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In Name Only · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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My Beloved Husband
Last night, I dreamed that I was with my beloved husband, and that I was trying to gouge out his eyes with my car keys.

It didn't start out that way.

In the beginning of my dream it was like we were on our honeymoon, thirteen years, eleven months, twenty-two days ago. He looked so different then that I didn't recognize him at first; he seemed taller, with rounder shoulders and a clean-shaven face. The fact that his nose wasn't crooked from being broken multiple times should have told me that this was a day that came and went long ago.

God, he was so handsome.

I thought he was one of my old boyfriends from college, but no, he was the groom. We had just gotten married. The two of us, looking as we did... it was as if flipping through a complete stranger's photo album.

I didn't recognize his face, and yet I wanted him, deeply, in the sort of carnal way that only ever manifests in dreams. He appeared as a stranger to me, yet I recognized where we were. You see, we went to this certain hotel in Vegas for our honeymoon, and we must have made love numerous times during our stay there. I suppose I would have no choice but to remember how it looked—how it felt—in my subconscious.

He and I were saying things to each other, complete non-words that you utterly fail to recall when you wake up. No doubt we were talking about how we wanted to feel each other, and no doubt I told him repeatedly, in a hushed tone, how I wanted him inside me.

Our clothes came off like they were nothing; the whole experience was ripped straight from a dime-store erotic novel, where the act of removing your lover's clothes is one without friction.

Before I knew it we had delved deep into the depths of the sea, and I felt so lost in him that for this short time I no longer felt any of myself; I was all of him, then. I was enveloped in the kind of mindless ecstasy you experience towards the end of a wet dream, right before it all comes crashing down, suddenly, as though someone had changed the channel on the television set.

In hindsight, I wish it did end like that.

Eternity passed, and he was on top of me, making wonderful, inhuman noises. I didn't notice him changing at first. His nose seemingly turned, as if its tip wanted to point in a certain direction. His hair became greasier and more unkempt. He felt heavier and heavier on top of me, as though trying to overpower me with his weight.

He started to resemble a pig.

He started to resemble how he looks now.

I felt less and less good as the act went along, perhaps by the second, and before long I wanted him to get off me. I didn't want to tell him I didn't want him anymore; I wanted to be nice to him.

Yet he became more and more frustrated, even angry with me. He said something along the lines of not wanting to stop, which to my ears sounded more like a command than a plea for continuation; I didn't want to do it anymore, but he wouldn't listen to me, which I suppose was only expected.

I tried getting away from him, as much as I could, but he had me pinned down with his arms and his growing fat. I tried to say something—something loud and harsh—but he clasped his hand over my mouth.

My legs proved useless in getting me away from him, so I reached around for anything to hit him with. What I found didn't matter to me; I couldn't see where I was reaching, or I don't remember it anyway. Eventually I found my car keys, in one of the pockets of my jacket I had taken off, and aimed the sharpened edges at his face.

I slashed him repeatedly. At first all I wanted was for him to get off of me, but then when I had control I attacked him ruthlessly, even after he had stopped having his way with me. Blood and other fluids poured from his eyes, and he screamed like a pig being slaughtered, but I kept hitting him.

And hitting and hitting and hitting...

Until I awoke in my own bed, in my own house—and there he was, sleeping beside me.
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#1 ·
· · >>No_Raisin
I am not sure what the metaphor is, here. Is your message “all guys are just randy. At first, they make efforts to woo you, and then once they’re married, they stop and you become a mere sexual object to them”? If it is indeed what you want to get at, it’s a bit cliché. But is it? Is it something else? Is it just “love fades with time?” It’s difficult to decide.

I mean it seems obvious you want to deliver a message; this has not been written just for the sake of writing something, but what is it?
I’m perplexed.

The last line is, in its way, weird too. We know from start we’re in a dream. We know the guy has become ugly. Why confirming that one more time. It’s no twist. It’s just a pointless repetition.

There are also some tense usage I found weird, but that may be just me.
#2 ·
Alternate Title: I Think I'll Have Rape for Dinner

Okay, so...

The good news is that there is clearly a point to this thing; it's about a woman looking back on how her marriage has decayed over time. The bad news is that if there's a specific message to take away from this, I can't make it out.

The good news is that the dream setting is set up from the beginning, rather than made as a lazy twist. The bad news is that said framing device undermines the concrete effects the narrator may be experiencing, since they're not really happening to her.

The good news is that the descriptions of sex and violence are tonally consistent and necessary to making the plot work. The bad news is that said descriptions have gone too far. This is perhaps too graphic for a WriteOff entry, and arguably grounds for disqualification, what with the overt sexuality and the eye-gouging...

Sounds like fun.

The good news is that the subject matter is grounded enough (spousal rape is a thing), and treated tastefully enough that it doesn't feel exploitative to me. The bad news is that this is still a story explicitly about fucking spousal rape and I never want to read it again, thank you very much.

