is it?” he called, setting his attaché case on his desk chair.
“Bouillabaisse, can’t you tell?” She sounded irritable.
He sighed. It was going to be one of those nights. “Yes, dear. It’s very good.” He wondered if Scoma’s made it? Then he flushed, embarrassed at the disloyalty.
“Can you take Sam out?” She sounded absentminded and slightly muffled. A moment later he heard the oven door close and realized she must have been speaking into it.
“When did he go out last?” he countered, eyeing the couch longingly.
“A few hours,” she said vaguely, starting the water in the sink.
“Oh, Anne,” he sighed, visions of a nap evaporating. She didn’t hear him over the water. He walked through the office, past the kitchen and up to the gate in the hallway. “Hi, Sam.”
Sam jumped up and down, his back feet stationary while his whole front vibrated. His tail thumped the wall rhythmically and he moved his mouth as though talking even though no sound came out. Bill grinned, the sight of the dog’s antics cheering him. He pulled the leash off the hook next to the dog gate and Sam went wild, spinning in circles. His claws scrabbled against the carpet and his tail wagged hard enough to fall off.
“Sit, Sam,” Bill commanded.
Sam sat, but whimpered in agitation. His fur vibrated as his muscles clenched and unclenched and, as Bill bent over to slip the harness under his chest, he jumped up to catch Bill with his tongue.
“Uch!” Bill responded, wiping his face with one hand while he clipped the harness with the other. “Sit, Sam!”
The dog, never having moved from the sit, wagged his tail harder. Bill surrendered and scratched him behind the ears. “Come on, old son. Let’s get your walk in.”
“Grab the mail too, honey, please?” Anne called from the kitchen.
“What did you do all day?” Bill grumbled, fumbling in his case for the keys.
“What?” she called over the water.
“Nothing, dear!” he shouted back. He winked at Bill and opened the door. The dog, ecstatic, bounded outside.