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by Jubbly 

Posted: 31 December 2007
Word Count: 4444
Summary: A short story that I hope to turn into a short play, any comments greatly appreaciated, thanks.

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Andy and Belinda could seem a mismatched couple to anyone observing them. Yin and Yang, good cop/ bad cop, Gabriel and Lucifer, well maybe that’s a bit strong, but compatible was just not the word that came to mind.

Andy had gone to college with Belinda’s friend Marie’s brother. They’d met at a BBQ one summer, way back before Andy had his paunch and Belinda still bothered to dye her hair.
‘She’s just like a little doll’ remarked Andy.

And she was, a little china doll with flaxen hair , resplendent in a lace blouse and linen skirt, perfect for taking home and putting up high on a shelf out of harms way and that’s exactly what Andy did.

Andy is outgoing and considers himself very direct, others have concluded he can be rather rude. If Andy doesn’t like something or someone he will let them know in no uncertain terms. Belinda once remarked that his epitaph would be ‘I’d like you to mark me down as a disgruntled customer’.

Andy did not laugh when he heard her telling their mutual friend Flora, in fact he was quite furious and took her aside at the civilised luncheon to inform her of his change in mood. Shaken and despairing, Belinda returned to the dining room and pretended to be happily married. They had only been wed for two years and a couple for five, most of their other married friends had children, they had been trying but so far it hadn’t happened.
‘You need to be in the same room mate’, joked Andy’s best friend Tim.
Oh how they all laughed. Was it that obvious, wondered Belinda, could they all see the gaping divide between the two of them?
Andy worked long hours then spent the next few in the pub, he deserved a drink after a hard day in the office, no one could argue with that.
‘Belinda doesn’t go in for pubs, too smoky isn’t that right Bell?’

After the smoking ban was imposed he gave her another excuse.

‘I mainly go to watch the football results and the match and the rugby when it’s on, the cricket gets me in too, Bell isn’t one for sport are you love?

Belinda shook her head and smiled weakly.

They did do some things together though, Andy would put on the telly after dinner , stretch out on the sofa and clutch the remote close to his chest as though it was a supply of life saving tablets he may require if he had a near fatal heart attack. Just as Belinda had settled into some drama or another, flick, they were watching a game show, just as she began to understand the rules, flick, onto a post modern comedy, when she’d finally learned how to laugh at the punchlineless jokes, flick, Match of the Day and soon her eyes narrowed and her head snapped forward harshly as she was jolted awake.

‘Go to bed Bell, look at you, you’re dribbling girl, go on.’

In keeping with the national average they managed sexual intercourse two and a half times a week, the half occurred when Andy had stayed in the pub until well after closing and no amount of patient arm aching caressing could render him effective.

Don’t get me wrong, Belinda had friends, admittedly she was on the shy side and didn’t socialise as much as Andy, but there was the occasional lunch with the girls or visits to the gym. But for the most part Belinda preferred her own company, sometimes she wondered why she’d even got married then she remembered. That’s what people did.

The problem was Andy’s big, bold personality totally eclipsed her gentle nature and frail demeanour, he knew that and it suited him. He wasn’t bothered if they went out or spent any quality time together, but he certainly wanted to know exactly where she was at all times, who she was with and what she was doing.

Perhaps that’s why Belinda no longer went out or bought nice new clothes or got her hair done. When she stayed in and waited for him, he seemed pleased and the rows fewer, anything for a quiet life, thought Belinda, anything.

Then it happened, bizarrely, Belinda got pregnant. At first Andy was delighted, he had proof, he wasn’t a Jaffa after all. He even came to a couple of hospital visits with her and attended two ante natal classes before declaring them a ‘waste of bloody good drinking time and the other parents a bunch of middle class tossers’. So Belinda went alone, she learned how to breast feed at the breast feeding workshop and even sniggered when one young, mum - to- be asked if she should have brung something with her and the midwife smiled and said, just your breasts dear.

Andy came to the birth, you had to these days to gain credibility for the wetting the baby’s head bash after the event.

‘Cut the chord myself I did, nothing to it, don’t know why these women whinge on like they do, should have seen me when I had my wisdom teeth come through, now that hurt.’

