Another flash fiction

I received an email today from my professor about the final versions of my creative writing pieces. It included the words “very very impressed.” While I’m still extraordinarily self-conscious about sharing my writing, that email gave me the nudge of encouragement I needed to feel okay about sharing my other pieces here.

This is the one I did for Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and I went for a totally different approach than I did with the Dickens one. I read a few flash pieces over the semester that consisted solely of dialogue — an incredibly difficult thing to do well, articulating a full story through dialogue that isn’t obnoxiously “oh-let-me-describe-everything-in-a-way-no-normal-person-would-in-everyday-conversation.” I dared to attempt it, for better or for worse, because the whole point of this project was to stretch myself as a writer.

Each of the characters in this story has a definite backstory that I plotted out, but is only implicit in the dialogue and in the meanings of the names I chose.

So… without any further ado, here’s my best shot at a dialogue-only flash fiction.

The Theater

“Can you believe her? Appearing in public after… what she did?”

“Hush, Adelaida. It’s not polite to gossip.”

“Oh, but gossip is very in fashion right now. It’s the dinner conversation of high society in England.”

“All the more reason to dislike it.”

“Never mind. But can you believe her? If I had so disgraced my husband, I certainly wouldn’t show myself in society again. Not here, at least, where everyone knows.”

“Have you heard the reviews?”

“You’re not even listening to me.”

“I am listening. You’re talking loudly enough for the entire mezzanine to listen. I’ve heard that the soprano is not quite as good as last season’s, but that the orchestra is unmatched.”

“I don’t see why you find the reviews more worth discussing than a scandal.”

“Discussing scandal is simply in poor taste.”

“And who have you to impress with your good taste right now? Heaven knows I don’t care about such things.”

“Even if it weren’t in poor taste, don’t you think she might rather be spared the whispers?”

“If she would, she should not have come out to the theater. Just look at her! How proudly she holds herself! You would think she was a recent heiress, rather than adulteress.”

“Staring is not only in poor taste, but is dreadfully indiscreet.”

“Everyone else is looking, at least out of the corners of their eyes if not with their heads.”

“And silly me, thinking we were here to see an opera.”

“Marya, you must look now! Madame Kartassova is saying something—oh, and Monsieur Kartassova is distressed—the look on Madame Karenina’s face!—and they have gone now. Why wouldn’t you look?”

“Do you not feel even the slightest bit sorry for her?”

“Sorry? Of course not. She is eating the bread that she baked for herself. If I were married to such a man as the count, I would never even dream of doing what she did.”

“I am sure the count is not without his flaws. Perhaps he committed an offense first.”

“If he did, it was surely not horrible enough to justify adultery.”

“Perhaps you have too high an esteem for the character of husbands.”

“Perhaps you have too little.”

“Perhaps so.”

“Whatever it was that had the Kartassovas so excited, Madame Karenina does not seem to care about anymore.”

“I admire her composure.”

“I would rather she looked ashamed.”

“How many of the men here tonight do you suppose have… sampled other goods?”

“I refuse to consider that. What were you saying about this season’s soprano?”

“Everyone refuses to consider it. But I’d wager at least half.”

“Well, we could speculate, but then we’d make everyone a criminal. Everyone knows for a fact what Madame Karenina has done.”

“Do you find it at all remarkable that she is able to present herself in public knowing that everyone knows?”

“Remarkably shameful. Surely you don’t admire her, Marya, do you?”

“I think that she is far more courageous than any of the rest of us.”

“I suppose, if you truly wish to spin it that way. But even if that’s true, her courage is stained with sin, and I don’t find it admirable in the slightest. There, the lights are dimming. We mustn’t speak of this any longer.”

“Yes, I suppose we mustn’t.”

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