Vignette: The Want

Our heroine thought she’d post a sample of her writing today, dear Reader.

Note that it’s extremely different from what I’m writing now. It’s an odd, old vignette from some fifteen years ago. Even then, I considered it strange.

The Want

he only knew that he wanted and that he had wanted for such a long time that he couldn’t remember any more what it was like to have.  briefly, he thought of all those nice words that normal people used, words like “desire” and “yearning.”  years ago he had passed those.  years ago when he had been normal people.  the want filled him, fueled him.  the want defined him.

the bus was crowded, making it easy for him to be alone.  it took all his attention to block out the sounds, the smells of all those bodies.  sometimes a tentacle of odor got through his barrier, climbing into his brain and shaking it.  he drew further into himself, the want beating like a pulse in his brain.

the “excuse me” was fused in time with the sudden slamming of flesh on his head.  like an explosion, that moment fired into his mind, holding it captive, held captive itself by the wanting.  he turned stared at her as she pushed her way out of the seat behind him.  he realized she was looking at him with an odd expression.  apologetic?  maybe that was it.  after all, she had said, “excuse me” when she bumped into him.

it was hours later, that moment still frozen in his brain, that he realized something.  something that might be important.  the clumsy woman’s smell hadn’t made him want to puke. and the want had shifted.  it was later still when this made him laugh.  the sound made his eyes hurt.

the bus was crowded.  he withdrew, blocking out.  glancing around, he noticed the people on the bus as though for the first time.  indeed, it probably was the first time.  normal people.  all around him.  he tried to withdraw, but the want made him look at them some more.   he wondered which one of them had bumped into him.  he thought about trying to smell for her, which made the want grin. when he finally made it to the apartment, he puked.

each day, he peered a bit at the normal people.  there were too many of them.  they were everywhere, not just on the bus.  they were on the streets.  in the store where he bought food and soap.they were even on his tv.  he liked that.  he could look at them without smelling them.  he usually looked at them without hearing them.  he kept the sound turned off.


That was from about 1990, I’m guessing. Like I said, even odd for me at the time. I liked it, though. I must have to have kept it all these years. However, when I’ve shared it with friends, they’ve given me odd looks and backed away slowly.

Perhaps I’ll share some of my current writing with you soon. You’ll be able to compare and contrast the pieces. In any case, I welcome your feedback.


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7 thoughts on “Vignette: The Want

  1. Christina October 22, 2009 at 11:16 am Reply

    I found this really interesting to read! The sentence structure, as well as the way you alternate abruptly between the world inside the character’s head and the world outside, provides a real sense of this character’s psychological state. To be honest, I’m not sure the lack of capitalization works. In a way, I think it’s cool, but the words and the way you play with them are strong enough to show how the character is becoming (or is already) unhinged. So, in the end, the lack of capitalization actually distracts me from the story; it seems more like a gimmick than a way of developing the character. But that’s just a minor mechanical thing (and I hope you don’t mind me bringing it up). Overall, I thought the piece creates a fascinating character. I certainly want to know more about him and how he became this way and what he does next (or, perhaps I fear finding out what happens to him?). Thanks for sharing your work!


    • Jessica Rosen October 22, 2009 at 4:58 pm Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Christina. It’s a good feeling to dust something off, scratch my head at it, shrug and share it with everyone.

      The lowercase thing was just something I used to do when I was typing very quickly. I ought to have edited it for caps before I posted it, you’re absolutely right. It is distracting and doesn’t move the story forward at all.

      I’ve always wondered what happened to him, too. I know it isn’t good.

      Take care,
      Jessica Rosen


      • Christina October 22, 2009 at 8:37 pm

        Jessica, I just want to emphasize again that I enjoyed what you wrote. I wasn’t sure if the use of all lower case text was intentional or not. Either way, it was a small nitpick on my part (and one that others might disagree with, as well). Thanks again for sharing it!


  2. Jewell Hershey October 27, 2009 at 11:54 pm Reply

    I like it…a lot. It makes me feel like I’ve gotten inside the mind of…maybe…an autistic person, perhaps? Don’t know. Can’t put my finger on it. I keep thinking about it.


    • Jessica Rosen October 28, 2009 at 12:33 am Reply

      Thanks. I appreciate the feedback, especially the fact that it’s sticking with you that way. Makes me a very happy girl.

      Take care,
      Jessica Rosen


  3. JasonEverMorr November 12, 2009 at 12:04 pm Reply

    So totally up my alley, Jessica! Thanks for sending me the link!

    Love the hook in the opening lines. They definitely grab my attention, not just with the no-cap sentence beginnings (which works for me) but in characterization: “he had been normal people.”

    Vignettes are nice template stories. There’s a hint of the deeper story, but the reader is charged with accessing the text from their own perspective. My Want is so much different than other people’s Want, or perhaps even your Want. I think this piece does an excellent job of giving me the bones of what my imagination needs to develop my own backstory for this character. Well done!



    • Jessica Rosen November 12, 2009 at 12:22 pm Reply

      Thank you, I really appreciate your feedback on this piece. Although tempted to explore it further, I think that this taste of him on the precipice is just enough to give the reader what’s needed.

      Your little tastes of creepiness on Twitter do the same. A little shiver up the spine and an “Oooh, look what he did with only 140 characters.” Not a horror reader by habit, I’m intrigued about your work all the same. I’ll read it with the lights on.

      Take care,
      Jessica Rosen


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