What If? 61 – the Power of “Seemed” and “Probably”

To indicate the POV character’s inability to truly know what is happening in another character’s mind (B. Gill mystery, the detective thinks the silent injured man’s eyes seemed to indicate something was going on beyond a mere accident) or creates curiousity about why the character seems one way but might be another, lets the reader wonder – in Beattie’s “Afloat” it indicates POV, the girl probably thought X indicating it is not a 3rd person narration, then later the first person narrator is introduced.
I remember a couple of stories where there was a first person narrator even though the story initially seemed third person. I always thought it was a flaw. I don’t really see any particular reason to do it that way; what does it add to the story?
Exercise: Write a scene involving two characters. Have the narrator assume something about the other character entirely different from what the overt behavior implies. One person projects, fantasizes, fears, or suspects another person is thinking something different from what their behavior indicates. (this is fine, but it feels entirely different from the two examples, to me).
Objective: to show how a character can use his imagination.

Mrs. Miller was impatient as the morning wore on. April should have been here early, but no, it was almost noon and there was no word from her. Just as lunch was delivered to Mrs. Miller’s room by a blue-garbed nurse’s aid, April breezed in, all smiles. “Hi, Ma, I’m sorry, I tried to get here sooner but there was some mess at the office and my boss just wouldn’t let me off the phone and then the traffic, did you know about the construction on the turnpike? It’s awful! I sat almost still for a half hour! But I’m here now, how are you feeling?” She held her mother’s hand and leaned one hip against the bed. They both ignored the covered food tray. Mrs. Miller didn’t want to give April an excuse to leave quickly. She wasn’t sure why April didn’t notice the large tray and plastic cover, as big as a boom box, on the table at her waist, or the smell of something – chicken, she thought – but if April didn’t mention it, she wouldn’t.

But April did. “Have you finished lunch? Was it good, is the food all right?” She picked up the cover and saw the tray was untouched, the silverware still wrapped in plastic, tea bags still nestled in paper covers awaiting release into hot water. “Oh, Ma, you haven’t eaten! Aren’t you hungry?”

Mrs. Miller wasn’t sure what to say; if she said she wanted to eat, would the girl leave? If she said she wasn’t hungry, would the meal be taken away? Or would it simply congeal into greasy clots by the time April left? She was hungry, though she was hungrier for April’s attention, as usual. She thought the truth might be the easiest. “They just brought it in, hon, just before you came.” She was careful to not indicate that she wanted to eat, nor that she wasn’t interested in food. She would let April decide.

“Well, then, I think you should have your lunch!” said April, more cheerfully than made sense. “I tell you what, I’ll run down to the cafeteria and get a muffin or maybe a sandwich or just coffee, and come back, and we can have lunch together, would that be all right?”

Mrs. Miller pushed her fingers against her lips but the tears came anyway. “Yes, dear,” she said, embarrassed as tears ran down her fingers.

“Mom, what is it, are you in pain?”

“No, honey, not at all, I’m just… overwrought, it’s been a difficult few days, after all.” She thanked whatever God there was for granting her daughter a heart and the impulse to do something kind for her today, because it was exactly the medicine she needed.

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