Sunday, September 30, 2012

Edith and Ben - Falling

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

It's not a long distance from the kitchen to the living room, and given that Charlize had just gone about making sure part of the way was extra clear because a wheelchair needs extra clearance on either side and a wheel could get hung up on something a foot would step over, it should have been simple to deliver a plate with a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches from the one room to the other.
Should is a word that, when spoken of things that already happened, really means "somehow wasn't" because what should have been easy resulted in me heading toward the floor at around the halfway point. Jackie reached out to help me, but I was already too far gone. She got a hold of me, but that only brought her along for the ride.
The grilled cheese hit the floor. The plate landed upside down. Unbroken, thankfully. I landed on my side. My head landed on my arm. I couldn't see Jackie from where I was. The giant sound threatened to bring mothers rushing.
Jackie had thought of that and shouted, "We're ok," to the next room. Then, to me, she said, "I see you're as smooth as ever."
I wasn't ready for talking just yet, and when I did speak I said, "Ow," to no one in particular. Drawing out the word like you do when you've just been hit by the floor. Then I shouted to the other room, "I dropped your food."
I was actually rather uncomfortable, but I didn't want to get up. I asked Jackie, "Do you mind if I just lay here for a bit?"
"Yes. In point of fact I do." Pause. "You're on my arm."
That explained some things, most notably, "That explains what's in my side, there's also something sticking into my back."
"Does it feel like my left knee?"
"Could be, let's get untangled."
It was a fairly simple process. I lifted myself a bit, she pulled her arm out from under me. I rolled away from her, she rolled away from me. We were untangled.
"I can't believe I dropped the grilled cheese."
"What else would you have dropped?"
"I poured my heart and soul into those sandwiches."
"No you didn't."
"How would you know?"
"You overcooked them."
"Did not."
"Did too."
There was a bit of silence as we both lay on our backs looking at the ceiling. The only sound being the game our mothers were watching in the living room.
"Have you had your inner ear checked?" Jackie asked.
"I have been poked and prodded in more ways than most people can imagine."
"No less than three doctors have concluded that I am the opposite of sane. Clearly I don't have any problems and I'm just making it up."
"But you have the scars to-"
"No, I'm making it up. It's all in my head. It's just my imagination."
"Yeah, well your imagination could get you hurt badly."
"I know. There's a reason I cling to railings for dear life whenever I'm at a stairway."
"You could just take the elevator."
"I could sprout wings and fly."
"I somehow doubt that."
"Yeah, I was being snippy."
"I wasn't going to say anything."
Another pause.
"Your doctors sucked."
"What's more likely, that every doctor I ever went to sucked, or that I am psychologically un-"
"Every single one of them sucked."
"Yeah, that's what I said. But no one ever listens." I corrected it to, "Except you."
And then, it seemed, we ran out of things to say.
After a while Jackie said, "It's a very nice ceiling."
"Oh yes, quite ceiling like in it's qualities."
"I suppose you're right, I've never noticed that before." It was a ceiling. It looked like a ceiling.
"That's why you need me around. To point these things out to you."
And for a while we lay there looking at the ceiling.
Finally I said, "Want to help me make more food?"

[Edith and Ben Index]


  1. ...yeah, seems entirely reasonable to me.

    I sometimes get really hacked off with authors. Doing nasty things to characters is fair enough (Bujold has said that she plots her books by thinking "what's the worst thing that could happen to [hero]", then doing it and seeing how he copes); doing nasty things to characters not for grand plot reasons but just because it's amusing, well, that's a problem.

  2. It's too bad Bella wasn't written as reasonably clumsy. I mean, I'm fairly clumsy with poor hand/eye coordination: I suck at video games and most sports, I trip a lot, I fall UP stairs, but after a lifetime of this I don't, for example, fall down very often. Another thing that bugs me is that Bella can't DANCE without falling, but is just fine driving? Uh, no. Both of these things require practice to be any good, but at least as far as dancing is concerned, you don't fall unless you really spaz out and fall into people. Whereas if you're just a little bit off with driving, you get into accidents, and Bella obviously didn't own her own car before moving to Forks. Maybe she drove her mom, but it's never ever mentioned. (I also get dizzy really easily and had really low blood pressure till I was 30.) So the point is, it's possible for people to be kinda clumsy and have scars on their knees from falling a ton as a kid, but the way Bella is written really is just ridiculous.

    1. Thanks for commenting, and welcome here. Unless you've already been here and I just forgot, in that case sorry I forgot that you'd been here before.

      One of the many problems with how Bella is handled is that when her disappearing reappearing problem is there it's on the level of a disability, but it never gets taken seriously, and it's always ready to disappear again if that would make the plot move forward smoothly.

      You can't really have those things and have a cohesive narrative. If her problem is as severe as the text makes it out to be in some places it cannot also be as trivial as the text makes it out to be in other places. The text pulls in mutually exclusive directions.

    2. I think that this is a huge problem in a lot of writing, to the point where I suspect it may be the Third Great Hurdle that a new writer meets (the first being getting spelling and grammar good enough for someone else to read it, and the second being actually applying backside to seat and fingers to keyboard): the characters have to drive the plot, not the other way round. The longer the work, the more important this is, because there's more history of the way the character's acted before.