View Full Version : He's got a little amnesia problem

Jake Creamer
February 21st, 2014, 11:37 PM
Her eyes were grey-green like the ocean after a storm, and she smelled of jasmine.

She came to me from across the room, meaningless faces parting before her like subjectsparting before their queen. We danced, and she spoke to me in Afrikaans with a voice that sounded like the Lowveld. I drank in her presence, the dim lights and low murmur of voice and shuffling feet mere distractions at the periphery of consciousness.
I first became aware of him when his meaty hand clutched my shoulder. He used me as an anchor for an openhanded slap that caught her cheek along the jawline…her lips twisted into an “o” of astonishment and shock at the sudden pain, her A-line bob swinging back in compliance with Isaac’s third law. His growl was thick with Uitkyk, the words “hoer”, and “kont kop” striking her as hard or harder than his buffet.
I, of course, reacted.
I stepped sideways into him, my hip bumping him off balance, and removed his hand from my shoulder with enough torque to cause that loss of balance to escalate into a fall straight onto his coccyx. I don’t know if the pain of the fall was greater than the blow to his pride, but I did know that he wouldn’t let the moment end. I knew it, and I relished it. He scrambled to his feet. I had already forgotten her name.
He took a stance that looked like dambe to me, but he should have tried rough and tumble, not that it would have helped. He jabbed with his right, so I took his wrist, pivoted, and threw him again. He came to his feet amidst the ruin of a table.
He circled, sizing me up more carefully. He should have sized me up before he struck a woman in my presence. I heard voices, ignored them…watching him. His pupils dilated before he attempted to strike me again, thumb loose as he tried an uppercut. I broke it.
His eyes showed white all the way round, and he tried to kick me. I remember thinking maybe he had studied rough and tumble after all. It wasn’t that he was clumsy, he was quite agile. It wasn’t that he telegraphed his motions any more than any man would, he was quite cunning really. It just didn't matter how good he was, because this was my purpose for as long as I could remember. To be fair though, I can’t remember much.
I aborted his kick with a teep, and transitioned into a chasse…he caught it directly in the gut, and the wind left his body in a gust. I tired of the the dance, and as he sagged to his knees I slipped forward and hit him between the eyes. They crossed, and he crumpled like a dropped napkin. She intruded into my life again, rushing to his side, the red welt on her face almost as angry as I had been just moments before.
She rushed to his side, and I realized the game they had played. I cursed myself, my weakness, my inattention. I cursed her for making me a pawn in their lovers squabble, him for making me play my part. As I gathered my coat and hat, I cursed the fact that I was even at that place, a place I didn't belong. Where did I belong? I left with that feeling that comes after a dream where a crisis was solved, but then you can't remember the solution...and then a few minutes later, you can't even remember what the problem was.

That *is* how it happened, I think. My dreams are my memories. They swim up from the deep while I slumber, and their color is grey-green like the ocean after a storm. When I wake, jasmine is in the air.

W. Dallas
February 22nd, 2014, 12:27 AM
I really like your style. I must admit some of the word choices throw me off. I think they are intentional, that you are conjuring a particular vernacular which I am not familiar with. Still some examples that didn't quite work would be leveraged accordance. Those words mean something else in normal English so they may confuse the reader when used in a way that is not explained. A few sentences were jarring as well such as hand clutched startlingly at my shoulder. I know the man is startled, but it reads oddly. Still your writing is quite good.

Jake Creamer
February 22nd, 2014, 01:39 AM
Oh yes, I see what you mean there, thank you! I'd like to point out, that copy/paste isn't a good idea when putting the story into the forum. Sorry about the formatting being strange.
I want to try and use one word to call up the image of the man grabbing the other man, and using him like a pivot to slap the woman, and cause the fight. Leveraged is wrong, and thank you for the catch. What do you think? Levered? Should I just try a new sentence?

I think accordance works, but what I'm trying to make the reader feel is the protagonists detachment and dreamy confusion. The protagonist feels like he's an observer as well as a participant, so when he sees the slap hit her face, and her hair swing back away from the impact, he's just kind of noticing the physics of the blow, in accordance with the third law of motion. Do you think compliance works better? I started there, but compliance seemed passive. Accordance was more like, her reality chose to agree with what is expected.

Thanks for the props, and the quick reply.

W. Dallas
February 22nd, 2014, 02:11 AM
Jake, I think simply being startled indicates initial awareness so I would go with I was startled when his meaty hand clutched my shoulder. Clutched is a strong verb which accurately portrays the viciousness of the action. Leveled seems to be the word I keep hearing rather than leveraged. And silly me, I completely missed the reference to Isaac Newton's laws.

February 22nd, 2014, 04:37 AM
I liked it, but some of it (okay most) I was at a lost to, but that's probably because I don't know the story well enough.

I stepped sideways into him, adjusting his balance from a triangle into a line- what's the balance from a triangle into a line mean? I pictured a triangular view, even though I realize that's farfetched. It's the straight line that got me to that. Is it feet positions? Like crouched, spread apart so the gap between his legs make a triangle, but you side stepping him make him bring them in into a normal standing position?

