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Miss Sommers` Lost Chance - 2

by Xena 

Posted: 17 October 2005
Word Count: 1613
Related Works: Miss Sommers` Lost Chance - 1 • 

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‘Who raped you, Miss Sommers?’ PS James repeated his question.
‘A man on the estate,’ said Joan gazing at the wall in front of her.
‘What man?’ asked PS James. ‘Can you describe him?’
‘I don’t remember him,’ mumbled Joan, ‘I had severe shock.’
PS James knitted his brows.
‘I appreciate you were distressed, but if you remember a man, surely you must remember something about him. What was he wearing? A jacket? A coat?’
‘He was chasing me… I had to run… But then I fell.’
‘And then nothing. I don’t remember anything else.’
PS Martin leaned towards PS James and said discreetly:
‘Perhaps we should see the psychiatric report first.’
‘Yeah, yeah,’ nodded PS James standing up. ‘Miss Sommers, you will have to come to the police station for an interview. There the question of your bail will be decided. You will see your doctor today and if he finds that you’re fit to go, we’ll meet tomorrow at the police station and discuss these events in detail. You have the right to legal advice. Do you have a solicitor?’
‘You will have an opportunity to speak to a free legal representative at the police station. Good day.’
And they both left.
When the door shut behind them, the room was plunged into silence. It had a bad effect on Joan. The police officers were by no means her allies, but they were talking, they were moving, they kept things going. Now it went still.
Joan almost had an out-of-body experience. She had a near physical sensation of some vital parts of her psyche leaving her body, and herself disintegrating as an organism. She gripped her head in her hands – a vain attempt to keep it all together.
She couldn’t bear it any longer. She jumped out of bed and threw herself against the door with all her might. The next moment she found herself in the corridor taking a deep breath and battling a sudden blackout.
When she blinked herself back to consciousness she saw a police officer right in front of her. He was standing so close to her that he was out of focus. It was neither PS James nor PS Martin. It was someone third.
‘May I ask you where you’re going, Miss Sommers?’
‘I need to go to the loo,’ stuttered Joan.
‘The bathroom is inside. You have all you need in your room,’ he said.
It dawned on Joan what this private room was all about. It was her cell. She was a prisoner.
She slowly turned round and went back to her room. Since she had woken up today in blissful unawareness she’d had more dreadful revelations than in her whole life.
She did go to the bathroom, but not to use the facilities, which were so kindly provided for her. Instead, she slumped to the floor and broke down in sobs.
She suddenly felt some relief. Her crying gave her unexpected comfort which prompted her to wail even louder and squeeze even more tears out of her swollen eyes.
In the middle of this self-inflicted fit she heard a knock on the bathroom door. She immediately stopped crying, jumped up on her feet and cautiously pulled the door handle.
She saw a man in a white coat. It wasn’t the student who had visited her earlier. It was a middle-aged man with a calm and steadfast expression on his face.
‘Are you alright, Miss Sommers?’ he asked.
‘Yes…I’m fine,’ muttered Joan wiping tears off her cheeks.
‘Do you have a headache?’
‘No,’ Joan shook her head.
‘I’m a neurologist, Dr Coleman. If you don’t mind, I’d like to take you for an examination…’
‘No, I don’t mind,’ Joan shrugged her shoulders. ‘But they won’t let me out of this room.’ She gestured towards the front door.
‘Don’t worry, they know about it.’ Dr Coleman gave Joan a sign to follow and proceeded to the front door. Joan plodded along behind him.
‘But before we go…’ Dr Coleman suddenly stopped. He turned round and said to Joan:
‘Perhaps, you would like to make arrangements for someone to bring you some clothes. You’re gonna need to wear something, if you’re discharged tomorrow.’
‘What about my own clothes?’
‘The police have taken them…’
‘My dress, my jacket… my shoes!’
The doctor looked down and said somewhat forcefully:
‘The police have taken everything.’
Joan froze. She creased her forehead earnestly trying to digest yet more unexpected news.
‘I’ll just grab my handbag,’ she said eventually. ‘I need my mobile, if I’m to call a friend.’
‘You don’t have your handbag.’ The doctor stopped her. ‘Miss Sommers, you don’t have anything you had on your person yesterday. The police have taken everything.’
Joan couldn’t help staring at the doctor.
‘Why did they take my handbag?’ asked Joan absent-mindedly without expecting an answer.
No answer followed, anyway. The doctor just said:
‘You can call your friend from the reception. They won’t mind you using their phone.’
She went to the reception led by the doctor and followed by the police officer. When she was finally given the handset she realised that she was facing a new problem.
Who could she possibly call? She couldn’t imagine telling any of her friends that she was under arrest, standing accused of murder, of all things!
Nevertheless, she dialled a number. It was her friend Pat’s number, that same friend whom she had been visiting on the estate yesterday. It was Pat who had assured her that she would give her a lift to the tube. Pat wouldn’t let Joan go despite Joan’s persistent attempts to leave earlier. And when the clock chimed midnight Pat said that she’d probably had too much to drink to drive. Joan couldn’t stay the night at Pat’s either, because Pat was expecting a male visitor. It was clear that if it wasn’t for Pat, Joan wouldn’t have got into all this mess.
Of course, there was not a trace of anger left in Joan when she was dialling Pat’s number. If only Pat could be understanding and sympathetic to her. She needed someone by her side now. Not to help, just to comfort. Being alone is such a burden!
Pat didn’t answer. Joan left a message asking Pat to call back, but she couldn’t wait for Pat’s call. She didn’t even have her mobile to receive that call. Who else could she turn to?
Sarah. Joan had known Sarah for nearly thirty years. In these thirty years Sarah had successfully married and divorced three times. For most of this period the two women were only occasional friends. It all changed just a few years ago when they had both stopped searching for Mr Right, Joan – because she no longer believed she could find one, Sarah – because she couldn’t handle another one.
So, they had been very close recently and would see each other often. Still Joan decided to break the news to Sarah slowly, first saying that she was in the hospital and asking Sarah to visit her.
Joan held on for a considerable time and she was already losing her hope when she heard Sarah’s voice:
‘Sarah, it’s me,’ Joan said and tears welled up in her eyes again. She couldn’t hold them back.
‘Joan?’ asked Sarah quietly.
‘Sarah, something terrible has happened to me. I’m in a hospital.’
‘I know.’
Joan's heart sunk.
‘How do you know?’ she mumbled.
‘The police have called me. I’ve seen them. They’ve asked a lot of questions about you. They came to see me right here, at my workplace.’
They’ve been through my speed dial, concluded Joan pensively. She had finally learned to draw conclusions. She was learning fast in this hospital.
‘I need your help, Sarah,’ said Joan with a tad more confidence in her voice. ‘I have absolutely nothing here with me. The police have taken everything – my clothes, my handbag. Can I borrow things from you?’
‘Yes, sure,’ said Sarah after a pause. ‘But you’ll have to give me a bit of time. I haven’t had a chance to do any work today. I’ve spent half of the day talking to the police and the other half explaining to my bosses what it was all about. I finish work at six. Then I need time to go home and grab something for you.’
Joan couldn’t believe it. There was not a trace of sympathy in Sarah’s voice. Sarah spoke with ill-hidden annoyance at the inconvenience Joan had caused her, and by what? By being unfairly accused of a gruesome crime! How could she possibly talk about all these insignificant problems of hers? She had no idea what Joan was going through! Perhaps the police had convinced Sarah, and Sarah had actually believed that Joan had killed someone, after all these years they had known each other!
‘Sarah, you must believe me, I haven’t done this! I haven’t killed anybody,’ Joan said tearfully when Sarah appeared in her room late that night.
‘I believe you,’ Sarah said coldly.
No chance. Joan saw she wouldn’t be able to breach this wall of distrust. Sarah was sitting there, in front of her, with an aura of alienation and resentment hovering over her. This talkative and active Sarah was looking at her silently, rooted to the chair by her bed.
Before long Joan felt she would rather Sarah left. When Sarah had left, Joan was ready to do anything for her to come back. Sarah couldn’t offer Joan much affection and sympathy, but at least she was formally a supporter. Now Joan was left with absolutely nothing, not a soul by her side.

