Contest #203 shortlist ⭐️


American Creative Nonfiction

Bless me, F. Scott Fitzgerald, for I have sinned.

I fucked— oops. Sinned again.

Seems I forgot to holler in advance of adult content. Please permiss my clumsiness. And my blunt diction. It's been a hot minute since mouthing confessionals into tight boxes. Take heed:

Fore! Ho! in future progression.

Allow me to begin again: Bless me, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I might have sinned. You see, I found myself involved in a little predicament--a "rhetorical" triangle, as you call it. Several years ago, I borrowed a book from a teacher's shelf. Wait, pause. From reading the first chapter of that text, I learned a credible narrator must be established. Sorry, Francis Scott, I lied. I did not borrow the book. I stole it. Slipped it from a bookshelf tucked in the back corner of a teacher's classroom. Left the lights off throughout the whole process. I did make a pledge to return the book by pressing my lips to its cover. But I took “The Great Gatsby” home and tore it open.

No sense going further in detail.

After multiple reads, here is what I understand: Daisy married a man from Chicago. He RICH. He convoyed in some polo-caravan to wed her and administer pinky bruises. Gatsby tried to stop it. On the eve of her wedding, Daisy--drunk like a monkey--soaked in a bathtub, clinging to dissipating shreds of a letter. With soggy remnants floating about her neck, she declared a mind changed.

Although unstated in the text, but supported by research and expert analysis, the letter was most likely penned by "The Great Gatsby." And since you, Friar Fitz, fail to elucidate Gatsby's exact words, I'm left to infer that the letter divulged secrets of longing and bulging promises. And Daisy wanted it. Daisy wanted him. Daisy wanted to submerge herself in Gatsby, in his words, his language, his--

>>Hold up<<

My apologies for interrupting sacraments, F. Scott, but it's been a love you-long time since my last confession. The Manual of Reconciliation states that in order to be absolved of sin, I need to list transgressions. However, I'm uncertain of any wrong doing! Sure, I purloined "The Great Gatsby" from a classroom shelf, but I've already repented (see above). And ok, I might have made sacrilege of literature (but I’m no author). And that collision on a Friday in March (mentioned down below) does not count. I need a better definition as to what constitutes for a confession before revealing anything else.

But oh! F. Scott Fitzgerald, please, please, please, do bless me! I enter into your penitential closet on sore knees with palms clasped tightly. But I'm not here to warble sins like fingertips up fish-nets. Nor am I here to lean hard on moral passions. I seek no piety. I'm here because it's been said that you, Francis Scott, are the “Master of Language.” But from my readings, it appears you are a master of, shall we say, “external affairs,” as well. I supplicate before you because I need clarity.

I read "The Great Gatsby" x times x over. It's HARD and I don't get the euphemisms, so help me get this straight. Daisy took a pearl necklace from a waste basket after soaking in Gatsby’s letter on the eve of her wedding?

I’m confused.

I’d ask clarification from a certain teacher, but I’ve been banned from corresponding with him. Sure, things gets complicated here, but the situation has zero bearing as to why I seek our holy admission. Pinky-swear it, Father Fitzgerald. Yeah, so I filched a book from this teacher's classroom. I pressed hard against his shelf. Slipped between atonement. Hand thrust. Spine arched. Lights turned off. I vowed restitute with lips to the book's cover, and I will gladly return to that classroom shelf if--

>>Woah, woah, woah.<<

Thought I made it clear. I'm not here to dispel confessionals. After all, we wouldn't be tete-a-tete between a veiled, conciliatory partition if it wasn't for you, Mr. Fitzgerald. You're the one who made the story incomprehensible with fancy words, complicated language and too-long sentences. And your metaphor? Too extended. Trust me. I read your text. Multiple times. Allow me to shorten it:

The rich shit ashes on some sad, bespeckled valley. It's a symbol of God [maybe]. The American dream yada yada yada bla bla bla. Gatsby's dead.

Uh...WTF, F. Scott Fitzgerald?! You're the one who should beg forgiveness. You make readers slog through pages and pages and pages of heavy-handed imagery and insufferable details just to arrive at the protagonist's unattended funeral. And after all that (plus tipped clocks, pink clouds, and a laundry pile) you have the so-called balls to omit Daisy's reaction when she learned “The Great Gatsby” died. Tell me, did Daisy swallow in composure, or did she slap her husband a new asshole before moving back to Chicago?

And what's with all the Chicago, Francis-Scottie? Everyone says you get erect for two round eggs, but I beg to differ. Chicago on the line...Chicago gossip columns..."Do they miss me” in Chicago? Chicago’s desolate. Chicago paints cars black and is in the persistent wails of mourning. Chicago. Chicago. Chicago. Sounds more like a fetish. But what do I know. I'm no author. I didn't write the "Great American Novel." I could barely read it. I simply fingered the pages of an imaginary tale with your name on it (or at least tried to) in an attempt to write a letter to a certain teacher.

Daisy Buchanan said the best thing to be in this world is a "beautiful little fool." I wonder, Mr. Fitzgerald, would Daisy have said the same thing if she chose to run away one summer evening with "The Great Gatsby?"