Belinda took the required maternity leave from her office job and tried to adjust to life at home with a baby. In the beginning Andy came home from work to see his pretty little daughter, he’d hold her high above his head and make silly new daddy noises until she gurgled or threw up. If it was the latter, he’d hand her back to Belinda immediately.

‘Bloody Hell Bell, do something will you, fetch us a towel.’

Little Emily wasn’t a very good sleeper, she liked to wake up several times during the night which greatly disturbed Andy, so he took to sleeping in the spare room and staying out later and later.

Sometimes Belinda couldn’t tell when the day began and the night ended, they all melded into one. She threw on whatever she could find, usually a vomit stained t-shirt and track suit bottoms. Her hair was scraped back and tied up high to avoid little fingers pulling it and jewellery was no longer an option. In a matter of minutes Bell was ready for action no matter the hour.

When Emily was nearly nine months old and Belinda was due back at work, Andy took her out to celebrate their anniversary. Unused to drinking alcohol, Belinda soon became light headed, Andy on the other hand needed more than half a bottle of wine to feel the effects. He insisted they carry on to a bar and by the time they got home the babysitter was on double time and Belinda barely conscious. Which is why ten weeks down the line when she started throwing up and feeling weak in that oh so familiar way, she honestly thought it must have been an immaculate conception.

So Belinda didn’t go back to work after the birth of Georgina, instead she stayed at home with her two little babies, only a year between them and Andy worked even harder and somehow managed to play even harder.

‘I deserve a break, two bloody kids in as many years, do me a favour.’

Belinda was wrapped up in her home life, she had little choice, two under threes don’t look after themselves and childcare was out of the question, not on just the one wage and going back to work wouldn’t help at all, why if anything she’d be out of pocket.

And so it began, four people under the one roof, one free to roam night and day , another two to scream and cry and beseech their mother for attention and one more to bind it all together without complaint.

They would have no doubt gone on like that, Andy wasn’t a bad person, he spent weekend mornings with his little family before it was time to set off for the pub and he always popped his head around their bedroom door and said good night, no matter what the time. It would have gone on like that always, if one day Belinda hadn’t checked her email and found she’d been added as a friend.

‘Facebook’s for losers.’ Announced Andy when she told him.

‘It’s only Jenny from work, she was just wondering what I was up to, haven’t seen her in ages.’ She said innocently.

‘Nah, take it from me, it’s for wankers who can’t be arsed to make themselves a decent Myspace page, anyway this whole internet virtual social life is just for kids, go out and meet some real friends if you’re that lonely.’

‘How can I do that?’ she asked.

‘I’ll baby-sit, go out with your mates, meet this Jenny whoever, have a girls night out, I don’t mind.’

But he did and they both knew that only too well.

So Belinda didn’t go out, she stayed in and met people online. She took care of the babies and even attended various mother and toddler groups, but online she was in her element. She didn’t have to dress up or get her hair done or care what people thought of her. She wasn’t shy online, she was the opposite, confident, carefree. People she hadn’t seen or heard from in years began contacting her, friends from college, from school, even a girl she’d once met while travelling in Greece. Then there was Flora, admittedly, Flora was a bit of a novice and made a grand gesture of limiting her profile and very rarely even logging on. Belinda didn’t mind, Flora and Tim were just too close to home and she didn’t want her real life meeting her virtual life, it didn’t seem right somehow.

There were people out there thinking of her and for the first time in a long time she felt empowered. She no longer paced up and down listening out for footsteps when Andy was late, she didn’t care or even notice when he put his key in the lock.

‘You’ll end up wearing glasses if you go on that bloody thing much longer.’

But Belinda didn’t care. She posted photos of herself and the girls, even an old one of Andy before he got his beer belly. She searched long and hard before she finally found a decent picture of herself, pre child birth and smiling into the camera at a wedding, someone else’s obviously.

After that there was no stopping her, she super poked, she bought rounds of drinks, she checked her daily horoscope and ordered a new fortune cookie every week. She sent messages of support and forwarded lengthy jokes and hoaxes, remembered her friends birthdays and sent smiley cards. She wrote on walls and posted silly You tube videos to others and joined useless virtual groups with no real purpose. Ahh, this is the life she thought.

One late autumn day as the leaves flew around her ankles and she pushed the double buggy haplessly through the park she watched an elderly couple stroll arm in arm ahead of her. They walked so close together they seemed to being giving each other warmth, as if one would simply not exist without the other.

