We continue today with the story behind the story on the fourth piece of short fiction from my upcoming collection, Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure. To read previous installments, go here.
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
Backstory: Hoooooo boy. Where to start? The latter part of 2010 was a chaotic time in my life. I was unfair and ugly to a lot of people, myself included. And I was taking all of that angst and emotional turmoil and spinning it into creative works, which left me close to half-crazy, wondering if I was doing it all just to gin up my fiction. This is a result of that creative burst. It’s an examination of two mismatched lovers, told from the viewpoint of only one of them (which means, of course, that somewhere out there another story is waiting to be told). It’s comical and cringe-worthy, just like ill-fitting love. This story originally appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of Montana Quarterly.
Here’s an excerpt:
But Diane, she was different. For one thing, she wasn’t a gangly little girl anymore. She was thirty-four years old, one hundred percent woman if her online pictures were to be believed, and beautiful in a way that moved me in all the right places. Her sister, Rachel, lurked somewhere in my little online universe, but I rarely heard from her and spoke with her even less frequently. But Diane. Oh, man, Diane. I took advantage of any chance I had to swap notes with her, stay up late chatting online or whatever. I even played that stupid farm game, just because she did. Even if I grant you that online communication is two-dimensional in a way that makes it a poor substitute and a dangerous stand-in for genuine human interaction, I couldn’t help myself from falling in deep with Diane. She got me. She could tell when I wasn’t eating well or sleeping well, just from my demeanor in the little electronic box where we talked. I began sharing my frustrations about work, and she helped me there, too. When I told my creative partner, Jonathan, that his big-footing of me during pitches was damaging to our relationship, he was properly chastened. “I owe you an apology, Doug,” he said. “It was weird to hear you say it so directly. I don’t know. Usually, you just go into your office and break something when you’re frustrated.” That was a gift from Diane, the ability to confront Jonathan. She was changing me.
(Copyright © 2012 Craig Lancaster)
Trivia: Two pieces of it, actually. First, the title: It’s inspired by a Pernice Brothers song of the same name, which as it turns out, also has a similar theme. (Thank God titles can’t be copyrighted.)
Take a listen for yourself:
Second, the names Diane and Rachel in the excerpt above: In the story, the narrator becomes involved with “the kid sister of the first girl I ever loved.” The first love of my life was (is) named Rachel. Her kid sister? Diane. Beyond that surface detail, the story in no way reflects them. I’m proud to say that both remain good friends of mine to this day.
Be sure to come back Monday for Part 5 of this series.
Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure will be officially released on Dec. 6, 2011.