Behind the Scenes: Intersections

I’ve finally finished the first story for Romancing the Weird, a collection of short, oddball romances.

“Intersections” is a fairly hefty 9700 words long, which makes it technically a novelette, rather than a short story. It’s told from the perspective of Livy, a young woman who has visions of a man every time their paths cross.

I’m not entirely certain what the inspiration for “Intersections” was, but I have woven a few personal musings into it. The man Livy envisions is loosely based on someone I know (yes, I’ve fictionalized him) and the various intersections of my life with his, or rather, the possible futures of those intersections. The what ifs we ponder when we allow people into our lives are an inevitable part of relationships, and are often a larger motivation for continuing or ending that relationship than actual interactions.

For Livy, those what ifs take a powerful, visceral form. Her visions branch out like a decision tree in a series of realities, each one based on the decisions she and the man make in a previous vision. Explaining more would give the entire story away, so here’s the first scene instead:

A sharp slap of pain hit Livy before the first image popped into her mind. She squeezed her eyes shut and gripped the morning train’s stanchion tighter, readying herself for it.

A moment later, there he was in her mind, like a snapshot brought out too often and admired too well. His features were indistinct. Short, dark hair framing a rectangular face. A fleeting smile and laughter she couldn’t hear.

But the feel of him, that was crystal clear. The first spark of interest, the slow slide into love, the inevitable disappointment and rejection. No matter which path lay before her, if it included him, it always ended in his leaving.

Livy braced herself against the twist in her heart, steadied herself with the small comfort that the visions would be over soon, over and done, and after, she could get on with her day, as she always did.

And then another image of him appeared in her mind, and another, and another, each representing a different possibility, a different outcome, and the twist morphed into the agony of repeated loss.

Why did he always leave? Why wasn’t her love enough for him?

She sucked in a breath and leaned her forehead against the cold, metal pole, and braced herself against the train’s momentum. He was close, again. And she, like an idiot, had no recourse against his coming. Every time an intersection approached, she swore she’d figure out a way to end it permanently, and every time, it took her by surprise.

The train braked gradually, and Livy swayed against the stanchion. As soon as the train stopped, she gathered her courage and opened her eyes, and there he was, standing on the platform, waiting to enter the car she now rode. Not a memory now or a possibility, but a live, flesh and blood man, breathing the same air inflating her own lungs.

She forced her fingers open and eased into the stream of disembarking commuters, and passed him by as if this very scene hadn’t just unfurled in her mind.

“Excuse me,” he said as he squeezed past her, and she clutched her purse against her side and scurried away, her jaws clenched against the conversations they’d held in other possible branches of her life.

In spite of its length, “Intersections” is a quick, emotionally packed read. It wasn’t the first story idea I selected for inclusion in the Romancing the Weird anthology, but it was the first finished. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed exploring the story world.

ETA 19 October 2017: When I first wrote this post, I fully intended for “Intersections” to be an anchor in the Romancing the Weird anthology. Stuff happens! After finishing “A Mutual Feeling,” which turned out to be novella length, I decided to publish it and “Intersections” as independent stories, outside Romancing the Weird. Look for a new cover for “Intersections” and release date information soon.

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