Belinda tried to imagine her and Michael in another fifty years, no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t picture them like that old couple. Then it dawned on her what was missing – love, pure and simple, there was no lasting love between them.

She locked the cold behind her when she shut the door and left the girls sleeping in their buggy in the hallway. Quietly she tiptoed upstairs, desperate not to wake them and spoil her afternoon break.

Stealth like she entered the little box room and logged on to the computer. Her sharp intake of breath shattered the silence. There it was, in black and white, she’d been added by Michael Redbridge.

She blushed, guilt entering her home and forming a fugue around her body as she sat staring at the computer.

Confirm/ignore, confirm/ignore, confirm/ignore.

Michael Redbridge, she sighed and it all came back. Just after college Belinda had shared a flat with an Australian girl called Tania, very extrovert and loud, always slamming doors and singing, like an episode of Neighbours come to life. Michael Redbridge was a sort of on/off boyfriend of Tania’s, she hadn’t seen him in ten years or so.

‘Yes, it’s me.’ He messaged. ‘How are you? I heard you got married, everything ok?’

She poured over his profile page – how handsome he looked in his photos. The boyish good looks had transformed into a craggy maturity. She’d always liked him but he was so taken with Tania that she wandered if he even noticed her.

Samples of his art work were on display and all his friends seemed so trendy and interesting. Belinda flicked through and recognised a couple of names from the past. Before she could stop herself , click click she’d added them. Her breathing quickened and she wandered if they’d even remember her, what if they asked what she was doing? How dull her life would seem compared to Legend Marr, filmmaker and Flash co-ordinator or Jax Darra – Improviser and party organiser and look how plain little Connie Kahn had turned out? Crime novelist and women’s activist., how extraordinary.

The next morning there was a message from Michael Redbridge. Turned out he lived nearby, she replied , telling him she was a mum now and by the way, she was only a mile or so away and yadayadayada.

After several weeks of online flirting, he suggested they meet.

This request threw Belinda into a complete panic, should she? Shouldn’t she? What if? What if not? What would Andy say? Would he find out?
Eventually, unable to believe her own cheek, she arranged to meet Michael in a neighbouring park. She took the babies out for a morning mother and toddler group then met him in the park café.

He beamed when he saw her and kissed her twice, in that cosmopolitan way that creative people don’t seem to mind.

‘You haven’t changed a bit Bell, you look gorgeous.’

A large dog that seemed to be walking him, rushed to sniff her.

‘Down Panglow, down boy!’

They ordered coffee and took a seat , both babies and dog restrained by leads and harnesses. He told her about his new business and his divorce and his dog, she began telling him about her old job, her babies and her marriage but when she felt tears fighting for release she quickly fled to the loo.

What a silly fool I am, she thought, he must think me quite mad.

But when she returned to the table, lying to herself that he couldn’t possibly have noticed she’d been upset, he stood up and reached for her.

‘Hey Bell, what is it babe? Oh come here have a hug.’

That’s all it took really for Belinda to realise what she was missing and how desperately unhappy she was. Cradled there in his arms of safety, hidden from the outside world she felt emboldened and happy, that was it, truly happy.
She and Michael Redbridge were now real friends as well as virtual friends.

Pretty soon they met regularly and chatted about this and that and nothing in particular. But she no longer threw on a stained t-shirt and track suit bottoms. No, she took time getting dressed even when there was no time. She wore makeup and tight jeans that flattered her newly dieted to fit body. She had her hair cut and dyed her roots blonde to match the rest of her hair. Andy didn’t seem to notice, but then why would he, it’s not like he was around much.

‘You seem happy’ he said one morning.

‘Do I?’ she asked caught unawares.

‘Have you lost weight?’
‘No, don’t think so.’

‘You look like you have.’

Belinda shrugged and wrapped her dressing gown tight around her slight frame.

The girls began to cry in unison, high chairs of misery invading the kitchen.

‘See you later then, there’s a leaving do tonight, so don’t wait up.’

And he was gone, out the door and away.

Belinda knew she could never be physically unfaithful to her husband, she just wasn’t the type. But she knew she had to see Michael, just to talk to him, be with him, feel like she was somebody else for once in a while. She hadn’t dare give him her phone number, that would be too invasive. He was her fantasy man, giving her so much pleasure just by acknowledging her existence in a way Andy no longer bothered to .

