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by Paperback 

Posted: 02 April 2004
Word Count: 826
Summary: I'm on 'F' now and was hoping to have a slightly bigger readership. Spread the word people, spread the word.

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In the few minutes before I’d first met my new girlfriend I’d cut myself in the hand, really quite badly. I’d slipped in my narrow kitchen with a sharp knife that I’d be warned about before, and really I should have been more careful.
It didn’t bleed at first, my hand; instead it just kind of looked up at me. Gaping and alien, I wondered if that’s what everyone looked like inside.
So anyway, there I was, stood there and staring deeply into my own body, and it wasn’t until I looked down on my wipe clean tiled floor and saw a sort of quivering mass of jellied up blood that I realised something would have to be done. My cat, which I kept for the company, had sauntered along in the way that she does, probably to see what all the fuss was about.
“Hello,” I said. “I’ve cut myself. See?”
I showed my cat my hand. She looked up at me all ambivalently before she started to lap at my blood, and then I didn’t know which was worse. My wounded hand, through which I think I could see my bone, as white as you’d really only ever imagine, or my cat consuming me.
Eating up a part of me with a nonchalant purr, it reminded me to be thankful that she wasn’t bigger and less domesticated.
I picked up a towel to slow down the pumping flow and kicked my cat until she stopped eating that small piece of me. We both went outside and headed our separate ways.
“Bye-bye,” I said to my cat.
I really should have given her a name.

Luckily for me, when I’d first been released they’d put me in a flat near the local hospital. They never said anything at the time but I think that they’d looked at my history and probably done it on purpose. I was there in minutes, showing my wound to the receptionist.
“There’s no need for that, sir,” she said. “You’re a red; someone will be with you shortly. Sit over there.”
She was pointing with her hand and so I followed it to a seat where it wasn’t long before I was called through to somewhere else. I got to see a serious looking doctor who had hidden his face behind a large, brown, beard.
The doctor’s badge announced to me that his name was Forsythe. He poked around in my hand with some instruments that I hoped were clean, and then he told me that I would need some stitches. He pointed me off to another area, where I sat on a bed with my legs dangling over the edge. A blue plastic-looking curtain would hide me from the rest of the accidents and I was told that I was waiting for a nurse to come and see to me.

My new girlfriend stitched me up neatly and professionally, and I doubt I‘ll even be left with a scar. She is a nurse and, at the time, was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Even her long, ill-fitting, uniform couldn’t hide her tight, toned stomach and pretty, heart-shaped face.
I really tried to control myself but each time her rubber-encased hand brushed against my own bare and blood covered skin, the speed of my heart beat increased. It seemed to make her job a lot more difficult but as I said, she was very professional. As she told me about my aftercare options I listened intently, then I asked her out. She seemed to think about things for a while and made a sort of crooked shape with her mouth and face. Even this I now think makes her look beautiful, though I doubt you’d really ever agree with me.
“Sure,” she said. “You look alright.”

The thing is, she’s right in saying that. I am only ‘alright’, and this worries me. You see, why would she waste her valuable time on me? She could do a lot better and I don’t think I’m ever going to tire of telling her so. Every morning I look into her sleep ridden eyes and tell her she’s probably wasting her time with such an average looking person.
“You could do so much better than me,” I tell her. “Look at my face. You’re so much prettier than me. You’ll leave me, I know it. I know you will.”
To be honest she never actually disagrees with me when I say such things. She just nods her pretty face, or strokes one of her long, thin breasts and looks intently at me. Her skirts, away from work, are very, very, short and I know that if I take just one look at her in one of those I won’t really care what she does in the future.
“You know,” she’ll say, before taking one those deliciously long drags on one of her menthol cigarettes.
“I don’t ever doubt it.”

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Comments by other Members

Dee at 18:32 on 02 April 2004  Report this post
Paperback, this is intriguing and well-written but it left me with more questions than I started out with. Who is Forsythe? There seems to be no connection to the name in the story. And released from where? Prison? Why?

The cat licking up the blood is nicely creepy but you’d just said that the cut didn’t bleed… so maybe you need to clarify that a little.

And the ending doesn’t wrap up too well. It’s confusing. Left me feeling a little unsatisfied.

Oh – nearly forgot – live bones are pink, not white.

Sorry if this is all coming across as negative. I can see where you’re aiming with this story… you just need to tighten it up a bit. It’s got loads of potential.

Hope this is helpful.


Paperback at 19:24 on 02 April 2004  Report this post
Thanks for the comments. I'll tighten it up. Everything on here is a first draft, so i'll take any advice you want to give. I'll beg to differ on the bone colour thing though. From very frightening first hand experience, i can clarify that bones inside are indeed white. Mine are, at the least. I saw it at the top of my arm once. White thru the blood, it made me quiver inside.




