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by Deborah 

Posted: 12 August 2008
Word Count: 2129
Summary: We get to see the more sensitive side of Lise - not so much humour (well...)

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7. I HAVE BEEN rootling about for ages within the dark recesses of my filing system/wardrobe through a couple of tired, damaged cardboard boxes sunk beneath an even bigger mass of clothes earmarked for the charity shop in search of that CD Trent wants back. If I’m honest, it’s more likely to be in the car but it’s raining again and I can’t be bothered to walk to it and have a looksee. So I’m doing what I seem to do best - apart from getting hideously drunk and hungover during a working week – never again but watch this space and procrastinating. Too much of this will make me go blind. In fact, the longer I take in finding Trent’s CD, the longer my mind can spend in the delicious idealistic world of make-believe and imagine that once I do find it, all kinds of monumental things will start to happen. Like to begin with, it will stop raining. Then the birds will start singing, the sun will start shining, a rainbow will appear over the house of course, my confidence will begin to soar and I will glide, Flake-girl-like, through the house clutching the CD in my winsome hands then sink into the arms of my true love, Trent, whereupon he will spin me - again, Flake-girl-like - in his muscular arms and decree his undying returned affection (not love – that’s far too unbelievable – and anyway we can work on that at a slower pace later on). We will spin and spin in a state of dreamy dizziness until we either a) fall to the daisy-ed grass beneath our bare feet in romantic merriment or b) throw up.
Actually, it’s more likely to be the latter.
If any of that happens at all. Which it won’t. And the movies and adverts should stop trying to convince us that this kind of stuff can – it’s so misleading – it could start making a sensible human believe in all sorts of realms of fantasy – no, seriously, it could!
Okay. Point in fact. What parent-child in its right mind really does that thing with the working out which grain of cereal goodness Spits, Snackles or Rocks?! No, really. How much serious entertainment could one family at breakfast get out of such an event? It’s misleading. And couples might actually start to consider having children on the strength of that advert alone – and then where would they be, once they realise they’ve been hoodwinked into believing that children love to do this over breakfast when in reality all they want to do with their cereal is drop it on the floor, smear it over the walls or fling it at their siblings/parents/pets? Misinformed, disenchanted parents should sue.
I hear the front door slam and peals of giggles wend their way up the stairs from the hallway below. Sounds like Jude’s had a good day. And it’s still only six thirty – it can only get better.
Just as I’m about to reposition all my ‘files’ back from whence they came and launch myself full-throttle into Jude’s happy-space, I am halted suddenly by a masculine laugh I don’t recognise and my mind splits.
Don’t. I could interrupt something.
Do. I live here, after all. Ergo I have every right to stand at the top of the stairs and yell down ‘Hey what’s so funny? Here, let me join you!’
Be. An idiot.
What is it my mother’s always saying? “If in doubt, don’t.” Wise words. Strangely. From her anyway.
So I don’t. I hear the giggles and the deep laughs drift across the hallway and away into the kitchen. Ah, what the heck – Jude’s due a bloke. I can’t remember the last time she brought one back here. Oh, apart from that drunken fling she had the other week after we’d all been out. But then that was just a quick grope by the fridge and then he’d been escorted off the premises by a very sober Anton getting quite territorial about his Bud in the fridge which was being forcibly denied him by said grope. In fact he’d looked quite fierce.
Wo/man cannot stand between Anton and his Beer.
So I decide to just Go About My Business as if I’ve heard nothing and Play It By Ear. That always works out handsomely, after all. I’ll just trip down the stairs and … Be. Me. Brilliant plan.
But just as I’m about to close the wardrobe doors on my fruitless voyage of exploration, my eyes fall upon something stuffed between a pair of incredibly ambitious drainpipe jeans and an old macramé waistcoat. It’s a scrappy piece of paper. I pick it up and stare at it with a degree of apprehension because I do actually know full well what it is and I don’t want to look. But I do want to look. Scrawled almost illegibly across an old Tesco receipt is a phone number and a kiss in green felt tip and my heart does a stupid double-flip right up to my ears and back.
It’s Trent’s mobile number. He’d scribbled down for me after our second date when we were standing in the kitchen sipping coffee at one in the morning. He’d said at the time he thought I should have it as he’d decided I wasn’t a crazed nymphomaniac and he could see only a future of laughter and happiness with me – ‘no bunnies or knives involved’. I remember how I’d giggled and curled my arms around his big strong neck and sink-plunged my lips onto his in delight (with a tinge of relief it has to be said). We’d kissed for another nineteen minutes following this emotionally charged junction in our fledgling relationship. And I remember that when he went home I almost cried with happiness. As if I knew that this was going to be something special, something to be nurtured and cherished and I couldn’t believe my bloody good luck. Pretty boys after all, don’t happen very often. At least not to me, and they especially don’t generally come with the wickedest sense of humour and sensitivity to shame a saint. Oh … God.
