Who Are You – Really?

Sometimes I get the nastiest urges. No, really, I do. I’m not that sweet, nice person you see on the outside. Don’t believe me? You will when I’m finished – and you’ll wonder who you really are.

I’m at the subway, waiting for the next train. That woman tapping her feet at the edge, impatient, grabs her cell phone and stabs the answer button with a viciousness that’s scary. I can’t hear what she’s saying, but the tone is plain. Angry – no, furious, the harshness plain even though she is trying to whisper. I take an instant dislike to her. No, I hate her.

“She doesn’t belong here.”

“So, push her off.”

“I hear the train.”

“Yeah,” chuckle, “that’s the idea. Isn’t it?”

“I’ll get caught.”

“No, you won’t. Just a little nudge. It’ll look like an accident.”

“But I’m not supposed to.”

“So, who’s to know?”

“It is tempting.”

“Yeah, just look at her. The witch! She deserves it.”

“Nah, I’m chicken.”

“You’d be doing the world a favour.”

The train rolls in. I’m too late – or am I?

Then there’s that tailgater who won’t pass you and won’t get off your …

“Slam the brake. Make him rear-end you.”

“I can’t … my car … “

“It’s old. You want a new one.”

“Damn, it’s so tempting.”

“He’s the one will get charged. It’ll be his fault.”

“Grrrr. I’ll do it. … Crap, his blinker’s on. He’s turning.”

Am I too late again?

“That yappy dog has kept me up all night.”

“So what do you want to do about it?”

“It’s the owner’s fault, really.”

“You know they’re not gonna do anything. You already talked to them. Remember? They gave you lip.”

“Aaaargh. There it goes again.”

Delicious smirk. “Soooo, what do you want to do – huh – huh? Think about it. You know. Admit it.”

“I want to take it by its furry, ratty ears, hang it on the clothes line, take a sharp knife and …”

“That’s the ticket.”

“Oh, there goes the other neighbor to talk to her. She’s taking it inside. Good. Maybe now I’ll get some sleep.”

Too late, again?

(Disclaimer – I love animals and would never, ever hurt one. This came from reading about how serial killers sometimes get started.)

Oh, yes, I have had all those urges, and more. But somehow I’m always too late to act on them. Or am I? Do I wait until it’s too late because that’s what I really want, that’s who I really am? You be the judge.

But know that you are also judging yourself. What? You say you never have thoughts like that? I don’t believe you. I would bet my life (well maybe not my life) that everyone reading this has been in similar situations. The urge to kill, to hurt, to get revenge – it’s there in all of us. So, who are you – really? What defines who we are? Do thoughts count? When do we cross that line from thoughts into actions? Does that line shift, depending on what happens? Is that the line that serial killers cross? What about other crimes? And how will we judge ourselves and others when we become aware of these thoughts?

Most of us never act on these impulses. What stops us? These are some of the questions that can make for great character study and development. What kind of character acts on these demonic urges? Why? If not, why not? What stops him or her? And how are these two different from each other?

Now, who are you – really?

Author: Yvonne Hertzberger

Yvonne Hertzberger is a native of the Netherlands who immigrated to Canada in 1950. She is an alumna of The University of Waterloo, with degrees in psychology and Sociology. Her Fantasy trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ has been well received. Learn more about Yvonne at her blog and her Amazon author page.

33 thoughts on “Who Are You – Really?”

  1. Yvonne, I’m shocked!
    🙂

    But seriously, this is such a great post. I’ve often thought about doing a character who has impulse control issues. Now you’ve given me something to think about.

  2. I like getting into the head of my bad guys because I can explore the answer to that question – why do some people cross the line.
    I feel like I spend more time on the broken parts of my characters hero/villain or otherwise.
    Remind me never to stand near you in the subway. 🙂

    1. lol, Fortunately I live far from a city with a subway so I think you’re safe.
      I do think that in order to write authentic characters we need to go beyond the surface or the ‘nice’. Sometimes our darkest impulses, and how we deal with them, say much more about us than our observable actions. The dame is true of our characters.

  3. It’s often the case that evil characters are simply more interesting. A writer has to really work to make a “good” character compete in that sense. Are we more fascinated by Starling or Lecter? Mother Abigail or Randall Flagg? Hell, Othello or Iago?

    But you, Yvonne? A potential killer? Surely not. 😉

  4. I love this post Yvonne. In my book my four (yes four) main characters are all fighting inner demons; one, an assassin who has hardened himself against the weakness of love, two, a young woman whose death of her parents has made her realize she can kill, three, a marine who thought he put killing behind him and four, the woman he loves fighting her past. All of these characters are evolving in ways they never thought possible and one person (the author) realizes she does have a nasty side. Just wait until you meet Alexasia, hehe.

  5. Super enjoyable post Yvonne and very thought provoking too. I blush to admit I gave into my impulses one night when this smallish truck was tailgating me on poorly lit roads near my home. I waited until we were going up a steep hill then I slowed right down. Almost to a stop but not quite so I managed to take off uphill again without too much trouble but that truck was really struggling. Doesn’t quite fit with my nice girl image but the bastard deserved it and… Ahem, yes. 😀

  6. Please – give me fair warning if I do something you don’t like.:) Seriously, very interesting post!

  7. Awesome post, Yvonne. I was waiting for you to actually go through with it. You give us a lot to think about. Although, I’m sure most don’t want to think that they are truly capable of these things. I’m completely guilty of the tailgating thing.

  8. Lol, Yvonne. This is a great post.
    Now you need to stand on your head for a little while to empty the angry thoughts. Or, better yet, write them down and create a really nasty character. Then eat some dark chocolate. 🙂

  9. Great post! I wrote a story once about a mom whose housebound kids drove her crazy during an ice storm, so she froze them. Some people in my class were shocked. Muahaha.

  10. I LIKE it! I really like your post, Yvonne! I’ve taken that road, almost, on several occasions: had the kind of life where I’ve run into some real scumbags I guess. It is such a relief to be able to have a character replicate those situations and to feel the real satisfaction of taking it all the way and… Oh oh… Emmm… Sorry about that! I can tend to get a bit carried away… But we’re all friends here, right?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: