Subtext & Dialogue: Hidden Emotion

A work-in-progressthe following piece is a writing assignment produced for The Center of Fiction’s Active Storytelling course taught by Judy Sternlight.

An Innocent Banter

“I forgot.”
Silence.
“It’s not that big of a deal, really …”
“Yeah, right.”
“So, what now?”
“Uhm, I’m not sure.”

Subtext Version 1

Clutching the calendar with today’s date circled in bright blue and highlighted in yellow marker, Mallory felt her stomach drop. 

“Oh God, I forgot,” she mumbled. He’s going to hate me, she thought as she dialed Jack on her phone. The phone rang three times before going to voicemail.  

“Hey Jack, it’s Mallory. I’m so sorry about this afternoon. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately with work, and …” She paused then, trying to collect her thoughts when prompted for a call waiting on the other line. Mallory clicked through. 

“Hello, this is Mallory.”

“Hey, Mallomar, it’s me,” said Jack. His voice sounded jovial despite the echo on the line. “Don’t stress, it’s not that big of a deal, and everything actually worked out for the best. My flight landed an hour early and I was able to make it to Dan’s graduation after all.” 

“Oh Jack, that’s such great news,” Mallory heaved a sigh of relief, she hadn’t missed him at all.

“Yeah, right, I know how that goes,” Jack said with a chuckle. He was notorious for being late but since his divorce it seemed he had turned over a new leaf.

“So, what will you do now?” Mallory asked. 

“Hmm, I’m not sure,” Jack replied, “Do you have time to grab a drink with your kid brother?”

Subtext Version 2

I forgot,” Mallory retorted. “What’s the big deal?”

“Mallory Michaels, we’ve gone over this before. You cannot walk out in the middle of group therapy without asking for permission,” Dr. Jack Lyons replied.

His words were met with a stone cold silence and a roll of the eyes. This was the second time Mallory had been reprimanded for breaking the rules, one more time and she good kiss her scholarship good-bye.  

Mallory surveilled Dr. Lyons from the corner of her eye and with a dramatic sigh replied. “Lyons, I’m sorry, really I am but I’ve got a lot on my mind lately, what with tests and applying for college and being here, without my family.” 

“Yes, yes, well of course, and about that,” the doctor’s voice trailed off.

Mallory’s parents had filed emancipation papers this morning. This was the first time he and his team of therapists had ever witnessed such a thing; everyone was scrambling for what to do next. 

“Oh man,” Mallory grumbled, pushing herself to stand up and face the sandy-haired administrator. “What now? Did something happen to my brother?”

“No, nothing like that, Marcus is okay. But Mallory I have something to tell you, and I’m not sure how you’re going to take it exactly. Your family, all of them, including your brother, have filed separation papers against you.”

Word Count: 472

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