The Critical Inner Voice

Two surprising similar pieces of writing generated on 21 September 2017, by the Long Beach Library Coffeehouse Writers - Bob Biddle and author MarniSpencer-Devlin. The writing prompt 'Critical Inner Voice,'  gives us a peek at how our pass regulates our present moment.

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The Library Coffee writers group of Long Beach, CA., write from prompts. We get a prompt,  we give ourselves, individually 15 minutes to come up with and write a story from the prompt, then with the group we will share what we came up with and the story we wrote..  Below are the stories Bob and Marni made from the prompt – Critical Inner Voice, that gave the instruction to turn the prompt into a character, or tell what does it look like, smell like, etc.


Critical Inner Voice. by Bob Biddle

It’s always in the background.  It nags at me.  Taunts me.  Ridicules me.  I can’t remember a time when that little voice praised me.

I smell the scent of Pumpkin Spice.  Of Halloween.  God, it’s only mid-September.  What’s all the nonsense about Pumpkin Spice anyway?

It’s my mother.  Yes.  That’s who my little voice is.  My mother.  Well, thank you God for that one!  Why couldn’t it be Tom Selleck or Chad Everett?  Why is my mother constantly interjecting herself into my thoughts?  Didn’t she and I resolve this oh so many years ago?

All I see is a small, blonde and beautiful woman of about 30 years of age.  I see her almost like Julie Andrews at the beginning of the movie, “Sound of Music.”  You know, the part where she spins around an Austrian hilltop to the music of “The Hills are Alive.”

Yep!  That’s it—that’s my German mother in just another idiotic incantation.  Actually, now that I think about it, I’m glad it’s her and not my father.

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Both of them were bullies, you know, if the truth were told.

I see her now staring back at me from her small chair in my childhood living room.  Her Winston cigarette has been puffed down to a nub and the smoke lingers right at the level of my head.  I was always breathing second-hand smoke.’ 



The Taunting Inner Voice by Marni Spencer-Devlin

Better stick with me. If anyone knew how you really are they would all hate you. I know how you really are, how weird, how lazy, how slovenly, how dumb but I am your mother.

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I can’t walk away no matter how hard you make it sometimes. You are my burden to carry. I never wanted you, mind you.

My boys were enough for me. And I never wanted to have kids from different fathers – just another burden you visited upon me. 

She had been my constant companion for the better part of my years, It wasn’t immediately apparent how brutal she was, seeing how she cloaked herself in seeming caring and protection. She seemed warm, safe, and she smelled so good. Mama always made it seem like she was on my side. It took me years to figure out why I always felt like someone had taken a knife to my soul. 

But then, one day, I just woke up. I realized it wasn’t her. It had never been her. It had always been me. That bitter voice had been mine. I just gave it a face. But it was all illusion. Virtual reality. And I could stop it anytime. And so I did.