Well if Andy asked she’d tell him the truth, he was an old boyfriend of an old friend, he must have found her by accident. No! Andy would shout, he searched you out didn’t he? No, no, don’t you know how things are on here! God, you’re so naive, it’s unbelievable.’

Michael sent her a private message.

‘It’s my birthday on Friday, I’m having drinks in town, please say you’ll come?’

Belinda shook her head and typed up something about babysitters and late notice , but Michael persisted.– ‘Please say you’ll come?’

She was putty and managed to come up with an elaborate lie to tell Andy, a mum’s night out from the toddler group, just a meal in a local Indian , she wouldn’t be late, could he please watch the girls. Andy seemed fine with the idea, ‘bout time you had a treat, off you pop love, have a good one.’

Belinda enjoyed herself, Michael introduced her as an old friend. Connie remembered her and chatted ad nauseum about women’s rights. Michael rushed about talking to people and Belinda began to despair, all her small talk was riddled with guilt and white lies which at the end of the day are just as bad as any other coloured lies. She did dance though, just one dance with Michael, an old song that took them back to a previous, carefree life.

She left the party early and caught a bus back home. The TV was blaring in the living room and the girls lay draped over their father on the sofa.

Belinda felt a warm glow, it took her by surprise. I belong here, she thought, I shouldn’t be out dancing with other men, what a wicked woman I am. But a devilish glee took hold and for a moment she allowed herself to relive the evening and feel Michael’s arms around her once more.

She constantly checked for news on Michael and her heart flipped whenever his name popped up in a notification. Michael is attending Rick and Fran’s wedding, Michael is attending The Big Expo Party, Michael is feeling soooo good! Or his status update – Michael is hung over.

Why? She’d worry, why? Why? Why?

Soon she became jealous of Michael’s social life and found herself imagining what fun he must be having while she wiped snot from the baby’s noses and scooped up dirty nappies.

What if? She dared to think. What if he meets and falls in love with the woman of his dreams? A young, pretty thing without a care in the world other than has she the latest handbag and a ticket for Glastonbury? Soon Michael was taking over her life in her night dreams and her daydreams. She switched off the notification and stopped compulsively checking his profile but if a message in her inbox or invite to an application came her way from him, she was lost again. The writing was on the wall, her profile wall as it happened.

Hope your well love, liking your new picture.

Despite her jumpiness, Andy was no wiser and fortunately Michael had to go away on business for several weeks, meaning Belinda could easily slip back into her old routine.

She concentrated on her little family and tried to exorcise Michael from her mind. Every moment spent together had taken on a great deal more importance to Belinda than it probably had for Michael. While there was no denying there was some sort of connection and chemistry between them, it was hardly fireworks and passion, not yet anyway, thought Belinda.

One day her secret world shattered. There it was in her inbox, she had been poked by Andy.

Belinda gasped in horror, no, he couldn’t come in, this was her private world, go, go , get out! She had no alternative - she poked him back. Neither mentioned their virtual encounter when they saw each other, perhaps she’d imagined it, but no when next she looked, she’d been added by Andy.

Oh he’d notice the change in his wife all right, and now he was going to be viewing her long distance whenever he wanted. He had access to online private life as banal as it was. Only 20 friends, Christ, what a saddo he thought. He almost gave up on the whole plan when he saw the photo. He’d been searching through her friend’s profiles, one of the few male names gave cause for concern. His profile picture looked a little too picture perfect. He stared at the offending photo, no mistaking it, there she was, his wife, dressed to the nines and dancing away blithely and intimately with another man. The caption gave it away.

Michael and Belinda at Michael’s birthday party!!!

And the date – just a few weeks earlier, that Friday night when instead of joining his mates for the one or so, he’d come home early to look after their children, their children! So his wife could go out on a much deserved girl’s night.

Andy was gripped by fury, the lying bitch. He’d have her for this, she’d be sorry she dared to make a bloody fool of him. But he’d let her stew, wait and pounce that’s the plan. Lying, scheming, cheating slag. He went to the pub after work and drank himself stupid. He didn’t tell anyone what he’d found out, no too dangerous, she wasn’t going to get away with this, he’d kill them both if he had to.

Andy set up his laptop in the spare room and logged on.

Kelly had bought her a drink.

