The Unreliable Narrator

Prompt: Try and create a story in which the main character is lying about what actually happened. Be sure to ask yourself why the main character would lie about it and how the reader might be able to tell it is a lie.

Edgar rushed in through the front door of his house, stopping short when confronted by the sight of his wife standing there. He offered her a wan smile. “Hello, dear.”

Louise glared at him in reply, arms folded across her chest as her foot tap-tap-tapped against the floor. “Where have you been?” she demanded heatedly.

He didn’t answer immediately. Instead, he stalled by removing his coat in slow motion, then headed to the closet to hang it up. Every movement was slow and deliberate before he finally retraced his steps to stand in front of her.

He looked like an errant schoolboy, being reprimanded for losing his homework, as he looked down at the floor and scuffed his foot against the carpet.

“Weelllll, you see…. I ran into Bob… you remember Bob, doncha?” He broke off to look at her hopefully. “Well, umm.. he asked me to have a drink with him, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

He folded his arms behind him to twine his nervous fingers together out of her sight. “Why, he even took my phone from me when I tried to call and let you know I would be late.” He didn’t say he was going to ask permission. He knew that’s how it would have happened, but a man was entitled to some shred of dignity.

“So we went to this bar to have a beer, only the waitress slipped and spilled a whole tray of drinks on him. So we went to his house so he could shower and change, but then he got in a fight with his wife. She was mad because he made the whole house smell like a brewery.”

He rambled on, including way too many details, and avoiding her eyes. “So finally, we got out of there, and we went to a steakhouse. It was dinner time after all. Only he saw some other people he knew, and we ended up being a large group of people. And it took forever for us to be seated.”

Pausing, he nervously cleared his throat. “Service was just lousy. The food was slow in coming, and poor Bob had to send his back several times. Then it took forever for the waitress to bring the check, and on top of that, she had lumped everyone in together when we’d specifically asked for separate tickets.”

He heaved a sighed and cast a glance at her. She didn’t look convinced. Sure enough, he was soon tossing and turning on the too short sofa in the living room. He cursed, knowing that he’d not get any sleep that night. And it was likely that he’d been sleeping on the couch for the next week.

It was almost enough to cause him to cancel the surprise he’d been planning for Louise — the celebration of their 15th wedding anniversary he’d been trying to spend the night planning with Bob and his wife.

The Genie

The woman shifted among the jewel tones of the sheets, stretching with feline grace before sitting up, absently pushing long red hair over a freckled shoulder as she sat up. Sleepy eyes opened, then blinked several times as she looked around.

“Wha…?” Her expression of shock was not fully enunciated as her mouth hung wide open for several long minutes, her eyes roaming over the plush pillows and low divan on which she sprawled. She turned her head, noting the sheer curtains hung here and there, partially hiding the gleaming walls of metal.

“Metal…? Where am I?” she whispered as she stood, crossing the small chamber to feel the burnished surface that seemed to enclose her. She saw no window, no door. She stood back, drawing her lower lip into her mouth to solemnly gnaw on it in consideration, then just happened to look down. A soft gasp escaped as she took in her attire — purple harem pants of diaphanous material and a matching vest that barely covered her breasts.

She had just reached down to rub a hand over the finery that clothed her when the room began to shake. She twisted her head this way and that, searching in vain for some door jam to seek sanctuary under. Suddenly, she was standing in an antique shop near a strange man.

He looked at her with a huge grin and said, “My genie! Finally!”

Her brows shot straight up, to almost disappear into her hairline. “Um.. I am no genie, pal.”

“Sure you are,” he stated, dangling an antique lamp in front of her face. “You came from this lamp. And look at what you are wearing. Now, I want my wishes.”

She stared at him, torn between a desire to laugh and one to cry. She could only shake her head mutely as she could find no words to make the man understand his lunacy. The man reached out to poke her with his finger, “Hey, I want my wishes.”

Laughter bubbled free then, along with a few words, though they weren’t the choice ones she felt like using. “I am not a genie, and I can’t grant wishes. It’s not like there’s a manual on how to grant wishes. I sure wish there was.”

Her words hadn’t even faded away when a book suddenly appeared in her hand. She looked at the cover and read out loud, “The Genie’s Guide to Wish Granting.” She muttered under her breath as she looked for a place to sit down, “Un-freaking-believable!”

As she curled into an old fashioned wing back chair, she darted a glance to the dark haired man with an attempt at a smile on her lips. “Looks like I have some studying to do.” A lingering look told her that the man had also settled into a nearby chair, and she turned her attention to the book cradled in her lap.

Several hours later, she yawned and arched her back in a graceful stretch, lifting her arms over her head briefly. She grinned as she looked over at the man, only to find him asleep. She giggled quietly, took off one of her slippers and threw it directly at his head, yelling, “Wake up!”

The giggle grew into a laugh as the man woke with a start, frowning at her as he idly rubbed the spot the shoe had struck. “I never knew genies were so violent.”

“I’ve never been a genie before, so I don’t know how genies behave. I don’t even know how I became a genie. The last thing I remember, I was…” She broke off with a shrug. “Ah, never mind. Let’s get to work. What is your first wish?”

The man’s studied her intently, seeming to be lost in silent thought. She prodded him. “Surely, you have had this all decided? Don’t you know exactly what you want to wish for?

It was his turn to shrug, a rueful smile curving his lips. “Well, I never thought it would actually work, that I would actually find a genie.” His gaze returned to her, warm as it roamed the porcelain of skin painted with freckles. He stepped close to her, his dark blue eyes seeming to smolder. His close proximity to her made her nervous, causing her to swallow hard around the lump in her throat as she inhaled his scent.

The dip of his head brought his lips close to hers, and her knees nearly buckled as she grew certain that he would kiss her. Instead, his lips took a detour and paused close to her earlobe, his warm breath fanning her skin as he spoke.

“I wish you would believe in yourself, so that you can find me. I wish that you would trust yourself, so that you can trust me. I wish that you would love yourself, so that you can love me. Those are my three wishes, and I won’t find you, the love of my life, until these wishes come true.”

She drew back to look at him in astonishment… and woke up, finding her own bedroom, sage walls instead of metal ones, her body dressed in her usual Jessica Rabbit pajamas. She crawled out of bed to wash up, dress, and grant those wishes.

Inspiration waits for no one

“To be a great painter, you work every day. You do not wait until you feel in the mood. You do not wait until you feel ready to entertain inspiration. You are there waiting when she deigns to call.”

The Demon Lover by Victoria Holt

Any creative endeavor requires practice. I remember reading that distinguished educator W.E.B. DuBois locked himself in his office every afternoon, after his morning classes, and wrote. He did not let anything or anyone disturb him or disrupt his writing schedule. By keeping this habit, he became an exceedingly prolific writer (he wrote 21 books, edited 15 more, and published over 100 essays and articles).

Granted, not everything he wrote could possibly be to the same standards as his history of the slave trade or the writings on which the Niagara Movement (the forerunner to the NAACP) were based. But every thing he wrote was valued, even if it could only be viewed as practice. And every day, he was there in his office, waiting for inspiration to pay him a call.

Practice and inspiration are the purpose for this blog. I need to practice, to stretch my wings in writing, to be available for inspiration. And while my offerings may be meager at times, I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.