Flash fiction: Not An Apology


Another shot at a Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge.  This week’s challenge is the unlikeable protagonist.  This went to a rather dark place, I’ll give you that warning right now, and I’m not actually sure I got it quite right.

Not An Apology

DL Thurston

I’m not going to say I’m sorry.  I’m not sorry.

I loved you.  If you can’t see that, that’s not my fault.  But you were imperfect, you were flawed.  I fixed that for you.  You had one leg that was just a tiny bit shorter than the other, so I stretched it.  I may have gone too far, as you then had one leg that was just a tiny bit longer than the other.  So I stretched the other.  You stood so much straighter, and didn’t that help the pain in your back?  That you wouldn’t stop complaining about the pain in your legs, that hurt me.

So I did something for your pain.  Did you know that pain isn’t real?  There is nothing in the nervous system that can be identified as pain.  It’s all in the brain.  So I removed that part of your brain.  No more pain, because who would want to feel pain if given the option?  I didn’t realize that you would strain so hard without the pain, I didn’t realize you would twist your own arms far enough to break your bones.  I heard them, and it broke my heart.  I didn’t want you to break them anymore.

Titanium is so strong, so light, so elastic.  That’s why they use it in golf clubs.  That’s why I used it in you.  It won’t bend.  It won’t break.  Bone is so fragile, so unnecessary.  I’m jealous of your new skeleton, I really am.  I would do it myself, if there were anyone else nearly so brilliant as me who could do the surgery.  Isn’t that enough?  To know that I gave you something that I cannot give myself?

But then you cried.

You’re so beautiful.  So very beautiful.  It’s why I loved you so.  But when you cry, it’s hidden.  Your eyes, so clear and blue, become bloodshot and cloudy.  Your skin, so soft and pale, becomes red and puffy.  I don’t think you realized just how ugly crying made you.  I’m sure you wouldn’t have continued if you’d known.  You put me in such a difficult position.  I couldn’t take away your emotions, that just wouldn’t do at all.

Otherwise, how would you love me?

Cauterization was the only option.  You’d have done the same.  If you really sit down and take a moment to think of this all rationally, if you’d stop letting your emotions get in the way.  Shouldn’t you be happy you still have them?  I let you keep them.  You’re welcome.

Every asymmetry I fixed.  Scientists have proven that human concepts of beauty are tied to symmetry.  I moved freckles, I removed moles, did you know your left eye wasn’t quite as blue before I started?  I couldn’t get the teeth right, that’s why I needed to start over from scratch.  I spared no expense.  That’s ivory, the next best thing to your own teeth.  You can keep those.  Consider them my gift to you.  They’re molded to your mouth anyway, they would be of no use to me.

I did this all because I loved you.  But now, I wish I knew how to say this, you’re just not the woman I fell in love with anymore.  What we had was wonderful, and I won’t forget the time you’ve spent with me down here.  I’m not going to mince words, you deserve so much more than that.  I’ve found someone else.  And she’s perfect.

Well.  Nearly perfect.

But I can fix that.

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  1. avatar

    #1 by Mike on February 10, 2012 - 1:16 pm

    Interesting story – yes, does get a little dark. I’ve started on this too, trying to create a protagonist that I dislike, while still showing him as the good guy.

  2. avatar

    #2 by Lindsay Mawson on February 10, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    Eerie! It certainly held my attention. Did a good job on the protagonist, I think – easy to empathize because I think we’re all in love with perfection.

  3. avatar

    #3 by Mello on February 10, 2012 - 7:30 pm

    Very dark and eerie, but I could help but read it. I liked the idea of perfect symmetry and beauty associated with it, but at the same time I’m terrified of it. Good job with bringing that to light.

  4. avatar

    #4 by DLThurston on February 10, 2012 - 7:45 pm

    Thanks for the feedback on the story. I wrote it then sat on it for a few hours not sure whether I wanted to post it. For awhile I thought I didn’t like the story, then I realized it was just the narrator I didn’t like.

  5. avatar

    #5 by Eden Mabee on February 16, 2012 - 12:38 am

    I’ve re-read this a few times now. … Not sure if I don’t like your protagonist because he’s unlikable or because he’s just scary… It had that “hide behind the couch but keep peeking out to see what happens next” effect on me.

  6. avatar

    #6 by Scott Bury on February 16, 2012 - 8:50 am

    I loved this story. I really hated the narrator. This one worked for me.

    Best part: the last line.

    Bravo!

  7. avatar

    #7 by Donna B. McNicol (@DonnaBMcNicol) on February 18, 2012 - 8:59 pm

    Wow! On par with James Patterson, Alan Jacobson and other mystery/thriller writers. What a great prologue for a novel….

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