Jane had thrown a snowball at her.

Debbie had hugged her.

What, latent lesbian tendencies? That he could forgive.

He stared at the photo of his wife and this other man for hours. It wasn’t like he wanted to hold Belinda close and tell her how much he loved her and dance around the room like a bloody idiot. No, he did not. But nor did he want anyone else to.

Belinda knew the situation couldn’t continue, she couldn’t lose her girls, no matter what she had to make the most of things. We’ll go to counselling she thought, we’ll sort this out, I won’t see Michael any more, it’s wrong. She felt stronger as she made plans, she’d become a more righteous person and good things happened to righteous people didn’t they? Had she imagined it or was Andy even colder to her than usual? He snapped when she asked if he wanted toast and sneered when she suggested a walk to the park on Sunday.

Andy started wondering, where had it all gone wrong? Was it too late? Could they still turn things around? He even admitted to himself that perhaps he had been just a bit of an asshole, I mean for Christ’s sake it can’t be that easy looking after two toddlers, he’d read that somewhere and his mates were always ribbing him about being such a crap dad and husband, maybe he was. He’d come early he thought, help with the supper, get the kids off to sleep, share a bottle of wine with his wife and talk through their problems, that’s what adults do after all and look at them, married, mortgaged, reproduced, hell they were adults they could do it.

I’ll drop the kids round at a friends, go to the shops get something really nice for dinner, we’ll talk we’ll sort this out.

I’ll come home early, surprise her. Tell her I wasn’t snooping but I saw the photo and what the hell was she playing at?

I’ll tell him I’m unhappy, lonely, that we have to work harder together because it’s not just about us anymore, we’ve two beautiful little girls to think of.

I’ll say I was bloody angry at first, who wouldn’t be but maybe , just maybe..

I’ve been a bloody idiot. What was I thinking of? Michael isn’t interested in me in that way, how could he be?

I’ll help put the kids to bed and tell her I know I’ve been a useless bastard and though I’m damned angry she lied to me, I want to sort things out, can we please just do that?

I’ll stop being so obsessive about the computer, I’ll do a course, retrain, get a part time job, the kids will be in nursery soon, this is just a blip, we can get through this.

So Belinda took the car and went shopping for supper, she was approaching the roundabout at the top of the high street, flushed with purpose when she saw him crossing the road , Michael Redbridge was back. She hadn’t meant to feel it but it crept up on her, her whole body tingled, it was love, a love she knew she had never felt for Andy and there was no denying it. She knew no amount of cooking romantic suppers and talking and reasoning with her husband was going to make her feel as good as just seeing Michael in the distance had. She knew she had to change her life, become the woman that Michael could adore, he hadn’t just added her to his online life, he’d made her feel alive and wanted and utterly desired. But her joy was short lived for having seen Michael meant she did not see the Number 19 heading straight for her and forgetting the highway code for an instant she didn’t give way to her right and the bus ploughed straight into her little Nissan Micra, crumpling it up like discarded wrapping paper..

Michael moved abroad and started a family with a much younger woman he met at a conference, he’d be terribly shocked if he ever found out what an impact he’d had on Belinda’s life.

Andy keeps up her profile as a living tribute, each day he updates her status, she is happy, she is busy, she is tired…but he never ever writes Belinda is…dead.

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Comments by other Members

BobCurby at 11:11 on 01 January 2008  Report this post
Hey Jubbly - thought I knew where this was going - real unexpected ending - GREAT!

Wandered around in it somewhere near the middle - where she met Micahel again, there's something missing, though I can't put my finger on it - perhaps another of our friends will read it through and help out there.

Otherwise, it makes good reading and so true to life!


Jubbly at 11:25 on 01 January 2008  Report this post
Thanks for taking the time to read Steve. Yes there is something missing, I agree, I'm going to make more of the fact she has more of a crush on Michael than the real thing and he doesn't feel the same about her, it's just a friendship but because of her unhappiness she projects more onto it. Will do that soon.


