Thursday, 29 July 2010

WFWS: Flood

For some time I have been watching Mark's blog and his weekly contributions to this little idea: Write In For Writing's Sake. Each week people are given a single one to stimulate some writing. So far most examples I have seen on the site have been in the format of a short story. This week I have managed to finish a piece in time to be submitted. It’s not perfect (and a little clumsy if I’m honest) but at least it got me writing something.

I present Flood:

Cerys was having a Virgina Woolf moment. She wanted escapism of the higher order. Right now nothing was more appealing than filling her pockets with stones and wading into the river. It was December, the water would be cold. Would she drown before her heart stopped beating? Feel her lungs strain under the pressure and explode within her rib cage? Would her life flash before her eyes or would it just be a black nothingness?

Suicide was a toy she picked up now and again. Something to be fiddled with, played with and then put away again. It was not a serious option but she enjoyed playing through the scenes. As her body floated down the river she felt herself lose consciousness. No scenes from her life played across her dying brain. No memories of ironically happy birthdays or playing in hazy summer days with friends or hugs from her parents. No memories of a first kiss or first bra or first period. Nothing but a black void, an empty space where the electrodes inside her brain were slowly starting to snap in two. Like ropes snapping off a pirate shop she had seen on the television a long time ago.

Would anyone see her? The river ran past a local primary school so there's a high chance a child could spot her empty shell. Choosing the time of day would be vitally important. In her imagination she picked eleven o'clock in the morning. Enough daylight to feel the sun on her skin one last time (it would be a sunny day, the day she died). She sighed deeply as the sensations danced across her skin. The coldness of the water. The weight of the stones in her pockets. The warmth of the sun against exposed parts of her flesh.

That was another thought. What would she wear? Not a skirt; that would remove any dignity. Besides her body was likely to betray itself in her final moments and soil any undergarments. Wearing trousers would avoid this indignity in death. Black, she decided. Brighter colours would attract attention to her. Cerys didn't want to be saved. Besides black would mean she was already dressed for the funeral.

Now this was interesting. She was entering the stage that people called the 'out of body experience'. Cerys could see her long brown hair spreading out across the water. She always had been proud of her hair. At night she would lovingly brush it, using a soft bristle brush, a hundred times on each side. By now the river current had flipped her onto her back. Her small mouth was curled into an 'o' shape of surprise. As if death had come as a shock to her in her final moments. Cerys had lost consciousness by that point but her body had other plans. The combination of the heat and the coldness had had an effect on her muscles. Her eyes remained closed. Open eyes looked so unsightly in death. She was confident her body would be found before it become bloated and disfigured.

“What are you thinking about?”

Cerys was broken out of her daydream. She took a moment to realise where she was. For an instance she thought it had actually happened. Death: a welcome escape.

“Nothing.” She coughed. “I was sleeping.”

“Nice dream?” Her mother's attempt at a neutral tone was not very good.

“In a way.”

“What was it about?”

“A river.”

There was a pause. Her mother could stay and play the 'short answer game' or she could go. Unfortunately she was in a playful mood so decided to stay.

“Were you swimming?”

“I'm not sure. I might have been waving. Or drowning. I don't know.”

A beep from the unit at the side of the bed stopped the conversation. “Ah I knew why I came in. It's time to change over your catheter.” Cerys winced. Why couldn't her mother do this later? “And I'll give you a bed bath as well.” The treats came pouring in.

She closed her eyes as her mother fiddled around with the tubes. Ever since 'The Accident' Cerys had had no privacy. Even solitary acts, such as going for a piss or brushing her teeth, had to be carried out by another person. Sometimes as her mother brushed her teeth, Cerys felt she had no control. Since 'The Accident' she had become a prisoner in her own body. That is why suicide appealed to her. In her head she could die as many times as she wanted.

Sometimes she replayed 'The Accident' in her head. In her imagination, when she was falling from the tree, she heard the screams, the shouts, her mother shrieking “My baby! My baby!” This time, when she hit the ground, she wouldn't wake up. There would be no repeat of the ambulance ride when she overheard the paramedic say “She can't feel her legs.” There would be no repeat of a balding doctor using a pen to point at X-rays and had the cheek to say she was “a very lucky girl.” There would be no pain of seeing her childhood friends grow up without her, gradually fading away as the selfishness of puberty set in.

As her mother washed her body, Cerys was back in the river. The water cascading over her body, flooding her mouth, her nose, her ears.

“Flood,” she whispered.

“What was that?” Her mother stopped rubbing the sponge over Cerys's body.


“I thought you said something.”

“I didn't.”

One day Cerys's dream would come true. But not yet. Not yet.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Dissertation: The Fear

The past couple of weeks have been a bit mad. Him Indoors and I moved to a lovely new flat. As I type I can look out onto the nearby trainlines and can see the distant Campsies in the horizon. In many ways this new home is much more suited to our lives and I'm going to enjoy living here.

The dissertation fear has hit hence why I have added a word count tracker to the side of my blog. It saves me having to keep checking the word count on the university's website. And I like having a progress bar cheer-leading me on. Technically I still have seven weeks to hand in something resembling a dissertation. As I'm not working full time, seven weeks is adequate to finish off my research and churn out a couple of drafts.

For those interested, my dissertation is looking at the relationship between Web 2.0 tools and archives. Although the preservation of Web 2.0 output is important, my focus is more on archives that are using such tools. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a lot of literature from the archives sphere on this topic. So I have been wandering around the Sociology and (occasionally) the Computing Science sections of the library. The American Archivist, journal of the Society of American Archivists, has been a God send. My poor printer nearly died last week when I printed out all the articles I needed to read.

Today I have had great fun doing my literature review and slamming ideas of people I don't like. Huzzah!

In non-dissertation news, I joined a local writing group. Strangely I have found it more stimulating than my evening class I took last year. Perhaps because it is a smaller group (there's only going to be a maximum of 12 participants which makes a lot of sense). I've found myself writing more outside of 'Oh dear, I have a submissions due!' panic. Also I have started carrying a notebook around with me to scribble ideas down or overheard conversations on the bus. When moving house I found lots of pretty notebooks that will do just nicely. Last time I counted I had around 10 empty-of-content-notebooks. Time to fill them up methinks.