Annie Rhiannon

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

What Happened in Arizona

Before I left the desert I took the worst side of my personality — the side with my temper, each of my insecurities, and my propensity for over-sharing and for being swallowed whole by emotion — and I locked her in the trunk of the car and drove her over the State border into Arizona, where a tall man in a stetson named Emmett Marking shot her in the head and left her for dead.

I'd arranged to meet Emmett in a diner in Nevada, in a small town called Boulder City near the border. I like the way Americans name all their towns 'cities', even when all they have in them is a junk shop and a hardware store. This means I must be from a city of 300 people in rural north Wales, I thought, nervously sitting up at the counter with a strawberry milkshake and trying not to stand out.

When Emmett arrived he walked right up to me and said "Where's the client?" just like that, like he really didn't care who heard him.

"In the trunk of my car," I said, handing him the case of money which he opened right there and then, counting out the dollars like he didn't care who saw him.

We drove in silence, across the Hoover Dam and into Arizona, and when we pulled over I popped open the trunk and Emmett seemed caught off guard all of a sudden. He was shocked, I think, to see that the 'client' — lying knocked out — looked exactly like me. Same hair, same clothing, same face, same frame… same thin white skin made for small Northern islands and the constant threat of rain.

"This is her?" he asked, dumbfounded, and both his posture and the pitch of his voice changed, making him seem a little frightened. I was relieved that he was showing a pathetic human side because, as I'd written his character in the silence of the car, I'd briefly considered having to fall in love with him. Be careful, ladies, of being a woman who is attracted to confidence. One day you may end up falling for an imaginary hit man.

Emmett composed himself, threw the body over his shoulder, and walked off with her behind the boulders. I waited at the car. I was curious, of course, but really — who wants to see something that looks exactly like you get shot in the head, even if it is only the very worst parts of your personality?

The car was too hot to sit in, so I stood in the sun and kicked the sand around for a while. The road was empty and stretched from one horizon to the other and I wondered what was taking so long. I spotted a lizard sitting on a rock and I lay down on the ground and got close to it, really close, right up to its face with my camera. I was just about to reach out my hand and catch it when a gunshot sounded out behind me. The lizard darted off and I knew it was all over. I got up, dusted off my shirt and jeans, and felt better.

On the drive back to Nevada, Emmett twisted and fidgeted in the passenger seat and started to irritate me.

"So, she was your twin sister or something?" he said, eventually.

I was quiet for a moment, just staring straight out at the road in front of me, then I said: "Yes, something like that," and I turned up the radio so he wouldn't keep on talking to me.

25 comments:

  1. I suspect this may be the best thing you’ve ever written. Which is saying something.

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  2. I like this allegorical vibe.
    Mind you, I liked the oversharing too.

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  3. oops, a diamond!

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Marvellous.

    Of course, you know he only shot the gun into the air, don't you? Of course you do. He couldn't kill her. Probably she came to just as he was about to make her die, then he saw the insecurities in her eyes and fell in love with her. She's probably on her way back to you as we speak. Or has she already caught you up? Probably. Good. You know you need her.

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  6. Your writing is beautiful, bittersweet. I wish I could write about my pain as eloquently as you do. I feel like I'm living vicariously through your wild journey west to escape your pain. Reading about your adventures distracts me from my own pain and gives me hope & the space to dream.

    Maybe some day I'll be able to leave and go on a journey west with a suitcase full of money. Maybe some day I'll hire a hit man to kill the worst side of myself. Or maybe some day I'll bump into you on one of your adventures and we'll chat over strawberry milkshakes and become real life friends. And if we do I will tell you that your imperfections and insecurities and oversharing aren't the worst part of yourself, but the part that makes you human, that parts that make you You. And most definitely the parts that make you a great writer.

    I hope Karl is right & she has caught up with you because without her this blog would get boring.

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  7. Anonymous27.4.11

    When are you writing a novel? No pressure or anything but you write with an effortless appeal that makes me, as a writer, extremely jealous! (I still cringe a bit when I call myself a writer)
    x Daisy

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  8. There's something about America that seems to inspire your best writing, Annie. Ever thought of moving there?

    I suspect the worst side of your personality is still out there, wandering the desert in a slightly dazed condition, relieved that the bullet only caused a very minor injury.

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  9. turn the car around and go back and get her—you may have just shot yourself in the foot!

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  10. Anonymous27.4.11

    Heh. Yeah. I love the snow white huntsman idea. Please don't stop oversharing. Jo x

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  11. Leave her for dead in the desert, Annie. California is a place of possibilities. You can move on and you won't even miss her....

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  12. My God, your life has become some sort of strange film-within-a-blog-within-a-life. Or something like that. Brilliant.

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  13. Somewhere, on an astral plane, David Lynch is slurping a strawberry milkshake saying, "Dang it, that's good."

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  14. Your writing is great. Am enjoying reading about your journey. Have you ever considered doing an MFA in creative writing? At some universities in the states they give you stipends to live on and pay your fees for you, so you basically get paid to write :-) for example in Texas and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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  15. Anonymous29.4.11

    Fascinating how you're using yourself to create art.
    Here's an interesting interview with Marina Abramovic by Laurie Anderson I thought you might appreciate...
    http://bombsite.com/issues/84/articles/2561

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  16. Great interview Anon, thanks, I tumbled it.

    AC, thanks for that... I would LOVE to do a creative writing degree in Texas. I'm not sure they would fund foreigners like me though? I'll look into it though.

    Hi Daisy, I would love to be a novelist but I think I'd have to write a novel first. I'm better at 300 words max. And don't you EVER cringe at calling yourself that!

    Miriam, thank you, and I'm sorry that you are feeling pain. YES to strawberry milkshakes though. Email me if you're ever on the west coast at all.

    I love the mix of "forget her!" slash "go back and get her!" in this comment thread. Thank you all for confusing me. <3

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  17. A lot of them fund all incoming students. I think the Texas one is three years though... quite a long time. This link has a list of some and a column with total annual funding: http://www.pw.org/content/2011_mfa_rankings_the_top_fifty_0?cmnt_all=1

    Also, some lesser known ones with good funding: http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/2011/04/top-25-underrated-creative-writing-mfa.html

    It's my new plan to apply to some anyway. I think it's pretty much the best plan ever. Sick of doing crappy jobs...!

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  18. I love the idea that we are made up of parts, some mishapen , others perfect, then broken, but perhaps none that ain't worth a fixin.
    This is my first comment Annie, having read your work a while, often so very impressed, I am unsure what to say.
    This is particularly worthy of more effort on my part.
    Thank you for your continued writing.
    E

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  19. a mirage, a beautiful, stifling mirage.

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  20. I couldn't sleep. Out of bed, sip of liquid, out for a smoke, back in for a plug-in look-see.
    Checked out a you tube vid for another look at head banging Finnish metal cellists - then stopped by here - thanks Annie, enjoyed this read - will go back to bed now and perhaps dream of that drive I made out of New Mexico into Arizona... ~m~

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  21. Anonymous4.5.11

    "Be careful, ladies, of being a woman who is attracted to confidence. One day you may end up falling for an imaginary hit man."

    Oooooh! Love it. All of it. LOVE it Annie. More please x x

    EW

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  22. Holemaster4.5.11

    Great piece Annie. So eh, is he shooting you again?

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  23. Brilliant! Thanks, DDC

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  24. Awesome brilliant all that stuff.
    Karl has hit on the twist at the end though.
    Did I say wonderful?
    Wonderful.

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