Login   Sign Up 



 

A monologue

by Shani 

Posted: 08 May 2008
Word Count: 738
Summary: This is an attempt at a monologue which is based on a longer piece of work that I'm doing but I wanted to see if I could get one aspect of that story to work as a stand alone piece
Related Works: Character sketch 2nd attempt • Is this a character sketch? • T & C - new stuff • Truths and consequences (working title - will probably change) • 

Font Size
 


Printable Version
Print Double spaced


ĎMind your mouthí. We said that in what my granddaughters call the Ďolden daysí and I call my good old days. After an adult had told you to mind your mouth you were supposed to apologise. How can I tell you that Iím sorry when I still believe that what I did was for the best, for both our sakes? Now this girl, who looks younger than my youngest granddaughter, is telling me to mind my mouth as I make a pointless gesture with an empty fork towards the face I canít feel.

ĎWhat a stroke of luckí, that womanís saying to her colleague whoís just won some money. Gamblers only ever announce their winnings. A stroke of luck, what a stupid expression. Thereís nothing lucky about a stroke but is it todayís misfortune or yesterdayís misdemeanour thatís barred my words. I used to talk for Yorkshire and scattered around family and friends are packets of letters, proof that I used to write too. I canít write or even dictate but I can contemplate what I might tell you if I were blessed with language and you with comprehension.

Iíve hardly ever thought about whether youíd learnt to speak, if anyone wipes your mouth when you dribble or even if youíre still alive. If you are alive youíll be an adult, a man, which would be an achievement for the baby who wasnít meant to survive infancy. I suppose you must still be alive because I told them I wanted to know if you died. I havenít heard from them since the tenth day of your life.

When you were born people like you were called handicapped, simple and retarded. Iíve lived long enough to hear the terminology change but now I canít even pronounce the words they use. They call it politically correct but thatís just a way for them to make the bitter truth more palatable, like when they call me a resident or a service user rather than an incomprehensible inconvenience. Now Iím the one who dribbles and the one they treat like a simpleton. Because I canít speak they think I canít think.

I would have paid the institution for your keep as long as was needed but the doctor said that once Iíd signed the papers I no longer had any responsibility for you, not financial anyway. He needed a name for the papers so I called you David, it had been the name of my País brother and it was the only family connection I could give you. When I think about family it reminds me of home. I put you in a home, now Iím in one; there really is no place like it.

When were you born, 1930 or 31? It was sometime before the world turned itself upside down for the second time in a century, I remember that much and when a family name and reputation still had value. My mind can still find words and pick up memories but numbers and dates get lost.

When I told your father you were dead it wiped that winning smile off his face. Once Iíd said it there was no chance of telling the truth. I went back to running the family finances and he went back to financing the runners at Doncaster and York.

I told my mother who was philosophical. Having experienced infant death twice herself she believed that sometimes these things arenít meant to be. Now itís too late to tell your sisters they have a brother, I havenít the words to help them understand.

I can recognise the things I want to talk about; I can see their shapes and colours, sometimes I can even hear their names but when I try to call them they vanish. Words are like dreams they only exist in my head. Sometimes I wonder if thatís where you are too. Were you ever real? When I was lying in the nurses brought me daily bulletins and asked me if I wanted to see you once a day; they were pleased with you because you hardly cried. I hardly cry. The muscles in my face are as useless at expressing emotion as they are at forming words. If I could would I go back in time and make different decisions? If I had a choice, just one wish, Iíd rather be locked out of my mind than out of my mouth.






