The Misunderstanding

Fiction By Marlene E. Schuler // 6/15/2011


This story is the result of a contest... here's the prompt, and then the story follows. Enjoy! 



You have two only two characters. They may be any one of the following: (1) lovers; (2) prospective lovers; (3) a parent and a child; (4) best friends; (5) complete strangers. If you need one or two minor characters to help out that's ok, but you have two major characters only.

~You must write your MC's impressions of the other character (the other character's personality, quirks, physical appearance, profession, etc.).

~Story must be written in third person. Your MC is not allowed to use "I," "we," "me," "my," "mine," "us," or "ours" to describe the other character. And you, the author, are not allowed to slip in your own personal comments, either.

~This is not about plot, so feel free to drop plot altogether and make this an excerpt from a story that doesn't exist (or which you haven't written yet).

~Word limit is 1000-1500 words. 




  Some stories are the romantic happenings of two impossibly perfect individuals who experience absolute turmoil before they are happily married inthe end. Others are intellectual parables that take a perfectly ordinary fairytale and turn it into a moral-filled beast that only goody-goody-two-shoes would read. But this one is neither. In fact, the classification of it has yet to be determined. Simply put, this story is a tale of misunderstanding. It centers around the noble mind of Mr. Percival M. Hodgson, who is about to be introduced to the reader.


  Mr. Percival M. Hodgson, philosopher extraordinaire and lover of exquisite foods, lived in London some years ago. That is, the London we hear about in Dickens and not the London of today. There is a distinct difference. He was preparing himself for the day with great care, when his valet Hugo entered the room.

  "Excuse me, sir, but I was given to understand you had an appointment today."

  Percival turned to face him.

  "So I did, Hugo, so I did."

  This rather obvious response was merely on account of the fact that Percival was rather perturbed. And the reason for his being perturbed was that he had attempted to tie his cravat for the last ten minutes, each time failing miserably. Seeing his distress, Hugo generously tied it for him.

  "And sir, am I to understand that you are to meet an acquaintance that you were never formally introduced to?"

  "Yes, that is indeed the case. You see, Mortimer -that's his name, did you know that?- and I have been corresponding for nearly three years now. I met him through the classified ads in the London Crier. He is a very philosophical man, Hugo. He thinks very much about things. He is coming here so that we might work out a few things, and speak of such high things as logic and so on."

  "Ah, I see, sir. Very good. Will that be all?"

  Percival looked over himself in the mirror. Yes, he did make a splendid sight. He was becoming very much absorbed in himself before Hugo had to repeat himself. Upon hearing Hugo's voice, Percival was removed from his egotistical reveries and took command of the situation.

  "No, that will be all."

  "Then good day, sir." said the selfsame valet, who then proceeded to hand his employer his overcoat, cane, and hat.

  These articles of high fashion being therefore donned, Percival went out on the street. He had a good feeling about the day; it felt like one of those days where everything just had to turn out right. The sun was shining, a feat which most think impossible in that corner of the world, and there was a distinct smell of spring in the air. Yes,this would be a good day. His steps turned towards the train station, wherei nhe was to meet his friend Mortimer. As soon as he reached the platform of thetrain that was to carry his acquaintance, he checked his pocket watch to ensure that he was not too early or late. In this case, he was glad to find that he was a little early, and that the train would arrive soon.


  And so it did. The great lugging beast known as the train came to a screeching halt inside the station. Coughing and wheezing from all the horrendous smoke that bellowed from the sides of the engine, Percival tried to see if he could spot out his friend. Having no description whatsoever to go on, he had decided to make it a game of finding Mortimer amongst the crowd that issued from the passenger cars. Several women with children came out first, then the men followed. Percival examined each with his quick and most observant eye. No, it couldn't be that one. Far too young. Now this one was far too old, and that one didn't have the intelligent appearance that he expected Mortimer to have.

  Soon, all the people had left to follow their own pursuits, leaving Percival alone on the platform. The train took on more passengers, and was gone from the station before he could say something so common as 'Jack Robinson'. He was quite distressed, and turned to check the train times on the wall. There was another train coming in fifteen minutes, so he decided to wait for it, just in case Mortimer had gotten the times wrong or something so juvenile as that.


  But when he turned, he noticed that a man was standing on the opposite platform. He had several articles of luggage with him, and seemed to be lookingfor someone in particular. Percival decided that it would be amusing to watch him for the time he had to wait for the next train, so he sat down in a spot where he could easily observe the other gentleman. Such men with minds as incredible as Percival's are often observing the characters and habits of others, and so our hero could not resist studying the man on the otherplatform. He was a middle-aged man, probably close to Percival's age. But this man looked like he a great deal on his mind, and had accumulated a great deal of fine wrinkles around his eyes and other inconvenient areas of the face. Percival was always glad to see the imperfections of others as opposed to the grandness of his own self, and noticed several off hand in the man. First of all, the man had conceded to sit on his own luggage, a thing which any well-bred man would not do. Then, there was the snuff. Oh, that odious stuff, which the man seemingly carried in his waistcoat pocket for easy usage! Any high-bred man would not dare to carry it in such an obvious location, but to use it in a public place- how low! Percival concluded that this man was nothing like Mortimer; for Mortimer's letters were so well-written and logically laidout, that it was impossible for him to be one of those men who used snuff. To think!

  Then, another of the other man's faults came out easily- his posture was far from straight. He also played absent-mindedly with his hands, both of which betrayed an inner lack of confidence. Percival looked at the other man with pity, and realized that this poor fellow would get no-where in life. Without self-confidence, such as he himself possessed, one simply couldn't possibly be successful. He was glad that he did not have a character such as the one he saw before him.


  The train came. The train went. Now Percival was suddenly filled with agreat worry. What if Mortimer had never gotten on the train, or if he had taken ill? What if... he had simply forgotten? That was unthinkable, for such a man of intelligence. Then, a thought came into his head- what if the other man was Mortimer? Percival tried to disregardthe thought as ludicrous, but it kept on coming back to him like a drowned cat. He got up and started to pace, as if to run away from the idea, but still it grew and grew in his head. What an inward battle began to rage inside his great mind; should he go home, and forget everything about the uncouth man, or would he be so bold and go so below his breeding and station and inquire after the man's name? Both were equally awful, for if he followed through with the first, he would probably never know if he was indeed Mortimer, but in the second, he would suffer a great deal of embarrassment. In the end, the latter decision ruled out over the former, and he went to the end of his platform.

  "I say, this is going to sound rather impertinent, but would you kindly tell me your name?"

  "It's Mortimer. Mortimer P. Grandis."



LOL :)

Very funny, and well written! I love the flavor of Dickens in the writing style :)

Laura Elizabeth | Fri, 06/17/2011

The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

 hehe. Oh Percival...  I like

 hehe. Oh Percival... 

I like your describing words. :)

Renee | Sat, 06/18/2011


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