The Story Behind “The Unfaithful Triptych” by Monet Thomas

monet2Today’s post is written by Monet Thomas. We published her creative nonfiction piece “The Unfaithful Triptych” in our Fall 2016 issue. 

The Unfaithful Triptych” is one of several pieces I’ve written styled after a triptych or three pieces of art, usually paintings or photography, hung beside each other and meant to be appreciated together. It was during one of my Google rabbit holes that I stumbled across a few famous pieces, Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and Rubens’ Elevation of the Cross, and I saw a possible parallel between physical art and writing. I wondered if I could create individual sections, beautiful and meaningful alone, that also informed the others around them.

Usually in my writing exercise of each triptych, I assume the middle section should be the heart of the story, as the middle panel is often the focus in physical art, but for this piece I got hung up on the first section. In sharing such an intimate story, and especially one with high stakes and moral implications, it was important for me to correctly frame the speaker from the very beginning. I wanted her to be both repentant AND matter-of-fact. In the back of mind, I was thinking of Yunior, Junot Diaz’s troubled narrator in his short story collection This is How You Lose Her. Even the second-person perspective is modeled after the final story, “The Cheater’s Guide to Love,” because I enjoyed the idea of implicating the reader in the speaker’s indiscretion.

Infidelity, I think, is complicated, and this triptych form allowed me to delve into the nuances that a straight narrative would’ve otherwise stymied. The language, I hope, paints the picture—if you’ll excuse the obvious metaphor—so that the reader can come to her own conclusions. In love, there are no easy answers, just a gray bog we’re all drifting through, our hands outstretched.

About the Author

Monet P. Thomas is a writer & poet from North Carolina. She holds an MFA from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She spends too much time on Twitter (@monetwithlove) & too much money on books. More writing by Monet can be found online at such places as Split Lip Magazine, Hobart, & Nailed Magazine. Even better, here’s her website:

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