Non Quis, Sed Quid

She’d been dating the demon for about a year. No, maybe not a year. Maybe eight months. Her father told her once there was a big difference between eight months and a year. If you were told you were going to die in a year, he said, and Death knocked on your door in eight months, don’t you think you’d be a little put off?

So, maybe eight months.

He hadn’t said he was a demon when they first met. She’d just assumed. He drove a black-on-black-on-sulphur-on-more-black Harley bike, which wasn’t particularly demonic on its own, even with the eerie little silver wide-open eye sticker on the fender. But he also had great black tattoos creeping down the back of his neck, clinging to each knob on his spine, and more tats knifing over his left shoulder. He had a baby knife curved like the claw of a raptor hidden in the lining of his boot and he had a habit of shouldering people out of his way. He also spit and hissed when things surprised him, like she had.

When she said, you’re a demon, he’d smiled at her, and asked her out for dinner. Eight months ago. Maybe a year.

He had habits that were not necessarily associated with being a demon but also weren’t particularly associated with being human either. He sucked the insides out of fruit — lemons were his favorite, but he’d settle for limes or oranges or pomegranates if he couldn’t get lemons. That was all he ate, with the notable exception of Nerds candy, which he consumed chiefly after sex. He liked to lick his palm if he knew he was going to be meeting someone new; she was well acquainted with the smile that he wore when he shook hands. The demon called anyone in a business suit the ruling class and he keyed BMWs. He sprinkled salt around the toilet and the bathtub and the sinks and the pitiful water feature in her garden. He hissed Latin to her in bed while he locked her to the mattress, his hands cuffs over her wrists. He loved insects. He rescued spiders from the house and redirected earwigs and also sometimes made ants fight each other on the sidewalk. Love from the demon sometimes just meant attention.

Four months in, she took him to meet her grandmother, because she liked to shock her grandmother, and the demon drove them to her favorite restaurant. Her grandmother said, why does he have to drive like a demon all the time? There’s no fire. Oh, he replied, but there is. He shook grandmother’s hand without licking his palm first. This pleased the demon’s girlfriend.

They made a good pair, she and the demon. She’d never dated anyone for more than a few weeks before him. He was a good influence on her sleep and work habits. The demon asked her why she hadn’t stolen any cars since the day they’d met. She said she wasn’t car thief, she’d just happened to be stealing a car when he met her. Which wasn’t the same thing. You had to do something most of the time, she said, in order for it to define you.

He asked her why she called him a demon then. And he licked his palm, because they had a party to go to that night.

She said, because you sure as hell aren’t an angel.

The demon wasn’t good at holding down jobs. He got into arguments over arbitrary rules, he misplaced paperwork, and he stood on his desk and shouted anarchyanarchyanarchy. He would crawl home after being sacked, conciliatory but not guilty, and wait for her to pet his hair and tell him that he was in the right, or at least, if not in the right, that she worshiped him, or if not worshiped all of him, at least certain parts of him.

Her mother lived in fear that they would get married. Her father said, for that, he’d have to enter a church. Still, they didn’t know that the demon brought home rings to his girlfriend all the time. He’d lay next to her in bed, sliding them onto her fingers, fat, ugly ones, thin, pretty ones, rings studded with jewels and rings engraved with someone else’s initials, and he’d whisper about the women whose fingers he’d cut off to bring them to her.

Later, she’d find the jewelry store bags in the trash can in the bathroom.

Plants didn’t like the demon; she hadn’t been able to keep one alive in the house since she’d begun dating him. She asked him to replace them, after they’d died, but he would merely look at the half dead vines and snarl at them. Snarl was perhaps too light a term. It was something that started too low for human ears to hear and tickled all the hairs on her neck to attention and made the dogs next door go crazy with whimpering before he was done. Then she’d just buy another plant herself.

One day he said, we’ve been together a year now. She said, eight months. He said the devil is in the details and then he asked her if she was afraid of him. He added, before she could reply, that he had eaten his last girlfriend alive until even her blood cried on the tile. She said, that’s funny, that’s what happened to my last boyfriend as well. The demon smiled then, and he took her palm and licked it.

“Time to meet the family,” he said.

___________________________
Author’s Note: just playin’ with third person again. One day it will not feel like a pinchy shoe. Also, experimenting with dialogue.