Becca at 08:41 on 02 January 2008  Report this post
Hi Jubbly,
'She knew she had to change her life, become the woman that Michael could adore,...' I think this, in a sense, says it all. It says she isn't going to find a new way of thinking about life in the slightest because she doesn't glimpse that life is real outside the context of a man, so the men become interchangeable.
I'm glad you redeemed the Andy character slightly by making him think towards the end, and I liked the way their thoughts followed each other.
I'm a bit out of touch with the Facebook and Myspace side of things, but it seems to me to be an important aspect of it - of life now, and how virtual friendships can fill in for real ones, but also, maybe, how you could challenge the idea that they were less 'real' than real real ones. The business of not having to care about things physical is interesting too, I wonder if you could make more of that. If she is falling in love with Michael, and it happened before she met him in the flesh, it would emphasise the slightly deluded part of Belinda's character - I say that because she does come over as a woman very attached to all that is socially normal. She moves from introvert to extrovert in her virtual life, and can do that because no one can actually see her. For me, that's probably the high point. It reminds me a bit of the real use people have made of mobile phones, I mean as public evidence that they have friends, families, thriving businesses, or, when people argue with other people on their phones and make sure every stranger hears it in order to demonstrate that they're hard done by, or clever, or as good at fighting as the person at the other end - all sorts of things like that.
I don't know if your story is simply the story of Belinda's life set in her time, or if you were thinking about the technology as a vital part of what happens to her, but the business of virtual and 'real' is interesting.

Jubbly at 10:07 on 02 January 2008  Report this post
Thanks very much Becca. Yes all those new technological advances that are now so derigour have very much informed my way of thinking about socialising. I wondered if I shouldn't have her meet Michael on line, I think that would be better and only see him physically twice, at the party and at the end. I'll have another think.



Account Closed at 11:50 on 02 January 2008  Report this post
Hi Julie,

First of all, I really liked this – it was very easy to read, and though quite a long upload, didn't seem so at all.

I think it would make a great play, though I'm not sure how you'd do the FB/online stuff –I suppose it would have to be with extra media, a big screen on stage, facing the audience?

I agree with Becca that the virtual/ real thing is very interesting – and that it would be worth pointing that up more, and tying it in with her 'crush' on Michael, making it clearer, perhaps, that the crush isn't love, that it's a kind of fantasy, unreal, part of the 'virtual' in a way. For this reason, I think it work better if she met him online – keeps it more coherent. The denoument bit is great (crash, then M not knowing the impact he's had on her life).

I liked the alternating Belinda/Andy thoughts towards the end – nice device, and especially liked Andy pretending she's still alive.

Liked this -
What, latent lesbian tendencies? That he could forgive.
– nice touch, and very 'in character'.

I found Andy a tiny bit over the top in his selfishness. Even though it's perhaps realistic, it was just slightly unrelenting in the context of the story. I mean, I know he has to be, but maybe it could be a little more subtle in places? (dunno – just thinking aloud!)
took her aside at the civilised luncheon to inform her of his change in mood
– this was very good, btw, the first indication of a selfishness bordering on cruelty. But, I didn't quite belive in his turnaround towards the end. Because of how he was before this, I think the jealousy and anger would have lasted longer.

There were a few places where the punctuation made it bit confusing:

Oh how they all laughed, was it that obvious, wondered Belinda, could they all see the gaping divide between the two of them?
Maybe better with full stop after 'laughed', then again after Belinda?

So Belinda went shopping for supper, she was driving around the roundabout at the top of the high street, flushed with purpose when she saw him crossing the road , Michael was back.
I think I'd put a full stop after supper, then a full stop or semicolon after road.

I think if you were going to keep it as a short story, it could be tightened up a bit – there are some places where it gets a bit 'tell-y'.
For example:
His big, bold personality totally eclipsed her gentle nature and frail demeanour, he knew that and it suited him. Although he didn’t want to go out with her or spend quality time with her, he certainly wanted to know exactly where she was at all times, who she was with and what she was doing.

- I don't think you need this sort of explanation. His actions – eg clutching the remote (great image), making the baby sick, always going out, the callous way he talks to her all show this without it needing to be spelt out. But then, if it was a play it would be pared down to this kind of action and dialogue anyway, I suppose.

Perhaps that’s why Belinda no longer bothers going out or buying nice new clothes or getting her hair done, when she stays in and waits for him, he seems pleased and the rows are fewer, anything for a quiet life, thinks Belinda, anything.
– wasn't sure if this sudden change to present was deliberate, but it didn't feel right.

I hope this doesn't come across as overly critical, because I really did like it. And please ignore anything not helpful, or where I've missed the point!


