The first ever creative piece of coursework I had to hand in for my degree was a 2500 word collection of short fiction. The amount of different stories included in that word count was up to the writer so I opted to write three short pieces that could work either as standalone or part of a larger narrative.
One of those pieces is the story that is posted below entitled ‘Reflection’.
The piece itself is very basic in content. A man has killed a woman he loves and set it up as a suicide. What I wanted to create within the writing, however, was a sense of ambiguity around what the truth really is.
‘Reflection’ begins with calm, classical music; a motif often present in fiction about serial killers. The writing slowly becomes more chaotic as the narrator goes from wanting to separate himself from what’s happened to justifying his actions. The story ultimately ends with the murderer escaping into the night and showing regret for the fact he is able to do so without being seen.
With the closing line I wanted to allude to a larger story without going into any detail, creating the mystery and the potential for a longer piece of work. I also wanted it to suggest that perhaps the narrator is not as delusional as he comes across in the main body of writing, and that actually he is a lot more clever and calculated than his behaviour suggests.
I’ve never gone further with this story, but that’s not to say that I never will do. Aside from my fiction tutor I’ve never shown anyone else this piece so you’re all the first ones to see it really. If you think it’s worth continuing then let me know!
The violins slowly open up the silence.
I don’t remember choosing the song, or even switching the stereo on for that matter, but as the room begins to fill with music and the tedious voice in my head grows quiet I realise that doesn’t matter. I am so swelled up with pain, my naked chest scathing with cuts and bruises. My head is throbbing, screaming out in pain to the sound of a million voices, but the tinny orchestra playing in the corner of the bedroom gradually brings them to a silence. I glance up at the ceiling and wait for the world to stop spinning.
This isn’t happening, it can’t be. If I can just take myself out of the situation then maybe it isn’t real. If I’m watching from afar then perhaps I can pretend the reality is just a dream; I can be the reflection in the mirror innocent from all crimes. I stand on the other side of the glass and I watch.
Her hair meets the pillow first, the gorgeous orange curls dip-dyed in the red of her own blood. Her glassy eyes continue to look on as if awake – alert. She could still be with us and this could all be pretend. We could walk away from here and simply forget. We had never met, never kissed, never spent the night beneath the stars. She didn’t exist in my life and neither I in hers.
I have to be quick about this; there is no time to drown in my sorrows as she turns the crisp-white of her bed-sheets crimson. So far, everything has gone to plan. No, there is no plan, this wasn’t supposed to happen. Yet I stand here prepared with the words of her death. The words she wrote to her mother, and to her father, her sister, but not to her brother. I crumple them within her fist. This is not my murder, this is her suicide. She chose to walk this path, she turned that gun towards herself with a sickly smile and a refusal to bid me farewell. I am merely her pawn.
I was hopeful it had all been painless as these things so often aren’t. Her expression seems calm; she looks almost happy, reminiscent of memories walking home in the rain, my jacket held awkwardly over her head as I froze in the cold. She would laugh and I would take on a masculine bravado, aware of how silly I looked. When we cuddled up on the sofa at home, she’d wear the same smile she had on now. I feel I owe her the honour of those memories one final time.
Slipping off my jacket, I lay it carefully over her face, pausing one second to catch a final look at those eyes. Lifeless now, but before so bright with hope and love. Even now, one second caught in the gaze of that bright-blue and I become lost, a servant to any and all of her desires. I cover them up as a tear wets my cheek, aware that the spark has gone. She really is no more.
Outside is calling me. Through the open window I see the streetlights coat their orange glow over the street. The night has taken over and yet I shall have to walk the paths of light. So many places impossible to hide. I’ve made this journey many times before, but never like this. Never with blood on my hands.
Fortune, however, seems to have favoured me for the streets remain empty. The world would rather feel safely locked up away from the nightmares that live in the darkness. Nightmares like myself. The blood – her blood – that stains my clothes, my bare skin, will go unnoticed. The horror of my crimes will be concealed; my normality will remain my deception.
This, however, is not what I wish for. I want to be caught, not for my guilt…
…but for my game.
*header image taken by Tj Cosgrove at https://www.flickr.com/photos/explosivofilms/