Jake Creamer
February 22nd, 2014, 07:22 PM
You're correct in understanding the triangle of balance, or at least what I was trying to express there.
In this story, (as well as several others with this character in them), he fights like Mozart composed. He understands fighting, but his amnesia frustrates his ability to say why, or how. In most of these stories, there is some sort of esoteric terminology from the martial art he's using, or the country that he's in at the time.
In this one, he's in South Africa, where there is a no holds barred martial art called "rough and tumble" or RAT for short.

I appreciate your feedback...I think in this case, either as I'm working on a novel with this character and the reader gains more of a macro view of the world it will make sense, or as I post more short stories featuring him, it will make more sense.

February 23rd, 2014, 03:59 AM
Maybe its cause we are only getting 1 scene but I found a lot of the motivations confusing. Why did the guy slap her? At the end why did she go to the guy's side? Was she angry at they guy who slapped her, or at the main character for beating him up? What game were they playing? I am guessing it would all make more sense if it were in context.

Jake Creamer
February 23rd, 2014, 04:34 AM
Context is one of the frustrations that I imagine come with amnesia, at least, that's how I'm trying to write it.

We all write ourselves into our stories somehow, and I think that If I was dancing with a beautiful woman, and some *&^!er came up and slapped her in the face and called her names, I'd probably be inclined to give him an old-fashioned, country @55 whuppin'
As far as the game they were playing, I think that she was trying to make her boyfriend jealous by dancing with the protagonist, and it worked, with unfortunate consequences. Once the protagonist figured that out, he felt slimy and used...to the best of his memory of course.

Do you have any recommendations on how I could accomplish writing that in, without being too direct?

February 23rd, 2014, 04:42 AM
I tired of the game and I realized the game they had played make it seem like the MC is referring to the same game, but he isn't, so maybe switching a word in one of them. You could also have some dialogue to make the reader better understand because I certainly didn't think that was the reason for everything

Jake Creamer
February 23rd, 2014, 05:21 AM
Ok, cool. Thank you I appreciate it

Jake Creamer
February 23rd, 2014, 05:38 AM
Alright folks, I revised a bit. I've attempted to take the intent of your recommendations and implement them, please let me know if it works better for you now.

February 23rd, 2014, 09:45 PM
I really liked the flow of the story. For the most part it moved quite swiftly in my head. I rather like'd it when I hit the technical language. It made me have to stop and think about the exact moment of the action. There's more impact than there would be if I'd read, "hit" or "throw."

February 25th, 2014, 12:36 PM
Motivations are more clear. Might want to remove the 'She rushed to his side, and' since you had her rushing to his side a line or two before.

I am a bit confused about his amnesia. Is he trying to remember what happened and is having difficulties, or is he having troubles with memory retention? The way it plays out it feels like he has troubles converting things to memories since he is already forgetting what happened. Kind of like that guy with the 10 second memory in 50 first dates, but less extreme and I don't think he could fight. XD

February 25th, 2014, 08:32 PM
I like it, you handle action sequences well..easy to visualize in the minds eye. just one thing about 'I drank in her presence'. Confusing in a pedantic sort of way if you get my meaning

Jake Creamer
March 1st, 2014, 11:54 PM
I feel pretty good about this short now, Kepharel, I'm kind of going for a multiple senses, dreamy, this woman is the most amazing creature that ever walked feel...I just don't want it to be terribly obvious. What do you recommend?
Zeynith, in the next few shorts, you'll see what is going on with his long term memory. If you are familiar with Rational Skepticism, you'll be a leg up on the type of uncertainty that this character suffers from. He's never sure if his memories are real, or if they are just dreams. Sometimes, it's not even clear whether he's reliving a memory as a flashback, or living in the present.
Marblehead, thanks for the props...in the forthcoming shorts, there is quite a bit more of the "technical" fighting talk.

March 13th, 2014, 06:15 PM
I cannot help but wonder, if this woman is 'the most amazing creature that ever walked', then why has the main character forgotten her name by the time he is fighting with what appears in the end to be her partner? You would think that if you had no memories then you would remember something like that, especially as you have drawn her character as so amazing. I'm sure you're trying to convey the instinct that he falls back on when he fights, but it seems slightly unnecessary to mention the apparent lack of meaning she seems to have to him - really he just sounds like a bit of a dick. Although then again, looking back you seem to have made her a focal point in the mist of his amnesia. Slightly creepy. He doesn't know her name and yet he still is obsessing over her... what, smell? Yeah, definitely creepy.

March 14th, 2014, 10:21 PM
It's clear in the story that he's just used to forgetting everything, which is why he's fairly nonchalent about it all. I didn't find it creepy at all. He's clearly a Jack-Reacher-type loner though, as a result of his condition. He runs on strong ethics but appears either incapable of empathy or avoiding it.

Great style, very detached but that works with the situation. I do wonder how you'd carry off a whole book in this highly detached, analytical style of memory-sifting. I could see it affecting the pace badly.

I agree about "drinking in her presence". There's an obvious double meaning but that doesn't work to your advantage - it's quite jarring in fact. I'd say change "presence" for something that isn't ambiguous with the preposition "in".

Also great start and finish, looping back around and tying in specific details from the dream to the general ambience of the dream itself, as if she might not have been entirely real after all. Perhaps a tiny bit more clarity on the game he refers to at the end. It's about 90% clear but needs tipping over the edge to avoid taking the reader out of the flow of the story to consider what you meant.