Playing with perspectives

Here’s another thing that originated from a creative writing course, but this one’s been translated from Swedish. The object was to try out different narration perspectives, or whatever you might call them. One scene, three perspectives: first person singular, third person singular, omnipotent/third person plural. I took it quite literally and did the exact same scene, but seen from three different angles, but others wrote three different stories altogether. Huh.

We had a character constraint, which I’ve ignored because the texts have been translated, and had to include the basic story of Frank who dates George’s daughter (which George disapproves of), who waits for George in George’s house. They have an argument and Frank shoots George. We had to come up with the setting, the reasons for the argument and the shooting. I found it very difficult at first, because I could think of half a dozen reasons for George to shoot Frank, not the other way around. 🙂 Here’s how it turned out:

First Person Singular: George

Maybe my evening would have turned out differently if I had acted on my impulse to stop by the Pankhurst’s for a glass of sherry. Because reminded myself at the last moment that the only people present were Mrs. Pankhurst and her too numerous offspring, I never went.

Obediah greeted me in the hallway, expressing his surprise, as he thought he heard me arrive several minutes earlier. I took no notice of him; the practically blind butler had always been a tad peculiar, so I just handed him coat, cane and hat and ordered a cup of tea to be brought to the study.

The lights along the study walls lit up, revealing a visitor.
“Why are you sitting here all in the dark?”
Frank gestured with his wrist, and I suddenly realised he was holding Betsy, my gun.
“There is something I wish to discuss with you, dear cousin.”
His tone was far too familiar and carefree to blend with him pointing my own weapon at me.
“What do you want?”
“Ever since my dear sister died, I’m afraid you’ve started to lose your foothold in society, George Mornington,” he replied. “I’m here to make sure the same fate does not befall your daughter.”
“There is nothing lacking with regards to myself, Mary or our good reputation. Where your sister is concerned— “
“She knew she couldn’t trust you, so she asked me to take care of the girl to the best of my abilities. It’s time to fulfil that promise.”
“She’s only nineteen!”
“Old enough to marry.”
“With whom? You? She would never agree to such a thing!”

I was interrupted by Mary, appearing in the doorway, ready to go. Blasted girl!

“He means well, father. I’m attached to him. If it is Mother’s wish—”
“It isn’t!”
“Frank will take good care of me. He always has.”
“I will never consent to this!”
“No, that’s what I thought.”
The pain was as sudden as the bang. Betrayed by my own weapon, my own wife and my own daughter!
The world went black.

But is that really it? Not if Frank has anything to say about it …

Third Person Singular: Frank

It had been planned a while now, but finally, the moment had arrived. The right moment. Frank Debden had no problem opening the front door without the senile old servant noticing him; especially not when Mary was around to assist, and besides, he could find the study in his sleep.

A beautifully decorated pistol was on display on the mantelpiece. A pistol Frank now removed to have a closer look at. Its owner had chosen to name the weapon after his dead, which he found … distasteful. Frank had promised his half-sister Elizabeth to take care of her daughter once she had departed, and he was going to fulfil that promise. Perhaps not in the same way that she had had in mind, but Elizabeth’s far too early death had brought him and Mary together in a way he had not foreseen. It was a mere formality to ask Mornington’s permission, because even if he said no, it still wouldn’t matter.

Lights flared up along the walls.
“Why are you sitting here all in the dark?”
Frank was already holding the gun, so why not use it for emphasis?
“There is something I wish to discuss with you, dear cousin.”
“What do you want?”
“Ever since my dear sister died, I’m afraid you’ve started to lose your foothold in society, George Mornington,” he replied. “I’m here to make sure the same fate does not befall your daughter.”
“There is nothing lacking with regards to myself, Mary or our good reputation. Where your sister is concerned— “
“She knew she couldn’t trust you, so she asked me to take care of the girl to the best of my abilities. It’s time to fulfil that promise.”
“She’s only nineteen!”
“Old enough to marry.”
“With whom? You? She would never agree to such a thing!”

Frank almost said, Oh really? because oh, if only he knew!

“He means well, father.” Mary appeared in the doorway, beautiful, like a fairytale princess. “I’m attached to him. If it is Mother’s wish—”
“It isn’t!”
“Frank will take good care of me. He always has.”
“I will never consent to this!”
“No, that’s what I thought.”

The shot went off before he had a chance to react, and Frank was as surprised as Mary.

“There, there, he’ll be all right,” Frank said, in response to her concerned look, then took her hand and kissed it gently. “Your new home awaits.”

See? It was just an accident! But how will Mary react to it all?

Third Person Plural: Frank and Mary

Fog enveloped the city, where the looming shapes lurked in the darkness. Some houses lay dark, others blazed with light, or just lit up by a single light in the half moon window above the front door. Light spilled on to the few steps leading up to one of those houses when the door opened to let in someone shrouded in a hat and a long coat.

Frank Debden was happy to get out of the cold, even if the reason for his visit would not be easy to discuss with George Mornington.

He was met in the hallway by Mary, Mornington’s only daughter, to whom he had grown increasingly attached when the girl’s mother had been snatched away by consumption a couple of years earlier.

Mary’s hand received a gentle kiss and she blushed in response, even though she knew a mere kiss was nothing to be embarrassed about. Frank would become her husband, but it was still a secret known only to them. He had promised Elizabeth Mornington to take care of Mary, and that’s what he intended to do.

When George showed up, Mary had retreated so she would not disturb her fiancé when he asked for her father’s blessing. Curiosity brought her back to the study, arriving just in time to hear her father’s displeasure at the news. It filled her with questions. Could her father not understand that they were meant for each other, and why was her beloved holding a gun?

The shot fired made all of them recoil in horror, but only one of them followed it by slumping to the floor.

“There, there, he’ll be all right.” Frank took her hand and kissed it gently, reassuringly, although he was uncertain if he was trying to reassure himself or her. “Your new home awaits.”
“It can wait!” she said, tearing strips of fabric from her petticoats to stop the bleeding. “How could you?!”

Frank wondered about this too. Shooting Mornington was not included in the promise he had made Betsy.

“Don’t just stand there – call for Dr. Finsbury immediately!”

She did not need to ask him twice.

So yeah. People commented on the setting (any ideas?) and other things, but no one seemed to bat an eyelid at the nature of the love affair. Funny, that. Maybe the “half-“ bit threw people off the scent too much. Dang! 😉

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