For a while now I’ve been cogitating on the aspect of the fatal flaw in my characters. In truth I never bother figuring out what their fatal flaw is, might be, could be, oughta be. I’m the non-plotting kind of writer (hence steering clear of novel-writing – so far) so I feel my way forward with my characters. This is probably because I’m not intelligent enough to conceptualise flaws in enough detail to make ’em fly on the page. That said I’m acutely, painfully aware in an overarching sense of my own fatal flaws, but without the specifics of them, the ins and outs, the playouts and hideouts of them. So in an effort to get more conversant with fatal flaws generally I figured it’d be a good idea to start with my own. I hereby announce that I will be digging inwards to discover what those flaws are and how specifically they manifest to cause all sorts of moral, ethical, courageous, progressive and more fatalities in my life. I’ll be reporting on the steps I take and what I discover. Watch this space- I hope it will be informative……
May 2011 seems like forever ago. That’s when the following story became my first successful submission winning first prize on the website Cazart. With the hindsight of writing practice and courses taken during the intervening years, I can see the story needs all sorts of improvements. That said, as Cazart no longer exists I thought it’d be fun to post the story here.
Caveat: I recently had a piece of micro-fiction that I thought was tongue-in-cheek cute get turned down due to ‘tones of eroticism’, so if you don’t want to read text containing any kind of reference to sex or human sexual anatomy I recommend you turn away now.
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A Montage of Confusion
A photography exhibition in an East London gallery. Only the young and fit need apply. Only boy-men wanted.
One friend asks another friend to take a photo of himself. The first friend has asked a lot of other friends to do the same. Take a photo. Use the first friend’s bathroom mirror. A reflected self-image. Semi-clothed to fully-naked. Rear view, front view, hard or flaccid; any pose will do. A montage of exhibitionism, vainglory, honesty.
Each friend comes alone, the camera already in position. When he is happy with his image he sets the camera in motion. Click. One friend has the head of his penis coyly peeping out from the top of his jeans. Click, click. Someone has a leg up, the light glinting off his neatly trimmed blond hair. Click. Prune-like, dark-skinned bollocks frame one friend’s light-skinned, semi-hard penis. Click. Another friend challenges and taunts the camera while keeping abs taught. Click.
A photographic montage of male youthfulness is mounted. The first friend’s girlfriend goes to see the show. She checks out all the photos, stands back, moves closer. She tilts her head this way, then that; she smiles a half-faced smile.
In the queue at the Brick Lane Bagel Shop she waits, but isn’t there. On her way back to the first friend’s flat, she nibbles and chews. The montage mounting in her mind. When she arrives, the bagels are gone.
Click. First her bare midriff. Click. White flesh against black and green lace. Each photo revealing more. More of her made explicit. Click. A finger-pinched nipple. Moistened lips. Click, click. Lips held wide and wet, her crotch laid bare, fingers pressing there. Click. Printing the photos from his computer she leaves them in a trail from front door to back bedroom. She wanks. She waits.
The first friend finds her, bit by bit, his pleasures rising. He knows not to hesitate. He begins to please her until finally he mounts her. Just before he comes she pauses, mid-thrust, to ask – What do you prefer, fucking me or perving over your friends? – Which direction is your swing at? – I don’t know if I can live like that.
His weight collapses on her tension. Both lie slowly panting, their intimacy lost to ambiguous confusion. The air heavy with more questions, fewer answers.
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Feel free to comment and (with due regard for author copyright despite the need for additional editing) share widely. Thanks for reading.
This morning I received a pithy one-line email message from my mother:
“If at first you do not succeed try doing it the way your wife told you.”
Although it’s several words longer than Hemingway’s famous one-line story -“For Sale: baby shoes, never worn” I think she has managed to write a telling tale in only a few words.
Q: What story can you weave out of my mother’s one-liner?
Answers in the comments. Limit your word count to 700.
No prizes, just the pleasure of your own creative output. Looking forward to reading responses.
If you use Twitter, why not add a link to your story in the comments here or your own blog using the hashtag #flashfiction or #microfiction.
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