Working on a short story to try and work through some issues, sometimes it helps to change the names and look at a problem from the outside.
Doug considered himself one of the luckiest men in the world. He had a beautiful, intelligent wife named Jennifer. They had been married for over twenty years raising their two children who both graduated high school and went on into college, not any easy feat in this day and age. Doug had a good steady job and was able to provide for his family, not necessarily able to get them everything they wanted, but there was always food on the table and a roof over their heads. It did not matter to Doug that the spare money went to pay medical bills for his wife’s disability, his children’s health problems, or his mental health problems. In his own way Doug was happy even if it did not show in his demeanor, unfortunately the demeanor his family always saw was one of stress, anxiety, and depression. Often times Doug would lose his temper at the smallest things as he desperately tried to exert some control over his life.
Years of being diagnosed and treated for a major depressive disorder that seemed to never get better, but steadily got worse, left Doug feeling helpless and bitter towards his doctor. Finally, Doug made the leap and came off of all of his medication for 9 months until he could find a new doctor that diagnosed him as bipolar, a diagnosis that should have been made in high school when he was suicidal and started self-medicating with cigarettes and alcohol. Somehow Doug had survived that, the same as he survived being bullied for years in elementary, middle and high school. Doug just internalized everything silently bearing the pain. The biggest pain Doug bore though was rejection and it was this pain that would be his undoing.
Doug never really fit in anywhere. When he sat daydreaming in class his dreams were always different. When he was asked questions, his answers came from a much different point of view and so he stopped answering because it hurt when other students ridiculed him. To make things worse Doug would blush at the drop of a hat, and not just blush but turn a deep crimson red that other students always found funny. There was no one for Doug to turn to as even his parents could not understand him, he lacked the ability to articulate his inner thoughts and they thought he was just silly and lazy at school.
Life did not get easier as Doug grew up, interest in girls quickly led to rejection by girls. The same kind of rejection he experienced in group activities spilled into individual relationships and so he sunk further into himself. The few relationships Doug did have always ended badly or never became anything. It was at one of the lowest points in Doug’s life that Jennifer came back into his life, they had been friends on and off since his junior year in high school, but suddenly she wanted a romantic relationship with him of all people. He kept wanting to pinch himself, surely it was just a dream, even on the day they were married Doug was still in disbelief that Jennifer actually wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.
Through the ups and downs of marriage Doug trod carefully, afraid at any moment Jennifer would realize her mistake or he would wake up from the best dream ever. That Jennifer stuck with him through his anger and depression could never register through his obsessive fear of rejection and his insecurity. Doug had such a low opinion of himself even after decades of Jennifer trying to build him up that one day, he succeeded in realizing his self-fulfilling prophecy. Doug could not tell you what the fight was about, he was under a lot of stress at work, his mother had recently passed away, his medications recently adjusted, and medical bills were piling up again. Doug knew though when he put himself down and Jennifer reacted by telling him he did not trust her and apparently never had since she had spent 20 plus years trying to build him up, he had gone too far.
This is a great start! If you develop the characters more and add more details and events you could have a real shot at getting published and I know a great editor, she’s ruthless, but good!
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