Novel extract from 'Restitution'

Author: Nola Published: over 3 years ago.
Tags: description, showing, dialogue Category: Novel extract

An Example of ‘Show, Don’t Tell’

(Note. Prior to this scene, Libby had bought a hooked rug in Tom’s antiques store that depicted a Sable Island horse. They have since learned it was made by a woman who was shipwrecked on Sable Island in 1881. We pick up the action at a restaurant. They’ve only known each other for a day.)

Tom raised his glass of Merlot. ‘To Sable Island,’ he said.

Libby clinked her glass of ginger ale against his. ‘To Sable Island.’ She took a long sip.

‘It’s really got you in, hasn’t it?’ Tom asked.

‘It’s hard not to be taken in by Barbara’s story.  Imagine being in the water all those hours.  It’s a miracle Maggie survived.’

‘But you were smitten before that,’ Tom said.  ‘You couldn’t take your eyes off that rug.’

Libby averted her gaze.  She knew he was talking about the way she’d looked at it in the store, but she could feel her walls going up.  She didn’t want him to know the power it had over her, the way she felt it calling her, the way she’d fallen asleep gazing at it.  What was wrong with her anyway?  

She excused herself to go to the bathroom and leaned against the basins. Not now. She wasn’t going to lose control now. Breathe in, one, two three; breathe out, one, two, three. Relax. She splashed cold water on her face. Breathe in, one, two three; breathe out, one, two, three. Time evaporated. Another few minutes and she’d be fine. The door opened and the waitress who’d been serving them stepped in.

‘Are you alright?’

Libby swallowed hard and tried to keep her voice even. ‘I’m fine.’

‘Your boyfriend’s worried about you.’

‘He’s not my boyfriend.’ Libby fumbled in her bag for her lipstick.

‘Trouble in Paradise?’

‘No, it’s … tell him I’ll be out in a minute.’

The waitress eyed her for a moment before closing the door. Breathe Libby, breathe. Her heart rate was starting to return to normal. Breathe. Just a couple more minutes. Nice and easy. Breathe.

By the time she got back to the table, their food had arrived.  Tom stood and pulled the chair out for her.  ‘Everything okay?’

‘Of course,’ she said.  ‘Just had to fix a slight wardrobe malfunction.’  She could tell from Tom’s expression that he wasn’t buying it, but to his credit he didn’t push it further.  ‘So how long have you been in the antiques business?’ Libby said as she reached for a slice of pizza.