How did I let this happen?
I am kind of holding my breath because I don’t want this memory to dissolve from my mind and I’m worried that if I let any air escape, then the memory will liquefy with my exhalation. I can feel something large begin to bubble up from my diaphragm and as the pressure builds to an agonising crescendo, the tears begin and I exhale into a slump at the base of my bed.
Even if this were in widescreen HD, glorious Technicolour with total surround sound and a supporting cast of gazillions, then this moment would not hold any more sensation than it already does. Oh, unless the soundtrack to Beaches or Love Story were to whisper apologetically in the background for disturbing such a scene.
It sounds like a cliché, but I am sobbing like I have never sobbed before. Big fat, globby sobs of gut-wrenching proportions and I can’t stop. No sooner has one tissue been soaked with a mere two or three globules of saltiness, than another is brought fast up the rear to substitute his waterlogged warrior friend.
In less than an hour my pokey little excuse for a bedroom does not so much resemble that of the first five minutes of Saving Private Ryan but more the first sighting of a low-budget Narnia from beyond the land of Ward Robe. All I need now is a kind of plough and snow shoes and I could possibly see my way clear to the bathroom to plunge my red raw face into a sink of welcoming cold water.
And it suddenly strikes me with the force of a caber that I must be missing Trent. So how come I wasn’t quite so cut up about it when ‘it’ happened - the great dumping I mean? Why was it that all I felt at the time was irritation? It almost feels now as though, after I’ve spent a huge amount of time arranging something (flowers, trophies, books, ornaments, I don’t know – this is a metaphor after all) that without warning, somebody has just upped and taken one away, or toppled one over and smashed it so that the others didn’t quite ‘fit’ again – I’m finding this a hard analogy to work with. But all I do know is that unexpectedly I am feeling lost, lonely, miserable and out of order. And I didn’t want these emotions to be because of a mere mortal. I thought I was made of tougher stuff than this. I damned well should be – after all my parents taught me. In fact I’m so disappointed with myself I think it will be a while before I can think well of me again.
‘Lise!’ Jude’s voice suddenly bellows from below stairs.
I actually inhale a sharp, shocked gasp. Shit. Was I loud? Did she hear me? Ooh then I remember Jude’s male visitor and his laughter. Did they hear me? Have they been standing outside my bedroom door listening to my body being wracked with heaving emotional sobs? Have they? Did they? Would they be that sick in the head?! How dare they? How bloody…..
‘Lise?!’ her voice is louder now. Does that mean she’s on her way up?
I can hear her mumble something to her man. He mumbles something back and then it’s quiet again.
‘Lise, are you there?’
Of course I’m bloody well here. Would my car be outside if I weren’t?
Now I can hear footpads coming up the stairs and I immediately, like some fatally wounded, terrified animal, start to scan my box of a room for somewhere to hide so she can’t see that a) I’m here and haven’t made my presence known – which is a dense thing to have done in retrospect, b) I’m here and I’ve been turning my bedroom into something akin to the Andrex Puppy’s ideal home or c) I’ve made such a wet, hot mess of my face without requiring any outside intervention. Whichever of the three, I’m in no position for small talk, that’s for sure.
Jude knocks on my door and then pushes it open gingerly. Her face must appear around the crack - I can only assume this for I now have my wardrobe door open which thankfully (brilliant decoy) entirely hides my bedroom door from my sight and my sight from Jude’s face at said bedroom door. I know, cunning.
‘You okay Lise?’ she asks.
‘Hmm?’ I trill, innocently from within the wardrobe.
‘You okay… only I didn’t know you were up here. Crikey, what’ve you been up to Lise?’
She’s probably spotted a tissue or two. Can’t be helped. Couldn’t sweep the room quick enough. Should have got the CSI guys in.
‘Oh that – um… couldn’t find any dusters – been cleaning a bit.’ I hug my ingenuity.
‘Oh. Okay. Hey – listen, we’re going out. If you’re interested?’
‘Hmm?’ I repeat my trilling. She must think that either I’m totally absorbed in my ‘cleaning’ or question whether I’m freakishly ill-mannered.
‘Me and Craig. You know… out for a bit. Just down to the Kent. Want to join us?’
Realising there is a full length mirror on the inside of my wardrobe, I do a quick scan of my face and decide there is no way on Gods earth I am letting this phizzog loose on the streets of Carwick this evening. Oh no, there is not enough time to get a warning of any description to the residents and pub-goers and there is definitely not enough time to cool, soothe, refresh and make up this hideous sight that stares back at me, especially in light of the fact that Jude’s nerdy older brother is also included. Being puffed of face and broken of heart whilst in the company of Craig is possibly the worst recipe for protracted misery anyone could imagine.
‘Nar. You’re ok, Jude,’ I sigh as despairingly as possible ‘I’ve still got a load to do here – you and Craig have a good time. Say hi to him for me!’
‘Kay then,’ Jude trills and closes the door shut. My, but we’re a household of seasoned Trillers tonight!
As I hear the front door pull to, my body relaxes its reined-in emotions and I finally give in and flop back to my previous position of abject wretchedness. Minus the wetness, of course. But still with the supreme belief that a part of my well-ordered (or at least I’d like to think so) life is now resembling damaged goods.

