desperately insignificant

And of course I saw corpses, and grew used to their unimportant look, for a dead man without any of the panoply of death is a desperately insignificant object.

Robertson Davies, Fifth Business

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what I knew

Because I do not want to posture in this account of myself as anything other than what I was at the time of my narrative, I shall write here only of what I knew when it happened.

Robertson Davies, Fifth Business

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whatever happens

“There’s just one thing to remember; whatever happens, it does no good to be afraid.”

Robertson Davies, Fifth Business

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by David Cain

Against my better judgement, I agreed to go to Stephanie’s party. I’m not usually keen on parties of any kind but this was a work party, put together to help Steph solidify some connections, raise her value and smooth her road to success. I wouldn’t have agreed to help out but I owed Steph. More than once, she had helped me so I sucked it up and attended the shindig.

Crowded, noisy and excited, minutes trudged like hours as I sipped my drink leaning against the frame of an unused doorway. Steph stopped by periodically to check on me, make sure I was holding up and point out this or that fellow who, while conservative in their drive to be rich and powerful, secretly indulged in some unspeakably bizarre fetish. I think she thought she was doing me a favor, pushing me to be at the event. I hated to disappoint her, so I tried to pretend I was doing fine, enjoying myself even. I don’t think she believed me but she probably hated to disappoint me so she pretended to buy my pretend.

Finally, I plucked up my courage and told Stephanie I was leaving. She seemed broken up by my announcement, so I shifted my approach and assured her that I was only leaving for a minute, going out the car to fetch something. She shrugged her approval and I slipped out between some incoming guests.

At my first step into the night air, I felt relieved. The music and noise of the party quickly faded into a dull blur as the door closed behind me. I breathed easily for the first time in hours. I nearly ran to my car and with a quick succession of beeps, slipped into the cool, calm of my leather seats. I fell naturally into a kind of quick meditation, counting out each slow exhale, eyes closed.

When I opened my eyes, reached into the console to retrieve my weed, a knock fell upon my window pane. Despite the zen I had really started enjoying, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I looked around as the rapping continued and focused on the looming image of a woman just outside my passenger door.

“Hey, can I have some?” she asked but I only half understood her. I rolled down the window. She leaned into my car. All I saw was a mass of hair and her cleavage but that was enough. I unlocked the door and she scrambled inside.

“I’m Tewe,” she said excited while extending a small hand. “I’m a friend of Kali.”

I didn’t know anyone named Kali but I nodded as though I did.

“I saw you leaving the party and I thought, he’s going to get high. So I followed you. Can I have some too?”

I gave a wry smile and reached into the darkness and pulled out a big joint.

“Ooooh,” she said admiringly. “You’ve got a fattie.”

I hesitated at the double entendre, trying to decide if I should acknowledge her accidental joke.

“The joint’s big too,” she said with a mischievous and knowing laugh. I set the doobie on fire and played with it until the coal burned evenly orange.

“How did you know?” I asked when the first hit escaped my lungs.

“That you were smoking?” she said before taking a huge suck.

“Yeah. I don’t look like a stoner, I don’t think anyway.”

“I used to go to parties with my brother. He’s like you.”

“Good looking, suave, sophisticated.”

“Right. No, he hates parties. Whenever he got too tense, he’d sneak out to the car to blow one.”

“Sounds like a cool dude.”

“I miss him. Hey, would you mind …,” she hesitated, reached behind her, fiddled, twisted and then pulled her brassiere out from beneath her shirt. “I hate this bra.”

“Yeah, me too,” I squeaked, trying to hold my hit in as I boldly stared at her nips poking through her thin shirt. She noticed my brazen gaze and laughed, causing her tits to jiggle slightly. I gasped, filling the cabin with smoke. She took the joint from my hand and reclined the seat slightly before taking another big hit.

“I was going to leave but Stephanie seemed upset when I tried. So I didn’t.”

“Who’s that?”

“Stephanie. It’s her place, her party.”


“Nah. Just an old friend. I owe her, more than once.”

“Good friend. This is some primo shit.”

“Yeah, not bad. I have better stuff back home.”

“Me, too. I didn’t know where we were going so I didn’t bring any with me. Playing it safe.”

“Like when you followed a strange guy to his car and hopped in.”

“You seemed cool.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I’m glad you did.”

“You want to go back inside?” she asked as the roach burned small.

“No but I have to. Steph needs me.”

“Cool. Can I leave my bra here? I don’t want to carry it back inside.”

“I guess. Won’t you want it later.”

“Not really. Anyway, here’s my number. Give me a call after the party is over and I’ll come by and get it.”

“Groovy,” I said, slightly confused by her plan.

“Next one is on me,” she said. “You just bring your fattie. Now, let’s go party!”

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a stricken face

Leola wore a stricken face for days, and it was known that she was pining for Percy and forgave him in spite of everything, which made me cynical about women.

Robertson Davies, Fifth Business

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narrative mirroring

I’ve had a new idea in narration. I use third person narration for stories that would usually require first person narration by having the third person narrator mirror the protagonist in attitude and vocabulary. If the protagonist feels an emotion, the narrator seems to be filled with the same emotion. If the protagonist cops an attitude, the narrator displays the same attitude. The language, the vocabulary and sentence structures, of my narrator shifts appropriately. It adds a layer to my writing but I think, if done properly, it could work really well.

I’ve done this in a few stories and while I find it interesting, nothing has caught anyone’s attention. I’ll keep trying. Let me know what you think.

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the slightest attention

Nobody paid the slightest attention to Mme. Verdurin. Some pretended not to know which was she and said good night by mistake to Mme. Cottard, appealing to me for confirmation with a “That is Mme. Verdurin, ain’t it?” Mme. d’Arpajon asked me, in the hearing of our hostess: “Tell me, has there ever been a Monsieur Verdurin?”

Marcel Proust, The Captive

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