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Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, due February 2019 from Roaring Brook Press; my most recent, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish.

Beets, for the stew

Now and then I go digging through the archive of my old blog, and come up with something unexpectedly nice. Today, here's a fictional conversation I wrote thirteen years ago, but which I don't remember writing at all. (Which is true of most of my old blog, probably.) 

So This is a Marriage

H: Where are you going? 

T: Well, I was going to the store. Why? Do you want to come with?

H: Where? To the store? 

T: Yes. 

H: No. I just wondered where you were going.

T: (sighs) Do we have to go through this again?

H: Have to go through what?

T: Every time I make the slightest move without issuing a press release or having you sign off on it, you fall apart on me. 

H: I—

T: I'm making stew tonight. We don't have beets. The stew needs beets, we don't have any beets, therefore I'm going to the store to buy some beets.

H: I—

T: It's pretty simple, is all I'm saying.

H: Beets, huh?

T: Just explain to me, okay, why you do this. I don't understand it. Does it bother you that I have a life outside of our time together? Because, let me tell you, I don't have a life outside of our time together. I'll go to the store right now, without you, and even then it'll be a little like you're right there beside me, saying, "Oh, don't get those beets, those beets look a little depressed. Get those ones over there, they're much more enthusiastic about being beets." That's how much your neuroticalness has consumed me.

H: Aww. That's sweet.

T: (sighs) Do you need anything?

H: What do you mean?

T: From the store, H. Do you need anything from the store.

H: The store, right. (listens) Hey—is that the tsunami siren?

T: Yes. They sent a postcard last week. Said they'd be testing it twice today. I guess you missed the first time today. Listening to Norah Jones or whatever. 

H: (covers ears) IT'S SO LOUD. YOU'D THINK THEY'D TELL YOU IT'S NOT FOR REAL, WOULDN"T YOU?

T: The postcard, H.

H: THE WHAT?

T: The. Postcard.

H: (uncovers ears) I mean, what if you forgot about the postcard, though? It was a week ago. Who remembers a week ago?

T: Ordinary people. Ordinary people remember a week ago.

H: I mean, right now, some poor idiot is probably packing his duffel in a frenzy, jumping into his car and tearing down the road like he can outrun a tsunami, maybe get into the hills before the rest of us get swamped by—

T: I'm leaving.

H: Where are you going?

T: 

H: Oh. Right, the store. 

T: Do you need anything?

H: I told you, no.

T: You didn't, actually.

H: Wait, wait. Actually, I could use some earplugs.

T: For the siren? It's over.

H: No, for— Well, you've... You've started snoring pretty loudly. It keeps me up all night.

T: H., I'm so stressed out I barely ever sleep.

H: Fine. The snoring must just be in my head, then, I'm sure. Don't get earplugs. They'll just bottle up the snoring in my head and make my brain rattle.

T: So you don't need anything from the store, then.

H: I don't need anything from the store.

T: Good, then. I'm going. 

H: Wait!

T: (sighs) What.

H: I'm coming with you. 

T: You're— (sighs) Fine. Whatever. Come on.

H: Wait.

T: What?

H: I need to shower first.

For awhile, I ran a feature on my old blog that I called "the dialogue project." It was stuffed with these sorts of context-free, overheard conversations. Some were ludicrous, some were heavy. They were all quite a lot of fun to write. They might have been the most fun I ever really had blogging. I like this one. H. was a bit of a shit. And he probably made a habit of taking forty-five-minute showers, don't you think? 

Life among the notebooks

Researching vs. writing