cognitive dissonance

Masked, he entered the room, via the window. When he saw her photograph on the side table, the flaws in his plan were exposed.

Discard your futile imaginings, chided his inner voice. You will never get her to love you by holding on.

Nothingness is the price we pay for existence.


I picked the word masked from a thesaurus by opening it at a random page. I didn’t want that word and was thrown by starting a sentence with an adjective. 

The story developed in a different way than I would have expected, because the first sentence suggests something sinister.

Discard does not have one obvious antonym but my thoughts went to a refusal to let go – I couldn’t find away to express this elegantly in a single word. 

The sentence worked better when I changed the POV, as discard sounds like an instruction.

At this point, when I clicked on the word, and was asked to pick another word, I thought, is this going on forever in an endless loop?

The third word “nothingness” seems like an abstract principle. 

Rather than kill my character, I left him in an abyss of existential despair.

The dead end allowed me to exit, but not before I clicked round again just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything exciting!

Michèle Bartlett (she/her)  lives just outside London with her partner and a delinquent cat. She writes fiction and enjoys subverting expectations by playing with established poetic forms, with varying degrees of success.

When not writing, she enjoys dancing Argentine tango and knitting, though not at the same time.