I don’t like fiction. You can’t trust it.
Stories can be dangerous. They’ve got places where you get pulled up or attached. They can be like burrs in your sock, sticking to you.
Fiction has the ability to cross your line. Get under your skin.
I know this because I made the mistake of reading too much into a story once.
I saw my life laid out inside the weave of a tale. The story didn’t end happily. I knew it wouldn’t. They rarely ever do. But I read and re-read avidly, reliving what was happening to these fictional characters and thinking that this would happen to me.
I’m not stupid, I know that the story wasn’t written about me. I might be vain, but not that vain.
It was a love story, the one I read. As I read I felt as if the author was sitting at my shoulder. You know that feeling, the one you get when a writer seems to have a better grasp on your life than you do yourself. They were looking into my life as if they could see something I saw, but it was better when they looked at it. A kind of technicolour.
What really annoyed me was that the story wasn’t much chop. It was pretty average. It was a standard tale of boy meets girl and then something gets in the way of them getting it together. A nothing tale really, a bit of fantasy.
But I was angered by it. I was personally wronged. It felt as if someone had documented a piece of my life without consulting me, and I can’t even tell you why.
Although it made no sense I imagined I could eat the pages of the story, this annoying little tale.
If I consumed it then it would go away, taking the rattling pieces of my reflection with it. I saw myself take out a fork and knife, and the nicest ironed napkin. I tucked the napkin into the neck of my shirt like simple folk do, and sliced through the story with fine precision. The knife, I saw in my mind’s eye, slid through the story as if it were butter.
With every bite the love story slowly disappeared, and the character’s little trials and tribulations were absorbed. You don’t have to tell me that they weren’t real, I know they weren’t. But it was nice to swallow them away anyway.
As I ate, I imagined the story dissolved, burnt up by stomach acids or some such. I ate the story until there was nothing left.
Sitting back I removed my napkin from around my neck, idly wondering what an idiot I must have looked with a bib to stop the pieces of pages from falling down my chest. I neatly placed my knife and fork in the ‘I’m finished’ position.
The story was gone, the one that bothered me so much. I’d eaten an entire meal, but all of a sudden I felt quite empty.
Hollow, in fact.
Writer’s block bites.