I think first person can get a bad rap… which is frustrating because I’ve found I instinctively favour it. Especially for YA pieces like this one, where I like its immediacy. Also its lean toward melodrama, which I’ve always had a weakness for. Ask anyone who knew me as a teenager 😉
I was inspired by the daily post’s theme of “Candid” to hunt down this old writing exercise I did yonks ago. The task was entitled “your camera” and its objective was to fix the perspective of a piece in one, non-omniscient place as a secret that changes everything is revealed. The word limit was 500 words.
“I met a man while you were sleeping,” I said, without looking at her.
“Oh?” she said, standing over me. I raised a hand to quiet her, still not looking up. I wanted to cause her pain, but I knew well enough my cruelty wouldn’t survive the sight of her face.
“He told me a story you once did, about a girl. He told me the Gods have smiled on him. That he could die happy because he has met her, the girl who will save us all, the one picked to give her life that we might live. A sacrifice.” The words were shards of glass in my throat. “He described her to me, Ida. Skin like the golden sand. Eyes like the forgotten ocean, hair as white as the desert’s midday sun.” At last I looked at her, and found the pain I’d intended, bright and burning. Triumph went to war with regret, valkyries trapped in the cage of my ribs. “A girl, in other words, exactly like you.”
“They believe your death will save them. That the Gods will send them rain after a thousand years,” I said, too resigned to make it a question, but she answered me.
“And you believe it.”
“You don’t?” I opened my mouth to deride her but nothing came. I thought about the look of the man who’d, unknowing, revealed all. I thought about the songs I’d heard rising from the village we’d passed by. About the child on the road, who’d carried a white rose far across the desert. It didn’t matter if I believed.
“Why are you crying?” I asked.
“Yes, you are.”
“You broke your promise.” She looked down on me, a light behind her tears.
“When we met, I made you promise not to love me.”
“You know,” I said. There was no point hiding, we were come to the end.
“Here.” She handed me one of the glasses she held. Fragrant steam caressed my face. Sweetened mint tea. “Yes, I know you love me. Now you know why I cannot love you in return.”
“But you do.” Heads around the room turned toward us. I lowered my voice. “I know you do.” She sunk into the chair beside mine. She pursed her lips and blew over the rim of her glass, the steam fanning out before her breath. She sipped. She turned to face me.
“When the time came, you would let me go?”
“Yes,” I said. She reached out, tracing a spot beside my eye with her fingertip.
“Do you know you get a tiny crease, just here, when you lie to me?”
I’d definitely encourage anyone reading this to have a crack at this exercise (and to put it in the first person if you have the heeby-jeebies about it, it’s a fun little way to practice a new form!) I had a blast with it.
Bye for now