The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Friday, 25 January 2013

False Start Fridays: Me And My Shadow

Here is my piece for False Start Fridays in all its unedited glory. I am not sure whether this was a false start  or simply a very short story. Maybe I could expand it and do something with it. Or maybe I should just thrash it. I am finding that fiction is a lot harder to write than I thought or maybe that’s because real life can be so much more interesting. Anyway, let me take a deep breath and just hit Publish.
We’re inseparable, my shadow and I. Wherever I go, it comes with me. We are one and yet we also have two distinct personalities. Yes, you’ve heard me right. I said personalities. It’s because of my shadow that I am here awaiting trial for … but wait … I start my story at the end. For you to be able to understand, I will need to start my story at the beginning.
I can’t recall exactly when it started but I was very young. It happened after my sister was born. She was gorgeous: blond, with big blue eyes and a peachy complexion. I soon started hearing whispers of ‘changeling’ and, I admit, we were as different from each other as strawberries are from pruners. I was the dark one, with black eyes and sallow skin. I had always had a close relationship with my shadow. It was my friend, my confidant - someone to whom I could whisper all my secrets. But soon after my sister was born, it seemed to develop a life of its own, a personality of its own. My shadow would whisper words in my ear, horrible words, harmful words and it would goad me. Oh, how it would goad me. I was never at peace from its insistent murmurings.
“Take her toys,” I would hear.
“Pinch her arm.”
Each time I would obey and get into trouble. I would always blame my shadow. But no one ever believed me. They thought I was making up stories. That is a bunch of lies. I never made up any stories. My shadow talks to me. Why will no one listen? Why will no one understand?
I used to wait with glee for the night, hoping that the darkness would make my shadow flee. But it would not. It was there at my side like a dark ghostly presence - a specter with blazing red eyes. It took over my life and invaded my dreams. There was nowhere I could hide. It was like a voice inside my head, constantly nagging, and I was like a puppet on a string. As I grew older I tried to control it, but it was always there, lurking in the dark corners of my mind. Sometimes I sensed a lull in its whisperings and murmurings but then it would be back with a vengeance. Its suggestions would get worse.
“Push her down the stairs,” I would hear.
“Hide her homework.”
I always obeyed and my shadow would laugh. Sometimes it was a nice little laugh, like the tinkling of broken glass. Other times it was more of a screech, like the noise your nails make on a blackboard. Those laughs terrified me and haunted my nights. My dreams were filled with high-pitched shrieks and dark shadows. I would wake up shuddering, in a cold sweat, hoping it was just a nightmare. But my shadow would be there by my side or at the foot of my bed, waiting for me with a sneer on its blood red lips.
On and on this went. I could not escape its clutches. Then, at eighteen, I developed a crush on this boy in my class. Ricky was handsome as could be but I did not have the courage to approach him. I was sure my tormented soul would drive him away. For a while, my dreams were more pleasant, filled with images of him. But always, on waking, my shadow would stand there and mock me. I longed to hide my head under a pillow and never have to face it again. I watched Ricky from the sidelines and I was content. Until one day I saw him with my arm around her - my sister. A blinding rage clouded my vision and I heard an insistent whisper, “Kill her.” I tried to drive the thought away, to suppress it, to ignore it. But it kept flooding my head like breath floods my lungs, without effort, without thought. Finally, I gave in. I saw them together and I lunged at my sister with a sharp knife. My aim was inerrant. My inexperienced hand guided by rage and jealousy and by that constant dark shade at my side. The knife found its mark – straight to the heart.
So that is why I am in this cell, awaiting trial. I am alone with my nemesis; my inseparable twin. Me and my shadow. My shadow and I.
For more FSFs, go here.

25 comments:

  1. My cursor is blinking, Loree, as I try to compose a response to this totally unexpected story!

    I think it does have the feel of something complete -- a short story -- as opposed to something that needs to be pulled out into a longer format. I think, though, that if you were to put a bit more time into it, you might expand the parts that already exist as opposed to adding to it. In particular, the situation with Ricky which brought everything to such a horrific pitch. When, I got to the words about his arm around 'her,' I felt this sick dread flutter around my lungs! And I think, emotionally, I could have had that dread stretched out a bit. This sallow-skinned girl has a very creepy, hollow quality that just lingers, especially with the way you end it.

