Monday, 8 February 2010

3am Epiphany Challenge 3 - Unreliable Third: True Love?

To celebrate sending my novel off (albeit it still in pretty shabby shape!) I am posting my next challenge snippet. Enjoy... :)

it's a bit too long really, but I'm trying to get a few done... I'm going to go back and have another couple of goes at some of them, but I'm posting my first efforts anyway!

Write a fragment of a story from the POV of an unreliable narrator - third-person limited (or attached) narration.

Wordcount: 500 (+/- 10%)

Usually, an unreliable narration is spoken in first person, so what happens when you give us a slightly detached, yet still unreliable narration? (Think Hitchock's movie Stage Fright) In third person unreliable narration, the readers will believe more of the lies, so see if you can present a deceptive character's perceptions as what he/she believes or wants to believe. You have to both believe the lie and show it to be a lie.

True Love?

Helen smiles at George and tries to ignore the little frown lines around his mouth. He is trying to make her a better person, and it is working – slowly, but it is working.

She turns back to her ironing, standing up straight, ensuring that her back is elegantly poised and her shoulders are not slouched. He hates slouching, but only because he doesn’t want her to get backache. He only slouches himself because of his own back trouble, and he doesn’t want Helen to suffer the way he does. After all, he couldn’t afford for them both to visit the masseuse.

He turns the television up a little higher. He’s forgotten that she hates this show, hates the presenter. He wouldn’t have put it on if he had remembered, but she forgives him, because he’s just trying to relax. He’s been working late, it’s not his fault his job is so stressful. She’s grateful his secretary is such a sweet girl, always so obliging, staying late at work so he doesn’t have to make the phone calls himself. Jeannie. A lovely girl. She even calls Helen herself when George is working late, so that George can get on with things and be home a little earlier. Jeannie is such a pretty thing, she could be a model, but George says she prefers to do something useful with her life.

Helen folds up the last shirt with care as the programme finally finishes and places it in the pile of ironing. George harrumphs and hauls himself up from the settee. There’s a faraway look in his eye that reminds Helen of their honeymoon. She’s about to say something when he catches her eye and frowns again.

“I’m going to bed.” His voice is gruff, but that’s just his way. She knows he loves her. She’s sure that tonight when she goes up he’ll be waiting for her, not turned away and snoring as he has been recently. He’s just been tired, and she can’t blame him for that.

“Can you…?” She gestures towards the pile of ironing, but he puts a hand in the small of his back and grimaces.

“Can’t. Back trouble.”

His terseness can’t cover up the fact that he’s still miles away, looking past her at some memory that softens his expression and reminds her of the man she fell in love with.

She’s sure now that he’s remembering their honeymoon, and once he’s gone up the stairs she starts to bustle about, getting everything quickly tidied away so that her beloved won’t have to wait for long.

She tries not to move too quickly when he is in the same room – she knows he gets irritated when she makes a noise. It’s not his fault – he has sensitive ears. That’s why they rarely have music on. It’s something to do with the beat or the pitch or – Helen doesn’t really understand, but she loves him and she can listen while he’s at work. The neighbours won’t tell.

There’s more to do than she had thought, and she doesn’t want to leave anything untidy. George probably won’t be up before her in the morning, but if he is he won’t want to be tripping over things. It only takes a few minutes, but George is so tired, and when she pushes open the bedroom door he’s snoring. She sighs. She’s disappointed, but not surprised. He’s been working late. Jeannie told her so. Maybe at the weekend he won’t be so tired.

He’s only doing it for her, working himself into the ground so that she can stay in all day and not have to work. He loves her. She knows he loves her. She’s sure of it. She is.


  1. Nice work. :) And congrats on getting that novel sent off!

  2. thank you on both counts!

    sent off to beta readers and still unfinished, but I am hoping they will be able to help me with that...