Sharon’s Note: Character development is tricky. You have to try to balance story progression versus character progression, and you don’t want to leave either one behind. In romance, it’s kind of weird because the character development is the main story, and anything else happening is b plot. You still can’t abandon it, but it shifts the balance somewhat of what you focus on. It’s different to write, but fun. Warning: Sweet moment.
As they left the haunted house they were immediately accosted by a balding, wiry man with a camera. He waved it in their faces. “Hey, you guys want a picture? Only five tickets.”
Jim was about to tell the guy no, when Wendy draped an arm over his shoulder. “I’m going to kiss your cheek for the picture, okay?”
“Uh, yeah, s- sure,” he stammered. The photographer grinned wickedly, knowing exactly why Jim was staring at the camera in panic while Wendy’s lips pressed lightly right in front of his ear.
The camera clicked several times, then Wendy turned to the photographer. “So where’s the picture?”
“There’s a booth right near the exit. You can pick it up there in about an hour.” He winked at Jim. “Make sure you don’t forget it. Looks like a good memory to keep.”
Wendy sighed and her shoulders dropped. “Didn’t they invent cameras that gave you the picture right away? Wasn’t that a thing that happened?”
“They gotta have time to print out the picture.” The photographer shifted uncomfortably as she stared at him, her face crumbling to confusion and her breath starting to get quick and ragged.
She whipped around to Jim, tears starting to form and her lip beginning to tremble. “But that was a thing? I remembering that correctly, right?”
“Yeah, yeah that was totally a thing. It’s just not what they’re doing here.” He took her hands, his own panic brimming at the thought of her crying. The photographer took the opportunity to scamper away. Jim stroked her hair, feeling its soft strands mixed with the stiff edge of ribbons and coarse twine. “Wow, um, you, you really have trouble remembering things, don’t you?”
“You thought I was lying?” She pulled one hand away to wipe at her eyes.
“I thought you were exaggerating, you know, playing it up for laughs.” He looked around till he found an unoccupied bench and pulled them both to it. “Were you like, in an accident or something?”
Wendy shrugged, petting his hand for comfort like it was a small animal. “I don’t know. I can’t remember that either.”
“Do you have any friends or family who could, you know, help?”
She shook her head. “If I do, I don’t remember them either. All I have is this . . . compulsion. I go around, looking for things and . . . I fix them. It may not have always been like that, but that’s how it is now.”
“I, uh, don’t know how to help.” Jim stared at the hand that petted his. It had freckles on the back of it.
“Help me focus.” She touched his chin, raising it so he had to look at her. “Be here with me and talk to me and be my friend. I need someone to remember for me and point me in the right direction. I need you.”
A smile crept onto his face against his will. “Well, you know, we’re, um, not far from the ferris wheel, if you still want to go.”
Like a sunrise, joy broke over her face. “The ferris wheel, that’s right! See, I need you around.”
Wendy bound to her feet, dragging Jim with her.