To avoid spoilers, read Carlotta’s story on Reflex Fiction: ‘Loisach.’
The strangeness of ‘Loisach,’ caught my attention immediately. Even now, having read it many times, I’m left asking questions. The second person narration, at times draws in the reader, and at others, pushes them away. This is a clever technique. I’m left reaching for names that have the ‘curve of your C, the tall lines of her V,’ or am left wondering who ‘slid the razor up to your thighs that morning.’ There is the tone of violence running throughout the piece: ‘bruises,’ ‘blushed blood,’ ‘sting,’ ‘red bumps,’ ‘breaks.’ But in contrast, there is a life-affirming, dreamy quality to it too: ‘trace,’ ‘green-blue like medicine,’ ‘mermaid bruises,’ ‘hair like seaweed,’ ‘heartbeat slow and steady.’ The juxtaposition of violent and dream-like imagery, I think, is what creates the story’s wonderful strangeness.
Carlotta’s writing also generates the sensation of movement. Throughout the story, the river Loisach is ever-present. Take note of the movement created in phrases such as, ‘rush of the river,’ ‘the push is fast and fresh,’ ’the shuck-shuck of the waves,’ ‘the water breaks against you.’ There is drama and movement in this short piece that draws brilliantly on the reader’s senses. Not only this, but many of the sentences begin with imperative verbs, commanding ‘you,’ the narrator to follow the instructions: ‘go,’ ‘stand,’ ‘feel,’ ‘watch,’ ‘remember,’ ‘look,’ ‘stay,’ and so on.
And yet, this story is about ‘you,’ the second person narrator. The story, for me, turns on the line: ‘Think of your kids safe in their beds, your husband’s shadow lingering at the door.’ There is something sad about this line that I feel deeply. It is an idealistic image, of children in bed, watched by the husband. But this idealistic image is coloured by the earlier line, ‘a husband ready to leave you.’
The last line of the story again plays with contrasts. There is the ambiguous reference to the other female character, whose head is ‘tilted back against the sky, the damp ends of her hair like seaweed.’ It is difficult to forget the reference to the razor and thighs earlier in the piece, and so when reading the final words of the story, the uplifting sentiment is especially vivid: ‘listen to your heartbeat slow and steady, how it feels to be alive.’
I have been hypnotised by this piece since first reading it. It is a beguiling piece of micro-fiction.
Note to self: Embrace the strange and don't be afraid to leave the reader asking questions.
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