7 or 8 Things: Character Study

Another character study fiction piece using Michael Ondaatje’s formula short called 7 or 8 Things I Know About Her.  Here’s: 

7 or 8 Things I Know About Him: A Character Study; Quinn. 

  by J. Rains

        His Father

After his father died he burned all the notebooks.  He painted the basement black, where his father slept until he died, while his mother was on vacation.  Have to get away, she said.  When she came back, she picked up the notebook ashes with a dustpan and brush.

        The Cat

You look like something the cat dragged in, his mother said to his father.  He couldn’t remember the cat dragging anything in the house, except once a chipmunk, which looked cute and fat as it lay on the gold linoleum floor.

        The Pills

He secretly unscrews all his wife’s vitamin capsules and inserts a birth control pill in each one.  He watches her take the vitamins every day.  He doesn’t know that she replaced the vitamin bottle with a new one when she noticed the expiration date.

        First Criticism

He is five and his grandmother tells him that his feet are pigeon-toed.  He doesn’t know what this means.  He writes pejn-td in the notebook his mom got him at K-mart.

       Listening In

Overhear him say “you suck” and “fuck you jolly” to his new laptop computer.   Saturday morning.  9:30.


“Growing up I knew I was different.  I was always alone.  In my head I was surrounded by people no one could see.  I still am.  I can work out conversations with all of them.   It gets me no where.”


The lucid one are about living at a beach house in California where a supply of pre-written novels are hidden in a cupboard, ready for submission.  In his real nighttime dreams he sees the dark things darting back and forth, his vision waning.  There is no beach.

        What we know…

Is that he has thought about taking his own life, how easy it would be to hit the entire bottle of pain killers and obtaining endless sleep.  We know his wife will find him around 6 p.m.

        What we don’t know…

Is that he is incapable of actually swallowing a pill.  We don’t know that his wife has been dead for almost a year and will not find him around 6 p.m.


Writers comments:  This is a character from one of my longer short stories. He’s a writer who can’t remember how to write.  It is actually a journey into a mental meltdown, a man so altered by the death of someone he loves…The cat sequence is from a comment my mom always said and an event in my own childhood when my cat brought home a chipmunk in his mouth for us.  It was quite cute, even though is was dead.

10 Responses to “7 or 8 Things: Character Study”

  1. My writerly self loves this… I have a character that needs fleshing out – this stream of consciousness / character study is great.


  2. yes. i agree! i’d love to read your story if you’d post it when you’re done.


  3. justunderthesurface Says:

    Now that I’ve changed over my websites, maybe I can focus on writing and trying this exercise – I really want to! Thanks for adding my new site. I got so weary of all the problems with blogger I had to start fresh. My blog looked fine in Internet Ex. 6 but in 8 you have to view in compatibility mode and in Firefox there are huge spaces. Now I can breathe deep and get zen again! 🙂 And maybe start posting regularly. I promise I’ll catch up on reading yours too! Lis

    P.S. It looks like you might get your wish on Rescue Me. If you need catching up on the past, check out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rescue_Me_%28comedy-drama%29


  4. Sarcastic Bastard Says:

    Love your self-portrait, Jenn!


  5. Sarcastic Bastard Says:

    To clarify, I’m talking about the drawing on your blog page, in case it wasn’t clear.


  6. Jennifer Rains Says:

    Thanks SB for the self portrait compliment. I debated on posting it that way.
    Luv ya, Jenn


  7. Jennifer Rains Says:

    Thanks for the link Lis. Filled in the backstory for me. I needed it, how’d ya know?


  8. debbi radford Says:

    My first cat was a stray. He used to bring me mice; both dead and alive. Thank God my husband was home when I let her in one day and she was bringing me the present of a live mouse. It took 3 hours to get it from under the couch. The dead ones were always on the welcome mat in front of the front door, so I would invariably step on them before I saw them. One time I saw it just as I was about to step down and fell right next to it. I almost broke my ankle.


  9. severnyproductions Says:

    great stuff


  10. Jennifer Rains Says:

    Hey Deb,
    They say when a cat brings you a dead one, you’re not supposed to scold them because they are instinctually providing for their family, pride, whatever. I used to yell at my cat whenever he did this. Sorry I did that now. My more recent cats who have passed away were indoors only, so we had no wild game issues. I still miss them.
    Love, Jenn


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