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Why is Robert’s piece, “Al and Annie,” considered fiction even though it’s based on a real incident? That is the question, and therein lies the answer. It’s based on a real incident. Robert is not delivering a faithful account of events as they occurred; he’s relaying these events as he imagines them.
 
How do we know? Robert as the author is privy to moments that he could not have witnessed. Chances are Robert wasn’t there to see Al feeling Annie up. He wasn’t looking over Al’s shoulder as he marveled at the diver. He wasn’t along for Al and Annie’s ride to the dive shop/card store. And even if he was present at all of these moments (I suppose anything is possible), he certainly could not have known what these people were thinking.
 
In essence, this is fiction because Robert has taken authorial liberties with the story. He is not reporting; he is creating.
 
That said, I hate to oversimplify, so let me add this to the mix: there is also an element unnamable at work here. Robert’s piece just reads like fiction, doesn’t it?

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