Missing the Heart of the Matter (prologue)
Hey guys, DNMC here - here's the beginning three pages of the novel that I'm going to be writing for Camp Nanowrimo in June, and I thought I'd just share it with you to see what ya'll thought. Comments would be lovely!
What I am about to tell you, first of all, may not be true. I can’t claim that this really happened to me, because honestly, I have no idea myself. I could be as crazy as the drunkard you walk by every day on your way to your daily routine, or I could be the only sane person among you. I can’t say for sure. I would of course love to believe that it was the latter, but the evidence appears to point otherwise. With that in mind, please don’t read this with bias. If you start off already thinking that I am insane, then you’ll no doubt have concluded that I am indeed insane by the end, because you expected me to be. I probably shouldn’t even have written an intro such as this to begin with, because of this reason, but I felt that it was necessary. There is no other way for me to begin, that I can think of at this time.
Beginnings are hard to pinpoint.
If you write, you know this. If you’re looking back on your relationship with someone who you’ve known for a long time, you’ll know this. If you are trying to discern the workings of your own mind and find out where things took a funny turn, you will know this.
I am the latter, I’m afraid.
To pinpoint this beginning, I’ve had to go back to the boring bits. Not that it really matters—I haven’t written this for your reading pleasure. In fact, the only one I’m expecting to pour over this manuscript is the one who commits me, finally, to a mental hospital. In which case, they might find the boring bits important to rescuing the scraps of whatever is left of me.
I don’t know if I am insane. I don’t like to think that I am, but the truth must be admitted; I can no longer tell what is real and what isn’t. I’m not hallucinating—I’m going to make that very clear. But my dreams…I can’t tell which one is the figment and which is the reality. Perhaps this is all being written in my dreams, and when I wake up, there will be no sign that I ever encountered a situation in which I felt as unsure of myself as I do now.
Someone please tell me where I am.
It’s a shame that the boring-est bits are in the beginning. That’s when things shouldn’t be boring; after all, in my experience, getting to the root of the problem, the beginning of it all, sounds rather interesting. However, in my case, it isn’t.
I am—or was—a human girl. An ordinary one; if you were to glimpse my face in the crowd, you wouldn’t look twice. I was given a face that looks like everyone else’s—I have ‘that sort of face’ that reminds you of someone you’ve seen before; because you have. You don’t remember me. I don’t—didn’t—particularly mind. I never liked you anyway. People, for some reason, never liked me either. I can’t imagine why. I was never a social outcast of my own making; I was well-mannered, didn’t say inopportune things at inopportune times, and I had a sense of humor. But still no one liked me. You probably wouldn’t either; again, not my fault—apparently I have an ‘aura’ of some sort. Maybe this is a dream, after all. When one thinks of oneself as universally disliked, it usually turns out to be completely untrue, unless that person has committed some horrible crime. However, in my case, it is completely true, and I have been a law-abiding citizen of my area since I was old enough to learn that one mustn’t jaywalk.
I have been unhappy with my life, and have daydreamed of ‘waking up’ to a better life since I could remember. Even as a child, my mother’s friends always avoided me. My older sister’s friends would gossip about me in front of my very eyes. Of my sister they would demand to know “how you can live with Cora”—for that is my name, Cora Isobel Thomas—“she’s so creepy!”
Creepy. That was me. I remember that day perfectly; I was four. I barely knew the meaning of the word. I could barely read, and I stammered when I did actually say something, something that I retain to this day, because my brain is unused to voicing things aloud. Hearing my voice is something that is especially distasteful to others.
Thirteen years have passed since that date. I have since perfected the art of avoiding other people without consciously appearing so; my clothes mirror the styles of the latest trends, and the colors are light and cheery. People won’t pay any attention to you if they’ve seen you—and your clothes—before. It is the unique that catches people’s eyes.
I rarely speak, even to my own parents. Even they are uneasy around me. They try to hide it, like the kind souls that they are, but something about me unsettles them.
“Cora,” my mother had asked me on my seventh birthday, “do you believe in changelings?”
I had no idea what they were.
“They’re a type of fairy.”
I hated the idea of fairies. They were inhuman and ugly and mean, and yet everyone liked them and thought them charming. I was jealous of them, you could say. I had shaken my head.
It wasn’t until I had learned of the magic of the internet that I bothered to search these ‘changelings’ in greater detail.
My mother had allowed herself to believe, perhaps subconsciously, perhaps only for a second, but she had thought it nonetheless, that I was not her child. I gave off such an unpleasant presence that her mind had grasped at any alternative as to why she felt so uncomfortable around me, and had settled on a fairy tale.
I am human. I have all the bits and bobs necessary to make me so.
But that encounter made me wonder.
Rest assured, I still retain my humanity, as I sit here dictating this. I have no sprouted wings, or a tail, or grown fur. My skin is as soft and pink as any other human’s, and my eyes and hair are still the plain average-ness that they always have been—blue and brown, respectively. I speak only one language—English—and I cannot cast any magical spells that bring either happiness to all or death to the world.
I am human. But the humans don’t think so.
I suppose that it was only a matter of time until I snapped. But ‘snapped’ isn’t the right word—‘snapped’ implies that there was some sort of conflict between persons, some sort of trouble, something extreme. In short, something happening. Nothing happened. One day I was able to turn a blind eye to my predicament, and then one day…
I can feel you shift forward in your chair—here lies the juicy stuff, the stuff that you are paid to decipher. Why I snapped, what happened when I snapped; clearly, something must have happened to put me in the state that I am now. Obviously it happened at this moment.
You think wrong.
You won’t believe me, but you can’t be more wrong.
I will have you know right here and now that I was perfectly sane at that moment. I was also perfectly sane after that moment.
I’ll leave you to figure out the details. It’s not my job to explain to you when I thought the problem arose—you, as a licensed medical practitioner, will discard that information. But I wasn’t going to go back that early anyways—that day isn’t really important, and it was two years before any significant event took place. Took make things simple, I’ll start the day that I began to question my own sanity.