Author’s note: In a writing class I took in university, every week we were to do a creative response to what we had read for that week. This is what I came up with when we read through some Alice Munro short stories. What intrigued me the most about her writing was how much a writer can manipulate readers’ thoughts about characters, especially through the use of the narrative voice. The narrator may say something about a character that isn’t the truth, but we as the readers believe it because the narrator said it. I decided to run with the idea of the narrator manipulating one character in a certain way to construct the reader’s idea of the other characters in the story.
When I was first told that she was dead, I laughed. Not because her being dead was ha-ha funny, but because the idea that she was capable of dying was absurd. It took several people shaking some sense into me for me to realize that what they were saying was actually true. She was dead. This was no joke. And then it wasn’t so funny anymore.
It was Pippa who found her. Poor Pip. She was fragile enough already. I’ve tried to imagine the scene and I can’t. Pippa said there was blood everywhere, on the bathroom counter, the floor, even the mirror. Like she had flung her arms around, smearing her wrists across the surfaces. She always had been one with a taste for dramatics. I never thought she’d go this far though. It seemed impossible to me. She was always smiling and laughing. That’s what gets me the most – in our eyes she was happy. People now are saying they saw the signs, they should have done something, talked to her, but they’re lying. Nobody knew her secrets. Nobody even knew she had secrets. I’m certain she was perfect. I thought I understood her, thought no one could be more messed up than me, but even through the worst of the mania I never would have gone as far as she. She was the princess, I was the monster; this was not how things were supposed to end. I idolized her, wanted to be her. We all did.
Do you think it odd that I still want to be her? I’d still like to see the world through her eyes, think her thoughts. I wish I could see the demon she believed she saw looking back at her through the mirror. I think it would be a pleasant demon. I think the conversations we would have would be deliriously exhilarating. I think that I would be able to handle what she could not. Some people simply don’t see the pain of others because they are so focused on their own, and I will never quite understand those people. A wasted life. It’s a shame. I wish I could have seen her bleeding. Grabbed the soul that seeped out, kept it for myself. Then I’d know whether what I was doing was wrong or right. She never did tire of saying such things. I’d listen, but only stare blankly back at her animated face. When she said goodbye to me, it seemed like any other goodbye. Anyone could have said it. But that has now become the special goodbye, the kind of goodbye that doesn’t imply hello again. I’d mastered that goodbye long ago, and she was the only one I’d never thought of giving it to. She was the needle in the haystack, but I suppose even needles get lost from time to time. Still though, she never stopped smiling. Pippa said she was smiling even when she was lying on the floor. How does a girl like that lose so much blood?