Gemma: A Pathetic Fallacy

Submitted for Contest #59 in response to: Write a story that feels lonely, despite being set in a packed city.... view prompt

22 comments

Sep 18, 2020

Drama

When I was seven, I requested my room be painted pink, the only valid colour to a 7 year old girl, with aspirations bigger than life itself. 


When I was thirteen, I decided to go with a crimson red to channel my inner scorpio and newfound ardor for astrology. 


When I was seventeen, I opted for a lemon yellow so I could always wake up to the sun.


Now I’m twenty-two, and I’ve painted my four walls grey, so that they always reflect my mood.


Today, the walls reflect the weather too. Grey clouds roll along the dull sheet of a sky, drizzle threatening to become full-fledged rain. It takes me all the way to the seventh grade; our literature teacher teaching us about employing pathetic fallacy, my naive self imagining all the ways I too, could become the next big thing and use it to represent sunshine and rainbows and everything good. 


I think about it, hard, repeat it in my brain until I decide that pathetic fallacy is a funny phrase. Pathetic, some much like myself would consider a lazy word, followed up by one that holds so much depth. Pathetic fallacy. Fallacy. Fallacy. Fallacy? Is fallacy even a word anymore? Pathetic. Patheticpatheticpathetic. No matter how many times I repeat it, pathetic is definitely a word. I know it’s a word because it describes me. Then again, fallacy could also describe me. Maybe. Wait, what’s a pathetic fallacy? 


As promised, the drizzle transforms into fat raindrops almost immediately, but the umbrellas are faster. The scene plays out like the extras in a movie made for the masses. Everyone performs their part, seemingly arbitrary but not enough to fool those, who look hard enough. Everything is robotic, scripted, and this is just another one of their daily rituals. I’m not like the masses though, and this doesn’t exhilarate me in the way it should. I see through it. Through the mist and smoke and rose coloured glasses Giselle gave me the last Christmas we were all together. The truth is, I’m alone. A solo audience in the midst of a bustling theatre. 


The sound and smell of the rain is way too near, and it takes me a while to register why. My eyes scan the wet patch on the linoleum floor, the window all the way up, allowing the cold chill to reach my body before a sense of rationale, or lack thereof. I feel it, hard, shiver until I decide that bleakness isn’t a stranger to me, and that I’ll leave it the way it is. 


Pathetic ° adjective

  1. evoking or expressing pity, sympathy, etc
  2. distressingly inadequate



My Samsung J6 lights ups, the default multicoloured balloon background illuminated to show the tiny phone icon. Missed call from Giselle (3) meets my eyes. I wonder how I didn’t hear it ringing, and decide that the rain and definitely not my empty thoughts was too loud. I should call her back. I need to call back my mum, but don’t want to. I should call Giselle back before my mum. Now that I think about it, I don’t really want to call either of them. My phone lights up again, and this time I hear it. I hear it and it’s so loud, and once I hear it there’s nothing else I can hear. It rings way too loud in my ear, and it’s eating away like maggots at my brain until it suddenly stops and I catch the name before the screen flickers off.


Missed call from Dad. 


And right when I’m about to close the window, it starts up again, and it rings, six maybe seven times until I hear him over voicemail and he’s trying to tell me who I am again. 


Fallacy ° noun

  1. a deceptive, misleading, or false notion, belief, etc
  2. Logic. any of various types of erroneous reasoning that render arguments logically unsound.


My family finds my existence implausible.They can’t fathom how I could change from being happy to “whatever-I-am-now.” “That’s stupid,” I’d tell them everytime I had the energy to pick up their incessant video calls. “That’s like saying you don’t understand how the weather can instantly change from being sunny one moment and rainy the next. In fact, that’s like saying you don’t understand the concept of rainbows.”


“How do rainbows relate Gem, how? At least rainbows occur with a mix of both. You’re just...on one extreme. You’re just rain,” Giselle would always respond in her matter-of-fact way, and then Mum and Dad would not so covertly touch her shoulder or her thigh and give her the look and then she would shut up but we all knew the damage had already been done. 


