Thursday August 30th, 2012

The exercise:

Write about: identity.

The latest brigade of helpers/visitors have arrived. Should I feel bad that I listed helpers ahead of visitors?



"Sorry about all this," the police officer said with a slight shrug. "We're a busy station and every now and again a wire gets crossed here and there."

"Don't worry about it," I replied. "I'm just glad things got sorted out."

"Sure, us too. Just have a seat and we'll get your belongings out of evidence. Shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes."

I nodded my thanks but didn't sit beat. After a prolonged stay in an interview room with two cranky detectives, I just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.

Besides, if they figured out who I really was my stay would become unpleasantly permanent.


Anonymous said...


How do you define yourself? Is your identity measured by how you look? What you do? What you have?
Or who you are?
The first three are quantifiable but the last one is more numinous.
Who are we? How well can one really know oneself? A self full of shadows projected onto the others we see around us... those parts we don't admit to, that we don't see in ourselves.
One minute we're this, the next minute, that.
We want to be black and white but we're more shades of grey, dominated by the moods that confine our personalities in chains, as shifting and changing as the tides that shape the shoreline.
Our identity might be summed up as a statistical probability largely shaped by the coincidental meeting of strands of DNA which have come down through all the ages of our ancestors - Heisenberg meets Freud meets Watson and Crick. (Wouldn't they de proud?)
How can we possibly define it then?

Greg said...

Heh, the household staff were always referred to as a brigade, so maybe you should feel bad for calling them that! Still, I'm glad to hear that you'll have help again this weekend. I bet they all stop visiting soon though :-P
Hmm, sounds like those cranky detectives are going to get crankier still when they realise who they've let slip through their fingertips!

The children's homework had been "Identity". MIss Snippet had already dragged her red pen through thirteen tedious, boring essays from children telling her who they thought they were, without any clear understanding that they understood what they were writing.
"What they are," she thought, a headache starting to pulse behind her right eye, "are labourers in my employ. Claiming that they're Daddy's little Princess (Jason) or a butterfly waiting to hatch (fat Samantha) is just wishful thinking. Although some of Jason's clothes...."
She cut off her train of thought with some viciousness and turned over the next essay. This one was from June.
"My everyday identity is June Fairfield," it began, "but my secret identity is Madeleina Angmorn, building code specialist and Inspector of the Directorate."
Chilled and thrilled, Miss Snippet let the pen fall from her hand and continued reading about the spy in their midst.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

So I'm gonna do a continuation, because that's how I be rolling.
Or something.
- - - - - - - - - -
There was something weird about that tape.

Most of the interview was nothing unusual: the guy looked nervous enough for any man in his position, but not too nervous as to overcompensate. In other words, he looked innocent enough.

But the way he fidgited was weird, something about his hands. They were too nimble, too active for whatever occupation he'd convinced the detectives he had. And then there was the lip, the side of his face drawn into a perpetual smirk. I had studied all the old court tapes they'd let me get my hands on, and I'd only seen that smirk once before. It was on an older man than this guy, but it had to be him.

And my knuckleheaded superiors let him through.

I was this close to marching down to the nearest office and giving its occupant a piece of my mind, but societal self-preservation held me back. I was in the unfortunate position of actually having to give a damn about my superiors and what they thought of me. Convention dictated that I, the lowly intern, had to defer to the wisdom of my supposedly-wiser superiors, more advanced in age and experience in this kind of thing, or whatever.

I could've gone right over and told them they had just let the son of the greatest crime boss this city has ever seen---and de facto heir to his father's dormant empire---go, seemingly without suspicion. They would've said I was being dramatic. I could've gone back over the tapes. They would've asked why I had done that and not filed the mountain they'd left on my desk.

Or I could've forgotten the system and gone all consulting detective on them and tracked down this fella myself in a matter of hours, two days at most.

Only problem with that plan is that I actually care about social convention and pecking order for some reason, and I went with the former plan.

It went exactly as I thought it would: youthful enthusiasm was reigned in, lectures in diligence and focus proffered, and icy looks exchanged.

Fine, I thought, don't listen to me. Don't hold this guy back, let him revive his dad's empire snoozing just below the surface. We could use a little extra work around here, not to mention a slimming of our numbers.

But I call "I told you so" rights.
- - - - - - - - -
Not as coherent as I would've liked, but it's practice, right?

Marc said...

Writebite - you, dear writer, are on a roll. This was splendid:

"We want to be black and white but we're more shades of grey, dominated by the moods that confine our personalities in chains, as shifting and changing as the tides that shape the shoreline."

Greg - love the descriptions and the unexpected essayist :)

g2 - that's a great continuation, really brought the narrator to life.

And practice is what we do here!

Aholiab said...


Scott knocked softly on the dorm room door, tentatively, hesitantly. He glanced down the hallway, hoping no one would step out of their rooms or off the elevator.

The door opened a couple of inches; he turned and looked into the deep brown eye that peered at him. He felt his breath catch and glanced down at his shoes. “Do you have anything?”

She didn’t answer, waiting him out. Why was there always a game? Why was the question always so hard, and the answer so hard?

He scuffed his tennis shoe on the carpet and finally looked up at her.

She smiled. It wasn’t the smirk that he expected. There was no hint of condescension or derision. It was a real smile, friendly, open. She handed a 3x5 inch card through the opening. He took it from her and examined it.

An eight-digit number. That’s all. No words. No explanation.

He looked up to ask a question, but the door was already closed. He knew there would be no answer if he knocked again.

Eight digits. Obviously it was not a phone number, and just as obviously it was a date.

He brushed his eye as he walked down the hallway, half-blinded by tears.

He finally knew more than just his first name. He knew his birth date.

Anonymous said...

marc thank you!

Marc said...

Aholiab - exceedingly intriguing scene. Feels like there's a lot more story to be told, both before and after what you've shared with us.