Reading Mary Ruefle’s “Woman With a Yellow Scarf” (Iowa Review, 2008).
She gives us a woman with a yellow scarf in a story by Camus. The blinding sensory detail that draws the reader out of a story, that changes the tone and texture without resolving it. Without settling anywhere we can know or mark.
I think of the dead sparrow on the front porch steps with a cat purring nearby, a cat coiling her tail and stretching near the fallen sparrow. You are torn between horror and the emergent need to parent, to congratulate proud Whiskers. Oh Whiskers, what a strong a reckless kitty you are! (Oh Whiskers, what on earth?)
You enter the house in search of plastic bag to remove the broken bird. Whiskers rumbles between your legs, purring, satisfied. You forgot Whiskers was wicked. You forgot so much about the nature of furred beasts when you let him into your bed and started telling stories in which he served as protagonist. Something new and strange has emerged between you and Whiskers. There is no way to explain or discuss this emergence. And no way to know if Whiskers understands.
[This is where the story changes. This is the first brick of suspense weighing on your characters. Use it. ]