‘James, how could you?’
Penny lifted her palm up to gently cup the flushed cheek where James’ hand had been only a moment before, her fingers brushing aside the shocked tears.
‘Pen, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I…’
‘Get out. Go, now.’
James crumpled. His knees giving way, he crashed to the ground to beg forgiveness not daring to reach out to Penny – sweet, loveable Penny.
‘No, James, I can’t. Just leave.’ Her words were emotionless, curt and low. Her cheek stung, more from of the loss of pride than the moderate slap. She had provoked him, yet she hadn’t expected the provocation to be so potent. Didn’t this prove beyond doubt what Sarah had implied?
‘Penny, please. That isn’t who I am. I don’t know what happened. Please just let us talk it through.’
Penny heard his desperate tone, the slight whine to his pleading voice, and shook her head firmly. This is what she had wanted, she couldn’t back out now.
‘I don’t want to talk. I want you to go.’
She turned her back on him, and in the silence that followed her heart sank while her pride built itself back up and bolstered her resolution. After a few moments she heard James pick himself up, and imagined he might have reached out to her, to apologise one final time – and if he did, what then, she wondered – but he did not. She heard the door slowly click, and only then did she slowly turn to face the empty room, her hand still cradling her throbbing cheek.
This comes from a reluctance to write dialogue. I still don’t feel comfortable with it, as evidenced by the punctuated lines of description that accompany the words. I guess practice will make perfect…or at least one can hope.