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by Niamh 

Posted: 11 March 2003
Word Count: 705
Summary: this is just a rough draft, and should only be a segment as well. I am still a bit uncommitted to the whole writing thing.

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Here I am in the middle of Alabama digging up the soggy dirt and removing the grassy layer. I am planting tomatoes for the second year in a row. Last year they turned out so well we ate them all summer long. I planted gladiolas too but only one or two bloomed, and about two weeks apart. I thought I could enjoy looking at a garden full of beautiful extravagant flowers all bloming together and filling the air with that scrumptious smell. But they never bloomed, and then Claire came to visit me.
I picked her up at the airport three hours away, and though we hugged and she was still jabbering away like claire always does, she had an edge in her voice from the nine hours in flight and I could tell I was jarring on her frayed nerves slightly. The drive home was unbearable because the car’s engine noise was drowning her out, and my ears wouldn’t work for me. It was so long since I had heard an accent from home, I was feeling vertigo climb all over me. Eventually Claire fell asleep and I sighed so heavily she must have known it was a relief to me. We stopped once for gas, and she woke straight away and went into the store just to look at the contents of the aisles and refrigerators. She took it all in and returned to the car where the gas had just stopped pumping and squealed “There are so many different varieties of drinks. My god they have seven different kinds of milk. And what’s with the non-fat stuff? The British Department of Health won’t even allow that stuff to be sold it’s so awful for you. I guess it’s because there are so many totally obese people in America. I saw two three hundred-pounders in that one shop alone!Obvoiusly they haven’t caught on to the non-fat thing yet. Have you ever eaten any of that stuff? “
I was bored of her observations. Bored of the criticisms because they were once so vehemently mine and now taken from me because I lived here and she was the visitor. I felt reluctantly defensive. I joined in with a knowing head-shake, and to back it up, pulled from my stockpile a story about a table of grossly overweight customers at a restaurant I had worked in. I had only just arrived in America a couple of months before and was still entertained by the scathing humour of British and Irish ex-patriots and tourists.
( I’ll think of a story later, hopefully) I realised when I told the story that it had been passed around too many times, and it was so long ago that the humour had faded and the result was a mere amused “hm.”
When we got to the driveway at home, Claire woke again with the quieting engine. She looked up and around. It was around noon, but should have been night time for her. It took a few minutes for her fog to rise, and as it did I saw a horror fall in place. She looked, agog, at the neatly mowed lawn, the (thankfully flowerless) gladiolas, the boxwoods I had just trimmed upand the fancy little edgers I had placed around all the beds. I was ashamed. I knew I had just gotten tired of fighting American suburban life and had just settled right on in as best I could because there was no other life available to me. She saw it as domesticization of her once eccentric and interesting friend. She saw that I had grown, or shrunk maybe, into another generation. I was now among the married and the parental, and the boring. I wanted there and then to tell her “ No, don’t do that I haven’t changed, I haven’t. Its me. I hate this life, every breath and minute of it. I hate it every morning that I wake. I want to go home and live with you, or alone. I haven’t changed, my circumstances have. I still care about the same things, but I do this other stuff to fill the vacant hours.” I didn’t say a word, and she drifted away and I couldn’t reach her……

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Comments by other Members

Agnieszka Ryk at 06:55 on 11 March 2003  Report this post
I really like this, it just took me in and made me feel the characters straight away.

Anna Reynolds at 17:00 on 12 March 2003  Report this post
the sheer emotion from the narrator is very powerful- her sense of isolation, of desolation, being trapped in a life she can't somehow quite understand.. the details are excellent, the flowers, the way the whole view suddenly looks totally different through Claire's judgemental eyes. There are so many different layers of emotion and observation here, in fact, that it seems to me that it could well do with being a longer piece! I'd love to read more. It's a very intriguing piece. Feels like a slice of novel to me. No?

Newmark at 15:27 on 04 April 2003  Report this post
I think this is very, very good. My only suggestion is that you work on the formatting to break up the text a little, might clarify things.


old friend at 16:38 on 26 September 2003  Report this post
Hello Niamh,

I hope that you submit more work.

You have a good idea in your work but I suspect you do not read and re-read what you have written. If you read aloud you will find a number of points that could be improved.

For example 'planting tomatoes in a row'. I know this is the recommended way to plant toms but you didn't mean that did you?

Planted gladiolas(gladioli?) followed by too, two and two. There are a number of typos and a little trimming might sharpen up the piece also adding paragraphs.

I wasn't sure if the main character were a man or a woman...Claire did not mention the name. I was intrigued therefore when I read that the narrator wanted to return home to live with Claire or alone.

I suspect this story comes from some personal experience for it has a very genuine feel about it.

Continue writing!

TheGodfather at 15:49 on 10 August 2004  Report this post

There is some strong stuff in here. I like the relationship between the man and woman, poignant. Some formatting would do wonders for the readability. I don't think you necessarily need that story you mentioned possibly putting in. It works well not knowing and could add a random tangent off the story if it was not well-described. If the story was pointed along the same line as the entire work, it could have your desired effect though. It's up to you, I guess. Come back and write some more. Good stuff.


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