(This is original fiction by me. It’s okay it you want to link to it. If you quote it, give me credit for it and cite this post.)
This is my version of the Contentless Dialogue exercise. I didn’t include the scenario I chose in the examples in my previous post, so I will put an explanation in the Comments. For the record, these characters, James and Blaise, are not siblings. I’ve made a few small changes since I wrote it on September 24, but not many… for instance, it is not a complete “story” and does not have an ending.
The sunlight gleamed off the lake surface and Blaise was a dark shape against that light. James stopped, one foot turned sideways, poised to turn, to run. Instead, he made himself lean forward, and finished his step past the willow trees.
“Hi,” he said.
She didn’t answer right away. He cleared his throat, ready to say it again.
She said, “Hello,” without looking around at him.
“Fine.” She didn’t move, sitting cross-legged on the gravel near the edge of the water, her shoulders hunched, a waif in a dark hoodie. “I guess.”
It was quiet. Far away, an eighteen-wheeler sounded its horn. The mournful sound slid over them. The sun had been up for over an hour. It had been nine hours since he had started looking for her.
“Do you know what time it is?” he said, taking another step closer. He started to reach down to touch her shoulder. Then he stopped and drew his hand back.
“No.” Her voice sounded thin, empty of low notes. “Not exactly.”
He edged over so that he stood at her side, with a clear space through the trees to the walking path right behind him. “Don’t you have a watch?”
Blaise turned her head and stared at him. Her eyes were shadowed by the curve of her hood. A shudder slipped down James’s spine. “Not on me,” she said.
He waited. She continued to stare at him with no change of expression.
James shifted his weight to his right leg. “Well?”
He blinked. His throat was dry. He swallowed saliva and said, “What did you do last night?”
She turned away and he tensed, but she just stared out over the water. “Nothing.”
She was on her feet in one smooth yoga-like motion, turning toward him, and James took two steps back before he could stop himself. She stared, and her eyes were wide now. Her panting filled the space around them. “I said nothing.”
He held his ground, kept his expression open, made his voice sound calm. “I’m sorry I asked,” he said.
She shifted away. Hands went deep into hoodie pockets and she took three steps down closer to the water. Her back was to him. The walking path was about eight feet away.
She stared down into the glaring silver, ripples teasing the toes of her shoes, shoulders straight now, her feet pointing straight into the water. The flat surface bounced her words back to him. “That’s all right,” she said.