Friday, 8 January 2010

FlashFriday - Alive, alive-o

Hope this is not cheating - it came out of the fabulous Faber Academy weekend I attended in October, from one of Sarah Hall's great workshops. I think it stands alone, but am aware the character belongs to my second novel. If I ever finish the current one I may well use this as part of something bigger.

Tell yourself. You're pleased Cassie got the promotion. Really. Now you can live in the white house on the hill. The one you both dreamed of when you were kids on the beach. Large. Clean. Warm. Not like the fucking boxes the army gave you. The walls so thin,you heard every word of the neighbour's domestics. As they heard yours.

Tell yourself. You're fucking lucky mate. She took you back didn't she?  Again. After everything you've done. You didn't deserve a second chance, and she's given you a fifth. Anyone else would have walked away long ago. Not Cassie. She's a diamond. One in a million. You're lucky, mate, you really are.

Tell  yourself. You don't care about the way the girls look at you. That they don't speak to you. Or mind you, unless their mother says. Whose fucking fault is that? Besides, teenage girls never speak to their fathers. Somewhere, under the piles of mascara and eyeshadow, they still love you. They'll come round. Eventually.

Tell yourself. It doesn't matter that the job stinks. That you stink. Of cockles and mussels alive-a-fucking-o. It's a start isn't it? At least you  have money of your own again. Don't have to rely on Cassie's wage. With your track record, it's a miracle anyone would ever employ you. It'll do for now. Till something better comes along.

Tell  yourself. As you pass the tourists packing out the pubs and avoid the offie on the way home from work. As  you sit in the evening watching crap on TV. As you lie awake, in the middle of the night, wondering what the fuck happened to your life. Tell yourself. Like they told you in the clinic: I don't need a drink.

Perhaps, one day, it will be true.

Copyright c Virginia Moffatt 2009


Jesse G. said...

Oh, I don't think it's cheating at all. It was marvellous. I quite appreciate this sort of abstract prose the theme of which is a single thought or emotion. The character's self hate is tangible.

David Masters said...

I agree with Jesse, this is marvellous. You've got the ex-squaddie's voice down to a tee.

A very human story. I liked the hopeful ending.

J. M. Strother said...

Wow, powerful stuff. I can really feel his pain, his sense of worthlessness, his self loathing. Strong writing, and very very sad.

It's really very hard to cheat at #fridayflash. We're really loosey-goosey when it comes to rules.

Tony Noland said...

Wow, tremendous punch here. I've got to disagree with David, though... I saw despair in the ending.

Great work, really terrific.

p.s. It's really very hard to cheat at #fridayflash. We're really loosey-goosey when it comes to rules.

Great, NOW you tell me!

Lou said...

Oh yes, the things we tell ourselves. This is fantastic emotionally charged writing. I love the cockles and mussels bit.

Marisa Birns said...

2nd person narrative mode is always a bit tricky but you've done a masterful job here.

Great writing!

mazzz in Leeds said...

Quite a punch this has.
I agree with Tony - I read despair in the ending too

shannon esposito said...

Wonderful job on really making us feel his pain. Great slice of life piece. Welcome to #fridayflash! Looking forward to reading more from you.

Carrie said...

The voice in this was immaculate. The despair and acceptance--so hard to accept help but after awhile you're so beaten it'll do. Very good.

Michelle said...

really good .. tell yourself ... really good - I enjoyed very much.

Virginia Moffatt said...

Wow - thanks everyone for kind comments. It had the intended effect so that's great!

This guy's story doesn't end well I'm afraid - but it will be a while before I get round to writing it! Thanks for clarifying his voice is working...

Dana said...

Holy cow this was good.

The "Tell yourself" at the start of each paragraph felt like a jab in the chest.

Welcome to Friday Flash :D

Virginia Moffatt said...

Thanks very much Dana!
I feel very welcomed to FridayFlash

Laurita said...

Nice, tightly written and great voice. This was a fine piece of flash. Thanks for sharing.