This charming man

I’ve recently cut my hair short (very short), and I’m still coming to grips with it. It’s funny how a small gesture can have such a huge impact on the way you go about life.

I knew something was definitely changed when I was walking home last night. I was all in black, happily swinging my umbrella on the nook of my arm, when this charming man in a dark suit, ochre knit tie and family ring touched me on the shoulder. When I turned around to look at him, he said “I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.”

But I know him right away. If there’s something I excel at, is recognising people I’ve written before.

I try to be charming myself, and tell him I’m quite sure we’ve met before. His forehead twisted and wrinkled, like he was trying to remember me. I asked him if he liked The Smiths, and he said sure.

I wait for him to get it, and he does: he is This Charming Man. I tell him I know so much about these things, and he laughs politely at the terrible line.

“So,” he said, cutting to the chase, “What will happen to me now that she’s gone?”

I told him grief was a painful, and complicated process, and that I sadly didn’t have all the answers. He refused to believe me, and told me I used to be nicer to characters when I had longer hair. It stung.

He seemed angry and depressed when I looked more closely. It’s funny how characters can take on fresh personalities  when you’re not watching. He would never have dared to talk to me this way inside my head.

He asked me what it would take for me to turn things around. I told him I missed her too, but that somethings were beyond my control; I’m just a messenger, after all. He retorted that there was more to it than that. I wasn’t just the messenger, he said, I was “The Puppet Master”. I didn’t take it personally; people who are grieving say crazy things. Maybe short hair makes me tougher after all.

It started to rain harder, and before long, rain turned into snow. I opened my umbrella and covered both of us, trying to be kind. “What can I do?” he asked. I told him it wasn’t over; things would still turn for the better, and there would always be detailed flashbacks he could look into. He nodded as if he understood what I meant. By the time I had reached the foyer of my building down the street, he was gone.

I certainly underestimated what happens when a story goes over 25,000 words. It’s like the story takes a life of its own. So do you try to control it, or do you let it go?

Thank you for reading, and good night.

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One comment on “This charming man

  1. Candice says:

    You may have meant it as a rhetorical question, but try letting it go first. Let it go where it should naturally happen to go. My worry with that is it may turn out to be predictable, so continue to have that question in your head. If you’re brave, write two different versions, one where you control it, and one where you let it go. Happy writing!

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