Welcome to Telling Tuesday, a day reminiscent of those in school when I looked forward to seeing what everyone brought for show and tell. This weekly feature was inspired by an article on WriteToDone.com, called “How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre.”
It is one of the best articles I’ve seen on the rule all writers know–show, don’t tell–because it doesn’t just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre’s very own examples.
As always, I invite you to leave a link to your website or blog with your comments.
THIS WEEK’S PROMPT:
There are moments in history so significant and indelible that we remember exactly where we were when it happened. “Show” us one of those moments for any event in history.
“Where were you?”
10:35 a.m., January 28, 1986. I was between breakfast and lunch. Between reading a book to my kids and playing with blocks. A perfect time to stop in front of the television to watch the shuttle launch.
“Do you guys want to see a rocket blast off into space?” I called to four-year old Andrea and two-year old Adam from the living room.
They came running from different parts of the house. Andrea sat in front of the TV, but Adam, ever the rambunctious mischief-maker, darted in and out of the room. On a dart in, I picked him up and perched him on my hip, then returned to stand in front of the television.
The countdown had begun. “Ten, nine, eight . . . and we have lift off.”
Chills ran up my arms and I hugged Adam. “See?” I said, a lump in my throat. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Andrea nodded. Adam squirmed.
“Did you know there’s a teacher onboard this time?” I imagined Christa McAuliffe’s students watching. What were they were thinking?
Up, up Challenger went, its orange flame bright against the clear blue sky. The calm, matter-of-fact voice of Mission Control recited flight statistics. I wondered, as I always did at lift offs, how the voice could remain so calm during such an exciting event.
Then, an explosion. Surprised, my first response was to try to recollect if I’d ever seen that before. No, I didn’t think so. The voice of Mission Control remained calm, but I began to hear rumblings in the crowd that watched. Something was not right.
As Mission Control became silent, the CNN reporter began to try to analyze what had happened. “Looks like a couple of the . . . uh. . . solid rocket boosters . . . uh . . . blew away from the side of the shuttle in an explosion . . .”
Mission Control returned, sounding only slightly shaken. “Flight controllers here are looking very carefully at the situation.”
A thousand different thoughts flooded my mind.
Maybe they survived. Could they eject? If they are not to survive, I pray they were killed instantly so they won’t have to live through the fear of falling. Those poor little kids, watching this happen. I should turn it off. I can’t turn it off.
Tears burned my eyes. I held Adam tighter and moved closer to Andrea. Inhaling the scent of my son, I began to rock back and forth, a reflexive motion that always came when comfort was needed.