20 Questions

“Twenty questions.”

“What?”

“You only get twenty questions. And I will let that first one slide.”

“That’s all I get?”

“Yes. Nineteen.”

“Wait! That doesn’t count!”

“I make the rules. Nineteen.”

“What happens after I’ve used all my questions?”

“I will decide if I will ever talk to you again. And you are wasting questions. Eighteen.”

“Ok. Hmmm. Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Nope. Seventeen.”

“Where were you born?”

“Weak. Larksburg, Indiana. Sixteen.”

“Biggest pet peeve?”

“I would say… I hate it when people talk through a movie. I didn’t go there to hear them. You are not very good at this. Fifteen.”

“Grrr. Um… What do you look for in a guy?”

“Why? So you can suddenly morph into what you think I want? I want a man who has tested life and knows how he wants to live it. Someone who is secure in who he is and what he wants. Someone who is well versed in laughing and crying. Fourteen.”

“Favorite movie quote?”

“Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…”

“Ha ha! You’ve even got the accent down. That’s impressive.”

“Thirteen.”

“Will you answer any question I ask with absolute honesty? You set the rules, but I need to know what they are if I’m going to play.”

“That seems fair. Yes. Total honesty. And now it’s twelve.”

“Have you ever cried just to get out of a ticket?”

“If we are being honest, yes. And I would do it again. A few tears saved me a couple hundred bucks. That’s a good deal to me. Eleven.”

“Do you vote?”

“No. I know I should, but I just don’t know enough about all the issues to make a decision I can stand behind. And it seems like it doesn’t matter who we pick anyway. They’re gonna do whatever they want anyway. Ten.”

“Do you like to read?”

“Sometimes. It has to be really good book for me to finish it. None of that vampire crap. And I follow a couple blogs. Nine.”

“Do you have any idea how hard you are making this for me?”

“If it’s too tough, you can always quit. And that leaves eight.”

“I’m not a quitter. In fact, I usually thrive under pressure. Do you believe in God?”

“Not exactly a soup question is it?”

“Ha! I love that movie. No it’s not. Most people only want superficial conversation, but you seem different so I figure I’ll make the most of the questions I have left.”

“Good. Yes I do. I think that we are built to have purpose. That is not something that I think would happen naturally. No other animals live life with purpose. And I think that we will laugh at how little we could see and understand during our life when it is over and we are not held back by our physical nature.”

“You forgot to tell me I only have seven left.”

“Seven.”

“So are you afraid of death?”

“I am afraid of suffering, but not death. I mean I don’t want to be in pain, but I am not worried about what happens after. Six more.”

“Well in that case, what is your greatest fear?”

“I said I would be honest, but I didn’t say I would answer every question. Fine. I guess that deep down I am afraid that this is all there is for my life and I will never be what I am capable of. That I will never have adventure. That I will never find real and meaningful love. That I am destined to live a mediocre life and that dissatisfaction is my destiny. You happy? Five.”

“Do you think that life will simply hand you happiness? Crap. Yeah I know, four. What I’m trying to say is that I think that life, by nature, is not very giving. You have to go after what you want. It takes work to get and keep the really good stuff. You can’t just expect it to fall into your lap. Life tends to reward those who work for the things they want so badly.”

“I agree. I think that in the past, generations were expected to work hard and if they didn’t it wasn’t acceptable. Today if we are lazy and just complain about life on Facebook, it’s tolerated. It is much harder to be self-disciplined than to be kept accountable ya know?”

“I would agree. So what are you doing to find adventure, and love, and happiness?”

“Sitting on my couch and complaining about life on Facebook. I know, I know… I want more for my life, I just don’t know direction to go. And I am afraid of moving in the wrong direction and ending up farther away from where I want to be. Just three more…”

“I think that if you never move, your chances of finding the things you want most stays incredibly low. Even moving in the wrong direction bumps up your chances. It’s like we are all sailboats, we want to reach land, but we can’t see it. If we never sail, we will never reach it. We can only be guided when we are moving. Whether it’s our own heart, or life, or God, we can only feel the pull to change direction once we start to sail.”

“That makes sense, but knowing that you should be doing something and finding the courage to actually do are two different things.”

“True. What would you try if you were guaranteed that you would succeed?”

“Well I want lots of things. I want to have a career. I want to help people… I think if I had to pick one thing it would be to have a happy and healthy family.”

“Two?”

“Oh. Yeah, two.”

“Tell me something about yourself that no one really knows about.”

