Duty

Here’s my latest post for The Writing Practice Challenge over at Enette’s World.

This challenge was about writing a scene where a character watches a loved one die… And write it from both 1st and 3rd person perspective.  This is a great exercise, so I was eager to take it up.  Hope you enjoy it.

Duty (1st person POV)

Valery was about to die, and I was powerless to stop it.

I tried to shut out the noise of the howling crowd just a few feet away. Their foaming rage was only a manifestation of the internal conflict that already threatened to tear me apart. Had Valery ever asked me for anything? How many times had I told her I’d never fail her?

She stood up on the platform, knees trembling as she faced the mob. I wanted to reach out to her, but if I had, would it only give her that much more false hope? Our eyes met briefly and she tried to smile. I could see the fear behind that smile, though. Her fear made me sick. How was I supposed to follow through with this? Was I disloyal if I didn’t? Could I live with myself if I did?

Captain Reilan saved me from having to make the decision.

“Stay here,” he whispered, placing a hand on my shoulder. “I’ll take care of it.”

I never saw him go up there. I turned away and tried to imagine myself anywhere but here. I couldn’t even do my duty.

Duty. At least I knew what the word meant. I looked up to glare at Kalphor. He was wallowing in his own self-loathing, and deservedly so. This was ultimately his fault.

The snap of the trap-door pulled my gaze involuntarily back to the stage. It seemed to take a year for Valery to fall, thrashing and twitching at the end of the rope. I hadn’t noticed that I seemed to fall with her. I held myself to my knees, dry-heaving.
Kalphor would pay for this.

Duty (3rd Person POV)

Valery was about to die, and Dodron could do nothing to stop it.

He barely heard the howl of the crowd over his own ragged breath. He felt like he hadn’t slept in a year. Valery was the one person he’d do anything for, and he had failed her.

He stared up at the platform where she stood, knees trembling as she faced the people. She cast a single glance down towards him. She gave him a weak smile, and Dodron knew she was trying to reassure him… to let him know she didn’t blame him. She turned back to face the crowd. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked back to see Captain Reilan.

“Stay here,” he whispered. “I’ll take care of it.” Reilan pushed past him and stepped up onto the stage. He grabbed Valery’s arm and led her to the center.

Dodron looked away. In all reality, he should be up there with her. He should be addressing the people. He had a duty.

Duty. The word caused bile to surge into his mouth. His gaze trailed down from the stage to where her brother Kalphor sat on the ground next to it, head in his hands with his knees pulled up.

The sound of the trapdoor snapping open wrenched his attention back to the stage. As Valery descended, Dodron could feel a part of himself falling as well. He sank to his knees and watched her twitch and thrash at the end of the rope. He felt himself retch, but there was nothing there to heave. Was it a sense of loss for Valery, or was it self-pity at his inability to keep her out of the gallows? His gaze shifted back to Kalphor. This was his fault.

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3 thoughts on “Duty

  1. It’s interesting that more personal details emerge in the third person (i.e., feeling like he hadn’t slept in a year, knowing her smile was an attempt to reassure him, etc.) than in the first. Maybe it’s because you’d already written the scene, so the third person was more of a revision and gave you a chance to play a little more. In any case, I think it was stronger for it but wonder how a first person version with the details from the third would read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ironically, I wrote the 3rd person scene first. I think I’m more comfortable writing in 3rd person, so it really speaks to a need to practice in 1st person to capture the right detail. Thanks for the feedback, and thanks for reading!

      Like

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