Show Don’t Tell

One of my first assignments from last semester.  The goal of this piece was to practice conveying information without “info-dumping”.  I was given specific details to reveal through the story:  Katie’s dad is in jail, Andrew is 20, and they are waiting on a train.

Katie stomped up the stairs to the train platform, trying to shake off the last bits of mud from her boots.  She scowled at the sky.  Ireland was known for its wet, dreary weather, but this was a little ridiculous.

Figures that the first non-rainy day we get in over a week I have to spend it in that tiny little room with the inmates all leering at me.  Kate continued grumbling to herself, cursing the weather, her father, her mother, and pretty much anything else that came to mind.  Staring down at her boots, Katie ran straight into a tall, gangly man.

“Oof, good morning to you too, Katie.”

“Andrew!”  Katie immediately enveloped her childhood friend in an enormous hug.  “What are you doing up this early?  I never see you awake before twelve.”

Andrew rolled his eyes.  “As surprising at is may be, I can actually function like a normal human being.  My grandmother’s not feeling well, so I’m off to visit.”

“Aw, that’s terrible.  Give her a hug from me and tell her I hope she gets better.”

“I will.  So where are you off to?”

Katie scowled.  “Mum couldn’t get off work, so I’m the lucky one who gets to see good old Dad.”

“Ah.”  Andrew nodded.  “How much time does he have left?”

“Four years.  They can keep him for all I care.”  Eager to change the subject, she added, “So any plans for this weekend?  How old are ya turning again?”

“Twenty.”  Andrew shrugged.  “Going out with some friends Saturday night.  I have to work most of the day.  My ass of a manager wouldn’t let me swap days.  You’re welcome to come out with us.”

“I’ve got work Saturday night, but I’ll pop in and say hi when you’re at work.”  She looked up at the sound of a train whistle.  With a sinking feeling, she pulled her phone out of her pocket.  8:10am.  The train was late.  Again.  Katie huffed.  “Is this train ever actually on time?”

Andrew chuckled.  “Once the train was a few minutes early.”

“Impossible.”  She could only hope that the train didn’t spend too long at each stop, but it was unlikely.  Katie heaved a deep sigh, resigning herself to the fact that instead of the pretty young lady who always smiled at the visitor’s desk, Katie would be stuck with the grumpy old man who seemed to hate life and everything in it.  Katie imagined he kicked puppies every day before work.

“So what else have you been up to?”  Katie slung her bag over her shoulder.  At least she could have some nice company for the journey.  It would be the only good part to her day.

[continue reading]

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