Full of Oneself by Kerry McPherson

The longer she sat there looking down at him, the better she felt.

She used to wish that he would notice her. The love she had for him had filled her to her brim and spilled into her every thought.

But not anymore.

He had thrown it in her face.

She remembered his hands on her hips. And not being able to see.

There was a chill from the pool that she couldn’t shake.

He laid there, staring deeply into his own, shallow eyes.

She watched the muscles flex in his back. You were perfection wrapped in skin, she used to think. As much as he would’ve loved to hear it, she was glad that she wasn’t able to tell him.

She wondered if he felt the dampness of the grass beneath his bare chest. She also wondered how long it would take until he’d drown in himself.

“I am nothing without him,” he whispered, staring into his reflection.

“I am nothing without him,” she said, oozing with sarcasm.

“I love only one,” he said. His breath rippled the wet surface.

“I love only one,” she echoed. She spoke for herself now.

She was nothing to him.

He didn’t even remember taking her into the cave that drunken night. Or yanking up her garment, covering her face.

She wasn’t sure if she should’ve laughed or cried. It was all new to her.

A few minutes later he put himself away and sauntered out, without saying a word.

She giggled and laid there a moment, waiting for him to return. She thought it was another game she’d never played.

When she lowered her dress and saw that he was really gone, she felt a tear. Worthless thoughts dribbled in and a sense of guilt rushed over her. The floodgate eventually broke and she was overcome. Sobbing and gasping for breath, she quickly realized that she didn’t know how to swim through all these emotions.

She cried herself a puddle of tears and drowned in the darkness.

Hours later, drained and calm, she was bathed in lightness and was finally able to see him.

And herself.

Then she rose and left that cave forever.

Outside, she found him lying above the pool of water. Staring at his reflection.

She took a seat on the rock beside him. And waited. It was only a matter of time before he would weaken and kiss his own soggy face. And finally drown in himself.


Kerry McPherson lives in Portland, Oregon with her rollerblading wife and two thankless cats. Her high school English teacher told her that she should keep writing, so she decided to pursue drumming, but at least her band was called Paige. In 2000, her band won Best Alternative Band at the House of Blues for the “Born on the World Wide Web” contest. Chris Isaak and Amy Mann performed at the ceremony and No Doubt presented her band with the award. Years later, Kerry finally took her high school teacher’s advice and returned to writing. And she’s been enjoying it ever since. Kerry’s flash fiction has appeared in Coffin Bell and is available on her website.

Author's note

Prompts and the magic of the internet were the sparks for "Full of Oneself,” a story inspired by a piece of visual art. The painting that flashed in my mind was Salvador Dali’s The Metamorphosis of Narcissus; however, when searching for an image of it, I came across John William Waterhouse’s painting, Echo and Narcissus, and wanted to compose a story about these two. Knowing nothing about Greek mythology, I did another search. It was fascinating to learn about Echo’s tragic story and her love for this self-centered guy. Karma stepped into my story and gave Narcissus what he deserved.

painting of echo and narcissus
Echo and Narcissus (1903) by John William Waterhouse