An Exercise: Cast and Dialogue

As many of you know, I am taking an online class through University of Iowa. Each week I have to write a short piece to be evaluated by my peers. Each week I am also supposed to write a blog post. I love when the world conspires to make my life a little easier! Here is the piece I wrote for this week’s assignment on cast and dialogue. I hope you enjoy it!


“Pregnant?” All the air seemed to rush from Rachel’s body, leaving her light-headed and panicky. “Pregnant?” She was suddenly aware of the sound of the fish tank, in desperate need of topping off, and the pounding of her own heartbeat in her ears. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

The dog walker just sat there, her hands clenching and unclenching in her lap. “He didn’t want me to say anything,” she finally said. “He said he’d, you know, take care of it. No one would have to know. And I said ok but…”

Rachel waited, not wanting to give the girl any comfort, unable to feel anything. And suddenly, she had to move. She rose abruptly and went into the kitchen. She filled a glass pitcher at the sink and added three drops of the blue ph balance into the water, watching it swirl through the center of the jug, then returned to the living room.

The dog sitter, Becky, was it? hadn’t moved and she began speaking again, all in a rush, as Rachel slowly added the water into the tank.

“I mean, I don’t think I can just…get rid of it. Or whatever.  And I wouldn’t ask for anything from you, from either of you.”

“What more could you possibly ask of me?” Rachel didn’t bother to turn around from the tank, her vehemence leaving little flecks of spit against the glass. “You’re pregnant.” Her hands were starting to shake. “You’re pregnant,” she whispered, and the tears were suddenly there.

Neither of them spoke for what seemed like hours. Rachel’s heaving shoulders and Becky’s nervous hands were all that moved. Then there was the sound of a car pulling into the driveway, a key in the lock, and still, neither of them said a word.

Matt sauntered in, a smile in his eyes and a whistle on his lips. He slipped the bouquet behind his back as he walked across the living room. Rachel imagined his smile beginning to fade when he noticed Becky, her usual exuberance replaced with red-rimmed eyes and twisting fingers.

“Uh, hey there, Becky.”

Rachel could hear his attempted nonchalance and his footsteps continuing toward her. She slowly  turned to face him and he froze in the middle of the room. All traces of tears had vanished and her eyes were dark and hot and angry.

“She’s pregnant?”

The flowers dropped slowly from behind Matt’s back and hung limply at his side.

“She’s pregnant with our baby and you wanted her to…get rid of it?” Her voice was rising and cracking and her cheeks were pink. “How long? How long have we been trying?” She was screaming now, grabbing blindly at anything she could grab and lobbing it at Matt with all of her strength. “Trying to have a baby! All the shots, all the disappointments, and then this? You screwed the dog walker?”

“Please,” said Becky, standing to her feet, “it was just the one time. It didn’t…”

“One time? One time?” Rachel snatched the glass pitcher from the tank table and hurled it at Becky. “One. Time!”

In three steps Matt was at Rachel’s side, crushing her in his arms, gritting his teeth as she thrashed and struggled. Her hair whipped across his face and she tried to bite him, sobbing hysterically.

“I told you I’d take care of it,” he grunted. “Why would you come here and do this to her, to us?”

Copyright © 2015 Katharine Brown.


3 thoughts on “An Exercise: Cast and Dialogue

  1. Omg. Where’s the rest of the story? You can’t leave me hanging like that!!! I can’t give you any meaningful feedback (because I know nothing of writing) except to say that’s not where I thought that was going and it whet my appetite for what happens next.

  2. You had me: Wondering…then guessing…then baffled…transfixed…shocked…thirsty for more. I love good dialogue…and Honey, this is great dialogue!

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