Narrative Exercises

This is merely a thematic exercise in expressing stand points – I am trying to write using different perspectives. Consider this my attempt at doing something like  Edmond Rostand (author of Cyrano de Bergerac) did and in which the main character does a better job at insulting himself about the size of his nose than the antagonist who’s trying to do it. The worst part of these three narrations is that they are plausible: everything in there about the story could easily be said and be true.

Let me give you the emotional/sensitive way – a narrative:
There it was in his inbox: the novel she kept talking about like a broken record. She had done it and sent it to him… over 55,000 words in her second language. She had said she wrote it because he requested it – something he could not remember if his life depended on it. If he let himself believe that her words were indeed truthful, that this story was hers, that she had put the time and effort of doing it just because he asked for it, that he was indeed the intended sole reader, he’d be touched beyond measure. She was determined to make him feel special – perhaps as a way to be forgiven for being such a painful thorn in his side – he could only be in awe at the great lengths she went to achieve it. Somehow, being acknowledged, seemingly being the cause and the target of such a great effort made the universe turn in the right direction. Nobody ever dedicated a story to him (and nobody else probably ever will again), or written one because he supposedly asked for it. Somehow the gesture was just too much – who on Earth do things like this?

There are some people in life that just ram through life with blindfolds on and only sheer luck to keep them from irremediable harm. She thought herself as insightful when in fact she had never removed that blindfold. She was as blind about herself as she was about everybody else, but that made her endearing. She was a strong woman living in circumstances that were not the easiest, yet thought herself weak, inadequate, and not good enough. Truth was, he admired her for pursuing her dreams and making them reality (it takes a will of steel, courage and determination by the shipload, and naïve faith in life), and he also admired her determination in making the best – and beyond – of anything that was not what she wanted it to be (even if that cost her a good chunk of her sanity – you cope any way you can!). And now she had done this thing – written and dedicated a story to him. Once in a while she would do things like that; she had the knack to touch his heart without aiming for it and simply make things better within him.


Let me give you the contemptuous way – a narrative:

He was looking at his email, and could not quite believe it. The attachment was a PDF file of a few megabytes. The name of the file name was short and plain (over rated and overused), promising of a story full of mind games and power plays. She had said it would be erotica but somehow, he was almost certain that she did not have the right concept attached to the word. Erotica should be like porn – mindless, careless and messy – and she most likely did not pull that off. It would reek of eroticism, of caring, of tacit commitments and promises she would hold her main male character to keep – the same way she held everything and everyone else in her life –  with a death grip. Basically, the work would be the typical romance novel with all conceivable mushiness – just the way women like it. Sickening! Just bloody sickening! She had said this was his story; he wondered how many guys she had served that line to – and the story too for that matter, and that was assuming she wrote it herself. Really, who would be naive enough to believe all the lines she kept repeating? Of course she would stick to her words and claim it was for him only and done at his request ages ago. He had suspected her to be a pathological liar (for years) and this was just twaddle.

She had been straightforward in her telling him about the story though – no “I love you’s” and no undying and unconditional love declaration – but it would reek of it just the same even though these words weren’t used. The work had  to be simple, rather predictable and unrealistic, dumb, and oh so lengthy! She seemed to believe she was good at it – bursting her bubble was mean, letting her make a fool of herself was even nastier, but he could not live with his conscience if he let her think she was going to amount to something in this big bad world. He’d have to let her know that her story sucked, and that the apple did not fall far from the tree (or the creation from the author in this case) but that implied reading the story (oh he would not lie about this!); and he would not do it  – she was not worth it. She was ordinary, more fluff than content, and simply deluded about everything, always unable to tell her imagination and reality apart. He could not quite grasp why she had done it – given she really did. She had to know there was nothing to rekindle; she had to know to stop trying so hard; she had to know nothing more would come of it than what already happened and where this whole thing was going, going nowhere actually. She had to have a clue about having ridiculously overextended her stay in his life. Then why? He was not sure he wanted to know. Her mind frame was so unusual he was wary to believe her, to take her at face value; she was simply odd and half way (perhaps more) from being totally certifiable.


Let me give it to you the “realistic” way – a narrative:

She might make up what suits her from time to time but her word seems to mean something, to her at least. She had done it. He had a file opened in front of him, a file containing more than 100 pages worth of a story she claimed was written with him as the sole intended recipient. Sure! Whatever! But this was still an accomplishment that was worth some consideration; she was tenacious and not afraid to stick to something to the end… and sometimes beyond. Of course he would not read it; reading it was too loaded a gesture if she ever found out (though chances of that happening were nil), but leafing through it and reading a few excerpts left him baffled. This was her second language, and even though it was no literary masterpiece (let’s put it this way), it was easy to read and the literary style, though convoluted at times, did not confuse the reader. There was definitely some level of talent, definitely a great deal of reading behind it, and though some spots would need tweaking, it was overall okay. He had read published authors who did not do as good a job as she did with her novel.

He did not know what to think of her. She had been a major thorn in his side, been so high maintenance and deluded he was glad to have finally put some distance between the two of them… But now and then, she would do something like this. She could not stop herself from trying too hard using her father as an excuse for it (and for a lot of other behaviours), but it was almost endearing at this point. She might be a lot of things, but being a quitter was not one of them. If only for that, he felt proud of her. He had known her for years, yet he could not understand her. She did stuff nobody else did, thought in ways nobody else does, and she had her own convictions about how things should be though reality was not clearly that way… a special character… and that didn’t cover half of it.


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