Where to start with “A Reason to Bend“?
The story took me over two years to write. It was originally called, “The Rapid Cycle”, and was a flash fiction, realist piece about a woman with Bipolar Disorder shifting annually through the cycle of mania to depression.
However, the piece was weak. An acquaintance of mine, Gregory Koop, another writer and the person whose keen eye brought my early work from unpublishable to a thing of at least a little merit, suggested that the work had magical-realistic undertones. That the woman might not be suffering bipolar disorder, but might be transforming into an animal or monster.
“A werewolf, maybe?”
“Too Stephanie Meyer.”
“Yes, it’s been done and overdone.”
“A tree perhaps.”
And so I sat on that idea for at least a year – until the morning I woke up almost blind. In the night, I had dreamt that there was a splinter in my eye. Remembering the pain of it, I woke around 3am and struggled to remove my contact lenses for 20 minutes – until I realized I wasn’t wearing contact lenses, and that the whole thing had been the mistake of a nightmare. However, my prying had done it’s damage; the next day my eyes were puffy and red, sore and stinging. It scared me that I had so hurt myself with such intention while half asleep – what if I hadn’t of woken up properly for 10 more minutes?- and so I sat with these awful eyes at my computer to write.
And so we have, “A Reason to Bend”. This story’s been called everything from fiction, flash fiction, magical realism, a woman’s descent into madness, and narrative poetry. Whatever it is, it’ll break your heart.
PS – In the story, the protagonist’s daughter shares a name with my daughter, Chloe. Please don’t read into that – the story is not metaphorically biographical. Simply, the name “Chloe” mean “green shoot”, “spring” or “new growth”. How could I not use such a name in such a story?