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For Milk (different version)

by hannahjane 

Posted: 14 January 2007
Word Count: 2500
Summary: This is a longer, different version of the last thing I posted, but it's not a revised version, just an old different one. Again, it's a little shoddy in terms of punctuation and fine-tuned sentence structure, because I wanted an overall reaction before going over it in detail. However, this start does have something to follow, so if it's generally ok, I'd like to revise it properly. Thanks!
Related Works: For Milk - (Um, nothing to do with milk, really. Please look!) • 

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This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.


I went out, for milk. And I thought all the chewing gum on the ground was God spitting at me.

And that, really, is when I knew I needed help. Proper help. Actual strait-jackets white coats help. I know, right? It sounds ridiculous! Which is why it was so hard. I knew I wasnít going to ask for it. Iíve never been very good at asking for help, even with things like the fucking Telewest box which never works and physics homework and stuff like that. And besides, Iíd already asked. It had taken me eight weeks to get the bus to see a doctor.

I was shitting myself, trying to explain face-to-face how I felt, shifting in seat, sweaty palms and that. I was SCREAMING for help but I wanted to ask for it in A. Nice. Normal. Even. Tone. So she didnít think I was mad. She had clip-on earrings. And she just sort of sneered and looked at me, and made the whole thing sound like I was some lazy kid who couldnít be arsed loading the dishwasher.

I was sent home, with a prescription for some pills; some, because they donít give you loads. Anyway, I got home and I put them on the unit and I was just bending over looking at the bottle, and on the label there was a list of side-effects and it said Ė seriously, Iím really not kidding! Ė it said, suicidal feelings.

Well obviously she was fucking crazy! I opened it up just to see she hadnít stuffed it with Smarties or something. And then I spent the next week just sitting on the floor, slouched against the couch; the dressing gown that smelt of me and was as much a part of me as my eyes or my nose. And all I was thinking about was how disgraceful it would be to die with a full body of spiky hair and with my skin this pale and flaking, like all the stuffing coming out of me. The teeth that had grown steadily yellow, the loyal limp sticky-greasy strands of hair smothering my temples and wrapping around my thoughts, cutting off the blood.

Those are the things you think about. What you will leave behind. Or at least those were the kind of things I had thought about. Because thereís nothing. You die, and then, simply, you are dead. I know, right, Iím Einstein. But what I mean is, even at sixteen I knew that. I think I knew that. Even though at the time, after the Smarties and everything, I thought maybe she had been right, the doctor. I thought maybe I was just being the typical teenager, the archetypal cut-out cunt. Jeans that are either too baggy or too tight, staying up all night reading the Bell Jar and peering wistfully down the Plath Path, buying stick-on pearls online; all choked up with love and misty-eyed by gas. (Oh! What it is to be mad! To drown sorrows in Smirnoff bottles!). Of course it crossed my mind. But as far as I could tell, and as my mother kept pointing out, all the others had managed to stay in school, had managed exams and clubs and social lives and boyfriends. They werenít sitting at home, crying and despairing and imagining God spitting at them. They probably hadnít even finished the Bell Jar. Started it even. And there were other things. Like, I didnít have any Nirvana posters in my room or anything. Didnít even like Kurt Cobain.

And as much as thereís this whole thing, the dying gurgling groans into the microphone, kidsí clumsy fingers fumbling at the bottom of curtains, and the tour-bus trips to grave stones, I knew I wouldnít be greeted at some red carpet entry, pat on the back, a stamp on my hand.

I wasnít even sure I could go through with it. But I had made a list of reasons to not go through with it, and this was it:

1.Smelling the pages of the Radio Times
2.Circling the programmes I want to watch in the Radio Times
3.Rain, when Iím inside the house
4.Rain, when Iím inside the car and listening to music
5.Meryl Streep
6.Books, especially Russian ones (in English)
7.All Day Breakfast

And that was all I could think of. And yet, to think of even seven was an achievement. To write seven down, anyway, was an achievement. And I think thatís what clinched it really. That I had gone from being the Oxbridge hopeful, the kid with the charm and the grades, the yearbook whore; the tennis, netball, football, school committee freak, the girl you could spot in a thousand films if it were America, but it wasnít it was Liverpool so everything was all calm calm down Lacoste trackies Stevie G. All of that, to being the girl with seven crap reasons to live.





