Ben Leskey | Blog

Scene draft: Lusha tries to get answers, version 2

2023-03-29 #scene #writing

Here's the second draft of a scene I've been working on, both for my creative writing class and for my current novel project. I've made some revisions to make it more clear what's going on, and I removed the bit at the end of having a random rat run up and eat the telephone cord.


Lusha punched the number into the keypad and jerked the heavy slightly-rusted handset up to her ear. She shuffled around the tangled wire as the handset blared tones. It clicked. There were a few other girls at the dormitory payphones, but nobody was listening too closely yet.

“Lusha?” Her father's soft voice came metallic and worried.

“Baba, I need to know something.”

He didn't say anything.


“What is it, love?”

“How did you get me to the university?”

The briefest pause, then he said “Is something wrong?”

“Baba—!” Lusha stopped as a girl picked up the handset of the payphone next to her and clicked in a number. She went on, quieter, “Baba, something happened and I’ve gotta know.”

“What happened?”

“I wanna know. I have to know.”

“What happened, Lusha?” He must have been very close to the telephone. It usually sat in their kitchen with a stool on either side so both her mother and father could talk with their friends at once. Now his every breath rang out through the handset on her end.

“Is that Lusha, Eli?” her mothers voice came through the line. “Oh, Lusha, what’s going on?”

“I was asking how I got to… here,” said Lusha, glancing at the girl beside her.

“Oh,” said her mother.

“It’s nothing,” said her father. “Don’t worry.”

“Are you gonna tell her?”

He growled a little growl, not meant for anyone. “It’ll be okay. It’s okay. You can go back to the bread.”

“I don’t have to yet.”

“What’s wrong?” said Lusha.

“He won’t tell me either.”

“It’s my business.”

“It’s my business too,” said Lusha. The girl next to her was chatting about foot sores with her friend. Lusha gritted her teeth. “I told you, something happened… at the registrar. An important man asked me for something.”

“We need to talk,” he said, just like when she was a kid being scolded. “Later.”

“I can’t talk later. I won’t have a telephone. We need to talk now.”

“I’m sorry love,” he choked out, “I can’t.”

“If you can’t tell her now what makes you think you can tell her later? Or is it something you can’t tell just me? Eli?”


“You don’t have to say what it is. Just say there’s something. Don’t look at me like that.”

“Moma?” said Lusha.

“Your father’s hiding something. I want him to spit it out.”

Lusha weighed her words. “Do you know how it happened, Moma? Anything? Please, Moma.”

“I want him to say it.”

“Moma please. I don’t have any time.” Lusha clutched the handset with a sweaty hand. The girl beside her stopped chatting with her friend, but she hadn’t hung up yet.

“Eli, say it. Just say you’re hiding it! Say what you did to get her into the university!”

Her father choked out a guttural sob. “Girls, please…”

“Baba?” The handset was too heavy. The girl beside her was too quiet.

Nobody said anything for a while, then her mother came back. “He ran out the door.”

“Is he okay?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you know? I have to know.”

“I want you to come home first.”

“I can’t!”

“Not over the telephone. Not over the telephone, Lusha.” Now she was crying.

Lusha froze holding the handset to her ear. “Moma,” she whispered. The line popped as if it were cut, and hissed horribly. “Moma?” She pulled the crackling, hissing roar away from her head.

Another bored girl stood behind her. “You done?”

Lusha sniffled and handed over the telephone.