They would form their own versions of me in their mind, always piecing together blurred information and coming up with the Gemma they always perceived. I was apparently just sad that they forced me to change my university for Giselle. I was apparently just bitter over the fact that she did better than me, and that I had never been motivated enough to follow my own selfish ambitions. Apparently, I was just pretending and that if I came home and let them help me with life, I’d be back to my old self in no time. 


My friends find my existence valid. They can fathom how mental illness and childhood trauma works, we’re part of Gen Z, of course they can. “You know it’s completely fine and normal to feel like this, Gems. My brother was ______ too, and also had like _____. But he visited a therapist after ages of trying to convince him, and honestly with his meds and weekly sessions, he’s in such a good place now. I can recommend _____ if you want, he/she/they’re really good for this sort of stuff. We stan a mentally stable sis!” would be the general response from the general faces of general people I spent my three years of uni with.They’d stick around with me, not for long, but long enough to not want to stick around for that long. After the initial prospect of having a new project they could work on in me, the novelty wore off, realising that I was never going to visit their therapist, or go on club nights with them, or even pay attention to what they had to say, which was usually a lot. I think about that sometimes, hard, analyse it until I inevitably decide that it was their fault for trying to reassemble me. Although, some would say I was never really assembled in the first place.  


I’ve thought about me before and me now, hard, deduced that there really wasn’t much of a difference. The only difference was before, my family saw me as who they thought I was, and now they see me as I truly am. And it disgusts them. The real me disgusts them. 


To put it bluntly, everything I am is down to my childhood, and Giselle. She’s only a year older than me, but it’s enough for her to justify a life of imposition and manipulation. She forever wanted me to be like her, and in the aspects that I wasn’t, she deemed me inferior. My parents always took her word for it. After all, she was the eldest, and was only trying to teach me what was best. Right? My mind wasn’t developed enough to realise that I didn’t want to be like her. Not right up until I thought about myself, hard, looked right into myself until I decided that I wanted to be someone else, that under all the layers, I was someone else, and that I wanted to go to Cambridge University and pursue Journalism. It was simple, really; aspiring to study the truth behind stories only mentioned at the surface at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Aspiring to reveal the truth. 


Once Giselle caught on to the fact that I was actually trying to make something of myself and emerge from under her shadow, she set out to destroy any chance I had to prove myself. Previously wanting to study abroad at an Ivy League, she set her sights on journalism at Cambridge, somehow convincing my parents that it was her dream all along. Slowly but surely, she exacerbated their worsening view of me, until they fully believed that I was trying to emulate her, become her. It was too late before it dawned on me that Giselle wasn’t trying to create a mini version. Giselle hated herself; she wanted to become more like me. So right before I achieved the perfect grades, my parents put their foot down and said I couldn’t apply to Cambridge. They said that Giselle already was, and that applying there too wouldn’t be healthy for me. They said I needed to find myself, truly find myself, and the only way to do that was to forge my own path, away from my perfect sister. They actually said perfect.


The more I thought about it, hard, the more I realized that if that was how they wanted to play the game, then I’d play it right back. I never let my anxiety and depression let loose before, lest they sent me to boarding school or something. University was the last straw for me though, and I decided that the only way to move past the burden Giselle gave me was to embrace it. I was going to finally reveal myself, in all my rabid thoughts and glory. I was going to let it seep into everyone around me. I wasn’t going to become Giselle. I was going to turn Giselle into me. Every part of me. 



Pathetic fallacy ° noun

  1. the endowment of nature, inanimate objects, etc., with human traits and feelings
  2. The state of being Gemma; an inanimate object, influenced by what others around her believe her to be. Although an inanimate object, Gemma is endowed with the ability to feel and think, surprising everyone around her. “Why did Gemma say she hates Giselle? That can’t possibly be right. Why is Gemma trying to pursue the arts? We knew she relied on Giselle too much but we thought she was getting better.” These actions, thoughts, and feelings rub off on Gemma’s peers until they, too, become grey like Gemma until they too, blend in with clouds and it’s nothing but another rainy day in crowded London. 


When I was seven, Giselle requested my room be painted pink, the only valid colour to a 7 year old girl, with aspirations bigger than life itself. 


When I was thirteen,she decided to go with a crimson red to channel my inner scorpio and her newfound ardor for astrology. 


