The book: Writing Fiction Step by Step by Josip Novakovich
The exercise: Using the character you created, reveal him through a means of communication. Let readers see a note or a brief letter he has in his desk but has either forgotten to mail or thought better of it.
Here goes: (an un-mailed letter from Erin to her 10 year old daughters)
Dear Ava and Grace, Grace and Ava,
I’m sure you’ve always known that I love you. You’ve suspected it right? I did all the right things. Things that didn’t necessarily feel natural to me, but I somehow found my way to them. Some mothers walk solidly up to those duties and know that those are what is meant for them, they are the way. Not me, I swam through clouds to get to them. Nevertheless I made sure you brushed so you wouldn’t lose your teeth. I packed lunches the way you like—Ava’s mayo was always on the side, Grace never wanted banana’s in her lunch sack. I was good at doing what I saw a need for.
Which brings us to this point. I see a need that I know I cannot fill. Maybe neither of us can verbalize that need, but we feel it. Like life’s most weighty things it is seemingly vaporous, weaving in and out of our days together, hiding behind the “whats for dinners?”, crouching behind the potted plants in the den. It’s there when I bristle under the weight of your voracious hugs. You’re asking for something I cannot give. I wouldn’t know where in the world to look for it. It could very well be as close as a whisper but it just escapes my grasp…
Don’t worry about me. Worrying produces nothing. If something ever does happen to me and it is within my power to inform you and your father I will. I know you’ll try to find me. But you won’t. Your father has the key to a safe deposit box with some items that you may one day want to hold and wonder about. I do love you. But I just can’t stay. I won’t stay around just to break you.