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A useful skill for a writer is to be able to enter into the mind of his or her point-of-view character. Empathy and imagination combine to create a richness that would be absent if we remained content to parrot our own way of seeing life.
For today’s prompt, I’d like to challenge you to write flash fiction, poetry or essay in which you “become” someone who expresses life in a way that is opposite of your own experience. For example, if you are progressive in your thinking, write from a conservative point of view. If you are religious, try to imagine life as an agnostic. If you’re male, female. And vice versa for all of these and anything else you can think of. And try not to slam that contrary way of looking at things–truly espouse it.
For my second novel, I decided it would be fun to write from a male point-of-view. I haven’t shown it to a man yet, but let me put a small excerpt out there. I truly welcome your critique…especially from you men out there.
This begins the second scene. The protagonist, Matt, has just attended his mother’s death in a nursing home. Before she died, she confessed to him that she had lied to him about his father leaving her when he was a baby. She told Matt that he had been conceived in an act of rape.
From The Sin of His Father:
Matt leaned against the rough bark of an ancient oak tree. Employees were beginning to make their way into the building through the glass door across from where he stood. He watched them slide ID cards into the time clock then scurry down the hall to the nurses’ station for report. One woman, an aide Matt knew, heaved her bulky frame onto the park bench to sneak in a few puffs from her cigarette before heading on in to learn at report that Ellen Margaret Maxwell had died a couple of hours earlier.
Across the lawn, large crows helped themselves to bread crumbs. Matt knew that it had been Edward Riley, a resident of the facility, who’d scattered them. One of the birds interrupted breakfast to stare at Matt—Matt would have sworn it was so—and his skin tingled at the thought of stories his mother used to tell him of dead people coming back as black birds. Beside the predator, strewn feathers told of a smaller bird that had lost its struggle to keep on living. Matt’s grief came pouring out. That it was because of a fragile creature stunned him at first before he recognized the similitude. Like the wren, his mother fought her whole life for food and survival. She’d known a dark monster, too. Not one that would destroy her suddenly, mercifully, but one that most likely haunted every moment of her adult life. One that tore her down from the inside-out and in the end defeated her
The sadness Matt felt for his mother weighed heavy in the pit of his stomach. He swallowed air then swallowed again. The taste of the bitter coffee he’d sipped a few hours earlier crept up his esophagus and caused him to gag.
Then another notion caught his attention. Why hadn’t she ever told him? Why had she borne this pain alone? Anger had always come easily to Matt but this was different. This was an energy that blinded him like the sun that shone with full force now, burning its way into the core of his being. His rage at his mother’s deceit caused his whole body to shake. Matt took a long draught from his pipe and felt the effects of nicotine spread inside him. He tried to go with it and relax, but couldn’t avoid the sense that everything in his life was a sham, a lie. He sank into the grass at the base of the tree and leaned against the rough bark.
It wasn’t long before guilt joined the fray. His mother had left him before he had a chance to absorb the full impact of what she’d just revealed. She’d died without his absolution, without his even being able to feel forgiveness.
Matt took in another mouthful of smoke and let the flavors roll around on his tongue. He blew it out slowly and smelled the slightly nutty aroma of the Cavendish blend. The crow had flown into the branch of a near-by tree and waited, perhaps for another victim. Matt watched the bird as it sat frozen in time. When, at last, it swooped off into the horizon, Matt caught his breath in fear.
What if he was like that crow? What if he was a predator? What if he, too, carried genes that could cause him to be violent? Or deviant, like his father?
Now his mother was dead. He hadn’t had a chance to ask the questions that pressed him for answers. Before he could even name the deception that snaked among the crevices of his existence. Before he could understand the enormity of its impact on her life and on his own. Before he could forgive her deceit.
I look forward to reading your response to this prompt. Please leave your link in the comments section of this post so we can share what you’ve written. Have a happy, productive week.