#50. Switching to third person is the memoirist’s gambit for the hard parts; not so easy in real time.
I’m not sure I can tell this next part in first person, so I may switch into third person or some omniscient narrator to give myself objectivity. Or maybe I’ll start with a nature metaphor; never mind switching “person;” I’ll switch species to gain distance:
Unless it’s mating season—when they appear to be drowning each other—Mallards seem calm on the surface, while underneath they’re paddling like crazy. That’s me during my fight with Mimi and Pop about the killer and what law he’s broken.
Here’s the scene in play format:
Isabel: Mom and Dad are dead because this guy ran the light. They rolled down a hill! Over and over. (Isabel has a disheveled appearance even though she is speaking with an eerie flat-line voice.)
Mimi: Mr. Smith admits he’s guilty, but not criminally guilty. (Mimi is clutching her hands, perhaps to keep them from grabbing Isabel’s chin again.)
Pop: He wasn’t speeding or drinking or doing drugs. Those are criminal actions.
Isabel: So how come the police don’t charge him with breaking the “I-killed-people-with-my-truck-but-I’m-not-a-criminal law?”
Pop: It’s called Plea Bargaining. Mr. Smith says he’ll plead guilty to a law that says it’s unlawful to drive CARELESSLY and cause a death.
Isabel: What if the two sides can’t agree on which law he’s broken?
Pop: Then a trial gets scheduled.
Mimi: But we don’t want a trial. And neither does Mr. Smith.
Isabel: But..but..but..I DO!! (Isabel sounds like a car that needs a quart of oil.)
Pop: Why, Isabel?
Isabel: ‘Cause…‘cause…I want to be a WITNESS. I want to tell the judge how Mr Smith wrecked our lives.
Pop: You CAN communicate with the court. (Pop talks as if his words were eggs he’s placing on a table with no edges).
Pop: You write a LETTER to the judge and tell him how you feel.
Isabel: And that will make a difference, Pop? M’p! I doubt it.
Pop: You’re wrong, Isabel. Anyone in our family can write to the judge, and what we say could influence the punishment.
Isabel pulls her morning glory muffin top apart while digesting this new morsel of information.
Isabel: Okay. I’ll write a letter.
The it’s-a-play-fugue ends.
Pop and Mimi look at each other and sip their juice. Mimi had gotten up and poured everyone a big glass of orange juice in the midst of our fight. (Juice is good for shock.)
I swipe at the muffin crumbs I’ve spewed around. What a crumby idea.
Is it too bizarre that I can pun even in a moment like this? Maybe I’m trying to ratchet down the tension between me and the only two adults in the world who love me.
–Isabel Scheherazade, who is no longer like a duck; she’s not calm on the surface or paddling like mad—just worn down and still. And, apparently stuck in third person…?!