by Nina Benneton, guest blogger
Would you forgive the ex-Love of your life if he inexplicably married someone else mere weeks after he’d asked you to marry him?
Yeah. Me neither. If ‘to forgive’ is divine, then I’m afraid I’ll never be celestial.
In spite of that, last year, in a mad, rare moment of maturity, I decided to explore this theme of forgiveness in a short novel.
My heroine needed to learn to forgive the hero to free herself from bitterness and blah blah blah…
Hmmm. Does the ‘blah blah blah’ gives you a clue as to why I suffered a bad case of writer’s block for several weeks?
See, in this one reunion scene ten years after their break up, the heroine refused to even acknowledge the hero’s presence, much less give him a chance to explain and apologize. (I, for one, would like to hear his boneheaded reasons for such betrayal.) She kept stalking off mid-scene, once even rudely claiming she needed to go and manually dis-impact her dog’s anal glands. (Ew!)
“There is nothing in the world you can do or say that would convince me to listen to what’s-his-name’s apology.” She popped up on my computer screen one day, her gaze focused not on me but Scuttle, the sleeping dog at my side. “The man doesn’t exist to me. Period.”
A large part of me admired her stubbornness, but I needed her cooperation. “To quote Lewis Smedes: to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
“You don’t even know or care who the hell Lewis Smedes is because you just happened to look up that quote on forgiveness from the Internet.” She shot me a shrewd glance before her attention turned back to my dog. I caught a softening, tiny half-smile on Heroine’s face as Scuttle barked at the screen. “Take your dog to the dog park for some exercise and socialization. Stop writing things you know nothing about.”
Poof. She disappeared from the screen, leaving me with another poorly written, unfinished pivotal reunion scene and no clue how to fix it.
I decided to take her advice and go to the local dog park. Both Scuttle and I needed some exercise and socialization.
As soon as we were inside the gate, Scuttle scampered off to a quiet spot to do her business. When she paused and glared at me, I rolled my eyes and obligingly turned my back. She likes her privacy.
Bounding in through the gate, came an odd, mix-matched pair of dogs, one a lumbering, over-sized black Labrador and the other, a blurry, whirr-of-motion Jack Russell Terrier. A young man holding two leashes and a plastic bag closed the gate after them. The Lab paused near the spot where Scuttle had just finished her business.
By the time I emerged from rummaging inside my purse for a plastic bag, I saw that the Lab’s owner had already picked up both dogs’ droppings. I called out my thanks.
“Not a problem.” A bemused look on his face, he stared at Scuttle. “What is she?”
Used to people taking a double look whenever they first see her, I smiled. “She’s a rescue so we don’t know for sure, but the vet thinks she’s a Daschund and Labrador mix.”
He threw the plastic bag into a trashcan behind me. “Mine are rescues, too.”
There’s nothing I loved more than hearing rescue stories. “How long have you had them?”
“I’ve had Speedy about a year now.” He pointed to the Jack Russell, now whizzing around in a circle playing tag with Scuttle. “I hadn’t planned on a pet, but I was giving a friend a ride to the pound to pick up a cat for his mom and heard Speedy had already been returned to the pound three times.”
“Why? For being too hyper?” I watched Speedy literally run circles around Scuttle.
“He couldn’t be house-trained, for some reason. He was very close to ending up on the to-be-euthanized list.” Dryly, he added, “I became an instant dog owner that day.”
I laughed. It’s not an uncommon origin story for dog owners. I pointed to the black Lab, who looked like she’d eaten three Jack Russel-size dogs for breakfast that day. “Did she come from the same shelter, too?”
“No.” He hesitated for a moment before continuing. “During a hike a couple of months ago, we came upon Lulu chained to a self-feeding machine in the back of an abandoned gas station.”
I swore. I hoped somewhere, there was a place as far from celestial as possible for people who’d do such a thing to animals. “Did you report it?”
“No. I just took her,” he said, his voice sheepish. “She had no tags, or microchip, it turned out. But even if she had, I wouldn’t have cared. Whoever had her didn’t deserve her.”
“Darn right,” I agreed. Lulu waddled over and settled herself at his feet to watch Scuttle and Speedy wrestle each other.
“Believe it or not, she’s lost thirty pounds.” He smiled as he bent and petted Lulu. “And she house-trained Speedy within a week.”
When I returned to my laptop later that day, my writer’s block had dissipated. The scene flowed. The Heroine cooperated.
After all, if you learned how the Hero had rescued Speedy and Lulu, wouldn’t you at least give him a chance to apologize, too?
If Nina Benneton would spend less time at the dog park and more time with her computer, she’s sure she’d have more books published by now besides her debut novel, Compulsively Mr. Darcy. You can learn more at her website, ninabenneton.com.