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Comments by other Members

Caregan at 18:42 on 12 August 2008  Report this post
Hi Deborah,

I really enjoyed reading this - it's written with a really light touch, and the MC is so believable. While her heart-break was totally convincing, it was still very funny!

I loved the line:

I am kind of holding my breath because I don’t want this memory to dissolve from my mind and I’m worried that if I let any air escape, then the memory will liquefy with my exhalation.

That's a great image - almost made me want to hyperventilate with her.
The only suggestion I'd make would be the first paragraph had an awful lot of parenthesis in it, which was a little distracting - I don't know that you needed them.

Fabulous stuff!

Deborah at 19:09 on 12 August 2008  Report this post
Caregan, thanks! I think I need surgery to keep me from parenthesis - it's like the little devil that creeps in all the time - and I can't seem to help it! Would it still read ok if I took them out then? could I use dashes ?(-) instead? I've always had this problem.... Am so glad you like it and MC - thanks so much!
Debs x

Caregan at 19:44 on 12 August 2008  Report this post
Hey Debs,

I'm constantly battling an addiction to parenthesis myself too... not to mention ellipsis!! Maybe there's a Parenthesis-olics Anonymous out there for us ;

I think it would read fine if you just took the parenthesis and their content straight out - especially the shorter, one word ones. Personally, I just think your opening paragraph is so strong; it doesn't really need all of those extra asides. But I can see why you'd want to keep the longer ones in somehow - I think dashes would work for some, or maybe just make those asides part of the sentence structure...

whereupon he will spin me (again, Flake-girl-like) about in his muscular arms

becoming something like

whereupon he will spin me about in his muscular arms a la Flake Girl

Either way though, this is a really small nit-pick - your writing style is great!