Image from: country_boy_shane

80 thoughts on “Non Quis, Sed Quid

  1. The day for third person not to feel like a pinchy shoe should be today, because this story was excellent!

    Seriously. I’m not just saying that because I have a soft spot for demon stories. This was just so dark and twisted and…well, fun! Makes me want a sequel of sorts with the family. πŸ˜€

  2. Yay! Thank you! It’s a strange thing, I get so used to the intimacy of 1st person and then I think that I can never do a character driven piece in 3rd person. And then I’ll read an excellent novel in 3rd person and forget which person it was in and say WAIT if they can do it, can’t I?

    But it has yet to feel natural. I’ll keep trying. I have a project in the back of my head that I really want to be third person and I want to be less pinchy by then.

  3. Haha — it’s funny to think that 1st person pinches others. And thank you!

    I like your booklove icon.

  4. I love it!! Especially how you mixed regular dialogue with summarized conversations in the paragraphs. Well done!!

  5. Hey Maggie πŸ˜€
    I did tell you on twitter that I thought this was awesome. I also said that your 3rd person style works I know it’s good to practice it and dialogue too. BRILLIANT! It is pretty creepy too but that’s good! I love the ending πŸ˜€ And as you said your 3rd person won’t feel like a pincy shoe!

  6. Ahh! love it, I cant even stand to look at the photo with it, childhood nightmares in the flesh!

    Have you ever tried talking about yourself strictly in the 3rd person for a while? Like if some one asked what your need to do to day you’d reply with “Maggie needs to grocery shopping and do laundry but she’d rather be working on secret projects” This was part of a training activity we did at summer camp with the leadership kids. Anyway it’s fun cause we tend to talk differently about ourselves than we do about others.

  7. This was brilliant! I love third and first person both, but I find that when I try to write in first I have way more trouble than writing in third. I wish there was more to this story =)

  8. This makes me positively gleeful. You do bad boys very well. (Remembering the Children of the Gods story.)

    I love so many of the details. The part about him snarling at plants, and keying BMWs, and anarchyanarchyanarchy and the ruling class.

    “Love from the demon sometimes just meant attention.” That line.

    “he demon asked her why she hadn’t stolen any cars since the day they’d met. She said she wasn’t car thief, she’d just happened to be stealing a car when he met her.” Also that one.

    And the title. Delicious. πŸ˜€

  9. Ah ha so searching for a perfect photo was worth it!

    Also, what are you talking about, I ALWAYS TALK ABOUT MYSELF IN THIRD PERSON.

    Oh wait, that’s the royal we I use. How silly of us.

  10. Thanks. I don’t know how much of my difficulty is psychological — I used to say I could only draw horses facing the left too, and there was no rhyme or reason to that . . .

  11. *grin* A lot. Thank you. I was feeling rather bitter about having to step away from my secret novel when I started, and then . . . well, I got into, as you can see . .

  12. The thing that amazes me the most is that I actually like the girlfriend better than the demon himself… you’ve made her so sassy and strong.

  13. Amazing story. I was pretty much chuckling throughout the entire thing, and occasionally quoting lines. Now my sister is annoyed with me.
    Anyway, it was an awesome story, and probably one of my favorites. It was so dark (although not as dark as the one with the eye skins–I shall remember that one forever)and well-written. I love all of your writing so much, though, so I usually decide to love it before I’ve even began to read it. πŸ™‚

  14. I will take that. Auto-love is not a bad setting for an author to have. πŸ™‚

    And I can’t believe you remember the eye-skins! I still fantasize about novelizing that one one day.

  15. I can see why you want to get better at writing third person. It seems like a good skill to have would be the ability to write well in both first and third person, ’cause then you can write mainly in whichever you want, and then easily come off to the side and write stuff like this. πŸ™‚

  16. I really like the line between creepy and funny/sweet this story walks, because it hardly wavers. The picture, on the other hand… That’s just firmly creepy.

    Sometimes I feel like the only person who doesn’t have any real preference between first and third person, in writing *or* reading…

  17. This is like one of those demon hunter books (minus all the cussing and guns) crossed with an adorable chicklit. Totally loved it!

    FTW!

