POST FROM THE DEVIL ORDERS TAKEOUT

BONFIRE: of monsters and wolves and teenage girls

UPDATE: I have named this flash fiction Bonfire! Fire as a parallel of sorts to the inspiration Ashton, an association of sorts to witch-burnings, and bon as a French wordplay on good. Thanks to everyone who suggested ideas and inspired me to come up with this.

Today, you get to read about a girl who became a monster and a wolf amongst angels. It's technically supposed to be #WatchMeWrite day, but I'm mixing it up.
This is actually a response fic to Brett Michael Orr's Ashton—it's not necessary to read that first, but it would be fun. I think what really made me write this fic was that Brett used second person PoV, which is one of my favourite experimental styles. I decided to mix it up a little more, so do enjoy!

I've also chosen to intersperse author's notes throughout. Let me know how this method worked out — hopefully it wasn't too reminiscent of My Immortal.

~~~

“Ashton?” the word spilled from your lips, half of a sundered duet.

you didn’t think he’d come. when they found you splayed on white hospital linens, he kissed your unscarred cheek. somewhere between the eyeliner for your lashes and the antiseptic for your wound, your pounding heart became a cage for a monster and its howls.

when the man brought his cleaver down on your face, he smashed bones and the cage. and so the police told you, “We are working on your case,” you only thought: i do not want him in a cell. i want him to bleed, and remember i made him bleed.
This work is very much one of contrast. The angelic girl and the monstrous wolf, thematically, but stylistically I also tried to play off capitalised dialogue and lowercase narrative, plus second-person narrative versus first-person thoughts.
what did it take to stitch lambswool for the wolf? how many bandages, how many beeping and whirring machines?

“I need time,” he told you.

“I understand.”

your monster clawed against the fraying bandages. you were drunk: on morphine, on the echo of fear when you saw him, on the vengeance your monster promises.

you called it your monster, but under the fangs and the fur, it was only your heart, with its strings torn out. because you will not be a puppet, their princess in the tower. never again.
I wrote this after a medical attachment in a hospital, so it amused me to toss in this hospital scene, with bandages and machines and morphine. Oh, and heartstrings are an actual medical thing, did you know?
he did not speak. the sirens came screeching down the street; not the wildlings of the sea, but the hunters of your kind. you looked at him and wished you still had a heart to break.

the monster looked in his eyes and turned away.

(did he do it for the monster between your ribs, or the angel in his dreams)
(which monster was the more innocent, the one with a bullet and a trigger or the one with a halo of golden hair)
(did you love him, did he love you)

“I still love you,” he said, half a lifetime ago, when your monster was yet a suckling.

“Go away.” when he does not answer the wolf’s stern glare, you give him the girl’s pliant tears. “Please.”

(some answers were meant to be known and not said)

“What is your relationship to the accused?”

you never wanted to become a wolf amongst girls. but somewhere, sometime, from the dark road of the butcher to the sunlit witness stand, you shed the girl’s skin and let the monster be born. the pelt fit you better than your old flimsy coat.

and so you did not say, he is my boyfriend, my husband-to-be, my shining knight and white prince, my sun-and-stars, my t’hy’la—
Brownie points for those who recognised both references.
remember: make him bleed. “I do not know.”

(you never did. monsters do not love, not even other monsters.)

~~~

Here's the real issue: I haven't thought of a title yet. So please, do suggest one in the comments!

Thoughts on this experimental style? What do you think this should be titled?


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And if you want to read more of my words, watch this space on September 10th! Snazzy Snippets is once again coming up ;P

Twitter-sized takeout:

38 comments:

  1. Urgh. This is BEAUTIFUL, Alyssa! I mean, I'm not entirely sure I know what is going on, but I'd LOVE to read more. And reading your writing always inspires me to write, so I'm off to fiddle about with my novel plan now. I think I need more girl monsters and blood!
    Beth x
    www.thequietpeople.com

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    1. Thank you, Beth! So happy to hear that I help inspire you write -- that is SUCH an honour, and I would love to read your novel someday :)

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  2. YOU AND BRETT ARE SUCH GOOD WRITERS I LIKED IT THOUGH. I definitely like how the open-endedness of his piece inspired something with slightly more concrete ideas on your side, but nonetheless left a lot of mystery as to what happened and why. Like I mentioned on Brett's blog, second person includes the audience as the POV character, and yet the POV character is not the narrator. IT IS CRAZY. And good.

    As for a title... Okay, this is dumb but since Brett's piece was "Ashton" and this is basically the flipped side, you could do "Firelight" because fire and ashes have a very cause/effect relationship, and "ton" would contrast "light" because tons are not light.

    Like I said, not really relevant but THAT IS ALL I HAVE GOT and I don't like unanswered questions.

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    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH HEATHER. Yeah, I'm kinda not a huge fan of open endings -- sometimes, sometimes, but I prefer to send my characters straight to hell. WOOSH.

