Flash No. 20 – KP Vogell

pile of covered books

By Mistake

by KP Vogell

The author confesses that this story has been written entirely by mistake. It begins with the mistake of an alarm clock opening and keeps piling them on: a stereotypical main character, a two-dimensional significant other, an unconvincing villain. Then comes a dream sequence to broadcast the character’s subconscious emotions, a too-long flashback as a lazy device to fill in backstory, summary instead of scene, character-inappropriate diction, bad grammar. Too much description, not enough description, the right amount of description but the wrong kind. Three scenes of wooden, expository dialogue that don’t move the action forward, then an unexpected twist that you can see coming three towns away. Too little happening, like a travelogue, but also somehow too much happening, like a Die Hard sequel. It’s all been said before, and yet no one can fathom it, like music from space. Here’s a description of a woman that reveals the male author’s repressed chauvinism, and here’s a line from a male character proving that women just can’t write men. Isn’t this more like something a child would write? An alien would would write? A something would write? Isn’t this trite? Understated? Overstated? Overwritten? Underdeveloped? Is this not offensive to me, to you, and to most people on the planet? Is this not a lie? That is, not the beautiful subtle lie-that-tells-the-truth of fiction, but rather one of those plain old “No, it was not I that drank the last of your beer or had sex with your partner behind your back” sort of lies? Are there not too many adjectives and adverbs? Articles and “ands”? Prepositional phrases? Subordinate clauses? And what is this punctuation, are these not comma splices?  But it’s too late, too late, because now we’re coming to the mistake of a weak ending from a strong beginning, of a weak beginning and no end in sight, the mistake of the unearned ending, or even worse, the ending earned dutifully for the first two-thirds of the story and then left lying there on the counter like an uncashed check, the mistake of the characters who don’t change, and the mistake of characters who change so much they’re now acting completely out of character, the mistake of nothing getting resolved, the more embarrassing mistake of it all getting resolved too easily because this is real life we’re talking about, the deus ex machina mistake, the just-kidding-the-characters-are-all-cows mistake, the slightly more sophisticated, but still laughably predictable mistake of ending with a (supposedly) poetic image instead of, you know, saying something. Which at least saves you from the even more hideously gauche mistake of saying anything at all.

A mistake, a mistake, all a terrible mistake. But what did you expect—a story like life, but better, somehow? Fabricated in words, yet more real, more true? Revelatory yet mysterious? Surprising yet inevitable? A balm for your heart, an answer, a miracle?

Grace, arriving right on cue?

KP Vogell
KP Vogell

KP Vogell (on Instagram as @komischevogell) is an artist, musician, writer, and Californian. KP’s fiction has been published in PANK and The Good Life Review and is forthcoming in Cheat River Review and Evocations Review

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Editor, writer, crooked shooter.

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