Jubbly at 20:25 on 02 January 2008  Report this post
Thanks so much for this very detailed crit, which is in no way crap. This is very helpful and I'm glad you can see the dramatic possibilities, I imagine it very stylised. I'm going to rewrite so she only meets him online until the party. Will do the changes asap, and read yours by the weekend, snowed under at present.



Account Closed at 10:17 on 04 January 2008  Report this post
I think making it very stylised would work brilliantly for this (in fact, i wondered when i was reading whether i was missing something along these lines).

Just randomly spotted another lovely line,
The girls began to cry in unison, high chairs of misery invading the kitchen.


Jubbly at 20:29 on 04 January 2008  Report this post
Thanks again Julia, I've had lots more thoughts. Promise I will read you this weekend.


Okkervil at 22:53 on 14 January 2008  Report this post
Ha! Excellent. It sounds like you've already solved the problem I had with this, which was the wobbly middle bit, the disjointed nature of finding an online life, but bumping into the life-changing fellah in the park. It'd be more fluid with the amendment you say you'll scribble at. That said, the excitement of being 'added' was effective, and I'm suddenly unsure of my opening remarks. Ho. It's a great piece, striking and banal, and something about the narration seemed to me to be particularly effective. The jumps between tenses at the start are well handled. I liked the swanky feel to the opening paragraph, and the slightly glossier phrasing that so quickly gives way to the hum-drum of the terrible routine.
The online aspect works really well, I just felt the corporation names were unnecessary, even at the expense of the Andy's comically pompous and dull remark about it only being for 'wankers without a myspace'. It felt a bit like an advert there in the middle, in tone as well, and it was only from the mention of the brands... It's just occurred to me that maybe that was an intention. Then again, maybe the arch references to poking is enough. Guess I'm just too BBC. Regardless, it didn't ruin my enjoyment of the storeh! I was thinking how this'd be suitable for that afternoon slot on Radio 4 where they have plays wot seem all to be about sad family break ups and deaths and abandonment. How terribly unjustified it all is. I don't know if I could handle the sadness if you played up Michael as not being attracted to her. It might just be too forlorn. But go ahead, I've got plenty of handkerchiefs to hand, having just shaken off a cold. Bye!

Jubbly at 14:06 on 15 January 2008  Report this post
Thanks so much Okkervil, great comments. R4 is a good idea, might be too modern for their staid remit though. The myspace is a direct quote my son made, rude little sod I know. I'm going to rework this now and also try dramatising it. Many thanks.


PhilR at 19:09 on 14 December 2008  Report this post

I'm a bit late coming to this, I know...

As off-putting as I usually find these type of melodramatic 'relationships-turned-sour' kind of stories, I really enjoyed reading this.

I thought you did a great job of detailing the progress and decline of the relationship. It felt very real, completely believable, especialy your characterisation of Andy. Every little snatched piece of dialogue from him was spot-on and defined him as a true sterotype easily pictured in my mind.

I thought the passage towards the end when Andy and Belinda are planning what to do/say to each other is particularly effective and entertaining.

Only picked up on a couple of grammatical errors, but they're so slight that I don't think they're worth mentioning, or have been mentioned in other comments.

Although at one point, when she see's the old couple in the park:

Belinda tried to imagine her and Michael in another fifty years

I think you meant Andy here.

The ending was a bit of a shock and I couldn't help but feel that there was a rather sinister, moralistic message here. This could just be me, though.

Overall I did enjoy this, despite my earlier reservations about the theme. It was easy to read and quite disturbingly believable. Good stuff.


SarahT at 10:47 on 28 February 2009  Report this post
Hi Jubbly,

I'm very very late and there are already some other comments so I thought that I would keep mine to a minimum.

Andy had gone to college with Belinda�;s friend Marie�;s brother. They�;d met at a BBQ one summer, way back before Andy had his paunch and Belinda still bothered to dye her hair.

I think you could make this read more smoothly by taking out Marie's name and I think that it needs to say 'way back before Andy had his paunch when Belinda still bother to dye her hair'. But you've probably already sorted those things out!

All in all, I thought it was very real. And since you posted it, there has, of course, been the court case of the man who killed his wife because she changed her facebook status to 'single'. With this in mind, I thought you balanced the real world with the online world very well.


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