Liz Thurlow, Part Eight: A Beautiful Picture

Editor’s Note: I have been away for almost three months and all that time Liz Thurlow has been stuck in bed with Tony Babic. Now, some may say that is a good thing – but in my opinion, it is high time to get that girl out of there! So here goes with a 30 minute unplanned writing session

. . .

Liz lay on the bed stroking the hollow where Tony had been, re-imagining his hands playing over her, hearing again his whispered words of encouragement, those he breathed into her ear and those he muffled into the hollow of her neck. His poetry and his passion – how she wished she could hold onto that forever. She dreamed of waking in the morning with him by her side, to be able to turn her naked body toward him and wrap herself around those thighs. Their two beings entwined as one.

She sank her head into his pillow and breathed in the left behind smell of him, soaking it into her senses.  His scent was so unique, musky, sweaty – it smelt like . . . like . . .

Well, it didn’t smell like Bob did, that was for sure. And it got into everything – the pillows, the sheets, the pores of her skin. It even hung in the air around the room. That was a problem they glossed over in the romance books.

“A penny for them?” Tony stood over her, dripping despite the towel hanging loosely around his hips.

“Oh, I thought the shower was still running,” Liz jerked out of her daydream.

“No, srce. It’s raining. You can hear it on the awning.”

Raining? Again? Oh shit.

“Liz? You need shower too, huh?” Tony pointed to the stain spreading across the bottom sheet.

Oh shit. Oh double shit. I still haven’t called the repair man for the clothes dryer. Why can’t Tony settle on a time to come calling? Leaves me hanging around all day never knowing when he plans on turning up. I can’t get anything done.

Tony dropped the towel to the floor, started stepping into his clothes. Liz snuck a look at the clock as she jumped off the bed. They were late again today. Not even two hours before Bob would get home.

“Ah Liz,” Tony’s hands were on her shoulders, turning her, his eyes taking in every inch of her naked body. “My perfect one. I am so unhappy to leave you, but as Dostoevsky says –  ‘The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.’ . . . You are my greatest unhappiness and my greatest happiness. I leave you now, but I take this beautiful picture with me.”

Liz fidgeted a little, anxious to get the sheets off the bed and herself into the shower. Truth be known, while she lapped up the poetry in their lovemaking, the afterglow was getting tedious and more than a little corny. She was relieved when he let himself out the back door a few minutes later.

She opened the door to the bathroom, and surveyed the carnage in there. More towels on the floor, pools of water in front of the basin where he had stood naked and dripping, the cap left off Bob’s aftershave. Every day the same thing. Liz lunged at the towels, making savage swipes at the wet floor.

“So! If you love beauty so much – what the bloody hell do you call this!”

She caught a reflection, paused, looked at the naked woman with the sculpted body and tousled hair. it couldn’t be her. This woman was falling apart. She watched it start with the trembling hands, the towels tumbling out of her grasp, the shaking spreading through her body. Then the reflection disappeared as the woman sunk to the ground, crying in huge, silent bone-shaking sobs.

This is the eighth part in a story building exercise for character, Liz Thurlow.

Previous Episodes: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven



20 thoughts on “Liz Thurlow, Part Eight: A Beautiful Picture

    • Thanks Charlotte! I so need to get on with Liz’s story, but am working on another deadline at the moment. Plus the grandchildren are due here next week, so I think it will be February before I get to the next episode. Everyone will have forgotten the plot by then 🙂

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        • They are great kids. It is our summer hols here at the moment, and they are with other grandparents right now. So they might be on “oldies” overload when they get here. hahaha Except there are so many fun things to do here. We live beside the beach, for one. The girl starts high school next month. She has always been a thoughtful girl, and now she is that much older we can have some interesting conversations 🙂

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  1. Great flow – did you stick to your 30 mins?!! it’s interesting you should write about scent/smell not mentioned in romance novels as I have been listening to different Scandi noir writers (all male) and I had been particularly struck about how they write about smells. They all have various male lead protagonists quite dizzy with the scent (natural or perfumes) of the women they love. It feels as though noticing scent distinguishes ‘love’ from mere physical desire. Do you think that is male writers trying to separate the ‘male gaze’ association with attraction from a more complex emotional response that can be linked to scent? Or is it just a fashionable thing to write about at the moment?


    • Well that got me thinking. I am not sure I can speak to what is fashionable to write – as I am not that adept, but certainly on my recent course we did cover writing to the five senses. We also get hammered all the time about “show, don’t tell” – that I can say for sure is fashionable! I.e. putting the reader into the scene. My motivation for going down the scent route is because I was trying to imagine just what it would be like to carry on an affair on a daily basis in the very room you share with your husband. Surely guilt must kick in somewhere. Desire and guilt, a tricky combination that can pull you in two directions at once. So, the thing that you savour can be the very thing that leaves a trail, and without writing too bluntly about it, the act of love can certainly create distinctive pheromones and odour 🙂 I have to confess this one took about 45 minutes to pull together. I felt out of practice – partially with the story, and partially with the act of writing. So it was interesting to learn that about myself. I realised afterwards that I didn’t make it clear that I was picturing Liz fevering away at the washing machine after each event, trying to remove traces before Bob got home – but I guess the oblique reference to the clothes dryer implied that. The strain suddenly showed up in the reflection in the mirror. Not sure if that comes across corny. But surely she must be feeling some strain by now 😉


      • Well I think 45 minutes is pretty speedy and it certainly doesn’t feel as if you were at all rusty. And, oblique definitely worked for me as I had a feel for what was happening for her. ‘Guilt’ is a powerful emotion and I like the way we see Liz as physically wrung out.


        • Thanks so much for the feedback. It really helps to know what is working, and what is not – so please never hesitate to let me know when a dialogue or situation has missed the mark. The business about setting a time limit on how long to write is to prevent procrastination. I need to get back to where I am promising myself thirty minutes every day. Like most things in life, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

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