    P.S. Who knew demons like exchanging spit whilst shaking hands! And I thought it was just adolescent boys πŸ™‚

  18. Later, she’d find the jewelry store bags in the trash can in the bathroom. Hahahaha!

    Oh, yeah. Billy Bold is not quite as bold as he’d like to say. I really like this one. And 3rd is a pain in the butt, but well done, you. It worked.

  19. I see all the different things you were doing here. The third person, the integrated dialogue, all of it. And they all worked.

    Really, really good piece. Love it. Just love it.

    Funny that I didn’t find it creepy at all, not in the slightest. I found it very playful. Okay, playful like a cat playing with its food, but still: playful.

  20. Cool and funny. Not creepy at all. Third person feels like the way I think when I’m thinking about strangers. Pinchy shoe for me. I hope everythings wonderful with you, family, and writing. See you soon.

  21. I used to only read in third person. When I was a teen, I would put down books in 1st. I STILL remember the first novel I liked in first — John Buchan’s GREENMANTLE. I don’t remember now, what it was I didn’t like about 1st person (especially since it’s what I tend to write in now).

    Anyway, thank you. And yes, the picture . . I will say there’s not much sweet about that.

  22. I keep kicking around the idea of a demon book and then go, eh, but I’d have to LIVE with him for a year . . .

  23. I liked the ambiguity re: what he really was (hence, the title, I assume) and I liked the details, such as his poseur ways about buying the rings but telling gruesome stories about them just to sound edgy and scary. I remember people from high school who would have done things like that. Some of the other details also make me feel yucky and creepy inside, though, which I’m sure makes you happy. πŸ˜‰

  24. Oh, happy is precisely what I feel. πŸ™‚ I really wanted a “is he or isn’t he?” motif through the whole thing, and then OH MAN NO, LET’S NOT MEET THE FAMILY!

  25. I read through all of your short stories in one day. I remember most of them pretty well, because they’re all so amazing and unique. That one struck me particularly because it was so creepy. I’d definitely love to read more.

  26. I have strong feelings re: “is he or isn’t he?,” but I’ll keep those to myself, lest I be wrong in a public forum. But, that’s the best thing about this: each of us could argue it one way or another.

  27. Admitting I found this hot is probably taboo, but I’ll admit it anyway, and none of my friends will be surprised.

    There’s something about a bad boy.

    Also, this line?

    He hissed Latin to her in bed while he locked her to the mattress, his hands cuffs over her wrists.

    *SWOON*

    *fans self*

  28. I honestly hardly notice when I’m reading, unless the style or voice is somehow jarring or otherwise notable. I default to third for short stories, but I’ve written big projects in both. I feel like I’m prone to include more humor and commentary in first, but third can be more versatile… it all depends.

    Something about the proportion/angle of the head to the body especially bothers me…

  29. OK, I am glad to read that some of the other commenters didn’t think it was creepy at all. I don’t get a creepy vibe. Not all things that are dark are creepy.

    I love the meeting of the grandma.

    In this cosmology are demons and devils alike? So it’s not like DnD. I mean, they could not be alike and his comment would still work.

    For me the demon character is a metaphor. So this could make a really nice novella. But that’s just what I’m bringing to it.

    Anyways, great story! Super fun!

  30. Yeah, DnD = Dungeons and Dragons. Those nerds have a really detailed cosmology. Which I am super attracted to.

    Metaphor rocks! Especially done this way, when it could be or it could not be. No one knows.

  31. “The demon wasn’t good at holding down jobs. He got into arguments over arbitrary rules, he misplaced paperwork, and he stood on his desk and shouted anarchyanarchyanarchy.”

    bahahaha, this line is perfect

  32. This was amazing; I loved it Maggie! πŸ™‚

    Oh, and I’m totally enamored with this line: He’d lay next to her in bed, sliding them onto her fingers, fat, ugly ones, thin, pretty ones, rings studded with jewels and rings engraved with someone else’s initials, and he’d whisper about the women whose fingers he’d cut off to bring them to her.

  33. Not who, but what… very appropriate.

    For what it’s worth, it doesn’t come across as ‘pinchy’ at all. It’s rather lyrical. The format fits the mood perfectly. πŸ™‚

  34. Just read this and loved the random part about the Nerds candy! It’s my username as it is a favourite candy of mine and one of my five food groups! Well sort of! Just thought it was an awesome coincidence!

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