Flash Fiction Friday – Terracotta on White

I’ve been away this weekend, and since the internet connection up there is a bit dodgy, I decided to just type up a flash fiction piece but not post it until I got back home tonight. I typed up a blog post, too, detailing a problem I was having with a recent story idea, which connects to the piece below. In the little-less-than-two-days since, I seem to have solved the problem as well as figure out it’s cause. Hah! So now I’m having to type a new post instead. I’m sure a lot of other bloggers recognize talking about something currently on their minds but wait a few days with posting it only to realize the situation has changed.

Anyway, here’s the situation: a few days ago I had a dream that prompted a new story idea. Since it’s almost time to decide on a NaNoWriMo project, I decided to test out the new idea, writing a few snippets from it, to see if it was a good candidate for drafting. Developing the idea post-dream, I had determined that one of the main characters will be non-binary but once I started working on the snippet I found myself frequently using she/her pronouns without intending to instead of the neopronouns I had picked for the character. Naturally, this bothered me, especially since I wasn’t sure why I was doing it. In an attempt to figure out whether I am just unaccustomed to using neopronouns (I haven’t used them very much in the past) or whether something else was amiss, I decided to write a few random snippets with characters who use neopronouns. Thus, I wrote this little scene below:

Perched on a stool by the breakfast bar, ae traced the curve of xir sun-bathed back with aer gaze. It was not quite eight and already the sun and caused xem to push the sheets down in xir sleep to make sure xe didn’t get too warm. Now the sheet, terracotta on white, was bunched up and tangled around xir ankles. Ae smiled, shuffling into aer jeans and drinking down the last remnants of aer orange juice. Work didn’t seem like a particularly fun option next to a catnap in the sunlight, but it was the more sensible option. Them’s the breaks, ae though, taking a quick look in the mirror as ae buttoned up the light blue shirt. Ae ran aer hands over the sides of aer head, fluffy curls brushing under aer fingers. A haircut was in order, but it could wait a few days. Getting closer to the mirror, ae managed a quick cat’s eye and the tiniest dab of dark eyeshadow applied with the tip of aer pinkie. Out of reasons to linger and minutes to wait, ae crossed back over to the bed and placed a gentle kiss behind xir ear. Xe shifted but didn’t wake.

“See you tonight, sweets,” ae whispered before straightening, grabbing aer bag off of the table and heading for the door.

Ok, so, it’s not really a story at all. More of the intro-scene for a story, but honestly it was all I had in me on Friday night (I may be coming down with a cold). Anyway, I had no trouble keeping pronouns consistent while writing this, which made me go “huh…” and contemplate other potential reasons for my problems with it when working on the snippet for the new story idea. After a bit of pondering, I realized that my main problem was that the character in question was in fact female in the dream. Then, as I developed the story idea after waking up, I decided the character would be non-binary because it seemed very appropriate in light of some culture-building decisions I made while brainstorming as well as due to some of the thematic undercurrents in the dream that I want to maintain in the story. As I tried to do some test-scenes, I kept reverting to the pronouns in the dream. But after some more pondering, I realized that there’s really no reason for that character (who was very clear and vivid in this dream) in particular to fulfill that particular role within the story. So, as a consequence, I have now decided that my non-binary lead will be, so to say, an original character rather than a dream-derivative, and the lady from the dream will be that character’s sister, playing a supporting role. That, in fact, solves some other problems I’d had with the balance of the main cast, too. So yay? Hopefully yay, anyway.

All that being said, and in spite of the brevity of it, I quite like this snippet! I may tuck the characters aside to use later…

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