So I set about deciding on A Way. And this is going to sound stupidly sad, but it was actually, well it was something to do. A project, a purpose, an activity. It was feeding the seconds with ideas so that theyíd fatten into minutes, then fatten into hours, and then time wouldnít be just a thin silver sliver of not-much-at-all, a salivary whisper of shittiness, like dental floss.

And I had been doing nothing for ages. Seriously. Like, when it started outÖmaybe it did start out as just laziness. I mean, Iíd got fat (read: gained a couple of pounds), and there was no way I was going in for double Chemistry on Monday mornings when my contacts had frozen over in their solution. Obviously.

Yeah, things were pretty normal. And then Iím not sure how or why things started to change, but I guess they did. The routine kind of grabbed me as I was flying - because I had been flying Ė and stapled me to the bed. It was as if all the happiness that had been holding me up, instead of bones I suppose, or like tent poles, vanished, and I was left slumped across the couch, a movie bag of Doritos and Bargain Hunt, not even with David Dickinson, but the new guy.

I watched people walking from the window, and they seemed to be fast-forwarded. Speeded up like the pages of a flick-book or a fan on full blast. And in the end I stopped drawing the curtains back, because itís shameful when on-the-off-chance someone knocks in the evening youíre still in Ďaged 7-11 yearsí pyjamas. So Iíd just tend to not answer the door, and if the curtains are closed, no-one knows youíre in, do they?

So thatís why the planning - even though it was the most morbid of planning - it was in a way quite bittersweet. I suppose a bit like making a Christmas List from the back pages of an (oooh!)Argos catalogue even though you live in a two up two down and you know youíll get an orange in a stocking again.

Overdose, was what I thought first. Except there was a problem with that; with that O, wide gaping gagging death-portal. You see, Iím pretty crap at taking tablets, and I didnít think it was possible to kill yourself with Calpol. This one time, I was a little over-enthusiastic with a Tunes cherry lozenge and I sort of choked on it and thought Yes! This is It! but it wasnít.

I love the smell of nail varnish remover, so I did think of that for a while. But then I thought; if it goes wrong, then Iíd basically be fucked for life. I didnít want to be walking around olfactory free or not being able to see Green or something like that. So that was out. And I did think of the easiest way, the Lazy Girlís Guide to Suicide. It was so easy! But the shame of being found dead with a Tesco bag on my head. I did not want to be some Embarrassing Death of the Week on a topical news panel quiz-show. Like people who choke on dicks or are mowed down by zimmer frames and shit.

Well I was too squeamish to cut, paper ones make me faint, and besides, when the time came, I found I liked my veins too much. Also, if you fail, well then you might as well have SUCIDIE DOLL or ~EMO~ tattooed right there. I did actually try the whole school-tie noose thing standing on the armchair armÖtried to jump when the Countdown clock went off. But I could never get it right. Like kids, sitting in a field; daises, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not.

And I know itís silly, perhaps, deciding to kill yourself because of something trivial, something everyday, like Oh Iíll Just Top Myself Because I Missed That Programme Iíd Circled in the Radio Times. But that was what it was like. And after the doctors, I supposed I had this, sort of, realisation ofÖ(shame!) true loneliness. True, hardcore, living-through-memories loneliness. Friends in photo frames, far away as in TV screens. I knew that there was no point anymore. I remember, they have those features in newspapers donít they? A Day in the Life OfÖand then you have to do a Life in the Day of for your GCSE coursework assignment. I remember thinking, realising, that there was no difference between the two. A Day in the Life of, a Life in the Day of. It was all the same for me.

So this one morning, early morning, streaked sky like fake tan, pink fluffy candy floss clouds, the kind of cool air that hovers around the edges of you - was quite beautiful really, a good way to say goodbye Ė I took myself into town. It was quiet. Clayton Square big screen had shut-up, the BBC breakfast anchor talked with her eyebrows, blinked lots for serious stuff; SONíS STABBING. And me, sneaking across with the scrolling news. I probably looked like an average kid, beating streets with Converse soles, just one of many side-fringed souls, wrists slipped into pockets, fingers fidgeting with Freddo wrappers and old bus tickets.

I remember how nervous I was. I was so nervous like. Because I knew I wouldnít make do with being dinosaur plastered up and given a lollipop down at the kidsí ward. It would be the worst thing, being sent back to bed. I couldnít bear it. Because itís not like you can just click Reebok classic heels and have everything back: your friends, your life, your education, is it? Your happiness. You canít. And I didnít want to be scrunched up on the floor again; a bit of rubbish society had thrown into the bin and missed.
My sweat mingled with the air. I could feel this anxiety boxed up squaring out my diaphragm; taste the apprehensive fear. I knew it was fear, because it was the same taste in my mouth Iíd had on a turbulent plane once, when the lights had gone off. It tastes like chemicals.