      Anyhow! I really like your suggestion! You made me think of "Bonfire" -- for the witchy implications of burnings, and also the fire/ash correlation. I'll think about it. Hmmm. Thanks for helping out!

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  3. Your writing is my favoriteeeee. Ugh.

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  4. Ahhh this is beautiful Alyssa! I'm not a huge fan of second-person POVs, but it really does work well in this piece. Sounds so tragic, but so intriguing as well. Would love to read more! As for the title...hmm I'm completely drawing a blank eep! Sorry!

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    1. Thank you so much Joy! I try very hard to avoid common pitfalls of second-person PoVs. Very glad you enjoyed it!

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  5. Hey Alyssa! Thank you so much for writing this piece, I'm honored that Ashton inspired you to write this, and you've done a fantastic job extending the story but incorporating your own elements too, from the girl's perspective, plus using your own interpretation of what happened to her!

    It's a fantastic piece, thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Brett! Like I said on Twitter, it's a privilege to be able to expand on your work. :D

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  6. Very beautiful! This is really interesting! It sounds so sad though. It sounds like it's about the loss of innocence (to an extreme perhaps)?

    I have a weird aversion to italics. . .BUT I do see why italics might could help since it's second person POV, but first person internal thought.

    Which brings me to: What is this deliciousness!? This second person POV is awesome! Normally when I read second person, it comes off as awkward or somehow fake. This though feels so natural. Maybe it's the first person internal thought that brings it together? I'm not sure. I just love how they both mingle together sooo well.

    Also, I really love your style in general. The metaphors (so beautiful!), the not metaphors, the subtleties. All hail subtleties!

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    1. Sit down, Ashley, I have some shocking news for you. I NEVER WRITE ANYTHING THAT'S NOT SAD. Here, now, don't fall down, have some takeout.

      Yeah, I know some people do so I try to keep it to a minimum. I do like using italics for thoughts though! So happy you like the second person PoV here -- the key point, I think, is that telling not showing is very very noticeable in second person. Like you say, subtleties. Besides, I prefer to use it in moderation -- have yet to learn how to do so for longer works!

      Anyhow, thank you so much for your comment!

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  7. OH GOD. How do you manage to make everything so beautiful?! I back Heather and Beth on this; your writing is crazy good. YOU COULD MAKE A COWPAT SOUND POETIC.

    ...and I would love to read more of this, if you ever plan on continuing it ;)

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    1. *hugs* Thank you Nirvana! I do love lyrical writing, so I'm very very happy to hear you enjoyed it. I probably won't continue this, but I will continue to write in various experimental and lyrical styles :)

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  8. LET ME FLAIL FOREVER AND EVER ABOUT BOTH THESE PIECES asd;fgadkl
    I adored your contrasting style, aah everything is so beautiful! You wrote second person so well. <3 It was also cool to see your comments explaining your choices. (Ahaha, My Immortal. *winces*)
    So, um, yes, this comment is pretty much just me fangirling but THE OCCASION DEFINITELY CALLS FOR IT. ;)

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    1. ACK THANK YOU SO GLAD YOU LIKE IT. Experimental styles are always nerve-wracking, so I'm really delighted you enjoyed it. (My Immortal is like a collective nightmare of this generation.)

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  9. I'm usually not a fan of 2nd person, but this works SO SO well! Awesome!

    I don't have any title suggestions, unfortunately, because those are literally the hardest for me haha

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    1. Thank you so much, Madilyn! And that's okay, titles can be our collective bane :)

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  10. I wasn't particually a fan of second person points of view, but after reading Brett's piece, I've found a new love for them and your response is absolutely lovely. Lyrical and raw almost. I would love to see more. MORE! Thanks so much for sharing Alyssa, absolutely breathtaking! <3

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    1. Second person was a personal fav of mine for so long, so I'm glad I managed to persuade you to like this for a change ;P Thank you very much for dropping by!

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  11. *collects bonus points* *laughs evilly*

    This is seriously very good. Second person point of view is my favorite style--mostly for reading (I haven't made more than a couple forays into actually composing a piece in that POV). I don't know--I can see why others find it confusing or weird, but I like how it allows me to meld seamlessly with the narrative, because it makes me the main character. I think it's a good trick for avoiding some of the show vs. tell issue. You don't end up writing things like "you have blonde hair" or "you don't like doing such and such" because it just doesn't fit naturally with the narrative.

    Anyway, bunny trail. I really liked this piece. The usage of lowercase sentence openers was interesting. I've been trying to think about what it might have added. I think it forced me to pay a little closer attention, kept me from skimming. It reminds me of E E Cummings' 'i carry your heart', which is one of my favorite poems.

    Also, I really like the emotional tension in this piece--I haven't read Brett's story yet, but I will do after I finish this comment. But I did have to pop out and research heart strings because I never actually knew they were a real thing. I think your author's notes were a neat addition--often, while writing (and reading) I've wished that publishers could provide editions annotated by their authors.

