Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ways of Seeing

Imagine a person with an idiosyncratic way of seeing the world. Have this character witness a traumatic event that does not directly involve her. Narrate the event from a first-person POV in 600 words, making sure that the perspective is carefully built around the idiosyncrasies of this personality.
(from prompt #24 in The 3 AM Epiphany)

Read my response:

Daily Traffic
"Daily Traffic" by Burning Image

Like something in a movie, the only way to describe it. Day started out bad; clouds hanging heavy overhead, traffic stopped dead. The soundtrack to There Will Be Blood has been stuck in my car all week, setting the tone. Tense. Just another Joe driving to work, in my suit, blank face. What kind of films would Hitchcock make today? Something about our faceless society, anonymity thanks to cell phones, the internet, all the rest, I'd bet. There hasn’t been a good cell phone related thriller, has there? Like Birds did with birds, can’t see a flock flying south without looking for where I’d run for cover. So my phone rings, scares the shit out of me, thought it was on silent. I keep it that way, less disruptive. I don’t need a lot of dialogue in my life, I’m okay just watching things happen without a lot of discussion. Cell phones scare me even when they aren’t ringing, maybe its good no one has made “Final Destination VIII: Death Calls Again.” I’d see it and have one more thing to watch out for, one more symbol of terror. God, it keeps ringing. Look at the phone, asshole. My sister.
“Yeah. Hey. It’s early, its way before noon, what are you doing up?”
“Sorry…hold on.”
“Okay sorry I’m back. Scout won’t stop barking this morning, you know how dogs can tell when it’s gonna storm. Joe. It sounds weird but okay, so I just had this dream. Is everything okay?”
“Uh, yes. I could ask you the same thing. What dream?”
“I just, I um. Had a dream that you killed yourself. So I got scared and wanted to make sure. Sorry. I mean, you know how sometimes you just wake up and you feel super weird like something bad is gonna happen?”
“Yeah, yeah. Jesus Christ. I am not suicidal. Everything is completely normal, I’m driving to work. Scare me enough, Jesus.”
“I know, I’m sorry. Okay. Well that was all. So you’re okay?”
“Yes, everything is fine. Go back to sleep.”
We hang up. When we were kids we used to make fun of how in movies no one says bye when they hang up; it stuck.
So that’s my morning, her call repeating in my head like bad omen, no matter how much I’m trying to concentrate on the present scene: just stop and go cars, like a goddamn traffic montage, same old every day of my life. Plus I’ve got this accelerating music in the background making me want to tear my hair out the way nothings happening in my car on the road.
Then it happens. Inching along, finally get to the exit. Red light. Changes to green, I make my right and some fuck cuts me off, perfect. Slamming on the breaks I almost rear end this Lexus piece of shit, I lurch forward and back and my heart rate soars. I take a deep breath and start to relax cause I didn’t hit him. Disaster avoided. I’m under the overpass and the car in front is just beyond. Then the body falls.
I see it hit the Lexus and bounce off, like a dummy. But a dummy with real blood and guts. Its all viscera, on the road, on this jackass’ car. Vivid, red so red its purple. I’ve never seen anything like it, I’m on the edge of my seat and everything is so real, like the whole world got digitally re-mastered. Playing my morning back in my head it, its like there were clues everywhere, but. Damn. It shocks me, it’s so fucking dramatic. Just like that, someone is dead. I don’t know if it made sense, I don’t know what lead him to this. Lexus is freaking out, I can see him through my window; it’s like it was scripted, getting cut off meaning I got spared.
What does one do, call 911? I’ll call 911. Tell them they need to see this…


  1. very creative. imaginative. and downright ingenious literature. My favorite post yet. Mr. Cheeseburger would approve.!!!!!!

  2. Wow! I loved this! Extremely well written! You have a great talent for keeping your reader in suspense and entertained at the same time.

  3. Hello E! I love the intense story, you have a razor-edged writing style. I'll definitely be reading more:)

  4. Always preferred to read about characters who made me consider what it must be like to be somebody different from myself or the people I know rather than a cipher into whom I can project my most banal qualities.


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