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Comments by other Members

Patsy at 22:33 on 17 October 2005  Report this post
Hi Xena,

Very nice section. You feel lost right along with Joan.
Didn't find any errors to report.

Things to consider:
You might add a bit of detail about Joan's surroundings. Smells in the hosptial? The smell of Sarah's perfume in contrast. Bright colors of Sarah's clothes compared to the dim, white prison of her hosptial room. Sarah's handbag, is she clutching it? Is she sitting as far from Joan as she can get? All of these little things speak of freedom taken away, trust lost -- things Joan might notice which would add to the tension of her situation.

Hope it helps,

Patsy :)

Xena at 22:54 on 17 October 2005  Report this post

Thank you for your prompt reaction. It feels damn good to receive a positive comment, no matter what they say about constructive criticism and continuous development. I will try the perfume thing.


PS Please, here and hereafter feel free to criticise, though. My level of comments is always 'Go on...'

Ava at 21:04 on 18 October 2005  Report this post
Hi Zena! again i think this was great, it follows up nicely from the first chapter! I really feel for Joan, you're able to convey her predicament well and I think you showed Sarah as being uncomfortable nicely if even you wanted to add more things to that!

Sarah...nice name ;)

I only found one mistake which was when Joan asks about her purse and you wrote, "stopped her the doctor" but other than that I couldnt see any other mistakes!

I really like your story, I think you have a graet plot here that could get very sticky but I also think you have a wonderful knack for first person writing because with that starting chapter, I felt like I was Joan so keep that up!!!

look forward to more please!


Xena at 22:49 on 18 October 2005  Report this post
Thank you, Sarah.

You're making me feel good. I'm really happy that you find it possible to sympathize with Joan. Also, Sarah's (I mean that other Sarah's) confusion was very important to me. I'm grateful you went through all these points in my work.

I've already dealt with 'stopped the doctor', thank you.