Deborah at 22:30 on 12 August 2008  Report this post
Thanks again Caregan! To me (and I'm going to have to use them again as an example) they form a kind of 'aside' - a whisper to the audience - isn't that how they're supposed to work? I like that I can shove an extra bit of info in, in the name of creative writing... and ellipsis, aren't they great?! I think I'll end my current WIP on an...
D x!

Forbes at 23:57 on 12 August 2008  Report this post
Hi Debs

I can see the sensitive side emerging, but for me this was a lot of tell, with not enough do. Just IMO, and very humble, honest. But it seemed very densely packed for one particular moment, with not a lot of dialogue at the start of the chapter.

I liked the premise of this chapter and can see that you need to move Mc on. For me, the use of the presnt tense gives it a diary-like feel, and it's difficult for me to connect and empathise. it had a lot of pace, and not enough sense of place. I like the sliding down bit at the bed. it fixed that in my mind, gave me a picture.

The wardrobe bit, didn't separate out enough which was dialogue, which was internals and which was description, for me. Perhaps some pruning would be in order?

But I want to read more. I'll try to make time to read back issues, but I'm off on hols on Friday,2 weeks body boarding in Cornwall.

Cheers Avis

Ignore me at will, what do I know?

Deborah at 09:41 on 13 August 2008  Report this post
Hi Avis, thanks for reading and commenting again. I purposely moved away from dialogue in this section because thus far there's been SOOoo much of it and I wanted to get across some reflective mood stuff. Glad you liked it though and enjoy your hols - we'll be neighbours for a week then - we're off to Devon on Sunday!

Account Closed at 16:45 on 13 August 2008  Report this post
Hi Debs
Being a big fan of Narnia I loved this and your theming it around the wardrobe!
I didn't mind the storied aspect of this as it moved her break-up on well. I particularly like her reaction to the bit of paper and started to feel sorry for her.

As usual it is funny and witty - so good to read.

Thanks for posting it - I enjoyed reading and look forward to the next peice.

Karris xx

Bishti at 21:35 on 13 August 2008  Report this post
Hi Deborah

I enjoyed this chapter. You really get into her mind.

[quote]and they especially don’t generally come with the wickedest sense of humour and sensitivity to shame a saint. Oh … God.[quote]
Perhaps generally or especially but not both?

I agree with Caregan about the parenthesis at the beginning. You don't need them.

Going on hols for a couple of weeks so will catch up when I get back

Deborah at 09:00 on 14 August 2008  Report this post
Karris, Carol - thank you both very much for taking time to read and comment - Carol, you're right - will eradicate one word and lose the parenthesis - great work, ladies!
Debs x

manicmuse at 09:14 on 14 August 2008  Report this post
Hi Debs,
I totally agree about the parenty thingy (brackets?!) You don't need it and it diminishes the writing. I for one am glad that this chapter takes a differrent form. You do dialogue SO well that its tempting to keep that going, but no novel can survive on dialogue alone even brilliant dialogue.
I like the fact too that her sensitive side is coming out and my sensitive antennae are detecting romance with nerdy Craig? Fx

Deborah at 09:32 on 14 August 2008  Report this post
Fi - how the heck can you do that?!!!! On ONE mention of a new name and that's all?!!! HOW!!!? Am saying nothing - haven't even decided or got that far quite yet with the story - you'll have to wait and see!!!
So Ner!
Debs x

Michele at 20:25 on 14 August 2008  Report this post
Hey Debs,
Glad to see this back. I love this MC- her voice is great and very distinct. I love all her references to TV, commercials (the breakfast cereal take was right on)and movies and the tangents she goes off on are quite good and quirky. She has fabulous mindset for a character- definitely off center.
But I feel there is something slightly off with this chapter in relation to the ones before it- maybe it needs more action or dialogue or maybe it's too compact for one scene (like it needs more things happening? and slightly less introspection?) I'm glad to see she had a delayed reaction to the break-up, though. But this is only my opinion only.
Michele x