When I was seventeen, she opted for a lemon yellow so she could always wake up to the sun.


Now I’m twenty-two, and I’ve painted my four walls grey, so that they always reflect our mood.


You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

22 comments

21:10 Sep 21, 2020

Wow, this was captivating. I love the cycle in the story - how she returns to analyzing the colors of her room. Fabulous coming-of-age story! Well done! You're a very talented author, for sure! ~Adrienne~ P.S. Mind checking out my stories? Thanks!

Reply

Aqsa Malik
00:31 Sep 22, 2020

Thank you so so much! I'm going to read your latest story straight away tomorrow :D

Reply

00:56 Sep 22, 2020

Thanks! I'm looking forward to your feedback!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Corey Melin
17:04 Sep 19, 2020

Very well done. A story of what many face in their early years of life. So much turmoil that can shape your life unless you gain control and shape it. Superb!

Reply

Aqsa Malik
11:34 Sep 20, 2020

I'm so glad the theme was brought out as intended. Thank you Corey!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Batool Hussain
16:26 Sep 18, 2020

Wow Aqsa! I hope this one wins. This is so unique. Feels like it has been written straight from your heart. The start and the end are just so alike yet so different. I simply love the fact how there was a backstory to why Gemma's room was all those different colors at all her different ages. This story is so packed yet so lonely just like the prompt. You've got a Gift with words. You certainly do.

Reply

Aqsa Malik
11:33 Sep 20, 2020

This is such a sweet comment, Batool! I can't thank you enough ❤️ I'm heading over to your story right now x

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
18:57 Dec 06, 2020

I like how it starts and ends with the colors of the walls! I feel that way too... My walls were pink. Then blue. Then darker blue, but only because I'm a teenager who shares a room with a nine year old. I'd love to paint my walls gray.

Reply

Aqsa Malik
13:24 Dec 07, 2020

Yeah! It's so crazy how we go through so many wall colours in our life, even though it just seems like something normal on the surface. It's kind of a reflection of life itself if you dig a little deeper haha. Thank you again <3

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Zainab Jagani
08:45 Oct 16, 2020

This really magnetized my attention through out! It was different to your other stories. You have included bits and pieces of your personality with the colors and their reasons. I love how you broke down the pathetic fallacy concept and instead of giving the objects the emotions you made her the object and definition and gave her emotions. Your ending was so satisfactory! Whenever I read your stuff I imagine the day people are sitting in a library or at home reading your book collections accompanied with your picture and autograph! WELL D...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Nandan Prasad
05:40 Sep 20, 2020

Wow, Aqsa! I hope this one wins. This is so unique. Feels like it has been written straight from your heart. The start and the end are just so alike yet so different. I loved it. Keep writing!

Reply

Aqsa Malik
11:34 Sep 20, 2020

The way this is the exact same comment as Batool's 😂 Thanks anyway, I guess.

Reply

Batool Hussain
14:02 Sep 20, 2020

Ikr. I realized the very same thing too. Lol

Reply

Show 0 replies
Nandan Prasad
01:59 Sep 21, 2020

Ha, sorry. I didn't really have anything more to add on, except that I personally loved it. Please don't be offended. Just in a bit of a hurry.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
A. k. Wilson
19:38 Oct 08, 2020

Mesmerizing i absolutely enjoyed this and give you credit for putting the definitions into the story ❤

Reply

Aqsa Malik
11:53 Oct 10, 2020

Thank you loads <3

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Nice story, Aqsa! I love Gemma's thoughts and how she painted her walls lemon yellow so she could always wake up to the sun, that's so cute! Great job! If you have time, could you check out my stories? :D

Reply

Aqsa Malik
11:53 Oct 10, 2020

Thank you so much, and I surely will when I get some time!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Dhananjay Sharma
11:46 Sep 20, 2020

amazing https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/59/submissions/34852/ give a read to mine

Reply

Aqsa Malik
11:55 Sep 20, 2020

would have loved a more in-depth comment instead of a copy paste, but oh well.

Reply

Dhananjay Sharma
12:00 Sep 20, 2020

I couldn't find a new word to describe your unique style of writing so I will think of something soon. till then go through my stories xoxo

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply