Saturday, June 09, 2012


I finally broke out my copy of Brian Kiteley's The 3. AM Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction and decided to start doing some exercises to get the creative juices flowing. I kind of meditated on it, opened my mind a bit, gave up resistance, and this is what came of it. I wrote it at the sushi restaurant over some of the weirdest, yet most delicious sushi I've ever eaten---and now, I'm going to reward myself by finishing it. (The sushi, that is.)

The exercise, called Reluctance, challenges the writer to write a fragment of fiction from the first person POV, but limits the usage of personal and personal possessive pronouns to only two in the entire story---the point of which is to encourage the fictive voice to merely be a first-person observer without insinuating him/herself into the story except as an observer and reporter.
I’m sitting two tables away from them, close enough to overhear their conversation, but not so close as to be overly conspicuous as an eavesdropper. She knows they’re being watched, but he has no idea. She is utterly self-aware and conscious of the impression she gives. Every one of her moves is intentional and studied. He, on the other hand, has no thought for anything past their table.

As they talk, she tosses her hair once or twice in a grand gesture, in case some foolish person is too involved with their buffalo wing starter to notice she’s there. After the long, impossibly shiny hair settles back into place, her chin drops and her mouth slides into a wet-lipped seductive little bow. She seems to be quite focused on him, but she is also regarding the audience in her periphery.

She is quite beautiful. No doubt this is what drew him to her in the first place. Like most very beautiful women, though, much of her energy seems to be drawn from the outside in. This display between them tonight is not new to her. She is accustomed to luring, to drawing attention, both wanted and unwanted, to herself. She’s probably been at this since she was a young teen, and has had years to cultivate and hone her skills at commanding the room---any room. People must look. They will have no choice. It is expected, required. It is part of her seduction of the world at large.

However, at their little table, there is no seduction going on---at least no obvious one. In fact, they are quarreling, these two lovers. They speak mostly in low, tense whispers, hers a bit more stagey and audible than his. She has made him jealous, it seems, by flirting inappropriately with someone. Foolish boy. Does he not know this is just her way? Does he not comprehend the rare, fragile creature with whom he has become entangled? She can no more stop her wooing, her flirtatious luring, than she could the beating of her own heart. She might not sleep with them. But she must draw them to her; she must entice and seduce them, at least emotionally, just to reassure herself that she can. If he does not see this, he will lose her. Already, in the middle of this little café, at their tiny table, as the waiter sets down their meals and they momentarily hush their contretemps, she has taken time out to clandestinely seduce the entire room with another small toss of her glossy caramel mane, her flashing eyes, and her sotto voce self-defense.

“Look at me,” she says with every bewitching molecule of that flawless body. “See how he punishes me? See how he victimizes me for the very thing that brought him to me?" 

And, in this at least, she is right, of course. He has failed to see the essential truth of her. Beauty is not a thing about her. It is her. It is not skin-deep in this one. It is woven in the strands of her DNA, lodged in every corpuscle that bursts through her veins. That perfect skin, those finely chiseled features, the delicacy of her small, full-lipped mouth---all were brought together by some alchemic force during the prenatal division of her cells to create this vision of womanly perfection.

If he does not see this soon, if he does not accustom himself to her innate caprice and exhibitionism and learn to accept the essence of her, he will certainly have to lose her. She will tire of his efforts to turn her from goddess to ordinary woman, and she will move on to the next conquest, until she finds a man who can handle her by keeping her attention while allowing her to be what her nature dictates she be---the object of unattainable, unpossessable sexual desire.

They are through with their meal, neither of their plates having been touched by fork. He sullenly throws money on their table for the bill, and she dabs softly at the corner of her eye with the cloth napkin. Are her tears real? Even from this short distance, it is difficult to say.

As they leave, in his anger, he strides ahead of her, allowing her to fall a few paces behind. Another mistake on his part, for this gives her one last chance to work the room before she leaves, to leave one last taste on the tongue of all the desirous males who watch her with an idea that she might be theirs, and, should such a miracle occur, they would certainly know how to treat her better than this handsome, petulant boy. This last she does with a sensual expertise that says that she may soon be available, that she is willing, that for the price of some tenderness and understanding, she will gladly give of herself. Her smoothness and facility in accomplishing this last bit of intrigue would make even Aphrodite blush.

As the door closes behind her and she is on the street with her silly young lover, their fate as a couple seems all but sealed. She will leave him, of course, and soon. He will almost certainly be completely undone by their ending, unable to hold his goddess and incapable of returning to the world of merely mortal women.

Her fate, on the other hand, could take one of many paths, some exalted, and some tragic. I am left alone over this now-cold entree to wonder where the trajectory of her perfect beauty will finally transport her.

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