Account Closed at 21:06 on 14 August 2008  Report this post
Debs, I love this chapter, it's wonderful and it's totally my favourite to date of this book. I loved feeling more depth from this senstive side and the humour is still there but cleverly wrapped up and ready to unparcel. Absolutely brilliant. The pace was better for the 'new style' in it to - for me at least. I love writing just like this, it's perfect.


Deborah at 09:30 on 15 August 2008  Report this post
Michele, thanks as always, for taking time out to read and comment. I agree the pace is somewhat slowed but I wanted readers to feel a bit more for Lise as thus fas she's been so fast and manic in her actions and dialogue - glad you liked the delayed shock - it happens!
And things do start hotting up from this point on!!!
totally my favourite to date of this book
you say the right things!!! Thanks so so much for still enjoying it and tuning in - means a lot- thanks to all you guys for buoying me always - your support is invaluable!
D x

sazenfrog at 14:57 on 19 August 2008  Report this post
Coming to this late, having been on hols, and can see that you've had lots of lovely comments which seem to cover everything, so I'll just say that I enjoyed reading this very much and did wonder if the nerdy Craig would henceforth be making appearances as the kind and comfy type who turns out to be her perfect partner.

Saz x

Sidewinder at 20:58 on 21 August 2008  Report this post
I'm coming to this late too, I'm afraid. I enjoyed this chapter and liked seeing more depth of emotion from the MC, but I agree with some of the others that it was a bit too much all in one go, and it was a bit too static (for me). I think it could do with a bit of dialogue and action to break up the introspection.

I also felt some of her asides (though they're amusing) went on a bit too long - the TV commercial bit, for instance. Just my opinion, though - feel free to ignore!

C x

Deborah at 13:48 on 23 August 2008  Report this post
Bege, Sarah, Clodagh - as usual - great comments and very useful tips - thanks for taking time to read and comment - means a lot.
D x

Lola Dane at 20:56 on 25 August 2008  Report this post
Well I never knew what a parentdoodah was until now.
Okay, I agree with the comment there are few too many of them to start with. I'd like her to find more in her search - just rubbishy old detritus of her old life, silly things before making the discovery of the note which brings her walls crumbling down. That could set it up better and making it more showy than telly.
But gosh. Debs you just write so damn well. I love how you describe her world falling in on her her. I like that she tries to hide from her roommate. I like that you want to sit and wail with her - as if the shock has worn off and the reality has come kicking in.

I'm very fond of my asides - as you might know - but they are a little distracting here in the opener although I do love the chatty style of your writing. You have a way of letting the reader feel as if they really do know your characters.

Deborah at 11:31 on 26 August 2008  Report this post
Claire - see! That's the difference between a floundering wannabbee and a proper published author... YOU can instinctively see what something needs and you're spot on with this! I actually got very excited by your suggestion that Lise finds other nonsensical bits of Trent first and then breaks down at the Tesco receipt (haven't we all?!)
BTW (does this mean by the way or back to work? I don't know) anyway - by the way - I HAVE already taken out all the brackety things at the beginning of the chapter so I'm a little concerned that you still think they need removing?!!! Eeep!
But gosh. Debs you just write so damn well
I nearly cried at this... thanks thanks so much!!!
D x

Lola Dane at 11:40 on 26 August 2008  Report this post
Debs, apologies - just proof I really don't know what a parentdoodah is.
I think the asides- although funny - are a leetle long winded. The flake stuff etc is keenly observed but drags on so that we want to get to the heart of the action. Could it be spread out a little as she finds different things etc?

Deborah at 14:16 on 26 August 2008  Report this post
Aha - goddit! Will endeavour - but can't promise anything. Thanks Claire x

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