    Have you written similar stories? Reading this makes me very curious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Suze, your words are like music to my ears. No, I cannot say that I have written anything similar. I surprised myself when I wrote it because I usually like happy endings but I am finding that troubled characters seems to leave a more lasting impact on my mind. As an aside, I chose the name Ricky from Skid Row's 18 And Life :)

      Delete
    2. Well, here's more music for your ears, my sweet friend, my favorite SR song.

      Delete
    3. One of my favourites too. I always have a hard time deciding which one of their songs is my absolute favourite.

      Delete
  2. It's a sure sign of excellence when a short story can give me the jumps like this one did. My compliments!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent short fictional story. It had me thinking about the main character's conflict. Is the shadow an imaginary figure, is she schizophrenic and hearing voices, or does she have multiple personality disorder? As a child it is somewhat acceptable but as an eighteen year old, she has run into a true moral dilemma. Really great, evocative piece! Loved it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know that kids sometimes have imaginary friends and that's where the whole idea for this piece came from. Of course, the idea of a mental disorder is also implied.

      Delete
  4. Wow. Wow. This also took me completely by surprise and yet it shouldn't because thinking on your previous "false start" you so clearly have an interest and a real voice for the Gothic tone. Suze is amazing, as we both know and while I have no idea how to write fiction I would agree that you have everything you need here in what you have already created but, if you wish, I could definitely hear more of what is here! Go, Loree. Wow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Heather. Your comments make me want to go back to writing stories.

      Delete
  5. What a good/creepy journey into a disturbed mind! I just finished "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and your story here reminds me in several ways of that story. Mostly in how well you depict mental illness.

    As an aside, I love the photos on your blog. The one on the upper left reminds me of Bethlehem. Those narrow stone alleys and shades of earth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never read that book. I remember watching the movie (well my mum was watching it) when I was really little but can barely remember anything of the story.
      The photo you mention was taken here in Malta, in Mdina, to be precise.

      Delete
  6. Okay, so writing may not be as easy as you thought, and life may be more interesting, but I sure hope you stick with the writing, because you definitely have talent. Good work! I agree with Suze; this comes across as a complete piece, rather than the start of something longer, but it'd be good to milk that part about Ricky a little bit more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Susan. I will need to think about that and see what I can come up with.

      Delete
  7. The first thing I thought is 'Does Loree have a little sister?!' Sibling rivalry is always a fertile story base. I agree that real life is the most interesting, but fiction is a good way of exploring real life dilemmas and conflicts. This is a short story that could be developed: as well as expanding the reactions to Ricky, I would like to know more about the first time she remembers her shadow speaking and why does she do as it says? Intriguing beginnings more than false start :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No little sisters. I'm an only child :)

      Delete
  8. I am wondering both what Suze and Lily mention - 1) if you have a younger sister, and 2) how you could easily tease this satisfyingly haunting short story into a little longer short story - because I would love to see more of this! What an imagination you have........and I have to be honest, but what i was expecting at the end was not this - I half was waiting to read that the character's errant aim plunged the knife into the wrong person by accident - Ricky! Then the main character would have to continue to deal with her sister on an ongoing basis......but I digress. Clearly you have pulled me in which is the aim of writing — great job, Loree and kudos on being brave and hitting the publish button!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Amanda. In some ways, this story 'wrote itself'. When I started it I had no clear idea how it would end.

      Delete
  9. oh.my. You certainly are a fictional writer. My son and I just finished Edgar Allen Poe's "The Cask of Amantillado". I think I had the same eerie goosebumps from reading your piece as we did after reading Poe's. Keep writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember reading that story by Poe when I was about 12 and it scared the living daylights out of me. I did not think that my little story was anywhere as scary as that but glad you got some goosebumps :)

      Delete
  10. very interesting,have a good jjob,regards

    ReplyDelete
  11. Disturbed personalities always make some good creepy stories... yours is short but gives a good picture. I am not a writer but I think Suze is right, you should try a longer format with this story. In any way I think you have the right stuff.
    As the Italians say...Brava!
    Sue.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great post. Nice atmosphere on your blog. I like it here. ;]
    Feel free to visit my blog. New images.
    If you like my picture like me on the fan page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-another-light/413836138693856
    I will be extremely grateful.

    Have a nice weekend. Yours. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Reminds me of Dr. Jenkill and Mr. Hyde ! I hope it's not based on a true story and I have to send you oranges to prison ! You are very talented for writing !

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dear Loree - you hooked me - I think possibly there could be a longer version waiting to come out with this type of theme. Thank you for sharing - keep writing - I know someday I am going to see you published.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by. I read and appreciate every one of your comments. I will do my best to reply whenever I can.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails