S.G. Browne

R is for Rita

“Rita’s face is a pale moon hovering in the black hood of her sweatshirt. She has on a black turtleneck and black pants. The only color she’s wearing is on her lips, which are Eternal Red.”

This is the first glimpse of Rita, a suicide who slit her wrists on her twenty-third birthday and who consumes formaldehyde in trace amounts by eating lipstick, fingernail polish, and other cosmetic products.  She’s the only character, other than Andy, who made the jump from my short story “A Zombie’s Lament” to Breathers.

Rita is also the love interest for Andy, who becomes increasingly attracted to Rita in spite of his feelings of guilt and loss regarding the death of his wife.  As Andy puts it when dealing with his conflicting feelings about his wife and Rita and describing the differences between the two:

“One who is dead and cold, the other who is undead and hot.”

When I started out writing Breathers, although I had the character of Rita in my head, I didn’t intend for Andy to develop feelings for her and for the two of them to fall in love.  Their relationship just seemed to develop as the story went on and it only made sense for the two of them to start up an undead romance.  I think the first moment when this happened is in Chapter 10, when Andy goes for a walk on a Sunday morning and ends up meeting Rita just at the moment when he’s feeling like he’s made a big mistake.  Which is actually one of my favorite chapters in the book.  I remember finishing the chapter and thinking, “Well, that was fun.”

Obviously Andy is my favorite character in Breathers, and while Jerry holds a very dear spot in my heart as my second favorite, Rita was an absolute pleasure to discover.

(Next entry:  S is for STIFF)

Filed under: Breathers,The Writing Life — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 8:43 am