Controller (Bonus Episode)

Posted: October 20, 2009 in Fiction

I only changed one word from last time. My unofficial editors have either quit or actually liked yesterday’s post just the way it is. The sentence I changed was this: On the other hand, if she was so popular, wouldn’t someone have actually called her right by now? I figured that made a bit more sense. I am doing my best to maintain the tone, but the next one has to be kind of weird.

“Ah, Christ!” she swore. Eve slapped her hand over her mouth. Had they heard her? Unlikely; the roar of the turbines had probably drowned it out. She scooted into a more comfortable position, although it was only relatively so. She rubbed her head, checking for a lump. Her fingers wove through her hair and came to a thick rope where no hair grew. She traced it down both sides of her head to just behind her jaw. “What the hell? What happened to me?” she murmured. Her phone vibrated in her pocket. “Just a minute,” she whispered. Eve clicked on the light to examine herself.

She looked into the mirror and a stranger stared back at her. Her auburn hair spilled back behind her shoulders, tousled by thin hands that continued to follow the network of scars on her scalp. Eve raised one thin eyebrow. She was pretty! She had a small, rounded nose and high cheekbones. Her eyes didn’t match, though. One was blue, but the other’s pupil was shot through with brown, like a marble. She had huge dark swipes underneath those strange eyes; how long had it been since she got a good night’s sleep? Her otherwise attractive features had a single flaw, but it was a large one. The keloid scar that ran down her jaw looped back up like a ram’s horn across her cheek and stopped just shy of her left eye. Her dark lips curled into a frown.

Her phone buzzed again. “What?” she asked. She fished the phone out of her coat. “You were pretty banged up,” it read. Eve scowled. “This is what you call banged up?” she said aloud. The screen flickered and changed: “😦 That’s not all. It was… bad.” Eve’s scowl deepened. How bad, she wondered. The phone must have guessed what she was thinking, because the screen changed again. “Most of your ribs. Both arms and one leg. I wasn’t sure you’d live.” Eve lifted her shirt to just below her breasts. On both sides of her ribcage were circular depressions of pink scar tissue. “Holy hell!” she said. Did all of her ribs break? How does someone live through trauma like that? Eve decided to ask. “How did I survive?” she whispered to the phone. “One of the advantages of being a controller,” the text said. Eve was about to ask what a controller was, but there was a knock on the door.

“Anyone in there?” a voice asked. Dammit. Did she answer? If it was one of the flight crew, she was busted. On the other hand, it was likely that no one would think to do a quick headcount just because of an occupied bathroom.

“Uh… I’ll be out in a minute. Try the front one,” Eve said. There was no further sound outside the bathroom door. Eve sighed and slumped back onto the toilet. She rested her head on the wall, and closed her eyes. She needed a nap.

So the universe thought it’d be funny and punish me by granting my wish. It’s important to remember that when you ask a question, you might get an answer. On a related note, Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I keep trying to connect with people and it has taken its toll on me. I think I need to take a break from it. Don’t worry about me though. Vacation is 2 days away now. As long as things don’t get too much worse, I can make it.

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Comments
  1. Alana says:

    First the banal stuff:"She rubbed her head, checking for a lump. Her fingers wove through her hair and came to a thick rope where no hair grew. She traced it down both sides of her head to just behind her jaw."I had a hard time figuring out what this "rope" was until you explicitly state it in the next paragraph. Maybe a "thick ropey scar" would work?"One was blue, but the other’s pupil was shot through with brown, like a marble."Do you mean pupil or iris here?"If it was one of the flight crew, she was busted. On the other hand, it was likely that no one would think to do a quick headcount just because of an occupied bathroom."If this is about the boarding pass she stole, could you mention it again? I actually forgot about it and I had a hard time putting this together.Eve also seems to talk to herself a lot in complete sentences, a habit I’ve never found very realistic in any story. Would anyone really say, "What the hell? What happened to me?" when they felt a mysterious scar on their head? I think a gasp or cry would be more realistic. And "Holy hell" is an elaborate curse to whisper to yourself.Two big things:1. "Holy hell!" she said. Did all of her ribs break? How does someone live through trauma like that? Eve decided to ask. "How did I survive?" she whispered to the phone."I wonder that she didn’t react by asking what had happened to her. That seems like a more logical question than "How did I survive?" I’m guessing that you’re trying to reveal the controller thing in a dramatic fashion, but I just don’t feel that the internal logic holds.2. "She was pretty! She had a small, rounded nose and high cheekbones."Women like to look pretty, but to portray them as this vapid is pretty offensive. Besides, she’s not pretty – she has a hideous facial scar, and that would be the first thing that would draw her attention, not the color of her eyes or the shape of her nose. Give us some credit – even a woman can forget her appearance from time to time when she’s covered in blood and being chased by some sort of otherworldy beings. If you were writing about a man, would he have marveled at his own handsomeness in the bathroom mirror? If you were to mention the scar first and then go on to mention that it disfigured what would have otherwise been an attractive face and not say something as patronizing as "She was pretty!" then I wouldn’t find it so distasteful, but as it is now, it’s a little sexist.

