False Alarm

Anna curled into a ball as the door opened, pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her frayed skirt over her feet.

“Mrs. Andrew, thank you for coming. I’m Principal Kirk.” He stood, their hands meeting as friends. “Please, have a seat.” He sunk into the worn leather chair.

She turned, meeting Anna’s eyes before facing him again. “Thank you, but I prefer to stand. I have an appointment in fifteen minutes, so please get to the point.”

Anna hid a smile as Mr. Kirk squirmed, dropping his jaw. “Oh, well then.” He shuffled the papers on his desk then straightened his tie. “Anna committed a serious crime today.”

“Fourteen minutes, Mr. Kirk.” She brushed an invisible wrinkle from her suit.

Stunned, he stammered. “I said Anna committed a crime.”

“I heard you the first time.”

“Mrs. Andrew, there is no need to be rude. I -”

Green eyes flashed at him. “No, Mr. Kirk, there isn’t. You are the one who insisted I haul myself here at the fastest speed possible. I have clients to meet and will not break my appointment because you were unable to talk to me over the phone.”

He cleared his throat. “Anna pulled the fire alarm today. As a result she will be suspended for five days and have to pay a $150 fine.”

“Did a teacher see her do it?”

“No, but several students sa-”

She laughed. “Please tell me you aren’t basing this on student witnesses who are likely covering their culpability.”

“Well I -”

“Unless you have an adult witness or her fingerprints on it, we are done here.”

“Mrs An-”

“Anna, let’s go.” She pulled a card from her purse as Anna sprang from the metal chair. “Feel free to contact my lawyer if you choose to pursue this.”

* * * * *

For Friday I challenge you to write a conversation. But not just any conversation…

Are you ready?

The conversation should be between two people/characters.

Using surroundings, body language, visual cues and blocking, in addition to the spoken words, show us who they are and what their relationship is without coming out and telling us!

Are they lovers? Are they happy or not? A mother and daughter in conflict? Siblings working at cross-purposes or towards a goal? Frenemies, Co-workers?

Let’s do this in 300 words or less.

* * *

We last saw Anna in Worst Topping, Ever. This takes place about a week later.

Concrit is welcome, as always.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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21 Responses to False Alarm

  1. Kir says:

    Such strong dialouge Kel you felt the angst of the principal, the obxoxious streak in the mom, her complete disassociation from her daughter and the fear, then the bitter and then the small victory and smugness from both mom and daughter. This was excellent.

    • It is interesting to see how people perceive this. I had to cut a lot due to word count and it makes the interpretation much more open on the various motivations.

      Yours blew me away today, my dear.

      Thank you for your consistent commenting. It is greatly appreciated.

  2. MISH says:

    The principal entered into dialogue with a preconceived notion, there was a subtle attempt to placate Mrs Andrews along the way, which was stupid; he failed to follow correct procedure, and was firmly put in his place.
    He really “put his foot in it” *chuckles*
    I loved the play on words in False Alarm. Great job.

  3. betsy says:

    I felt the principal’s discomfort for him! And then could feel the intimidation that Mrs. Andrews held. Each voice was well written… from their words to their actions. I really enjoyed reading it!

  4. angela says:

    As a former teacher, I have nightmares about parents like this.

  5. Kristina says:

    Oh, the personalities come out SO strong in this piece. Good work.

  6. Stacey says:

    Every time the mother spoke, I just kept thinking “sucks to be the principal”. I’m not sure I would like her as my mother either. Well, done.

  7. Sara says:

    I really liked the speed of this dialogue and how the mother interrupts the principal. It seemed like a really natural conversation.

    The only feedback I would give was I expected the mother to be the lawyer. That’s what she sounded like to me and when Anna hid her smile…that’s the first thing I thought of: The poor principal doesn’t realize Anna’s mom is a lawyer. However, that’s just my take on it.

    Like I said, this conversation was well done and definitely fit the prompt:~)

  8. Carrie says:

    Hmmm…a very strong personality with the mother and a daughter struggling to fit in…

    I loved the dialogue, the attitude. I could picture her standing in front of the principal, him almost covering in his seat.


  9. The M Half says:

    Ooh, I haven’t read the other parts of this story, but this Mom is a snot! Moms like this are why I decided not to be a teacher!

    Well done. I could feel all the tension and annoyance on both sides.

  10. Venus says:

    This really resonated with me. When I was in high school, I would often play solitaire at my desk (with real playing cards, this was long before smartphones). When my teachers bugged my parents about it, they asked “Is she turning in her work on time? YES. Is she passing all her tests? YES. Maybe you should try being a more interesting teacher.”

    Hahahahaha. From a writing perspective, I like that you had the mom interrupt the principle. I think it can be really hard to write realistic interruptions, and you did a great job with it. Good stuff!

  11. January says:

    Ooooh. I loved the way you described the Mother….I did NOT like her. That poor at a loss for words principal.. I liked how you did the interruptions. Made it very realistic. Great work!

  12. Jackie says:

    I don’t think that I like Mrs. Andrew… and I’d be afraid of her if I were her child or the principle which means as the storyteller you did a great job conveying the scene.

  13. Galit Breen says:

    Love this, Kelly! What a kick ass Mama!

    I adore the frayed skirt over the feet detail- perfect!

  14. The voices are terrific…very distinct, as others have said. I interpreted a bit differently, as a really pushy “my kid can do no wrong” kind of mom…so it would be interesting to see what your intention truly was!

  15. CDG says:

    There’s a lot to love here. It’s a really strong example. But my favorite part? Anna, silent in the background, like a barometer for the conversation. She’s so vivid to me.

  16. Awesome Kelly! That’s some kind of mother! I’m always afraid one of those is going to show up to my classroom! 😉

  17. Nancy C says:

    Yes. I love that Anna is almost completely in the background in this scene. Her mother sucks every other bit of energy front that room, just from sheer presence and will. What a strongly rendered character!

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