Parallels.

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Photo by Elizabeth Ann Colette

In my novel TWINK, both the protagonist Mike and the antagonist Kione experience significant events at the age of eight. For Mike, it’s a dream come true. For Kione, it’s a nightmare. Mike’s father is a loving man who dies tragically when Mike is seventeen. In Kione’s case, the tragedy is that his father is still alive, still tormenting Kione, if only in his own mind.

I’m writing EFFIN’ ALBERT right now and again, there are parallels. Mike, the protagonist, is a twelve-year boy unfairly saddled with caring for his little brother, Albert. The antagonist, police officer William Knowles, is similarly charged as a boy with caring for his little brother Bobby. The younger brothers are both physically unique. Both have vision issues, both are trusting and vulnerable. Mike resents Albert on occasion but he is fiercely protective of Albert and will do anything to keep him safe. Knowles’ deep resentment of his younger brother bubbles and boils to the point of doing Bobby actual physical harm.

Parallels. Sometimes I wonder why I’m drawn to creating parallel stories of children whose parents die; whose home lives are less than optimal; who find themselves in possible peril. Part of it, I’m certain, is because of my own history, growing up without a father. Because we were alone so much, we kids had to rely on each other, take care of each other. It wasn’t fair. It didn’t matter. We were fearful of the dangerous outside world and clung to each other tight, insulated in our little familial cocoon. I think we loved each other more because we were all we had.

That brings to mind a scene in EFFIN’ ALBERT. Little Albert, age six, confesses a secret–not because he is threatened, but because his brother is. When Mike finds out, he doesn’t blame Albert, doesn’t question his motives. He knows why Albert did it: He loves me, that’s why.

We should all be so lucky.

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6 thoughts on “Parallels.

  1. This happens to me all the stinkin’ time! I too am stuck on brothers. Clashes of jealousy, being forced to care for them, feeling like they’re either trying to kill you or simply make your life miserable. (Would you believe I have two younger brothers? You probably would.) And just recently I discovered a short I never finished, about a man who killed his older brother and struggles with denial. If you boil them down to their inner cores, all my major works have this weird Cain/Abel thing going on.

    I think you hit the nail on the head, though, about where it comes from. Seems to me a big part of writing fiction is just trying to process life experiences, a sort of extremely complicated therapy. In my case, my mother was out of the picture for years due to various mental and physical illnesses, and often I had to be the adult I wasn’t ready to be and “take care of” my brothers. Sure there’s a lot of resentment there (resentment makes for great fictional conflict), but there’s also a lot of love (which gives that conflict meaning.)

    And I think the parallels of your protagonists/antagonists are just illustrating the different possible outcomes of these life experiences. You can either make the best of things or let them destroy you. (Saying this without having read your stuff, but having followed you for a while on AW and here, is pretty sure she would like to.)

    • I think you’re right, Jordan. Kind of a Yin-Yang thingie. Interconnected. Interdependant. Interrellated. The best of us and the worst of us, explored from the safety of our own little manufactured worlds.

  2. Oooh, I am the poster child for repeated themes. In finished novel-length form, I’ve written one (trunked) fantasy series and have almost completed the second book of the WIP series I will be self-publishing, and hoo boy there are themes that apparently I really like and didn’t realize it till I’d already written them twice in completely different contexts.

    • And you’ll probably keep doing that, sl. Some of our life experiences demand to be revisited, retold, reconfigured, deconstructed and reconstructed. Maybe because we can’t change the past, we can only try to deal with it in our own imperfect ways, over and over and over again, ad nauseum. . . 🙂

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