I have another story for you folks! It’s a lot shorter than the last one, but a bit more interesting.
Back when I started writing professionally I thought it’d be a good idea to major in English – which was a terrible idea because school will only rip apart the things you love, but I’ll get into that some other time. I decided to add a creative writing course to my list of classes even though I wouldn’t get any credit toward my degree because I wanted to see what it would be like.
The class was an easy participation grade as long as we wrote three stories and a few other pieces throughout the semester. I didn’t learn much technically as we pretty much just went over the basics, but I’ll never forget the class on point-of-view.
Everybody knows 1st and 3rd person point-of-view. You refer to yourself, i.e. you’re the narrator, in 1st person and you talk about everything and everyone as if you’re just god watching a soap opera in 3rd person. But what about 2nd person point-of-view? No one ever talks about it.
This class was no different. The professor was just about to ignore it altogether when I decided to speak up. Have you ever read one of those choose-your-own-adventure books – where you have to “turn to page 33 if you chose…”? Well it turns out those are written in 2nd person – i.e. when a story puts the reader in place of the main character.
When I asked why writing classes never talk about 2nd person the professor said, “Because it’s extremely difficult to write an effective story in 2nd person. Unless you’re writing a choose-your-own-adventure book, just avoid it.”
Our second story was due next week and guess what point-of-view I decided to write in? Yea, 2nd person. In fact, I wrote the short story you see below.
This is an edited version. The one I wrote for the class was garbage. A good idea with terrible writing and even a plot hole. This should at least read better, but I’m certainly not taking to writing exclusively in 2nd person anytime soon.
Anyway, hope you like it or at least find it somewhat interesting. Enjoy.
* * * * *
You arrive at the pier, the car screeching to a halt as you pull the e-brake and hop out without turning it off – looking for your precious cargo immediately. Every minute that ticks by is another minute someone else could beat you to it. You start your search at one end and briskly walk to the other checking out the freight cars and hoping the information you received is solid.
As you get to the end of the pier you lose hope. It isn’t here. You turn to head back to your car, taking one last look at the pier, and notice a crying child sitting on the edge. Seeing no parent or guardian, and feeling like a Good Samaritan, you walk over to the kid.
“Hey, how are-”
The child jumps at your voice and slips off the pier. Just before falling into the river he grabs hold of the edge. Your trained reflexes kick in as you rush to him, grab his arm, and pull him back up onto solid ground.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
In response the boy starts repeating, “Please don’t hurt me!”
“Calm down, I’m not here to hurt you. What’s your name?”
After a few sniffles the boy responds, “I’m Austin.”
“Hi Austin, nice to meet you, how old are you?”
“What are you doing out here all alone? Where are your parents?”
Austin breaks out in tears again. “Austin, look at me. Did something happen to your parents? I need you to tell me what’s wrong so I can help.”
Through the sniffles and hyperventilation Austin explains, “We were sitting at home, eating dinner, when my dad answered the door, and then it got really loud, and my mom yelled at me, and my sister grabbed me, and we ran to Tammy’s house, and then police showed up, and then my sister yelled at me to run here and wait for her, but it’s been a really long time and I don’t know where she is.” Austin’s tears begin anew.
You reach out and comfort him as best you can. “It’s not safe for you to stay here all alone. How about you come with me and we will see if we can find your family?”
“But my sister said to stay here,” he responds weakly.
“We will come back if we can’t find her ourselves, okay?”
Austin takes one last big sniffle, wiping his nose with his forearm, and weakly manages an, “Okay.”
You two walk back to your car. “I have some friends that can help. They’re really good at finding people. We’ll go see them first okay?”
About ten minutes later you arrive at your destination. “My sister said not to trust any policemen,” the Austin says after seeing the police car parked in the driveway.
“It’s okay, he’s a friend of mine. He’s one of the good guys. You’ll see.”
Stepping out of the car, you take the boy’s hand, walk up to the door and knock. After a few minutes a man opens the door. “Austin here is looking for his family. Think you can help us?”
“Sure can, in fact, his sister is in the back. She’s been worried about you. Want to see her?”
Austin nods his head anxiously. “Hey Joe,” the man at the door yells, “Come take this kid to see his sister.” A man that looks more like he’s part of a biker gang than a cop comes to the door and leads Austin inside without saying a word. “Ah, it’s nice to see loose ends getting tied up.”
“What about my money?” You ask. The man disappears and reappears producing a backpack. He opens it up to show you stacks of hundred dollar bills inside and then hands it to you. “Thank you for your donation to my wallet kind sir. I’ll be on my way now.”
“I appreciate your discretion and hope to never see or hear from you again.” At that he closes the door, you return to your car, and drive off into the sunset.