I took part in a literary reading last week. I read one of my older stories. The narrator is a girl in a psychiatric clinic. We don’t figure out why she’s there. Not in the part that I read, anyway. We only follow her through her day and through her thoughts. There’s this other girl. She calls her “my girl” even though she never sees her from the front, just from the back. The other girl never talks. Nature folds itself around her because she is so quiet and still. So the narrator tells her everything she feels in her thoughts. Hopes so hard for the other girl to get better and be happy. There is even a little story about a dream in there, a dream in which the narrator fled with her female lover in a land where it is forbidden to be as they are.
Yet when people talk to me after a reading of this story, and again last week, they ask me “are you better now?” and assume that I’m the narrator and have been in a psychiatric clinic. They tell me “it is a great way to tell the story with the outside representation of yourself in the other girl” and assume that I’m the narrator but that the other girl isn’t real.
Now I tell them, it is a fictional story and its interpretation is their own. But it is funny.
I’ve never been in a psychiatric clinic. But that other girl sure as hell is real.