Chuck Wendig: How Does Your Garden Grow?

The Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge for this week is Acts of Rebellion.  1,000 words about rebellion in any shape, form, or context.  I had intended to keep my story away from our current political situation, as it seemed like low-hanging fruit, but it kept wandering back in that direction without any effort on my part.  I managed to keep it on the fringe of my events, but it still lies at the heart of the story.  My story is a 995 word dialogue.  Please to enjoy.


HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

“It’s your move, Claire.”

“Oh, like I didn’t know.”

“Not.  It’s been your turn for almost thirty seconds.  You’ve just been sitting there, staring off into space.  What’s up?”

“Nothing.”

“Not.  You just tucked your hair back behind your ear.  How many times do I have to tell you?  That’s your biggest tell.  You only do that when you’re nervous or lying.  Which one is it?”

“It’s neither, Todd.  Really.  Here, let me take my—“

“Nope.  It’s too late for that, sister of mine.  You’ve got me thinking about this now.  Which is it?  Are you nervous or lying?  What’s really going on?”

“Neither one, I said.  Come on, Todd, let me play a card.”

“Nope.  Answer the question, Claire.”

“Who am I, Molly Ringwald?  Come on, Todd.”

“I want an answer.”

[sigh] “All right.  I’ll tell you.  You’re gonna laugh at me, though.”

“I won’t, honest.”

“You have to promise, Todd.  Promise you won’t laugh.”

“I’ll do my best.  I can’t promise, though.  Sometimes laughter is an involuntary reaction to the release of pent-up stress and Lord knows, it’s pent up with you taking so long to answer the question, Claire.”

“Shut and let me answer.”

“All right.  I’m shutting up.”

“It’s about time.  The answer is, ‘both’.”

“Both?”

“Both.”

“What does that even mean, both?”

“You asked if I was nervous or lying.  The answer is, both.  I’m nervous, and I was lying.  There is something up.”

“I knew it!  What is it?”

“You can’t laugh.”

“I’ll try.”

“And you can’t tell Mom and Dad, either.”

“That I can promise.  I won’t tell.”

“They’ll think it’s bad, Todd, really.  You can’t tell.”

“Okay, okay.  I won’t tell.”

“I…”

“Come on, Claire, it can’t be that bad.”

[sigh] “I went to the march last weekend.”

“The womens’ march?”

“Yeah.”

“So?  Mom had talked about going.  You even told her you were thinking about going with her if she did.”

“Todd!  Shut up and let me say this before I lose my nerve.”

[gasp] “Did you wear a pink hat, Claire?  Is that what this is about?”

“Goddammit, Todd, will you shut the hell up and let me talk?  You badger me to tell you what happened then you won’t shut up when I start talking!”

“Sorry, sis.  Geez.  You don’t have to be so…wait a minute.  Did you just cuss?  When did you start–”

“You know what?  Forget it.”

“Okay, Claire, wait!  I’m sorry!  Come back, please!  I’ll be quiet!  I promise!”

“Todd, this is serious.  I’m not playing around.  This is bigger than a game of cards, and it’s a lot bigger than a pink hat.”

“I’m listening, Claire, really.  Sit down.  Please?”

“…okay.”

“…Claire?”

“I did something this weekend, Todd, and I’m not sure if I should be proud of myself or not.  Mom and Dad would be horrified, and I think I should be horrified too, only…only I’m not.”

“What did you do?”

“I went down to the square and I spent some time walking around and talking to the marchers.”

“You talked to those women?”

“Yes!  Young women, old women, mothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, grandmothers.  Not just women either, Todd.  I talked to the men who were with them—their husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons.  Some of the men I talked to were even there without a woman, just marching in support.  I just walked around for a while talking to them, trying to understand why they were there.”

“Who cares why they were there!  They were blocking the streets, making noise, disturbing the city.  Why did you need to understand?”

“You sound like Dad.  We’re all part of the same family, Todd.  You’re my brother, so even when I know I have no chance of understanding why you do the things you do, I still want to try.  It was like that downtown.  Mom and Dad have been telling us all along how crazy these people are, and how much better things are going to be now.  I wanted to understand why these people don’t agree with them.”

“What did you find out?  Did they convert you?  Are you going to be on Clarksdale Street with a sign of your own next time they march?”

“No.  But now I know enough to understand why they think the way they do.  It’s got me thinking, and I’ve been talking to some friends at school, too, friends on both sides.  We’re getting discussion going without yelling and screaming at each other.  It’s pretty cool.”

“How’s that working out for you?”

“Better than asking Mom and listening to a two hour lecture about proper values.  We’re actually learning from each other.”

“So you’ll be in the street marching the time after next, then.”

“I don’t know, maybe.”

“Are you sure that’s what you want?  Do you want to be lined up next to those people?”

“I don’t know yet.  That’s what I’m trying to find out.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, my sister Claire, the reluctant rebel.”

“Not reluctant, Todd.  Call it cautious.  Call it wanting to explore all the options before I leap one way or the other.  I’ve been blindly following what Mom and Dad have been telling me my whole life.  Now I want to form my own opinions.”

“You want to justify your rebellion.”

“No!  I want to learn about both sides!  I want to be well-informed!”

“To Mom and Dad, wanting to learn about the other side of the issue is rebellion.  You might even decide to stay on their side, but they won’t care.  You went down there and talked to those people.  You’re dirty now.”

“Why don’t you come with me next time?  Get some dirt on yourself?”

“Not.  I’m comfortable where I am.”

“Behind your wall.”

“Where I’m staying nice and clean.”

“You have to play in the dirt if you’re going to grow a garden, Todd.”

“What’s growing in your garden, Claire?”

“I don’t know yet.  I’ll let you know when it sprouts, though.”

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3 thoughts on “Chuck Wendig: How Does Your Garden Grow?

  1. Great dialogue! I can sympathise with Claire, but Todd annoys me. Maybe it’s his habit of starting sentences with “Not.” I love the idea of cultivating rebellion like a garden; I like to imagine it as a wild, untamed jungle of pentunias and daffodils with a crazy-paving path running through it.

  2. That’s what I was going for with Todd. I have him pictured as a young, smug, cocky kid who thinks he is always right and just has to let you know. Glad you liked it.

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