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18+ Language

I will be seen

by Zoom

Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.

I once stepped into the path of a speeding van to see if it would hit me.

Upon hearing this, you might expect that I was suicidal, and I would not begrudge you for thinking that about me. I would like to clarify that this was not an attempt to take my life. Rather, it was a test to see if I had one to begin with.

You see, I was stood at a zebra crossing, and if you’re unfamiliar with how they work (as the driver of the van might very well have been), suffice it to say that you are legally obligated to yield at one if a pedestrian is wanting to cross. The day was perfectly clear, a sporadic, sweltering day in spring that could pass for summer. There were no other vehicles on the road, and no other pedestrians other than myself. In other words, there was little to distract the driver’s attention. His eyes should have flicked to where I was standing. The front of his van should have dipped as he applied the brakes. The engine should have grumbled as the gears downshifted. I should have been granted my right of way to cross the road. I should have been seen.

But none of those things happened, and I guess that made something click inside my head. A collection of memories and feelings seemed to surface, not separately, but rather an amalgamation of every occasion in my life that made me wonder if I truly existed. Like the many times I’ve smiled at a stranger and their eyes slipped over me as if I weren’t there. Like every occasion I spoke to a colleague or friend and I could see their attention waver, and I listened to my voice trail into silence. Every time I woke up and felt lighter than when I went to sleep. Every time I realised that my life has never truly overlapped anyone else’s.

And so I stepped in front of the van. I stepped and thought, “If I’m to be struck down then I didn’t exist anyway!”

Since I am sharing this recollection, I’m sure you can guess that the van did indeed stop. There was a mighty screech of rubber on tarmac, and by the time the van became still, the grilles were inches from my face, and I could feel heatwaves billowing from the engine.

The driver leaned out of his window and shouted, “What are you doing you crazy fucking bitch!”

Of course, to him, it must have looked like I was attempting to take my life. If only he could have known I had passed my test. That I was alive. I had been seen.

“Thank you,” I told the man politely. This disarmed him quite effectively, though that was not my intention. He simmered back into his van and I’m sure his thunderstruck eyes followed me as I crossed the road and rounded the corner, because I did not hear his van resume the journey.

For a few days I felt an overwhelming fondness for that man. Tyre marks were left on the road, and I could not pass these black slashes without offering them a smile or nod of recognition. Eventually, long after they faded and the road was clear once again, I came to realise that I did not owe the man my gratitude.

Because strangers still continued to look through me. The people I knew quite well still allowed their attention to wander when I spoke to them. The part that changed was how I felt about these instances afterwards. I didn’t need these people to substantiate my existence any longer. And, I came to realise, the driver of the van did not imbue my life with value because I made him stop and let me cross the road. I did that myself. I stepped out. I put one foot in front of the other and forced my way in front of three tons of steel barrelling towards me, and I demanded to be seen.

And so I was.

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Points: 360
Reviews: 5

Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:57 am
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gloriana wrote a review...


Hi, I'm Gloriana and this is a review of your short story, "I will be seen"

I loved this. Especially your description of how unnoticed we are in the everyday world, what with strangers eyes slipping over us and colleagues attention span snapping once past the one minute mark. Also despite the vocabulary being quite advanced at points, you have managed to assimilate the words naturally. (my personal favourite being amalgamation)

"I should have been seen"

"But none of those things happened"

(I can't do that thing where the box with the quotation appears, excuse my technological inadequacy)

I was confused at this point as you said that you should have been seen and were otherwise the truck wouldn't have stopped and yet as the opening to the next paragraph you said that that didn't happen. Do you understand what I mean by this? It's a contradiction.

My only criticism being what I said above but overall this was an engaging short story with colourful language that ensnares the reader's attention. Please continue writing because what with the uplifting moral to the story at the finish line and the relatable observations, this forum needs more from you. (also I deem the spontaneity of walking onto a moving vehicle plausible within an unstable mind's context)

Thank you and wishing you all the best in future endeavours,


Zoom says...

Thanks Gloriana! (great name btw)

I agree that there is some confusion/contradiction. I will tidy this up at some point because I've received such great comments that help with revision so I can already see how much better this can be. I agree with what you said about spontaneity as well. Thanks <3333

Random avatar

Points: 360
Reviews: 5

Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:55 am
gloriana says...

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380 Reviews

Points: 17473
Reviews: 380

Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:25 pm
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Dreamy wrote a review...

Hello, Zoom! Dreamy here for a short review.

This was a really good read. I was afraid it would have a sad ending but I liked the turn of events. To me, I felt the character to be a bit irrational. Since we don't know much about them and their mental health, I thought they took an extreme step for a mundane every-day-situation. The reasons that were listed by the character for taking the step are things that many go through day to day, I know do. But this story is a good reminder of how not everyone goes through same feelings over same situations. Differences in dealing with emotions and feelings what makes stories, so in that aspect, this stands out.

The second paragraph where you describe the weather and the should-haves, it felt it was out of place since you do the exact same descriptions i.e describe what the driver does on seeing the character a paragraph later. It's repetitive.

Like every occasion I spoke to a colleague or friend and I could see their attention waver, and I listened to my voice trail into silence. Every time I woke up and felt lighter than when I went to sleep. Every time I realised that my life has never truly overlapped anyone else’s.

This hit home. <3

A suggestion:

If only he could have known I had passed my test. That I was alive. I had been seen.

I think it would read better if it were written as, "If only he knew that I had passed my test. That I was alive. That I had been seen." Of course, it's up to you.

Overall, a good read. Simple and effective. Keep up the good work.

Keep writing!


Zoom says...

I completely agree about the repetition. I used that device way too much and didn%u2019t even realise. Thanks for the review!

Dreamy says...

Anytime. :D

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27 Reviews

Points: 2223
Reviews: 27

Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:51 pm
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IsProcrastinator wrote a review...

Hey there!

Well, so within its short expanse, the story does a really good job dealing with the narrator's existential crisis. At the beginning I thought the narrator is a ghost, trying to make sure if they are still alive or not. While I understand the people around them may have ignored their presence in their lives, or the narrator felt like nobody cared if they disappeared, but still, getting in front of a speeding vehicle is quite rash. Then again the narrator's mental health could be deteriorating. But overall, I found this very relatable. I don't have enough words to explain how bad it feels when the people around us don't acknowledge our existence, or simply takes us for granted. The pain is real, and I think your story captures it well.

“Thank you,” I told the man politely.

The narrator's reaction to the driver was strange. I expected them to stare without words, or be extremely frightened for being so close to death. But well, they clearly stated in the beginning that they weren't suicidal, so I guess that makes sense. They were making sure if they were still alive, as the people around them made them feel like they didn't. This a pretty strong point of the story and I absolutely liked it.

After being almost hit by the van, they also realized that they could be seen if they came forward and wanted to. So the concluding line was in line with the title.

Overall, I liked it! I hope to read more of your works in future. :)

Have a great day/night and happy writing!

Zoom says...

Thanks for the review! I definitely wanted this character to be rash and illogical and I think what you said about mental health deteriorating is accurate! Thanks!

If we choose, we can live in a world of comforting illusion.
— Noam Chomsky