Amanda and her family were enjoying themselves, as they did every year, at a summer BBQ thrown by her old college roommate. This was the first time her seventeen year old daughter, Sadie, brought a boyfriend to an event and Amanda was excited for her daughter. The adults drank their beer and sangria at the picnic table, as Sadie, her boyfriend, and the other teenagers played in the pool.
As Amanda told her friends about the new patio set her husband Todd had just surprised her with for their twentieth wedding anniversary, she swung her head abruptly towards the pool. Amanda watched Sadie and her boyfriend closely, as her hand clenched the arm of her chair. Todd’s eyes followed her gaze over to the pool but saw nothing of concern.
“Honey, you ok?”
Amanda’s gaze lingered, watching Sadie.
“Huh? Oh yeah, sorry, thought I heard something,” she slowly turned back to the group and smiled.
Todd continued their story as he spoke of the outdoor candlelit dinner he had served Amanda, as part of her gift. Amanda smiled to hide her distraction, concerned for Sadie.Did he just tell her he doesn’t want other guys looking at her in her bikini?! (italics)
She glanced back at Sadie who giggled as she grabbed her boyfriend’s hand, pulling him in for a kiss. Amanda attempted to return her attention to her friends and forced a smile, replacing the frown that had subconsciously arisen. A futile attempt, her mind’s eye brought her back to college and her junior year boyfriend.
Amanda chased Adrian up Main Street, the frigid night air biting at her hands and face.
Oh no, he’s so mad at me! I don’t understand what I did wrong. It was just a kiss hello. Her fight with Adrian in the bar played over in her mind. (italics)
“Adrian wait! Please!” She dodged her way around random groups of fellow college students, barely registering their drunken discussions, shouts, and cackles as she careened farther and farther away from the main strip of bars.
She caught up to him just as he was about to enter the doorway of his apartment building, above Sal’s Pizzeria. The heel of her suede boot slid on the icy pavement. She shrieked. Her arms flailed in an attempt to maintain her already impaired sense of balance. Despite intoxication and slippery conditions, she reached him without falling.
“Adrian, stop!” She ran up to him.
He stopped and turned, “You’re a fucking whore, Amanda!”
Todd squeezed Amanda’s knee, bringing her back to the present day BBQ.
“Where’d ya’ go, honey?” he teased, handing her the cup of sangria.
“Sorry, was just thinking,” she sipped from the cup and looked up at him with puppy dog eyes.
“I was beginning to think maybe you didn’t like our anniversary dinner after all, considering you spaced out during our story,” he said with a lighthearted air.
“Oopsie!” she laughed and raised her cup to the group, joining them back in the conversation. She turned to Todd and he gave her a loving wink. She leaned into him and he kissed her on her forehead. Although they were married twenty years, Amanda still felt blessed to have Todd as her husband.
The next day, the sun blazed as Amanda relaxed in the new chaise lounge. The air was stagnant; the hot summer haze dulled her senses and everything around her. The humidity draped over her, thick and heavy, like a wet woolen blanket.
She glanced over at her Sadie, who was laughing with her friends and splashing in the pool during a game of Marco Polo. Although just a few feet away, their voices seemed distant and muffled; background noise, really. The leaves on the trees, motionless, were blurred into a window of muted greens that lulled her into a deep and lethargic trance. Barely finding the energy to sip her iced tea, Amanda placed the glass down on the table and closed her eyes.
Sadie would be leaving home soon, leaving her safe and sheltered world behind as she began her freshman year of college at Penn State. Her daughter would never have another summer quite like this one; free of worldly pressure, obligation, and responsibility. Amanda was anxious at the mere thought of it; both fear and excitement for her only child flooded her heart all at once, leaving her breathless.
What should I tell her? How much does she need to know? How do I know what to share with her and what she should learn for herself? (italics)
Amanda wanted to tell her everything to watch out for and everything to look forward to. However, she didn’t want to set any expectations for Sadie that were not her own. Sadie had asked about her college life and Amanda had shared many a story about those feral days, trying to make it sound far more academically focused than it actually was. There were some college memories Amanda seldom spoke of, experiences too painful to share.
Random drops of cool water splashed onto Amanda’s bare legs, offering a brief reprieve from the heat and keeping her in a mental state just one step shy of sleep. She drifted back to the early 1990’s, the summer before her own freshman year at college.
Amanda’s summer mornings were spent tutoring some of the middle school kids from the neighborhood. A mentor from the National Honor Society had recommended her as a tutor a few years prior and it was something she looked forward to doing every summer since. While most of her friends complained about their summer jobs, she considered herself lucky to be doing something she loved.
4 thoughts on “Forgetting the Remembered”
The flow and pacing are good. You worked the flashbacks in well. The comment the boyfriend made to Amanda’s daughter should raise a red flag, but I think the incident should be less subtle , but not overly drastic.
Realistically, I think most women have the abuse conversation when the daughters are younger. I’m not sure anyone would wait until the daughter is about to go off to college to have that talk. Information about abuse seems to be everywhere. I’m not implying that it’s not a good subject to write about. I’d just replace the comment with a bigger red flag or add something more. For example maybe he not only gets verbal, but maybe mom witnesses something more disturbing.
I presume your target readership is mothers of daughters and my guess is you would set bells ringing and alarms wailing for them. The way you navigated between places and times worked well (even if italics and paragraphs were problematic), and potential confusion or disconnect avoided. I would continue reading.
Your subject is very interesting. I think you can put a little more meat on the bone. You can elaborate a little more. I would go for shorter sentences.Especially in the opening sequence.
Good luck with your work and all the best! Tobi Katz
I liked all of these scenes, both in present day and in the flashbacks. They were easy to follow.
The one thing I kept asking myself as I read, was if this story was going to be about Amanda or about Sadie. When you’re kid goes off to college, you don’t hear from them that often, so I expect unless Saide pops home on a pretty regular basis, this story will obviously focus on Amanda. So what is her goal? What are her flaws? I think another character from her past will have to be introduced to create conflict, which will mean she is no longer driving the plot.
Now, in fairness, those aren’t my thoughts as a reader, because there is obviously more story to be told and from what I’ve read, I would read more. But from the viewpoint of what Ellen has been discussing, I think we need to know more about what could be coming, other than just the foreshadowing of her daughter. Obviously Amanda rebounded okay from her early life choices, so I wouldn’t be too worried about Sadie. Of course, Penn State is quite the party school, so maybe that’s the clue in this exerpt.