The good news is that with about three weeks of physical therapy, I expect this entry to make a full recovery. The bad news is that I can't put it too highly on my slate, maybe upper third, and the appeal of this entry is limited to say the least.

I sure looooooove rape!
#3 ·
· · >>No_Raisin
If I'm correct about who wrote this, it seems like I repeatedly have this issue with his writing, and if not... well, I still have this issue with this story, albeit mildly. [EDIT: I said this before looking at the author list, and the person I thought wrote it didn't enter this round. Oh well.]

The story addresses me. Only once, but that throws the whole thing into feeling like it's doing the same. Details like that matter. Like if a story feels like it has an omniscient narrator, but one little sentence sure sounds like it originates from a character viewpoint, now the whole story feels like it's in that perspective.

So I'm left wondering who she's telling this to. A therapist? Confidant? Diary?

Look, I can tell what you want the story to mean. The problem is, it's rather easy to dismiss it all. People have weird dreams all the time. My wife will occasionally wake up having dreamt that I did something bad, and she'll spend the day vaguely angry at me even though she knows there's no rational reason to. While I'm confident in saying you do want this dream to reflect what actually happens in her waking life, it's not inevitable that it does. She doesn't even react to him when she wakes up. The lack of a reaction to the violent imagery does speak to one side of the issue, but her complete lack of emotion at the reality of it says another. That last sentence is the only piece we get to address it, and it's so deadpan that it fails to establish her true feelings one way or another. I do appreciate working by implication. It would be so easy to go overboard here and throw subtlety out the window, but if we could have just one little word to nudge this in the direction of not having all been dream logic, I think it'd hit home harder.

I'm on the fence about the story's point. I mean, there's the obvious one: that this is bad. But that's a given. It's left kind of too generic to have a point specifically applied to her, and as such it's left abstract. I care that this kind of thing happens, but I don't care more about it in her case. At least on that score, it's almost there. You're getting at the edges of it by bringing in details of it from their past. You only do that right at the beginning when talking about their honeymoon. Carry that throughout, and it'll resonate better.

Oddly enough, this has the same problems for me as "Patrimony" did: a nebulous ending and a disconnect in who the narrator's audience is.
#4 · 1
· · >>No_Raisin
There's a writing truism that "It was all a dream!" is bad. While this is not 100% true — like "show, don't tell" or any other writing advice — there is logic behind it, and understanding that logic helps you figure out how to break "the rules" effectively.

The logic there is that it cheapens the story. Whatever bad things happened in the dream never actually occurred. So the impact is lessened because the consequences of what we've read have been reversed.

What I'm getting at here is that, if you want to make this a dream, that's the hurdle you need to overcome. I think you have the framework to do so. I also think you stopped too soon, because right now it feels to me like it falls short of that hurdle.

What a dream effectively can do is serve as a warning, or set up a compare-and-contrast. But neither of those work without the context of the waking-world situation. We do get a little bit of that from the narration in the dream itself — but we don't see the narrator's reaction to the dream, or the narrator's reaction to the waking-world husband. That's why this feels hollow to me right now; I don't know whether to take the dream seriously or not, or what it means to any of the characters, or whether it even feeds us useful information to understand the story's world with.

I wish I could find some more positive things to say about the story. Without having that greater context, most of what I'm left with was solid prose and an uncomfortable reading experience. Perhaps — I hope — that was the point. But, as has been noted on some other stories this round, shock value without context isn't particularly effective.

So I'll repeat what I said in an earlier review: a story not coming together is still a valuable experience. The way we learn is by pushing at boundaries and seeing what works and what doesn't. Thanks for writing!
#5 ·
· · >>No_Raisin
I am a little unsurprised that this story is one of the ones with fewer comments; I wonder how many people, like me, are struggling to say something that hasn't been said yet. So this is just an echo, but yes, the story leaves us proper squeamish throughout due to some really punchy writing and good use of vocab, but then we aren't asked to feel anything beyond that because it is, like you stated at the beginning, all a dream.

My only guess is that she has suppressed memories of being raped on her honeymoon, and that this dream was the memory of her trauma screaming back into her conscious mind, giving her a horrible reminder that her beloved husband was, that one time, anything but beloved. Hmm, you know what? I really like that interpretation. IT'S TIME TO RANK YOU FIRST.

Only kidding. It's such a nebulous, vague interpretation that I have nothing to back it up, except that, without it, I've got nothing.

But that's all from me. Thanks for writing!
#6 ·
· · >>No_Raisin
Mostly an emotive piece focused around a single idea. The main problem from an "enjoyment" (to be used loosely here) standpoint is that he story just sort of ends. I'm pretty sure I get the hollow, empty emotion its going for there what with that being the feeling of a decayed and now loveless marriage to someone you hate, but it ends up just really thudding into place in a dissatisfying manner. Should it be satisfying? Art does not always have to be pleasurable. This certainly isn't. But it also isn't mean to be.


Prompt relevance... right there in the title. Yep.