Although I was a bit dfrunk. Not loads drunk. Not get-off-with-your-best mate-sloshed, but it was making things a bit hazy, a bit blurred: lost glasses, breathed in paper bags, that sort. I remember, getting nearer to the building, shitting myself, but at the same time wondering who would find me. A whistling street-cleaner perhaps, his claw-on-a-stick-thing colliding with my fleshy pavement face? And then I was thinking, that I should have gotten fat, proper fat, because that would make the fall quicker. I was thinking if I was fat, it would be quicker falling to the ground. And because I was a bit tipsy, I was wondering about the maths of it, if you could make an equation of it, just stringing a load of letters together a + b + c = Fatty falls first, and the maths geeks would just finger calculators and work something out, positive correlation, some sense from the madness. My brain was buzzing a little out of my head, and I knew I couldnít make it to the top right then without a Stannah Stairlift, so I sat down on the steps.

I was aware it wasnít classy; jumping off a council block of flats. Or that it was classy, that it was working classy. But what the fuck, I was working classy. I was sick of these middle clarse kids wearing beat up Classics and pinching last pairs of Topshop drains when they could go to Harvery Nicks. Anyway, I thought it might be appropriate. Like rich people drowning in their swimming pools, or military men shooting themselves in the face.

But I was sad, and I remember my hands jammed up against each other, and I started crying like a fucking baby, my mouth a taut arsehole o, dribbling. Because I knew that when I was younger, this wasnít what I was supposed to be. Nah man, this was not what I was going to be. I was going to be the pink power ranger. And to sit there, knowing I had failed on every level. Obviously, specifically, at that point, the first level. I mean it wasnít even break-a-toe height.

Then for a little while I thought about the aftermath. I was thinking; even if I make good work of the jump, someone is bound to fuck it up for me afterwards. My friendís msn names will be RiP aLiX! And I hated it when people did that. People actually did that. ThIs Is AcTuAlLy ReAlLy AnNoYiNg, YeAh? There would be t-shirts printed from Boots and trackie pants with my name across the bum in Comic Sans font. I was angry. There was this anger in me, hitching a lift with the alcohol in the bloodstream.

But of course, there wouldnít be any of that, I knew that. There would be the ball of tumbleweed wrapped up in a love affair with the carrier bag, and no-one would even notice until somebody wanted to borrow my charger. And I wished I had a biro, I wished I had a biro to write on my hand, Youíre Not Having My Fucking iPod Charger, You Bastards! Because right at that moment, I fucking hated them. I hated them so much. All of them with their fun and their games and their jelly and their ice cream and their mirror ball pub crawls. I hated them. Biro wouldnít even cut it; I would need a megaphone to reach them.

Only that constituted a note, or near enough. And it was my opinion that if you had something to say, or at least people willing to listen, then you should really just put the Pritt Stick down and back away slowly yeah?

And I suppose pride really does come before a fall, because with that thought, I stood up, wiped the hair and the wet from my eyes, and began to climb, or at least, trip, upwards.






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Comments by other Members



Luisa at 20:38 on 17 January 2007  Report this post
HannahJane, this is wonderful. The writing is so spiky, just perfect for the mood of the main character, and it's also witty and authentic-sounding. I felt like I was right in the character's head.

Here are some of my favourite parts:
peering wistfully down the Plath Path

Didnít even like Kurt Cobain.

it was Liverpool so everything was all calm calm down Lacoste trackies Stevie G

ThIs Is AcTuAlLy ReAlLy AnNoYiNg, YeAh?


I loved the last line. Great chapter ending.

Most of all I thought you captured really well the sense of the world closing in around the MC, and I love the way you showed her feeling about her place in the world by describing all the details of her dissatisfaction.

The one thing I thought it might need was slightly more structure. Even though the character would doubtless go round in circles with thoughts like these, as a reader I felt like I needed a more linear path to grip onto, if that makes any sense at all (?!) I think there is a structure already there, but some editing will make it stronger. Please feel free to ignore me as I may well be talking rubbish!

I did see some typos, etc, but I haven't pointed them out because you said it was a work in progress.

Overall, though, I thought this was great writing and I was completely transported into this character's life.

Luisa


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