Favourite this work Favourite This Author


Comments by other Members



apcharman at 12:54 on 09 May 2008  Report this post
Hi Sharon,
This is certainly a very personal and characterised piece of writing. It has a strange tension between the grief and sense of loss that surrounds the lost son and lost voice with a sense of normality and quiet observation of the everydayóparticularly the observations about language.
As a consequence, I'd say, the author comes across a little too intrusively and I'm missing a sense of when and where the character is during this sequence of thoughts.
In general, I don't think this quite hangs together because the monologue is partly addressed to the reader and partly addressed to the son and no-one actually thinks with such grammatically correct order.
I wonder whether this is quite the right format for what you are doing. An idea occurred to meówhat d'you think of this; Did you see Woody Allen's Manhattan? Right at the beginning there is a narrative voice-over of the writer writing about Manhattan and the commentary on the place quickly becomes characterised by re-working and self-editing. What if your character were mentally trying to compose a letter, looking forward to the day when she might write it? That would be an excuse for grammatically correct narrative with all the interruptions and side-thoughts that characterise internal dialogue.
Sorry if that is an intrusive suggestion, but I think this monologue needs some sort of anchor like that because otherwise it is left floating nowhere in particular, without any real context or action.

Andy


Shani at 15:09 on 09 May 2008  Report this post
Thanks Andy
I have made a few changes which I hope give it a bit more context. As ever your input is really valuable and I'm very grateful you took the time to read this.
Sharon

Cornelia at 17:30 on 13 May 2008  Report this post
I think this is a very powerful and moving piece of writing but I agree about the two different voices, one reminiscing or commenting and one addressing the son, but they are evidently the same person. In my view this adds to the impact, but perhaps you could punctuate it differently.

I think you could separate out the two bits and maybe even put the direct address thoughts in italics. For instance, I found the first paragraph confusing, but if you wrote revised it as:


ĎMind your mouthí. We said that in what my granddaughters call the Ďolden daysí and I call my good old days. After an adult had told you to mind your mouth you were supposed to apologise.

How can I tell you that Iím sorry when I still believe that what I did was for the best, for both our sakes?

Now this girl, who looks younger than my youngest granddaughter, is telling me to mind my mouth as I make a pointless gesture with an empty fork towards the face I canít feel.


It makes for a more dramatic read and adds clarity. I think if you go through and italicise the sentences with 'you' or 'yours' in them it will work better, although you may have to tweak it so the italics don't take over.

I also think 'this face I can't feel' would work better than 'the face...' I thought the first time I read it she was feeding her son.

I went through picking out the sentences that could be italicised.


I canít write or even dictate but I can contemplate what I might tell you if I were blessed with language and you with comprehension

Iíve hardly ever thought about whether youíd learnt to speak, if anyone wipes your mouth when you dribble or even if youíre still alive. If you are alive youíll be an adult, a man, which would be an achievement for the baby who wasnít meant to survive infancy. I suppose you must still be alive because I told them I wanted to know if you died.



When you were born people like you were called handicapped, simple and retarded.
When I told your father you were dead it wiped that winning smile off his face.

Now itís too late to tell your sisters they have a brother,

Sometimes I wonder if thatís where you are too. Were you ever real? When I was lying in the nurses brought me daily bulletins and asked me if I wanted to see you once a day; they were pleased with you because you hardly cried.

I hope this helps.

Sheila

<Added>

Sorry, this went off by mistake, but I meant to put quote marks round the other italicised sentences.

Shani at 20:27 on 13 May 2008  Report this post
Hi Sheila

Many thanks for your comments, great idea about italics - I'll give it a go

S


Nik Perring at 18:36 on 15 May 2008  Report this post
Hello Shani.

I agree with what's been said about the two different voices but I think that once you've fixed that you'll have a terrific piece. It's personal, effective and affecting as it is, so sorting that problem can only make it better.

I'd be tempted to change two things.

1
called handicapped, simple and retarded


I'd cut the 'and' and might even put the handicapped etc in itallics.

world turned itself upside down for the second time in a century


I don't think there's anythign wrong with mentioning world wars by name.

Hope that helps.

Great stuff.

Nik.

Shani at 20:22 on 15 May 2008  Report this post
Hi Nik

Many thanks for taking the time to read piece and for giving me such helpful feedback - I'm going to do some more work on the piece and work out a way of separating the voices so the reader doesnt have to work so hard

I hope your writing is going well

S

Terry Edge at 09:47 on 21 May 2008  Report this post
Shani,

This is a terrific piece of writing. It locks in quickly to a strong, slightly uncomfortable, emotional furrow - regret, mainly, with a touch of bitterness - then holds true to it throughout. The whole piece revolves nicely around the power of what comes out of one's mouth and how certain things, once said, can't be undone, even when so much pain is caused as a result.

