Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fic: First Person

I love when stories are first-person; I'm not sure, always, whether they're telling me fact or fiction, memory or dreamy possibility.

The man sitting across the table from me is telling a story in a low soft voice that smells of the artificial sweetener in his coffee. The brown steam-swirls in my own undoctored cup makes heady illustrations of his words. I can't bring myself to look directly at him - it might make him stop talking, startle him out of this storytelling reverie. And I'm afraid that, once startled, he'll remember that this memory is private, or lose the thread of the fiction if it is so. 

So I stare into my coffee as he tells me about his impassioned affair with a married priest whose husband had tried so hard to kill him when they were discovered. His hands illustrate his feelings, waving in and out of my field of vision, punctuating tension with broad palm strokes. His exact words get lost in the fog of emotion and cadence that drifts softly over me. 

I can't bring myself to look for them too hard. 

The fog cannot hold it's density; probably a combination of the sunshine and coffee, and I find myself once again firmly entwined in his thread. He is describing the ways the husband struck back at him; the confrontation in a dark alley outside a pub, the after-hours fire at his office that the police chief, a distant cousin, never got quite around to ruling arson, the voodoo. 

I can't stop my eyebrows winging upwards; voodoo from the husband of a priest? An admonishing finger swings under my nose, chastising my doubt. 

I smile, wiping the consternation from my face, curiously disappointed to have fiction confirmed.

Rings flashing darkly silver in the sun, he shows me the shape of a curse, intricate and lethal. He gestures vaguely at his ribcage when talking about the freak accidents caused by the curse, the piano leg that had impaled him cartoonishly from height. And the small things, black cats and broken mirrors. He'd sought a blessing from his lover; holiness to counteract dark magic. He was refused, on the grounds of regret and suspected insanity; voodoo didn't exist, so he would be fine, he was just trying to get close again. He'd had to find his own magician, and flee their island out of time. And so he'd found himself on another island, whimsy made stone and coffee shops, and engaged in conversation with a stranger.


  1. You write some nice fiction images, mystery, etc. Like the surpise shifting out of the story into another one at the last couple of grafs. A little disjointed a few places; not sure if intended or not? Part of the intended reader experience?

    1. Thanks! I really like playing with imagery. The choppy transition to the final paragraph was choppier than intended, as pacing is something I'm still working on.