Writing exercise 16: Self-portait

[This is supposed to focus on first person narration of a story, either by the character describing themselves, or describing other characters. Also, I’m aware that the previous post was exercise 14 – I just haven’t posted exercise 15, because it was sort of in a transitory phase. I hope to use it for something else.]

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I’ve never been much of a scribbler, but I have recently recognised in myself a need to put thoughts down on paper (or well, in a word processor document – paper has fallen into disuse since the late 2010s. Ecologists got their way and we stopped harming the trees. Of course, other terrible things unravelled then, but I digress!). As this document is password protected, I have no false expectations or delusions that anyone will find this, yet I have to record everything before memory fails and the passage of time alters events. So here I am. Talking to myself in a different way it seems.

So… where do I begin?

I’ve known him all my life. More precisely, he’s known me for all of his – I had to make do without him for the first three years as I was born first. Hardly his fault.

He is tall. That was my first impression of him. Freakishly tall, even as a youngling – I only made it to his waist despite my seniority! Of course, he would probably be quick to note the contrary – that is to say, that I am abnormally short. No doubt he would say this with the amused, smug grin he wears when challenging ANYTHING I declare as a fact. This smile pervades into his voice when he speaks. It’s peculiar. It’s as if his larynx grows warmer because of it, exuding words so soft you want to wrap yourself in them, like the satisfying feeling of staying under the covers on a frosty morning. Even over the crackle of a voice-only intercom, it’s obvious he’s smiling.

His parents bestowed upon him the name of Alexander. I can see why they would do that and then expect him to complete the military academy. It carries…what’s the phrase… gravitas, the kind of name that befits a military commander (I mean, surely it would be weird if he were called Bubbles, right? Commander Bubbles…there’s a thought!).  Still, he prefers to be known more simply as Alex.

When he was appointed, he was young; too young some of his disgruntled officers might say. It was often an excuse used to cover up their conservative fear of the new and the daring. Perhaps they worried he had the special something it takes to end a war all of them had perpetuated for so long. After all, after so many decades of bloodshed, how can bloodthirsty hounds possibly be reconciled with the idea of peace? Despite their dissatisfaction, he’s well-liked and respected by his subordinates – undoubtedly the sign of a good leader.

As my friend, he’s kind and caring, and not just to me. I must confess, I am at times unabashedly envious of others he offered his attention to. As my commanding officer, he runs a tight ship. Yet he’s always willing to forgive – a personality trait considered a flaw and rarely seen since the war began. War and conflict turns people hard and cold, like distant stars. But not him. Never him. He was the first military officer to offer mercy to a prisoner, you know? Before him, we gave no quarter. After him… I don’t think the world – nay, the galaxy – will ever be the same.

Shit. He’s walking over. Uh… look busy!

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