Because this is my scientific observation:

Beyond the white billowing curtains of hidden rooms, two lovers sat together in a parked car one summer evening. Particles in the air floated like wayward glitter under the low husk of a slivered moon. Beneath a moth-drawn lamp light—I read it in the text a thousand times—the way Gatsby looked at Daisy (a golfer witnessed, the narrator testified); I know that look. I know it from non-fiction.

And I also know from non-fiction that Daisy would have drowned with Gatsby’s letter if no promise of return had been written. But when Gatsby died, you--F. Scott Fitzgerald--left her with cold, fried chicken--

Nope. Don't start up with sacraments again. This marks the end of articulation. I said it before. No confession. But I would like to present one additional observation. After myriad attempts at trying to understand the text, I did make a personal connection. A character with fowl-eyes claimed Gatsby possessed real books on his library shelves. Guess what, I witnessed, with my own two O-O, that a certain teacher had real books in his classroom, too.

And I’ve since read every one.

I'm not here for forgiveness, F.S. Fitz. I'm not even here for lessons in language (though probably needed). I come here, in truth, to beseech medium consultation, and like Gatsby, you dead, Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Maybe you can help it all make sense to me, please! I collided with this teacher on a Friday in March. We stood toe-to-toe in a parking lot. Our eyes locked. I spread my hand on the hood of a Jeep. His hand rubbed the back of his neck. The teacher buried a question into a statement and a nervous grin. I lowered my gaze. Traced the outline of his shoes' stitching.

I blinked. Then what the fuck happened?

Oh, gather yee, while thee may, your crack-wedged panties. Yank 'em out, loosen up, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I gave ample warning of sensitive content (see above) and this ain't no confession (remember?) If you want stripped-down open-disclosure then be prepared, for my story has all of it, too. Silent Affairs. Shootings. Untimely Death. Too-long sentences (mostly by mistake). But unlike you, Fitzgerald, I can rim imagery and detail in naked non-fiction.

But I kinda need your help. Bless me with feedback. Bestow upon me guidance. Point to forehead, chest, and both shoulders. Because I might have made a whoopsie-daisy and caused a little trouble in some platforms. It may have to do with a letter and a gold pencil. Wire won't stop, if you know what I mean. “[Insert any state] on the line,” if you catch what I’m saying. Again, this is not a confession.

As for, us F. Scottie…What do we do next? Dismiss in peace? Seed repentance? Rub annals of beads? I bet you wonderin' why I come tappin’ your coffin.

tsk, tsk, you should know better.

A lil’ birdie tweeted a rumor about you. I checked references, quite the story. But I won’t tell. At least not yet. Although I must mention, there’s one thing your great American novel does not address: the use of proper citations. But I’d hate to hold hostage your homage, my dear F. Scott.

***Oh! Before I slide from this stall of absolution in pursuit of retribution, I have a quick request. Based on your esteemed privilege and expertise, what penance might be given if--hypothetically--Gatsby "misplaced" the rough draft of his letter to Daisy?

(asking for a friend)

June 24, 2023 03:14

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Amanda Lieser
04:40 Jul 19, 2023

Hi Ean, What is stunningly beautiful shortlist! And you chose a story that has been so well loved and respected to bass this piece on. I also appreciate it how you approached the prompt because there’s a practice in Catholic I haven’t necessarily thought of the ritual of confession as a ritual; however, now that you pointed out completely, makes sense. Your piece was funny and creative and witty, and all the best ways. Nice work!!


Éan Bird
23:24 Sep 14, 2023

Amanda! Thank you! I've read The Great Gatsby many, many times (if you can't tell) and have developed a love/hate relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald. I appreciate your comments. I hope you know how much they mean to me :)


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19:14 Jun 30, 2023

This is mad—the narration is so feverish that I can’t look away, despite the fact that I don’t really understand the events after two readings. So I think there’s an affair between student and teacher and she subsequently stalks him and crashes her car into his, using Gatsby as a pretext for ongoing communication. She’s obvs pretty messed up because of the whole being a victim of an adult predator who then somehow turns the tables so she’s the stalker, but you know the mind is a complex sense-making machine and none of that might be in there...


Éan Bird
23:04 Jun 30, 2023

I LOVE your attempt at figuring it out. I’m still trying to do the same 😉.


05:33 Jul 01, 2023

Oh, right. Now I have to read it again.


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Mary Bendickson
15:58 Jun 25, 2023

Yeah, what you said! Way over my literary understanding. No doubt brilliant. Worthy of trophy! I almost called it. Congrats on shortlist!


Éan Bird
16:36 Jun 29, 2023

Thanks, Mary! Wish I understood Fitzgerald (AND the craft) better 😆


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10:55 Jun 25, 2023

Mesmerizing writing. You are like a spider spinning a sprawling multi-layered tale. It's quite hypnotic. and I do enjoy the quirks of the narrator's language and casual asides. Nice!


Éan Bird
16:38 Jun 29, 2023

Thanks for your kind and encouraging words, Derrick! Your feedback means a lot to me.


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