Every writer retells the story of their lives. Mostly in taking the moments, sometimes only the emotion of something that they witnessed. We use our experiences in our fiction. Stephen King wrote about a pet cemetery; the real one was out back behind his rental. One of his children walked out to the highway, nearly getting run over. That event (taken to its final conclusion) plus the emotion all takes place in Pet Sematary. We all plagiarize our lives.
Rarely is an event written as it happened. Sometimes that’s because it’s too hard to do.
I wrote the following piece for writing club. Our assignment was to write a nonfiction piece, but take the perspective of the other person. I chose to write about the last time I ever spoke to my stepfather. From his perspective.
It is a true event.
Word Count: 507
She stood in front of him, her face blazing, her fists clenched.
Her hair curled around her face just so, while her eyes pinned him to the floor.
Oh, how he loved her.
She raged at him, spitting hurtful phrases, so many that he couldn’t concentrate. He was caught in her web of lies and pain, sticky with it, ensnared.
“Why are you so jealous?” she spit at him.
He couldn’t shut her out, he couldn’t hear her, she stood before him destroying him by pieces.
“It’s weird!” she argued. He was saying something, he didn’t know what, his words made her more angry.
A woman-child stood before him exerting her independence with the ferocity of war. Anger and confusion and disgust and exasperation splayed across her face, in turns.
His face mirrored hers, contortions of vexation. Indignation.
He thought of the little imp that had cautiously welcomed him into her home, ten years before. A spark she had been, and a spark she had remained. Now she was graduating high school in a few months, fighting everyone around her like she was drowning and just trying to catch her breath.
She’d been an obstinate child, she was one now, no matter how grown she thought she was.
But he loved her. This was love.
If he was dominating it was out of love. If he was controlling it was with a protective ferocity that matched her own of destruction. She needed him. She wasn’t her own, she was his. Not his child, but more than his child. Not his seed, but a seed grown and blossoming.
So much like her mother had been, a pint sized version of fiery blaze. He glanced at her mother now, down the hall, her face empty, more than subdued, she was angrily checked out, separated from him, emotionally lost to him. Did she realize it?
Now all that was left for him in the world was the girl, not his progeny, but more to him than that.
She was standing ramrod stiff, her shoulders hunched. Her eyes spiked with meanness. She had an especially barbed retort ready to go.
Suddenly, he felt sadness, this became a glutinous mass of despair. His eyes maybe betrayed this but his face–it was a mask of barbarity. He was lost in the eyes of the woman, he was diminished in the eyes of the youth. Anger bubbled too, therein, deeply, poisoning ten years of memories, sickening the future. He looked at the girl and knew he was finished. All the ties were ripping, thick ropy masses of love, tearing with an audible rip though his heart.
To the girl he asked, “Do you want me to leave?”
The barb, the win presented itself, and she spat it out. “Yes!” Her face blazing, nova, triumphant.
He left, clothes on his back all that he took.
He left everything else–his possessions, his memories, his past. The woman.
She meant the afternoon.
He meant, forever.