Show vs Tell Classwork
|Adam sat, quietly waiting, trying to be mindful of his racing heartbeat. He knew this would not be an easy conversation, and if he had to sit there and wait all night he would. For her. If it was one thing he knew, without doubt, it was that Jessie needed to talk about this horror she carried around with her, almost like a second skin. It was not good for her to keep it all bottled up inside. He could listen. No way would he judge her, whatever her actions were that day, no matter what she said. If she needed a sounding board, he was the right man for the job.
She took one last, lingering gaze around the office as if she were expecting someone to barge in on their private conversation, before she sat in her chair, staring at the floor.
“Take your time,” Adam said. All he wanted to do at that moment was pull her into his arms and rock her, let her know everything was going to be okay. But he could not. He had to be patient. He swallowed hard, feeling for her, the intense heartache sitting front in the center between them.
Jessie nodded, took a deep breath, and looked up at him, her eyes already damp. “I was coming home from work.” She laughed then and shook her head. “All I wanted was to soak in the tub. How ridiculous is that?”
Adam waited; it was the only thing he could do. He watched as her legs bounced, slow at first, progressing to a quick, steady rhythm.
“I didn’t notice anything unusual until I opened the front door. Then I was assaulted by the smell of gas,” she said. Jessie sighed and reached down and grabbed her knees as if willing her trembling body to stop on command.
“Go on,” Adam said. He reached out and took her hands into his, giving them a reassuring squeeze.
Her eyes slammed shut while her body swayed on the chair in front of him. “When I close my eyes, I can still see them. It is like being transported back to the worst moment of my entire life.” She shook her head. “I remember calling out for them, the putrid odor of rotten eggs so bad I started coughing and had to cover my mouth as I went further into the house.”
Adam’s heart clenched. The mere thought of walking into something like that robbed him of breath. It would terrify him to know his parents could be inside the house, unable to save themselves. He had no idea how Jessie managed to put one foot in front of the other after witnessing that kind of scene. She was one brave woman.
“My legs grew heavy with every step toward their bedroom,” she said, her voice cracking.
Her brown eyes opened, and she stared at him. No, she was not staring at him, she was staring through him as if he did not even exist at that moment.
“It was like weights were in my sandals. You know? My mind screaming to turn and run away, realizing what I would find, but my body disobeying that notion and propelling me forward. I had to know. I had to find them even if that meant I would not make it out of the house too.”
Adam nodded, gripped her hands tighter, waiting for the horror he knew would come. She opened her mouth to speak, closed it, one single tear zig-zagging its way down her cheek.
“When I turned into their doorway, I saw my mother lying on her back, her head turned sideways and her mouth and eyes wide open.” Her bottom lip quivered, and she took a quick breath. “My father lay just a few feet from her face down, his arm extended toward her. I swear he was reaching for her, trying to rescue her.”
Tears cascaded down her face then, turning into a torrent of tears. Adam pulled her onto his lap and wrapped her in his arms as sobs racked her body. Her breathing became heavy, she gasped, sucking in a breath too quickly.
“Jessie, I’m right here. Take deep breaths.”
Instead, her breathing turned rapid, one after another as she struggled for air and twisted out of his arms. She managed to get to her feet and reached out for the desk, her head bent down, knuckles turning white as she gripped the desk.
“I,” she stammered. “Can’t.” Followed by two more quick breaths. “Breathe.”
Her ragged succession of heavy breaths filled the room. His heart clenched. He had to do something to help her. He could not watch as she struggled and relived that fateful day.
Adam jumped to his feet. “You have to slow your breathing.” He took her face into his hands, turning her to face him. “Nice and steady, deep breaths.” He took a deep breath, showing her the way. “Come on, honey, just follow me.” He took another deep breath and slowly let it out.
Her entire body shook. Adam grabbed her hips and lifted her off the floor and set her on the corner of the desk. He knelt in front of her, desperate to get her to calm down.
“Breathe,” he said. “Look at me, Jessie.” Adam took one deep breath after another, his eyes never leaving hers, until finally, Jessie mimicked his breathing.
“Oh, God,” she cried. “I’m so sorry.”
Adam stood and pulled her into his arms. “You have nothing to be sorry for.”
“What is wrong with me? Why does it affect me so hard every time I think about that day?”
Adam rocked her in his arms, wishing he had the answers.