There are some lovely turns of phrase here, which serves the dual purpose of giving the main character's voice authenticity while also allowing us to trust the author - that you aren't going to settle for easy to reach descriptions. For example, this is a brilliant description of the pain in having something to say but not being able to say it:

I can recognise the things I want to talk about; I can see their shapes and colours, sometimes I can even hear their names but when I try to call them they vanish.

And this is just lovely language:

I canít write or even dictate but I can contemplate what I might tell you if I were blessed with language and you with comprehension.

And this is one of the best closing lines I've ever read:

If I had a choice, just one wish, Iíd rather be locked out of my mind than out of my mouth.

This piece had particular poignancy for me, in that my blood grandmother was in a very similar position to your character, and had to give away her child early on. Obviously, this went on a lot in that generation.

So, I think this is a powerful, sustained, piece of writing with a strong emotional content. I don't really have any criticisms, apart from perhaps one thing niggling at me a bit. And this may be simply something I'm not aware of - but I did wonder if her carers/doctors wouldn't know that she was so conscious under the conditions of her stroke.

There are a few other minor points I could make, but they're not that important, e.g. while 'olden days' is probably what her granddaughters would actually say, in prose it doesn't really sound that different to 'good old days', and as a reader I felt you were trying to show, basically, that they saw them as bad but she saw them as good. Also, there is another slight niggle in this, in that she says her past is her 'good old days' but the rest of this internal monologue on her past is filled with pain and regret.

But this is really excellent work.

Terry


<Added>

Sorry - forgot to put the quotes in highlights.

<Added>

I've just read the others' comments and don't entirely agree with the 'problem' of her addressing both the reader and her son. I think this would be clear simply by moving the last sentence of the second paragraph to the start of the third.

Shani at 22:26 on 21 May 2008  Report this post
Hi Terry
Many many thanks for your comments. This is actually a story based on my grandmother's life. I know the bare facts but I'm filling in the gaps that no-one has ever talked about with fiction. This piece may turn out to be the last section of a longer piece of work so although it may not all be 100% coherent as a monologue I'm hoping that in context it will bring together other strands of the story - that is, she did have a very good life and giving away a child was just one part of it
I really do appreciate your feedback and your comments have given me a tremendous boost.
S

rosiedlm at 19:21 on 25 May 2008  Report this post
Hi Shani,

A very difficult subject to write about and carry the reader along. I was carried into the piece and really liked the dialogue between her, the reader and her son. I had no problem with this and I don't think you even need to differentiate. And the comparison you make between being locked out of her mind or mouth is extremely powerful.

Having a bit of experience in looking after someone after a stroke (one of my best friends who is only 47) there are some details that I'm not sure ring true. But if you worked on them this would be an extremely powerful piece.

Asphasia and Dispraxia are some of the side-effects of a stroke. These mix up the messages from the brain to the nerves which is why alot of stroke victims have to learn how to speak, walk and write again. I'm helping to teach my friend to write again but she cannot write the full alphabet without getting the letters jumbled or wrong alot of the time - she still has not said a word after 6 months.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that the peripheral characters of the nurses/doctors didn't work for me as I don't know if my friend really registers what they are saying. But I do like to think that she is thinking and I hope she is having similar monologues in her own silent world.

Thanks for the read,
Rosie

Shani at 09:32 on 26 May 2008  Report this post
Hi Rosie

Many thanks for your feedback. The peripheral character is supposed to be a care assistant so she might not have the same level of understanding that you would expect a doctor or nurse to have, I'm going to addd a section before this monologue begins to set the scene better and give some additional context about who is around this main character.

I work with speech therapists I will do some more research on what they understand about the thought processes that a stroke survivor might go through.

Hope your writing continues to flow
S


To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .