A Second Person POV Self-Challenge

One of the recent blogs and podcasts I’ve added to my limited rotation is Mythcreants. If the title is a play on the word miscreants, they should have called Mythscreants as it would sound closer to the intended word. Of course, I’m only guessing at intent, so I don’t have the right to an opinion in the matter.

Regardless, they have interesting and useful content. THIS, for instance, is a great article about land travel before engines (the kind of travel found in most epic fantasy novels). Very useful reference that I will make use of. 

A recent article caught my attention. THIS article discusses the use of Second Person Point of View. It piqued my interest. I thought I commented that I would take up the challenge, but now I don’t see my comment at the bottom of the piece. No matter; I wrote a flash story using Second Person POV. 

The interesting thing about Second Person POV is that it’s personal. While any POV can draw you into a character and make you feel for them, Second Person asks that you become them. It’s a more intimate reading and one that if not done well, fails miserably. 

For instance, the piece I wrote may be difficult for women to read because it’s written from a male’s perspective. I could have written it from a female’s perspective, but no matter which I choose, I’m excluding half the reading audience. Meaning, half the audience may find it difficult to identify with the feelings and motivation of a character who is not their gender.

The trick, as I understand it, is to tell a tale one wants to be a part of, perhaps vicariously, perhaps as a backseat observer. Ideally, you would tell a tale universally appealing to all, and then it doesn’t matter who the reader is. For instance, if I write a story from the point of view of a bug, it’s likely easier, and perhaps fun, for readers to let themselves be drawn into the story and “be” the bug.

“You are flying, minding your business, when a giant rolled up newspaper comes at you out of nowhere. Your fantastic reflexes save you, but now you wonder why this paper has it in for you. It’s coming again, but you have plenty of warning, and easily avoid it. Altitude. Rolled up newspapers can’t fly, at least not well. Sitting on the ceiling, you detect a rag flying up toward you. How can rags fly? You barely have time to ask yourself the question before it smashes into you. Momentarily stunned, you seek refuge in the intricate design of the chandelier, mindful to avoid the spiderweb.”

If writing about a person, I think one has to give the reader action and events relatable to emotions experienced by a wide range of individual and not specific to a particular gender or other limiting group differentiation. Still, the bug thing . . . some people may enjoy reading that more than they will enjoy reading this next piece. 

I’m interested in the opinions of readers. I think I wrote a Second POV piece, but perhaps I don’t fully understand Second Person. Perhaps I wrote crap that cannot be characterized. 

Feel free to comment below. 

Edited To Add: Based on a comment below, I changed “boyfriend” to “fiancé” for it being a stronger impediment to the protagonist chasing his true love.

The Fate of Man

© 2015 – E. J. D’Alise (1,220 words)

You think you are immune to it. You think you have control.

“It won’t ever happen to me,” you say with a conviction borne of ignorance.

And then, it happens. You can pinpoint the exact moment. At a party, at a friend’s house, someone introduces her to you. She smiles and offers her hand. You don’t remember how long you held it, but you remember her touch.

You also remember your smile freezing and your world imploding as she introduces her fiancé to you.

He knows. He knows he has a prize that you want. He can see it in your eyes, and he smiles that knowing smile that says “Too late, chump. She is mine.”

He smiles and turns her away from you as you stand watching your world walk away in the arms of a person you know is a liar, a cheat, and a dishonorable man.

But he is athletic. He has a dazzling smile. He has money. He is tall. He has the easy and practiced confidence of a man who knows he has the world fooled, a world that bows to his will.

You know better. The urge to run after them and warn her is almost overwhelming. Almost. You know there are no words that will penetrate his defenses, his image, his persona. You would sound no better than a lunatic shouting warnings of imagined dangers and hidden conspiracies.

No longer in the mood for companionship, you leave the party. With every step taking you farther from her, the very air around you grows chilled, dark, and oppressive until you inhabit but a shadow world. Devoid of color, devoid of light, devoid of the joy, and filled with an empty ache, the world takes no pleasure in your misery, but neither does it offer even a shred of comfort.

Time. Time and distance. They offer a comfort of sorts. The comfort of resignation, of senses dulled to the pain. You wonder where she is now, but quickly turn your thoughts to the gray; the comforting gray that shields you from the joys of the world.  The gray that helps you feel nothing. The gray that becomes the norm.


The norm is immersion in a job demanding your full attention. Driven, you appear. Promotions, awards, all follow from embracing the gray. You live well, you live for your job. When working, the world takes on a bit of color, the gray momentarily forgotten. You don’t make friends, but people respect you. They respect your dedication, your drive, your focus.

You are asked to speak about it, to teach others what you do. What can you tell them?

“Lose your true love.” How would that go over? It wouldn’t.

You make stuff up. Stuff that sounds plausible even as you know it’s all bullshit. They eat it up. More promotions, more awards.

And then . . . and then, not even the job is enough. You’re thirty-four years old, successful, sought out, admired . . . and alone.

You quit your job. You have money saved from all those years of not having a life. It’s enough to retire, especially if you move away from people.

Alaska. It’s a harsh place. It suits you.

Off the grid, no Internet, a satellite phone for emergencies.

You get a dog. Then another. They are companions in your hikes, in your hunts. They sit by the fireplace as storms rage outside and you read one of your many books, epic music softly playing in the background.

You are at peace, closed off from humanity.

It’s a stupid accident. Graywolf, the big Husky, jumps over a dead log and jams his paw between two small branches. It’s a clean snap, but it needs attention. After a quick splint, you carry him back to the cabin, all sixty pounds of him, and he takes your spot on the sled as you drag it the thirty miles to the nearest vet. You call ahead, leaving a message that you will be there on Sunday, a day hence.

There is a lone car parked in front of the vet office. Someone got your message and is there to help.

You lift Graywolf and carry him to the door. Before you can knock, it opens. Your world explodes into a myriad of colors, the light of a thousand suns chasing the gray from you.

It’s her. She does not look at you, her attention on the dog, and you numbly let her help carry Graywolf to the table. She turns away, opens drawers, grabs things you hardly notice as you stare at the back of her head, and then she turns back and stops.

“You,” she says. You both stand there, looking at each other, the dog’s panting and the tick-tock of the wall clock the only sounds.

No. Another sound.  A car approaching, then parking, and the sound of the front door opening and closing. The sound of steps and then you watch a man walk in, take off his jacket and lean over, giving the woman a light kiss on the cheek.

“I can’t do this again,” you say, the gray slamming back around you like a coffin. You turn without speaking and walk away. You hear the sounds of words behind you, but you don’t know what they are, the loud drumming of your heartbeat in your ears drowning out their meaning. Outside, you push the sled, Whitecloud falling in step beside you. She barks, perhaps out of concern for Graywolf’s absence. You ignore her and pick up the pace, almost running.

At nightfall, you make camp. The small fire offers a point of focus as it slowly dies off. Halfway around the world, you came, and yet she is here. Again so close and yet unreachable.

Cruel, the fate of man.

The last embers dull under the ashes, and you look up. Faint trails of an early Aurora Borealis wind playfully across the sky, the stars beyond competing for your attention. Slowly, you regain your dull calm.

Thirty miles, a thousand miles, ten thousand miles  . . . does physical distance really matter? No.

You close the flap of your tent, pull the sleeping bag around you and lean back as Whitecloud snuggles in her blanket next to you. Sleep comes quickly, as it often does after great turmoil.


The weeks pass until one day you return from your hunt and see a snowmobile parked by your cabin. Out of reflex, you check your rifle and your sidearm. Whitecloud races ahead of you, and you run to keep up. The door opens before you get there and Graywolf runs out to meet Whitecloud, a playful reunion ensuing.

You slow and stop as the man from the vet’s office stands at the door.

“Sorry, we didn’t know how long you would be, and let ourselves in,” he says.

“We?” you ask as your heart races.

“Yes,” he answers as he steps out and she stands at the door in his place. “My sister and I.”

You dare not smile lest the gray shatters and leaves you vulnerable again, but it’s not your decision to make.

Her smile permanently sends the gray from your life.

The End

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