Over the past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with an unhappy person. This person is angry at someone else, and I got caught in the crossfire. I’m collateral damage.
I’m not just saying this. Everyone involved agrees it is her, not me. They have reassured me repeatedly that I’m just an unlucky casualty in this person’s emotional (and truth be told, childish) war. I’ve told myself this time and again and attempted to shake it off. Somewhat unsuccessfully. It still hurts when someone attacks you, even if you know they aren’t in their right mind (remember Dolores Claiborne?).
I’ve had to spend hours and hours discussing what should be done, how do we handle her in her “fragile state” without making her fly even further off the handle (a friend suggested having her committed – he got voted down). I’ve had to endure – with stoicism – several unpleasant emails and verbal exchanges from her that were downright mean and hurtful. And nothing I say changes anything. She has lumped me in with her bad guys and I’m fair game.
She has become my real-life antagonist.
I forced myself to stay on the high road, turn the other cheek and play the part of the strong and unflinching heroine (I’m not at all dramatic). But a part of me wanted to fight back, to reach into my bag of nasty and give her a taste of her own medicine, to stand up for myself and ask her what gives her the right to be so cruel? I didn’t. I remained the sane, calm person at the crazy lady tea party.
Do you know what I did instead?
I wrote her into a story. I cast her as the antagonist. I exaggerated her features and made her grotesque – the kind of ugly that makes babies (and grown men) cry. And I made sure she received her just deserts (a terrible, gut-wrenching poison that made her bleed from every orifice while simultaneously experiencing diarrhea and severe vomiting – it was awful). I made her hair fall out and her skin boil. I made her pancreas explode.
In short, I made sure my paper antagonist suffered far more than I would ever wish on my real-life antagonist.
I know, I know – I’m terribly petty. But at least I did this in the safety and privacy of my own home. I didn’t say anything I’d regret to the actual person, and those around me are still wowed by how noble I can be (they don’t know me like you do, dear reader). I did feel a small (very small) twinge of guilt at my nasty streak, but I got over it quickly enough when I realized how ridiculous my short story is and how it will never make it off the hard drive.
I got over it because after writing the story, I felt better. I was able to truly forgive and move on. And I now have lots of raw material (albeit a little over the top) that I might use in the future. So really, I should thank my real-life antagonist.
But I won’t. 😉
Tell me, have you ever written about a real-life antagonist? How did it go? I’d love to hear stories from the trenches!