An Experiment in Pronouns

Tee hated skim.

Crystal knew that with all of ter heart: Tee hated Marcus, body and soul. The way that skee looked at tim, with that glib smirk, that cologne that skee wore in a cloud of sweet seduction, that swagger in sker step as skee stood by the coffee maker.

And oh, how tee hated coffee! The smell of it filled tis lungs and made tim want to vomit up. The coffee: The cologne. The stench of them ran together until it was all tee could do to keep from screaming, right there, in the cubicle by the window overlooking the river which pounded the rocks below.

Crystal could not remember what had first set off this rage. Tee thought back, trying to embrace that moment where casual dislike had turned into loathing. When tee had first met Marcus, to be fair, tee had been rather struck by skim.

Skee was a handsome enough man, to be certain. Witty, too. Marcus had had a quickness about skim that tee had found quite attractive.

In those days, the cologne had smelled of roses, with a hint of clove. It had turned ter head, and tee had found terself wondering if tee was falling into a pleasant trap. They were co-workers, of course; they should not have seen each other in that way. Sker magnetism, though, was difficult to resist, and tee found terself thinking about skim far too often when tee should have been thinking about something else.

Like work.

Work which slipped away from Crystal, bit by bit, until tee found terself drowning and overwhelmed. Not bad enough, not yet, to attract nasty notes from those Up Above, but enough to make tim worry about ter ability to ever catch up.

And that was when the feelings began to turn against skim. Anxieties about work became anxieties about the abyss that tee was sliding towards, at the bottom of which tee saw sker smiling face, no longer friendly, now glib and taunting.

The bastard. The bastard would have to leave ter office, and if skee would not do so willingly, perhaps it was time for skim to have an accident. A serious accident. A fatal accident.

Tee stared at the drip-drip-dripping of that infernal coffee machine and thought about ter hatred. And ter next steps in ridding the world of Marcus’s omnipresence.

One thought on “An Experiment in Pronouns

  1. This was written in response to a writing prompt starting with the line “She hated him.” However, I’ve been wanting to experiment with third-person gender-neutral pronouns, and this seemed like a worthwhile opportunity.

    Third person pronouns in English are heteronormative: If you’re writing a love story between a man and a woman, the basic pronouns do well without any confusion. If your dialogue (including love stories) involves two people of the same gender identity, though, confusion can go up.

    To account for this, there are two pronoun sets here: tee/tim/ter and skee/skim/sker. The first set represents the main person in the current scope (the “topic”), while the second set represents other people in the scope.

    I deliberately used names that have strong gender identifications in English, to underscore the point that the exercise wasn’t “just” about accommodating for those situations where heteronormative pronouns don’t apply. It was also a way to check my own honesty: Would I make it through the passage without making mistakes, or would I slip back into the traditional pronouns (I did the latter, but caught myself in edit).

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