This story is by Antonia P. Wright and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It was a tough decision which narcissism monster to highlight at the poetry slam. Priscilla wrote about every narcissistic trait she encountered through toxic, dysfunctional relationships. On this occassion, her first slam, she chose Leviathan Bait— insincere charm.
“The twisting, turning, usurping burning,
of continued lies and deception I’m learning.
Bondage broken, severed ties, when truth revealed the doubt.
Manipulated gaslighting exposed. Leviathan — cast out.
For the gullible and vulnerable, he lay in wait…
Self-assured charm used, to hook the bait.
Masqueraded naive innocence, all but unassuming.
Now Leviathan is the one who’s left fuming!
I celebrate the fate of his demise.
My well laid plan was such a surprise.
And this Leviathan I speak of and detest,
Life’s recent regret — the narcissistic boyfriend, my ex.
”Let’s all give Priscilla a round of applause.” The crowded room of would-be poets and friends clap in unison and with great gusto. It is Priscilla’s first time visiting their monthly poetry slam meetings. She beams with appreciation as her smile shows the tell tale signs of her need to feel accepted. For a moment, she sparkles like a star as she regains a measure of self worth and confidence again.
Her striking deep auburn tendrils cascade down her long neck with grace. They frame her petite face. She is a mere five feet three inches tall. Priscilla adorns her feet with elegant, strappy black patent leather high heels. They match the diamanté encrusted buckled belt that snuggles her hourglass waistline. Both accessories had been a gift from the ex. In defiance, she chooses to wear them as a trophy. Since she decided to slam his lack of character to her new found poetry audience.
“Thank you everyone. My first poem was inspired by the metaphor of a legendary sea monster, dragon-type. It has deceiptful traits and is like a psychopath or narcissist. I hope you never have to shed the ocean of salty tears narcissists’ egos like to swim in. Just to know they cause your emotional meltdown of self doubt, empowers them even more.
I thought about perceived love and deception, so I wrote: An ode to unrequited love:
Narcissists everywhere laugh and gaslight unrequiteds’ everyday
The soft hearted unsuspecting, lay their love to thin air, such easy prey.
The fantasy is real to them, but to narcissists it’s the real fantasy they love to be the protagonist in.
The foxtrot of confused emotions are expressions of cascading self-harm
When constant verbiage without substance are the empty promises of insincere charm.
Do we morph truth from the ashes? Desperate to avoid loneliness and heartache.
Or can we find comfort in our own skin? Alone to take a break.
Can we be on our own? Do we know the difference between loneliness and alone?
It is common, the inability to find an eternal soul mate in the ocean of rejected affection.
We rack up the scores like a leader board of lost pursuits, desperate for attention.
Do we expect a significant other to fall in love with us without effort?
Like dieting without changing bad habits. You cannot achieve it.
Have we pheonixed our way through the lies we tell ourselves for the sake of ego?
Will we ever find love with this unchanged behaviour? — a big resounding NO.”
Priscilla smiles to herself. Poetry Slam participation…complete.
Dave, the president of The Local Hub Poetry Club, announces into the mic that it is Bill’s turn next. He gestures to Priscilla that she can sit up the front. Bill’s poem takes ten minutes to deliver. Laughter resounds like a thunder clap by everyone roaring. He takes the long journey from the Indian continent as a sack of rice… to end up on the other side of the world. A cheap meal tossed together by a house full of university students on a shoestring budget.
Jovial Bill, is short and stout, and his girth is evidence of his enjoyment of beer. He can conjure stories from the vast machinations of his overactive imagination. To rhyme and pace his poetry for entertaining, genius.
Barry takes the mic swiftly from Dave’s hand. He eagerly mumbles then fumbles about causing reverb through the amplifier. Squreeeeech…donk donk…weeeeawewah…. The high pitch shrill sound does to the ears what a sour lolly does to the taste buds.
“Good evening fellow poets and guests. When vacationing at Lake Nui-A-Ho recently, I watched all the jet skiers. So I’m sitting in my car, and this poem came to me; it was divine inspiration I reckon:
Jet skiers on Lake Nui-A-Ho.
Flies on the window.
The audience is in stunned silence. Then soft whispers grow in volume. All those pesky flies in full view as Barry’s words transported everyone to the front seat of his car with him. The imagery and impact he intended.
He winks and beams a big shiny smile at the next poet to take the stage. He guides Sally to her place and as he brushes her arm in a gentleman’s fashion, he wishes her good luck. She thanks him gingerly.
Sally always wanted to share her craft. Surrounded by books everyday, she is a hopeless romantic at heart. She takes the mic, lets out a shy giggle and huge smile, adjusts her sexy black rimmed glasses, and clears her throat.
“He…hem, hello everyone. I’m Sally. This is my poem. Ooh, those lights are shining bright aren’t they? Teeheeheehee… I’m a little nervous, sorry, sorry.” She tries to draw attention away from her blushing, hot cheeks. She brushes her hands across her thighs to straighten creases from her dress. “Right. Poem, he…hem— to all the NARCS I’ve loved before:
And falling in love too easily is both a weakness and a strength.
The frilliness of frothy flirting can disengage the brain if you are caught unaware.
Wits and wisdom are the weapons to guard a giddy heart…
and by default one needs at least two best girlfriends.
One who threatens to whack your noggin if he proves unworthy of your time.
The other, to speak black and white truth to you.
Like salt and pepper steak, almost unpalatable without seasoning.
Can one read too many Jane Austen novels?
I’m guilty of this. The joy of discerning art imitating life.
Is a current beau like Mr Darcey or Mr Knightly?
Even a glimpse of Willoughby perhaps?
Yet, all the while hoping for Mr Tilney
I recently dated a monster of a man. I get my life back through the support group I facilitate. NARCS: Narcissist Awareness Reaching Civil Society. I had to take inventory of my emotions when I wrote about it. This is my second poem: Reluctant Kindness Forgives:
Reluctant kindness clothed in decency
will grow eventually into integrity
If you try to take revenge on someone who’s mean
A mirrored monster reflection is clearly seen
But when someone gossips behind your back
Let forgiveness be your form of attack
If they don’t speak of you at all
Remember pride comes before a fall
The greatest revenge is to live life well
So choose heaven on earth rather than hell
All said and done just be yourself
Aim for TRUTH’s wisdom and good health.”
When the librarian steps off the stage, Priscilla and seven women rush over to her. They are curious to hear more about her support group. Priscilla turns to face Sally. “I like your acronym NARCS. Narcissism monsters love to attach themselves to willing hosts like parasites. The keen ones who have a grandiose perception of themselves, welcome it with open egos. It’s the drug of choice for narcissists. Their oversized egos and pseudo charisma are like narcotics to their victims. They’re encouraging, then insulting, then they blame you. And you believe it’s your fault. Gaslighting, or manipulative mind games, is their trademark.”
One of the women points to Sally and Priscilla. She gestures the others to look closer. “Ladies, you have the same shoes and gorgeous belts! Where on earth did you buy them?”
Simultaneously, they answer. “I don’t know, Jimmy bought them for me.”
Several glares seem to come from every corner of the crowded room. Their answer although not possible to be heard by everyone, felt like it had.
Another ten women with troubled looks on their faces, come over and chorus, almost in unison, “Jimmy who!”
In disgust, Priscilla and Sally look at each other in that moment of realisation. Their narcissistic ex needs no introduction. Even in his absence, Jimmy’s still the player, the tormentor, and the exhibitionist.
Narcissism monsters are everywhere disguised as Adonis-types. And they ALWAYS have to be the centre of attention.