F3: Love Story
Here’s my offering for this week, presented in a timely fashion no less. Don’t forget to check out the other F3ers: Gareth Lyn Powell, Paul Raven, Martin McGrath, Neil Beynon, Gareth D. Jones, Justin Pickard, Dan Pawley, newcomer Greg O’Byrne, and possibly even Ian Hocking – although his first flash may have been a one off as it was on a Sunday.
Her lips are red like a simile; her hair turns black in a metaphor, reflecting the darkness in his heart. Her eyes shine, burning with the flames of passion and devotion, blazing with the fury of story.
‘I love you,’ he whispers, experimentally, though he feels the hooks in his heart pierce his skin and lungs, so heavy does the lie hang upon him.
‘I love you,’ she replies, and meaning it is buoyed up, becoming greater, larger, grander. For an instant she towers over him, her smile beatific. But the bliss she bestows does not take root, and she sees the blood on the hooks, and her smile is a frown, and she is small again.
‘Something is wrong,’ she says. He watches her through closed eyes, sensing her light through those fragile sheaths of skin and tissue, and nods.
‘I’m trapped,’ he tells her. ‘I’m trapped, and I cannot see how to get out.’
‘I have always given you space! I have let you lead your own life, choose your own path. You are both free and loved.’
‘No. I am neither of these things. Do you not recognise what we are? We are artefacts of fiction, artefacts in fiction. We are only free to do what is written, which is linear, and our love is artificial, because there is no other option.’
‘You don’t understand,’ she says. She looks at you for support. ‘I love him.’
You respond as you will, but she has already looked away, back towards the object of her love.
‘You don’t understand,’ he tells her. ‘The dimensions of our relationship are constrained by the boundaries of this narrative. It is as great or small as we are permitted. We are marionettes slow-dancing to the tune of megalomania. There’s no room for us to breath. I’m choking.’
She smiles at him, exposing teeth that might have been pearly-white, but he has only ever seen real pearls on the neck of his dead grandmother.
‘We are not trapped,’ she says. ‘For example, our roles can be reversed. Behold: now I am the one angry at being controlled, and you are the one afraid of loss. How can you not see that we are trapped?’
‘It is equally possible that we have simply exchanged our gender,’ he noted, ‘and that you replied to yourself. There is no way to distinguish this other than to trust what you are. How can you tell yourself that you do not love me? These sensations belong to us. Perhaps they did not originate from us, but they are ours.’
She shakes her head, side to side, to see if any change falls out. It does not. She frowns at the plasticity of language, regretting that English permits the entry of such crude puns into the text.
‘The narrative is essentially incomplete. We are being read by those who will fill in the blanks, or who will discard our story like so many forgotten microfictions. Advertisements for toothpaste. A friend’s tale of a car accident. What was on the television yesterday. We are only as relevant as this: dross. That is the nature of our love. It is devoid of significance.’
‘You are wrong,’ he says. ‘Our shared love is significant because it is the only consistent element of the narrative. It is the one thing that can be taken away from it, that can be counted upon. This narrative does not allow infinite permutations.’
‘The narrative cannot be trusted. The mutability of our characters, the unconvincing and metatextual nature of our dialogue, these all weaken its status as something coherent and consistent. Our self-awareness undermines the validity of our emotions to our reader. If they cannot trust what we are, how can they trust what we feel?’
‘Because we are constrained,’ he says, gently, and takes her into his arms. ‘We have no choice in what we do, and we are controlled, and ultimately we are predictable.’
He kisses her, those simile lips that a few hundred words ago were his own. ‘We’re predictable,’ he whispers into her ear.
She smiles and says ‘I love you.’