Traveller at 11:17 on 20 October 2005  Report this post
Xena, I've had a look at your previous chapter briefly so I could follow the story. I'm going to be critical and I hope you don't find my comments discouraging. Reading fiction is all a question of taste and I'm sure my response to your work brings up things that need fixing in my own work too! I read to escape and enter a different world and be entertained. I found it difficult to read about this woman's ordeal. While it may be interesting for some to read about rape, I think that the situation has been played out so many times, in films and television, it requires something new. A new angle on a terrible and sensitive subject. The policemen seem to be stock characters - I had the impression of being here before, almost as if I were entering a soap opera. I thought some of the dialogue was unnecessary - I didn't see how some of it contributed to the action and story. I hope the story isn't based upon personal experience - if it is, then I think somehow when we transpose real life into fiction it can seem forced and unreal. To improve your work, I would suggest a new angle, a sharpening of the action, something original and unexpected happening in the police station perhaps. I think the characters need more levels of conflict introduced. Joan seems too much like a victim. I think the piece can be edited to make it snappier.

Xena at 20:22 on 20 October 2005  Report this post
Hi Traveller,

Thank you for your comments and also for looking through my previous instalment.

This story is not about a rape. Joan wasn't raped. She's murdered someone. Well, at least the police say she did. At the moment she's adamant she's not a murderer, but strictly speaking she can't be sure - she has no memories of that night. In the previous section Joan more or less came to terms with the fact that she wasn't raped, and it all was just a product of her imagination. In the next chapter it will be spelled out.

This story doesn't reflect anything I've ever experienced in my life. Perhaps, it's too incredible to be anybody's experience. I thought of this story as a challenge. I'm trying to penetrate the mind of a woman who's old enough to be my mother and who has nothing in common with me.

My characters are usually male and always my age. This is the field I feel comfortable in. And I asked myself why? Why don't I try something different? And that's how Joan was born.

The scene at the police station has been completed long ago and I'll bring it out in due course. I would be glad to know what you think about it, if you have time and inclination to read it.


Traveller at 10:08 on 21 October 2005  Report this post
I didn't read it properly then and sorry for that! Mmm I think perhaps the story is too incredible to ring true but that doesn't mean it's a bad idea. Where is the story leading? Why did she imagine a rape? Perhaps the story could be simplified. I think the police scene could be dealt with a lot quicker - there's no need in my opinion to go into so much detail - a description of a police station and a few questions is enough I think to tell the reader what is going on. If it's murder, then I think this should be clearly spelt out, but you say that's dealt with in the next chapter. Also the dialogue with Sarah - I don't see what it adds to the story apart from feeding in background information about the characters. I think the dialogue could be improved - in novels characters never talk like they do in real life. Hmmm sorry to be so critical but I think it's important to have a balance of views on your work.

ang at 18:00 on 24 October 2005  Report this post
Sorry it's taken so long, but I've just read part 1 & 2 together.
WOW Xena, this was amazing.
I was so caught up in this I almost missed my tube stop. I don't know what sort of book you're planning, but it comes across as thriller/crime. I was on the edge of my seat. Your english is excellent in this too!
The only two very minor points which didn't ring true. One was the doctor saying she was suffering 'nervous shock'. I've never heard this term in all the years I've worked in hospitals. Perhaps say she is suffering from shock and let her repeat that back.
Also you spelled loosing it should be 'losing'.
This was so brilliant and original. I would like to comment also that I'm really into escapism like traveller, but I didn't have a problem with this at all as you focus on the mystery not the crime.
Wonderful... will be watching out with anticipation for next installment - I'm hooked!
Angela ;)

Xena at 19:49 on 24 October 2005  Report this post
Thank you, Bege and Ang.

Bege, I will think about adding some details to the surrounding. I'm glad that you felt for Joan. It really is important for me. And thanks a lot for your help with the errors. The 'psycho' bit was a silly slip.

Angela, I have lost my last hope to encounter you here again. The more welcome was your sudden visit. You know, the description of your reaction when you were reading my piece is the best compliment any of my works has ever received.

The 'nervous shock' - I did have severe doubts as to the existence of this term. I'm not too literate when it comes to medical things. I just want something to do with shock, but for it to have something more specialistic to it’s name. Because Joan will repeat it several times in her defence without knowing full well what it means - that's the idea. Maybe you can help me with this one, maybe something that comes to your mind straight away? Is there a medical term to do with shock?


ang at 20:00 on 24 October 2005  Report this post
Well normally you would say someone was suffering from 'severe shock' or 'the effects of shock' or you could use the word trauma. Perhaps 'suffering from trauma induced amnesia' he could ask what she remembers and she could say nothing and then diagnose that.
Are those ideas any good? The last is the most likely diagnosis in the circumstances.
Angela x

Xena at 20:12 on 24 October 2005  Report this post
Thank you, it's much clearer in my head now. I'll probably go with 'severe shock' because I don't refer to the effects of it yet (when the first doctor comes in effects of it are not clear yet, it's just apparent that she went through an emotional trauma that night, that's why she fainted)

ang at 21:25 on 24 October 2005  Report this post
Glad I could be of help.
You keep at it, I think this could be brilliant!

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