  2. Sabrina says:

    I would agree with Alana on a lot of the notes she made, first off being the issue with "the rope." Its a nice attempt and I know what you are playing at but I think it takes too much work to figure out. I would suggest a more direct description to the scar tissue, "a long a raised scar, not unlike a rope." Even then, that is a bit clunky, but I think you get the idea.I don’t want to get into too much detail with a person hanging out in the WC of a plane during take-off. It just wouldn’t happen so I won’t go into it.I must, however, disagree with Alana’s critique of Eve discovering herself as a pretty woman. I don’t find it offensive and I don’t think it is shallow or flat. I think if someone were to see their reflection for the first time they would be delighted to find that they are attractive. I think that would be the very FIRST thought that would go through someone’s head if they were indeed pretty and just saw their reflection for the first time. In a matter of seconds they would notice their mismatched eyes and hideous scar. But for art sake, perhaps you could reverse the order of the description and see how it plays out. It might be interesting to start with the scar, move to the eyes and then notice that overall, she is pretty. I don’t know, I’d have to see how you would write it. But I don’t find it sexist or offensive at all. And you know me, I can make almost anything sexist. But then again, I do like to look at myself in the mirror and think "Gosh, I am pretty!"….I like where you are going with this. I can tell that you are enjoying this story and you are really trying to develop both the character and the story. I like the pace of the story, it moves fast enough where I don’t feel bored reading it, but it has some slow points where it keeps me wanting to read more. I like how the story unravels as we learn more about Eve. At the beginning the reader, Eve and even the voice of the story are all in the dark. I like how you are brining us all into the light at the same time. It really makes me feel connected to the character and the story and has make asking the voice of the story, "Okay! What next." Nicely done.And… I just have to add…. I think its funny for Alana to ask YOU of all people if men look in the mirror and find themselves amazed at their own handsomeness. ….Because aren’t you the guy who puts his hands on his hips and says, "Man, I’m pretty!" 😀

  3. Alana says:

    As I’ve said before, context matters, and while it’s reasonable to look in the mirror and be happy about your appearance under normal circumstances – she’s being chased through an airport by giants with no eyes and she is covered in mysterious scars and injuries! People forget things like sex when they’re in grave danger; it’s a standard psychological reaction. My issue is not that Eve is pretty. It’s that contemplating her attractiveness just doesn’t make sense here. I would think that a hideous scar (and keloid scars are seriously hideous) would preclude her from being "pretty," anyway, but I have no problem with her having pretty features and noticing them when she analyzes her face in the mirror (after she notices the scar, because without a doubt, it would overshadow any of her other features). But that "She was pretty!" line is too much; it’s really patronizing, like, "Don’t worry, she’s hot. Did you really think you were reading about an ugly person? No way, not here!" Show it, not tell it. It’s not even hard, just cut the line.If it’s not sexism, it’s a misunderstanding of how humans react to danger, and either way it’s not good.

  4. Sabrina says:

    I agree with Alana, showing is better than telling. But the line isn’t bad. I suppose it depends on the kind of character you want to create. I think the lines speaks to how messed up Eve is, that in all this chaos she is so lost that she doesn’t even know what she looks like. I like it.

  5. Justin says:

    I’m in the process of fixing some things in the last post. I was both angry and drunk while writing it, thus illustrating just how valuable feedback is. It’s true that I do look in the mirror and say, "Man, I’m pretty!" but Eve is not me. I’ll be doing a double issue with the improvements soonest. And yes, Eve is quite messed up at the moment!

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