Weekly Writing Challenge Draft a short story or flash fiction piece from the point of view of a unreliable narrator. What is the source of their unreliability?
I believe my friend Mr Latimer Naseby to be a truthful narrator. As an engineer and government official he is not much given to exaggeration. That he was aboard MV Plassy the night she struck is easily verified. The story he tells is a plain one, but much more colourful versions can be had in the back snug in Doolin. I’m not sure about the white cat of Craig na gCat on Inishmor , but I’ve seen it myself and have not yet drowned.
This is another excerpt of an ongoing fiction work ‘Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science’. I will be publishing new parts twice weekly.
No castaways can have arrived more comfortably than those aboard our ship. I had good whiskey and hot coffee for breakfast that day. The dawn had not been far off. The sight that greeted us has often been painted now. Tourists come to gasp and gawp. Since I am no sailor, I will claim at least to have been the first tourist. To this very day ‘Plassy’ sits high and dry on the rocky foreshore, a good fifty yards from the sea.
So I have my seafarer’s story. You might expect me to tell you that we came ashore a week later, maybe some months after the storm. No, we did not lose or gain any time that night. Nor was my memory snatched from me. Unlike Mr Seaborn, I was not born anew from the storm. As he had predicted though, I did not drown. The white cat that haunts Craig na gCat ensured my safety. I’m not in any way superstitious, but for this I’ll make an exception.
Thus, I was in a famous shipwreck, the ship is still there for all to see. I have heard some of the crew tell their tale. It is different from mine, but then again that was in the Maritime Court in Galway. My truth is not their truth, but I was but a passenger. Captain Hennessy was not the first, nor probably, the last to lose his ship on Finnis Rock. He may have been the first to have saved all of his passengers. He was exonerated, of course. The storm had not been expected, but he had prepared for it as well as he could. His command to remain aboard after we first struck doubtless saved our lives.
Since that day, I’ve told the story many times myself. It is mine to tell, after all. I’ve also heard it told on a good few occasions. In the hands of a skilled storyteller, the waves grow bigger, the skies glow more luridly and I’m almost surprised that mermaids are not sighted beforehand. Certainly, the monstrous beast that severed our anchor chain must have been of a magical nature, for I did not see it at all. I have sat in the back snug in Doolin and thoroughly enjoyed a story, not realising till the end that it was my own ship that had foundered. I’ve heard several dry land mariners tell of their great deeds of heroism or their genius at navigation. I had never clapped eyes on them previously, certainly not aboard ‘our’ ship. I have since met the officers and men at several celebrations. The story telling is not that compelling, but the dining and drinking can be said to be heroic.
It is an odd feeling to have been at an event and then hearing someone else describe it. But we are all unreliable narrators sometimes.
Three views of the MV Plassy, Inisheer, Ireland. Yep, it’s the one on ‘Father Ted’.