The Deeds of the Past | A Writing Exercise

Three years ago, my Creative Writing professor challenged us to write a short scene where two characters talked about something very specific but never mentioned it outright. He wanted to see how well we could get an idea across through words and imagery without stating it obviously. Comment below if you think you know why Xavier and Sandra are in prison! What crime do you think they committed? 🙂

The Deeds of the Past 

“It’s not my fault!” Sandra stood toe to toe with her husband, her brown eyes flashing. The muscles in her face twitched as she struggled to keep her anger in check.

“Not your fault?” Xavier’s voice was low. “Whose greedy heart made this mess? Whose thirst for power and popularity?” Spittle flew from his mouth, landing on Sandra’s cheek. “Yours, my dear, all yours.”

Sandra felt hot tears threatening to spill over her lower eyelids. “Shut up,” she whispered fiercely. “Just shut up.” She sank to the cot in the cell, her hands shaking.

“We both knew this day would come.” Xavier leaned against the wall, his anger suddenly cooling. He laughed harshly. “What were we thinking? What were you thinking? That we’d get away with it?”

Shaking her head, Sandra twisted the college ring on her finger. “After Floyd started going downhill, I just wanted a normal family. You know, like the ones you’d see in magazines in advertisements for dental care and better banking.”

“And you thought that was the way to get it?” Xavier’s voice pitched higher. “They were the most powerful family in the country, Sandra. Of all the families, you had to pick Jeff and Isabel Foy. Just had to.”

“Oh please.” Sandra lifted her head, bitterness oozing from her words. “Stop trying to sound like you didn’t have a hand in it. I don’t remember hearing any hesitation or words of caution from you. Actually what I remember is this.” She lowered her voice an octave in an effort to mimic his. “Oh Sandra love, what an excellent idea. That’s why I married you, babe; you’re my better half.”

Xavier arched an eyebrow in astonishment. “And why in the name of all that is sane would I have said such a thing?”

“Oh I don’t know.” Sandra stared at him, her eyes like cold stone. Tainted with resentment, the words poured out. “Maybe because once upon a time you actually meant it. Maybe because once upon a time we did things together, heart and soul. Maybe because once upon a time we weren’t just going through the motions.” She exhaled heavily. “Well none of that matters now. We’re here in a jail cell and I wish I’d never married you.”

Xavier smiled smugly. “We never would have had Caleb and Nicole.”

“Oh I would have still had them, believe me, I would have found a way. Single mothers are just as believable as a family with a mommy and a daddy. Maybe it would have been better that way. You messed up big time with Floyd, Xavier.”

“I messed up?” Xavier pressed his thumb against his chest, both eyebrows raised. “I was the one trying to save his sorry butt while you turned a blind eye.” He raised a hand as Sandra stood, her mouth open. “Listen dearie, while you were moaning and griping about our mediocre life, I was single-handedly attempting to reign in our son. The signs were obvious when he was twelve. When he turned fifteen, I thought you’d wise-up to the fact that Floyd Vaughn was going to run himself into an early grave if both of us didn’t intervene.” He lowered his voice. “Because that’s what parents do. We work together. Maybe we would have had a normal family if you had bothered to show up and try.”

Sandra clenched her fists, the tears rolling down her face. “We were never going to have a normal family, don’t you see that? Floyd was a juvenile delinquent at fifteen. He was rebellious, rude, wild. Floyd was bad and he was never going to change and he hasn’t changed.” Anger rattled her words. “I wanted a second chance, Xavier, a second chance at having a normal family. A family with a boy and a girl, not a JD I was ashamed to call my son. Was that really too much to ask?”

Xavier shrugged callously. “I don’t know. Was it?”

“Stop treating me like a child!” Sandra swung a fist at him but he moved nimbly out of the way. Sobs of rage caught in her voice. “Caleb and Nicole were my second chance! I thought you’d wanted that chance too. Now, I don’t know what you wanted. For all I know, you probably wanted us to get caught. You’re twisted that way.” She reached out with both fists but Xavier caught her wrists in a vice-like grip. “The Foys didn’t love their children anyway. They were too busy building up their stupid financial empire and didn’t have time for Jeff and Gwen. I had time for Jeff and Gwen. I loved them so much I changed their names. You thought Caleb and Nicole were beautiful names for such beautiful babies. I loved them!” She broke free and pummeled Xavier’s chest with her fists, her graying hair flying wildly. “I loved them so much! Now I’ll never see them again. I’ll never see them again!”

Xavier held her as her punches weakened and she collapsed against his chest, sobbing uncontrollably. “I loved them too.” The tears he had held in for so long seemed to gush from his eyes. He laid his head against his wife’s. “I loved them too.”



2 thoughts on “The Deeds of the Past | A Writing Exercise

  1. Okayyy. So Sandra and Xavier have (had?) a son Floyd. He turned out unfortunately so they kidnapped some powerful couple’s children? The parents were Jeff and Isabel and the kids were Jeff and Gwen, but they changed them to Caleb and Nicole.

    Liked by 1 person

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