Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stuck in the Middle

Are you ready for Challenge #39, Stuck in the Middle? This challenge is a little different, and may be slightly more challenging to write, because it does not focus on the Lovers. Or the romance itself. As we all know, relationships do not happen in a vacuum; others are affected either directly (children, in-laws) or indirectly (social groups, co-workers) by the success or failure of the relationship. We still want to see the romance aspect, but it will flow from a slightly different perspective.

This prompt is about the others in the romance couple’s lives DURING the break-up. Inlaws, best friends, co-workers siblings, the kids and other immediate family. Anyone who has connected with the couple and is expected to choose sides when the relationship ends. What we want to see (in 400 words or less) is how “the others” feel or is changed by the ending relationship, and what they see as the strengths/weaknesses of the couple. We want to live the romance through a second party. (This is not a love triangle.)

Jaeden couldn’t wait for Sandra to come home from college for the summer, mainly so that he could hang out with her boyfriend, Dylan.  Sandra had been dating Dylan since they were Juniors in high school, and Jaeden thought of him as a brother.

When Sandra drove up, he ran out to meet her.  She hesitated to go in and tell her family the news.  She grabbed her overnight bag and slowly walking to the door with her head down until Jaeden met her.   Even though she and Dylan broke up a couple weeks ago, she hadn’t wanted to deal with telling her family  while she was trying to study for exams. 

“Hey sis!  Welcome home”, he smiled as he grabbed her bag.

“Hey Jay”, she answered in a mumble.

“We planned a cookout tomorrow to welcome you and Dylan back.  Mom talked to Dylan’s mom already to invite him”, Jaeden informed her.

Had Dylan not told his parents either?  Surely if he had, Dylan’s mom would’ve told her that they broke up when she called to invite him. 

“What did Mrs. Saunders say when Mom invited him?” Sandra asked curiously.

“What do you mean?”, Jaeden asked. 

She looked at Jaeden trying to figure out break the news gently.  He was so excited about the cookout.

“Jay, Dylan and I broke up a couple weeks ago”, she blurted.  “He must not have told his mom either or she would have said something about him coming to the cookout”.  There was no subtle way to do this, for either of them.

“What?”, Jaeden’s face fell.  “But what about us hanging out?  You know how boring it is around here.  Dylan makes things a little more bearable, at least for the summer.”

Sandra felt bad for Jaeden.  She knew how much he looked forward to having Dylan around.

“I’m sorry Jay.  Maybe he will still come over to hang out with you.  You two have been friends for a long time.  I’m sure he won’t leave you hangin’”, Sandra said, hoping it was true.  “Besides, now you and I can hang out more too.  It’ll be fun”, she tried to convince him while convincing herself.

Jaeden was speechless.  His whole summer had just crashed before him, but he felt bad for Sandra too.

“Sure”, he said with as much enthusiasm as he could muster.  “Fun”

Word count 393/FCA


  1. What an interesting idea to explore the secondary characters in a relationship breakdown. There are inevitably ripples to those around the couple concerned. Thanks.

  2. That's sad, the family thinks everything is all fine when really it's not.. Great post!

  3. She was already feeling bad enough. Now, she has to endure her brother's disappointment, too. Great job of drawing us in, Roland

  4. I felt bad for her too. It's never just about the couple.

  5. I enjoyed this vignette of someone else getting let down by the termination of a relationship they were dependent on in a different way. It's a unique insight.

  6. Hi,

    Touching piece... Stuck in the Middle sums this up perfectly! ;)


  7. Nice posting and a good take on stuck in the middle after a break up. So many emotions I mean, What will happen if the ex bf does come over to hang out with the brother? and What if the ex bf drops the friendship with the brother just because of the breakup? Enjoyed reading.

  8. I liked this Heather -- in every relationship there's fallout to a breakup, and I like how you captured a sense of the loss from one of those "outsiders."

  9. Very cool! The brother's point of view is a great one to use. In fact, I wish the whole piece was his point of view. It would be interesting to see the realization come over him while the reader is already figuring it out from the girl getting out of the car alone.

  10. Great piece. I feel bad for Jay too.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  11. Hi Heather. You've written a great story that fits the prompt guidelines well (unlike me). It's true what Ruth said, it could have been even stronger and more interesting if you'd written it completely from Jay's point of view. But it works how it's written. I can feel the pain from both characters, and more yet to come when the parents find out! Oh Lordy!

    Thanks for posting...


  12. My husband and I broke up for a short time (when we were dating) and I think my family was as devastated as I was. This situation definitely rang true! Poor Jaeden! :(

  13. The challenge the week is proving just how many spins we all put on the same topic. Think you could have gone solely with Jaeden's pov since he's the one who's in the middle. Awkward situation for sure.

  14. A great piece of writing. I wonder how much younger the brother is? I get the impression he is in his early teens.

  15. There's always someone getting hurt when a relationship end.. not only the person who are involved with each other but the people around them as well.. great work! thank you for sharing :)


  16. Cool; I love the "this affects me" sentiment from Jaeden. I get a sense he is a lot younger than his sister, still quite a little kid. I like Jaeden's self interest, and how our MC has to deal with her own feelings about the break up, and how it affects not only her family, but the jilted lover too. Awesome characters and story plot. Excellent use of the theme to show perspectives of all extended parties involved.

    Thank you for participating in this week's RFW challenge Heather.


  17. Very realistic reaction from the younger brother, the touch of concern almost an afterthought. :) Enjoyed this and would want to see more, either the history or into the future .

  18. Poor Jaeden. But you're spot on about the impact of a split of other members of the family. Nice one, Heather.

  19. This is a great stuck in the middle story. The point of view switches should be reconsidered. I think you can strengthen this piece by choosing one POV.

  20. hello.
    I feel bad for the both of them. I wonder what sort of reception the ex would get if he was brazen enough to actually turn up? There's room for continuation with this story. Thanks for sharing.

    Thoughts Of Beauty In The Stillness Of Dawn...

  21. It flows - and such a realistic portrayal too, Heather. I feel bad for Jay. A whole summer is a big deal and would probably go down in his mental diary as the day "I grew up after finding out life can truly suck...sometimes."