One other thing. You say i give information that makes you want more answers. You imply that my descriptions are vague, that i don't provide enough back ground detail. That's exactly what i wanted to do, all the stories in the collection are written in this way. I want the reader to fill in the gaps. It's up to you to wonder where the MC was released from. That's what i want.

Dee at 20:29 on 02 April 2004  Report this post
Fair enough, Matt.

That’s an interesting concept. The stumbling block you might fall over is that, when most people read a short story, they want to be intrigued at the beginning but finish it knowing what it was about.

I don’t want to be left wondering where the MC was released from. You tell me. Do you know? And why was he there in the first place? Have you worked out his background? One of the tricks of effective writing is to know everything about your character’s life – whether it’s a novel or a short story. Much of what you know may well be left out of the story but you have to convince the reader that you know the details. Otherwise it can come across as a little two-dimensional.

And I’d bet a thousand pounds to a hayseed that I’ve seen more bones than you. But we don’t need to go into that… ;)



Becca at 06:21 on 06 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Matt. I've noticed in your writing that you've got an ability to single out the absurdity in the ordinary. I'd love to see that come to the fore and think it might do in less restrained pieces. That's a general comment.
On this story I felt that you were beginning to write a whole other story towards the end when the MC meets the nurse. So there's something about the balance of it which doesn't quite seem to work for me. Perhaps it was that there was so much detail about the cut and the cat and then all of that is no longer important when the girl comes in. So, I can't see the focus, could you bring it round in a circle? The cut and the cat, the cat and the girl?
(There's a word missing in the last sentence). I like the way you write, there's something reportage-like and quiet about it. I feel this one doesn't quite come off, though. I like the way you describe the girl, and for me the relationship is the more interesting thing than the way he found her, there's something slightly elusive happening there.

Paperback at 16:13 on 06 April 2004  Report this post
You're right it was going to be a whole different story. I got badly sidetracked and this peice was written in no more than thrity mins. It's a little thing that i sometimes do. Give myself a stupidly tight time limit - 10 mins, 20 mins etc. and then see what comes out. There are two other stories on here that were written like that, and all were developed from starting in this way.
Nothing i'm putting up is in any way finished, most are w.i.p. I want as much feedback as possiable from people and then that way i can judge how others read it. With some of the comments though, i do fear that some people may not realise that i write/read/live in a different style to them, and that really i shouldn't be criticized because they don't like the content or understand the thinking of why.

Cheers for your comments though, i always trust you.


Becca at 20:09 on 06 April 2004  Report this post
Matt, it's a difficult one with emotive writing, sometimes, and I've felt this too, and said so, that the thing a writer is writing makes me squirm or uncomfortable, or whatever. I usually asked to be forgiven for not being able to produce a good unbiased crit in those circumstances. One of my pet hates is 'chick lit.'
I know the temptation to upload a piece which you think is in no way finished, but it could be something to resist because if you're aiming to publish, what you really need is your final version, as near as you can get it, before the crits. Then you might not have a lot of work to do on it after the crits. Also, if you upload unfinished pieces and then upload the revisions, as I have done, or used to do, people get stale about reading them again. So, there is always that.
The stuff I write is dark, and very often the writers here who crit for me, don't necessarily like the material, but some will say so and still do a good job. It's quite a hard business to crit with serious objectivity, something I don't think any of us can do properly.
I think you have an 'eye' and want to see more of your work.
It's worth looking at someone's crit more than once as well, I think all of us have our different strengths, and that when you add them all up, you get a pretty good feel for reactions across the board. And think of it in this way, we are a cross section of your potential readers.
I wonder what you read. I'd like to see the more abstract, experimental side of your observations on paper. Say like this,.. if there's a problem about the colour of bones, make your bones a completely different colour and jolt your reader into a different realm. Look at some slipstream work.
This is again general, I've read a couple of pieces of yours, this is not about Dee's crit and my crit on this piece, I'm in abstract mode.

PeterOC at 20:00 on 09 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Paperback,

I've read a good few of your stories now and I'm beginning to see an overall style coming through. I like your stuff. It seems very modern and raw. I'd say there's quite a market for this type of thing. I also think the idea of doing the 26 stories is quite good.

I'd like to see this one extended a little with a bit more about the doc as it is named for him. I like the gory descriptions and how you make the cat seem a little dangerous.

I have to say that the ending didn't really do it for me. There wasn't enough info about the nurse for her to seem really there. I think with a bit of work this will come up to scratch but as it stands I think I needs something else.

All the best,


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