Friday, December 7, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: He/She

Her dress was soaked.

His umbrella was broad.

Her shiver was enticing.

His chivalry was charming.

They stood together for the ferry.

She wrung out her skirt over the edge of the dock.

He struggled not to stare at cotton-silhouetted curves.

She asked about his accent.

He called it “Nova Scotian.”

She’d always wanted to visit the Americas.

He’d always wanted to leave them.

She’d heard Americans were full of vitality.

He’d heard Europeans lived longer.

She’d like to see their wilderness.

He’d like to taste their wine.

She owned a vineyard.

He blessed their luck.

She invited him to a tasting on Tuesday.

He looked for dry scrap of paper to copy the address.

She said her husband would love to meet him.

The ferry was nowhere in sight.

His jacket was drenched.

She stood closer.

He was warm despite the weather.

She inquired if he had the sun in his shirt.

He said nothing.

She felt inside his lapels.

He jerked away.

Rain spattered them both.

Somewhere, the ferry’s horn sounded.

She was so sorry.

He didn’t want an apology.

Her husband was too distant.

He wanted her to take the umbrella.

Her husband had two mistresses, she missed human touch, and her eyes were wet.

He said it was the rain.

She felt inside his lapels.

His coattails dripped.

Her lips were dry.

They never felt so good.

The ferry came.

She knew the pilot.

He shied to the back of the boat.

She snatched his scrap and scribbled directions, puncturing the wet paper with haste.

He hesitated.

She rode with the pilot, laughing about spring rain.

He tried to catch her looking at him.

She was practically in the pilot’s lap, so keenly interested in his morning.

He tried not to glare.

She never touched the pilot’s lapels.

He wondered at the paper in his hand.

She glanced once, the sun reflecting in her eyes.

He was free on Tuesday.


  1. So ultimately it's not he/she at all, just all about he.

    I liked the retro feel on this one. I pictured it happening in the 1950s.

    1. Is that he-ness because he makes the decision in the end?

    2. I liked this a lot -- the short statements that manage to create the whole environment and entirely suit a brief encounter.

      As per Katherine's comments, I felt it was his story too. I think the he-ness is because for the most part we get his thoughts but only her actions... For instance, while we know how he feels about her going to sit with the pilot, there's nothing about what she felt - only what he could see her do.

    3. What Lauren said. I just did a quick and dirty analysis, and out of the 54 lines (using my reading for the categories, of course -- highly unscientific!), I got:

      30 neutral statements about either he or she, as in "He'd heard Europeans lived longer."

      14 statements of the his experience of her, as in "He struggled not to stare at cotton-silhouetted curves."

      7* statements of her experience of him, as in "His chivalry was charming."

      6 neutral statements about neither he nor she, as in "They stood together for the ferry."

      * I counted both the "She felt inside his lapels." in this category just because under normal social conventions the intent is so strongly implied, but really those are neutrals.

      So yeah, tilted towards "he". Doesn't affect how much I liked the story one way or another -- and I did like it! -- but that's how it lay for me.

    4. Katherine, I like your math. While I might not have intended some statements they way you interpreted them, your interpretation is terribly fair. A little chilling, makes me wish I'd broken the piece down this way before I'd decided to publish it...

  2. That was a great story, loved the staccato beats and the last line is just ... <3

    1. Glad it landed so well for you, Sylvia! Thank you kindly.

  3. the rhythm in the middle section as they both quicken really made this one for me

    marc nash

  4. Agreed: re: the rhythm of the piece. Really liked it. Nice work! :-)

  5. I like the way the brief lines tell so much and the way it builds. Maybe a career as a romance novelist beckons?

    1. Experts tell me this isn't even Romance, so that career is in doubt!

  6. Terrific sketchwork, John. Loved this minimalist piece.

  7. in my time away from writing and reading other writers, i've forgotten much. i've never forgotten your gift with words. this piece is a prime example of why they stayed with me.

    1. You're very kind, Quin. Thank you so much.

  8. I liked this very much, John. Yes, the rhythm's great. With a couple of nips and tucks I think I might even prefer it as a poem. What do YOU think?

    N. xxx

    1. My mind has such a hard time processing poetry that I wound up knowing very little about it. One can fake it, surely, but throwing funny paragraphing and indentation, but I wouldn't do that to the form. So I can only say that if it could turn into pure poetry, I don't honestly know how. Prose is how I achieve voice.

  9. I liked the ebb and flow, how it led up to the husband reveal and then how he wavered thereafter.

  10. You did so much in such a minimalist style. Excellent!

    1. Thanks, Sonya! Did you find anything particularly interesting in your inferences?

  11. Nice minimal writing, that conveyed so much!

    1. Anything you found particularly interesting that was conveyed, Helen?

  12. shower door repair

    I really enjoy while I read your blogs and articles.

  13. It's such a contrast to your usual style but it gives a good indication of the man's character - I bet he's a no nonsense, straightforward kind of guy!

    1. Maybe that's why I had such trouble with him. He's so little like me? Other than freezing up at certain times around women who might possibly like him.

  14. I have a very bad feeling that no good is going to come out of this chance meeting.

    Great writing as always John.

  15. I echo others who have praised the way you paint a rich picture with very few words. It's a lesson I still struggle to learn.

    1. If it's something I possess, I've only gotten it through a lot of critical reading and experimentation. This thing is an experiment.

  16. He + She ≠ They - I suspect there will never be an "us" that will ultimately make these two happy. Great story, John!

  17. A great experiment, John.

    "She said her husband would love to meet him."

    A rock dropping into a lake. It take him time to recover — and that comes out so clearly in the piece. Lovely writing. Lovely storytelling.

  18. Wow, this was wonderful. Loved how you captured everything so rhythmically.

  19. This is so different, in style and content, to your usual fare. But it's done quite well. I liked the staccato feel, it's almost like the sketch for a longer work, but proudly stands on its own.

    As for Katherine's points, they're good—but maybe they're why men don't usually get into romance stories. The PoV just doesn't gel with most of them. This gelled with me, because I can imagine reacting in much the same ways.

  20. I like this a lot. The short sentences are like a series of snapshots taken during their encounter.

  21. The glance was the clincher? Nice stuff, John. Interesting approach.


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