Panther Eyes by Luisa Valenzuela, 1983
The magic trick:
Self-referential narrative breaks
V is for Valenzuela.
I love the twist we get halfway through this story. It’s not a plot twist. It’s more a fundamental break in the way the entire narrative works.
The story asks two questions and then proceeds to answer each. Kind of. The answers really aren’t clear.
Even better, we get a list of possible endings on the final page.
It’s very, very meta. But I love it.
And that’s quite a trick on Valenzuela’s part.
Answer to a)
Yes, you are the same woman as in the previous story. For that reason, and bearing in mind previous events, you wait until 9 a.m. to dash off to see the optician. The optician, who is a consummate professional, does a whole series of tests on you and finds nothing untoward with your eyesight. It’s not my eyesight, you dare to tell him without offering any further explanation. The optician then examines inside your eyes and comes across a black panther there. He can’t explain this phenomenon to you, he just records the fact and leaves the analysis to his more imaginative and learned colleagues. You return home speechless and, to calm yourself down, you start pulling out facial hair with a pair of tweezers. Inside you, the panther roars but you don’t hear it.
As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.