“Tricky boy. That still counts as a question. Which only leaves you with one more. Let’s see… I am addicted to fantasy baseball! I can’t help it. My uncle needed someone to fill a space in his league one year so I joined for him. At first I had no idea what was going on, but he helped me and explained how it worked and stuff. By the end of the season I was calling him all the time ask him questions. My mom got really jealous! I was horrible that first year, but the next year I won our league title. My uncle said he was proud of me, but I think all the other guys were mad at him cause they got beat by a girl. Now, during baseball season, I sneak away to check stats and game scores. My friends would all laugh at me if they knew.”

“That is the coolest thing I have ever heard.”

“I gotta admit, it feels good to tell someone. Well?”

“I really enjoyed this and all I can think about is figuring out a way to get another twenty questions with you. I know this may seem cheesy, but if you’re gonna go out, you might as well go out with a bang. Would you have dinner with me sometime?”

“I thought you’d never ask.”

Author’s Note: I wanted to write a piece that was solely dialogue. It was kind of a challenge to myself to see if I could write a compelling story without providing a scene to frame it. I would love any thoughts or suggestions.

Copyright © 2011 Adam Drake

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18 comments

  1. I think you accomplished what you set out to do. And you did it well. And I still think it makes a good meet cute conversation for a film that you should write.

  2. This is awesome! The tensipn is fantastic and carries all the way through. I did get a little cnfused about the genders of the speakers at first but it got sorted out by the end. Very well done!

  3. I love this. So well written and the characterization is wonderful. The discussion about the third to last question is great. Nice work.

  4. I’d have to agree with “undividing”…wish I could’ve witnessed this conversation. Didn’t feel like you needed to provide a scene or a setting with this one-the conversation was compelling and fun enough by itself. Great job accomplishing what you were shooting for 🙂

  5. Great job! The play and fluff questions at the beginning really setup the whole conversation. I got sucked into the dialogue and wanted to stick around for the more serious fun.

  6. I agree with Ashley…as a matter of fact, last week after reading ‘Brothers’, I was thinking it would be very fascinating to see one of your pieces on the big screen or even the small screen…if you know what I mean! Your stories are very captivating. I loved this one ❤

  7. I didn`t have any problems with the gender actually… 🙂 It may sound a little offensive, but I figured that normally a woman would be behind a situation like this. The idea of a short movie is somewhat compelling. While reading the story my mind was visualizing the images from their conversation mostly. This gave me an idea. The short movie would not show both characters until the end. It would focus slowly on parts of the setting around them (a small cafe, a diner… something that is not very isolated), and should follow the intensity of the dialogue. Of course in the end, it should give a glimpse of both characters (hands, hair, eyes) and after the final question – their silhouettes through the window of the place they are sitting or from low angle (near the ground) how they walk away. It might be fun to do…

    Otherwise, I would love to have something to criticize, since praise is good, but we all need opposition. But the only thing that really bothered me was the content between questions 7 and the end is getting too philosophical. I know it is meant to be part of the story, but it was too heavy on words. You may want to simplify it a little. Use less words to express their thoughts of how both characters perceive the world and their position in it. There are some sentences that mean the same, but are just expressed with different words. Well, that is that – a criticizm. I hope it helps! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for the feedback. I love the comments about what you like and the criticisms. I need both. The encouragements give me motivation to keep writing and the criticisms help me grow and get better. I am grateful you took the time to helps me in both ways.

  8. Baaaah! Whatever you do, don`t quote me. I know you won`t, but as I re-read, what I wrote…. I need to write in non-business English, just a little more often… My grammar and wording is out of this world. Sorry for that!

  9. A fun little piece. It reminded me of an interview you would read in a magazine between a writer and an artist, or a writer and the cover girl for an issue of Import Tuner. (Ahem.)

    The only complaints I have is generally the same as what Georgi said above. Some of the comments were extremely philosophical, and while I think most of them still worked, seeing as these are clearly two bright, young adults speaking, when you say something like ‘We’re like sailboats, and life is the sea.’ things descend a little too deep into winded metaphoric discussion on life.

    Not to mention without attributions, those sections forced me to scroll back a little to rediscover who was saying what. I got mixed up, and I think that was a result of both characters suddenly getting too insightful and lengthy in their replies. Perhaps it was your intent to make both of them very similar at that point, but I personally felt a bit lost between them at there.

    The rest of the story was wonderful and very engaging (as dialogue should be), so I have to say that you accomplished the goal you set out for!

  10. This was interesting. It didn’t really give me an idea of a story as much as the outline of two characters’ personalities.
    By the way, the guy only asked 19 questions, unless you count “Two?”, which it doesn’t seem like you did.

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