The Unstable Self

I didn’t enjoy writing this one. At first I thought I just needed a break from writing fiction, and maybe I do. Maybe fiction isn’t what I need right now. But this writing prompt is obviously meant to elicit a very serious and intense scene, and my brain was rebelling against that, big time. I still followed the rules, but unfortunately, the story that follows is as serious as I could make myself be.

The Unstable Self: Write a story that alternates between the I and the he or she (or the name of the narrator), making sure you don’t confuse the reader with the switches. You might also consider other ways of indicating instability – voices (in italics), commands, or out-of-body perspectives. Why would this be useful or necessary? Imagine a situation where a character is under such stress that he cannot think straight – or perhaps she’s madly in love and doesn’t care if she thinks in standard-issue thoughts.

You can do this, you can do it. You have one line. One line and you’re done.

I auditioned for the school play, and at the moment, I feel like it is the worst decision I have ever made. They told me I was very funny and they had a small part for me.

“It’s only one line, but it shifts the entire story line.”

You thought of fame instantly, didn’t you? You didn’t even know what you were auditioning for. You didn’t think about the fact that you would actually have to be on a stage. In front of people. People you know, and people who know your parents. People you may or may not have a crush on.

I didn’t mind rehearsals because it was just the other people in the play, and no one really bothered me much. But, oh god, Emily might be right there on the other side of this curtain, watching the play that her dumbass boyfriend adapted from some old movie that no one I know has seen.

Shit, my scene just started. I come in at the end. After Jenna says, “Wait, if we’re all here, then where are Derek and Hansel?” Then I run onto the stage…

Do not puke, you idiot. You’re standing in the wing waiting for your cue. This is not a good time to hurl spaghetti on your costume. Why did you eat spaghetti before a play?!

My costume isn’t really a costume, it’s just a white tee shirt and a headband covered in red sequins. Zoolander: The Musical? Why did Mr. Monchis agree to putting on a play written by a student?

The kid who has never participated in a single school function auditioned for a play out of nowhere. Now he stands offstage, sweating through his tee shirt, waiting to run onstage and say a single, ridiculous line written by Emily’s dumbass boyfriend, his arch-nemesis. He used to feel like being in a play would impress Emily. Why does anyone do anything except to impress girls?

Now I just feel like going on that stage and saying that line will only make Emily more impressed with her dumbass boyfriend, and she’ll just continue to ignore me.

Shit, what is happening in the play? Pay attention! You are going to miss your cue!

Maybe I’ll just leave. My part is only one line. No one will notice I’m gone… Shit, they’re about to say the line to cue me in. Shit shit shitshitshitshitshit. My tee shirt has pit stains. I’m wearing a fucking sequinned fucking headband. Oh I’m going to puke. Or pass out or…

“It’s that damn Hansel, he’s so hot right now.”
“Wait, if we’re all here, then where are Derek and Hansel?”

The world goes white around the edges and his heart beats in his throat.

It’s go time.

I take one step onto the stage…then another…then a surge of adrenaline hit me like a power surge.

You’re doing it! There’s no turning back now!

The crowd notices him rushing onto the stage and stares at him expectantly.

I don’t remember saying:
“Hey everyone, it’s Derek and Hansel! They’re breakdance fighting in the alley! C’mon!”

At that, everyone on stage jumped up and followed me excitedly off stage, and the lights dimmed in preparation for the next scene. I don’t remember anything about the audience.

He felt oddly…disappointed, and this confused him.

Well, what did you expect to feel? Proud? Of being in a poorly written, completely misguided production adapted from some old movie your parents thought was cool? It’s not gonna happen.

I stood backstage for a moment, collecting my thoughts. I was so terrified…of that? Emily still won’t talk to me, I have to go back to school on Monday and know that everyone saw me yell the words “breakdance fighting” to a crowd of parents, and I got nothing out of the experience. What is the point of participating if you feel worse afterward than before you started? I won’t be doing that again.

He walked purposefully toward the back door, still wearing his headband and muttering something profound that no one would hear, and exited the building as the stage lights came back up for the next scene..


About Allison Anarchy

I write because I have to
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