How We Write – Just Like An Old Time Movie

Picture thanks to


Our prompts this story were: bottled water, spiral, starting over, and rain. Taken together, they suggested a sad story of unrequited love. Of wishing things could be different but knowing they never can be.

When we first wrote it, the story was all in the first person, but, on editing, we found it needed to be more…personal…more immediate!

So, we pulled a lot of the original story into the narrator’s thoughts. We also added the movie the narrator was watching, with its attendant imagery.

We think the resulting story is much stronger. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

The title phrase kept bouncing around in Kyros’ mind until he remembered where it came from. By the way, in case you’re wondering, it’s from an old Gordon Lightfoot song If You Could Read My Mind.

Also, we have some observations after the story we’d like you to think about.

Picture thanks to




It’s raining outside my window. Well, that’s the perfect backdrop for my thoughts today.

I took a long drink from my bottle of water and let my thoughts drift back over our interactions. Every moment of my life since I met her played across the movie screen in my mind.

It was winter that first time we met, everything slippery with ice. I stopped to help her pick up her books, scattered across the sidewalk where she’d fallen in the snow.

She looked so cold, I almost invited her inside a nearby cafe for hot cocoa, but, dammit, I was too shy.

After that, I saw her everywhere around the village. Buying groceries. Picking up her dry cleaning. Even standing in line for the movies.

I’m sure she never noticed me. I probably blended into the background of her life. I even helped her bag up her groceries once, but she didn’t recognize me.

Winter snow gave way to slush, then rain. The occasional sunny day brought everyone outside, either for vast snowball fights or to admire the early flowers of spring.

What’s that old song? Something about the air was sweeter, the colors brighter, on the street where she lived? I glanced back out the window at the rain. I knew where she lived. But I never went there. Before.

I first realized I was in love with her as spring turned toward summer.

Memorial Day was when I first noticed someone with her. They kept showing up wherever she was. Then before I knew it, they were a couple, going everywhere together.

The movie flickered. I saw their engagement announcement in the local paper on Labor Day.

I slipped into a downward spiral.

Then I ran into her at the stationers. It hurt, but I congratulated her on the engagement.

She wrinkled her brow, trying, I’m sure, to remember where we’d met. I just tipped my hat and moved on, knowing she’d never remember our meeting in the snow.

I heard sirens wailing in the night. The movie shifted into slow motion.

Just another family dispute, I thought.

That is until I saw the newspaper the next day. Their smiling faces stared blankly from the page, the same picture as their engagement announcement.

The headline read: Murder/Suicide Claims Newlyweds’ Lives.

I read it again just to be sure.

The movie stuttered to a stop.

The image burned into my brain.

So many questions buzzed through my brain.

Could I have prevented her death if I’d declared myself to her before he came into the picture?

Would we have had a future, if I’d only confessed my love?

Had my shyness kept us from a bright future?

I don’t know, I really don’t.

But this I do know: I’m going to change things.

Right now.

I’m breaking out of my shell, busting down that wall I built to keep people out, to keep them from hurting my feelings.

I’m starting over…I just wish it was with her.

Did you notice that we never revealed the gender of the narrator or the person who intervened and married the love interest? The narrator could just as easily have been a man or a woman. The same is true of the interloper.

If you see the narrator as a man, then the story is about crushing shyness and the inability to tell someone that you love them.

If, on the other hand, you see the narrator as a woman, then the story is about internalized homophobia, fear of outing yourself, and also shyness.

The story works so well because it can be different things to different readers, depending on how they interpret both the narrator and the interloper.

Which way did you read it the first time through? Let us know in the comments below.



Leave a Reply