    For a title, does Heartstrings sound like it might work. I don't know--it's a super marvelous piece, so=difficult to name.

    Thanks for sharing, and thanks for visiting Out of Coffee, Out of Mind!

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    1. *sends you takeout because references are so important*

      I know what you mean -- I've only written like maybe 2% of my works in second person. It's so hard to balance the show vs tell issue instead! It's sometimes necessary to tell in writing but second person makes it sound very stilted. I do like lowercase writing -- Cummings is one of my fav poets :)

      Annotated editions would be so cool. I know they sometimes have them as a giveaway, or anniversary editions, but it needs to be a more commonplace thing. Hmm ... I'll think about Heartstrings, that sounds pretty cool.

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Liz!

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  12. I saw this first, Alyssa, and was so intrigued that I went and read Brett's, then came back and reread (and understood very differently) yours. It's so interesting and I love how you extended the story, gave it a different, unique route. I comprehended it a lot more easily after reading Brett's piece, could appreciate your use of styles and understand the character's thoughts better then. It's beautiful, though. Really gorgeous and striking. xx

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    1. Funny how differently we interpret works when we have a different context, no? I'm beyond ecstatic you liked it enough to read it again, and enjoyed it even more at that point -- seriously, THANK YOU.

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  13. Second person POV is so hard to pull off, but both you and Brett did it so wonderfully in your short story. I LOVE that you based this off Ashton, I was dying to know more backstory, and you really elaborated on it in a beautiful and creative way here. You are both such wonderful writers, can't wait to see more of your work in the future.

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    1. It is very difficult! I dabble in it only occasionally, but I'm so so happy to hear you enjoyed it :D The moment I read Ashton, I KNEW I had to expand on it. Thanks so much for your continued support, Aentee!

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  14. Ooh, I really like this style and now I want to read MORE in this type of style. Sometimes books can get really monotonous using the same styles and such, so I really like this. :D

    Also, the graphic for this post is amazinggg.

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    1. Thanks, Katie! I dabble quite some in second person but I won't show you my older works as they kind of suck now I look back at them, but a lot of my writing has the same lyrical style -- watch out on the blog for them!

      EEK, THANK YOU. It's basically just GIMP background and a very nice script font ;P

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  15. Your writing always amazes me, I get pulled in every time. Really sad, I love sad writing. Loved the line about heart strings, I knew they were a thing because of Pinterest. :D

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    1. Thank you so much, Skye! You're definitely in the right place for sad writing XD

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  16. Alyssa, WHO GAVE YOU THE RIGHT TO WRITE SUCH GORGEOUS WORDS. This is an abomination and I do not think my poor heart can take much more of the utter loveliness.

    (Especially: "he did not speak. the sirens came screeching down the street; not the wildlings of the sea, but the hunters of your kind. you looked at him and wished you still had a heart to break." I just. w h y.)

    Also, side note - I adore the second-person style! It took a bit of time to get used to, but knowing you, I probably shouldn't have been surprised that you were able to pull it off so beautifully. ;)

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    1. Well, consider it comeback for writing poetry that MELTS ME INTO PUDDLES. But seriously, I'm so happy that you enjoy it because you are such an inspiration for poetic writing and I'm grinning far too widely than is wise. Fortunately it's the weekend and I'm not in class :D

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  17. Ohhhhh, this is lovely. And I like how you used the second person POV, because sometimes it's used in a way that is outside of the narrator (so the narrator still thinks from their own perspective, but everything is directed towards "you").

    I loved this, and would totally read an entire book like it, just saying. <3

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    1. Thank you, Chiara! Second person is hard to get the hang of, but I do hope I've managed to balance everything here. And aww, thank you! Now I just have to figure out how to write an entire book like this :D

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  18. THIS IS GORGEOUS, ALYSSA. I really really love second person PoV, and you pulled it off so well here! (Also, Game of Thrones is pretty cool. *wink wink*)

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    1. Thank you, AnQi! Second person PoV is my fav too, except it is so hard to do nicely. *winks and tosses you brownies*

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  19. 2nd person. ALL THE YES.

    I love how you wrote this with no capitals and with a chaotic, disjointed quality that suits the emotions and story so well.

    These sentences!

    (did he do it for the monster between your ribs, or the angel in his dreams)
    (which monster was the more innocent, the one with a bullet and a trigger or the one with a halo of golden hair)
    (did you love him, did he love you)

    Also, the fact that the ONLY word capitalized here is Ashton's name? Just let me curl up and cry now.

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    1. Thank you, Annie! 2nd person is quite lovely, isn't it? I'm so happy you found the lowercase letters fitting, since I can never judge when it's too much. Those sentences were SUCH fun to tease out.

      Actually, that last one isn't true -- the other bits of dialogue are capitalised too. But that is an interesting thought if I ever revise this!

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