Week 134 – An Appeal, Kathryn Toolan And No Punctuation.

I get a bit of a break this week as we have another one of those now and again Saturday Posts.

I’ll get the reviews done first and then I’ll introduce our special posting.

We had a brace of new folks, a couple of old friends and me again. The topics were fewer as we had two Science Fictions, (I don’t think that has ever happened before!) war, a predator and a hobby!!

As always our initial comments follow.

 

If you haven’t read his back catalogue and like something dark, have a look at Matthew Lyons stories. He was first up on Monday with ‘Sweet Boy‘.

‘This was wonderfully distasteful and not everyone will enjoy but I reckon the darkness in the message is strong throughout and it has a truth to it.’

‘A powerful and brave piece of writing.’

‘Matthew is one of the most original writers who submits to us.’

 

On Tuesday Sharon Frame Gay had her third short, ‘November Moon‘ published.

‘Him burying her picture as he didn’t want to take her into battle and to hear his screams was very touching.’

‘I loved the writing. It had good atmosphere and was very moving.’

‘There are some fantastic descriptions in it and it left me feeling quite sad.’

 

Our first new writer was next up on Wednesday. We welcome both of them. Michael Grant Smith’s ‘The Night I Quit The Neighbourhood Watch‘ broke the back of the week.

‘This had a grumpy old man passion to it that I got.’

‘A bit ‘out there’ but I liked it.’

‘Well written and entertaining.’

 

Kraig E. Farkash was our second débutante. We appeal to both of the newsters to send us more work and we hope that they have fun on the site.

Adam’s Nova‘ was our penultimate story.

‘I don’t normally like Science Fiction but I liked this.’

‘This is well put together.’

‘Kraig has obviously put a lot of love into his story.’

 

And on Friday, you were subjected to more of my nonsense.

As always, I need to thank my fellow editors for giving me the chance to showcase the blackness that is in my heart! My story ‘Skipping‘ finished off the week.’

Now onto our treat. But before I go there I’ll state in a deep and thought provoking voice:

‘This is an urgent appeal’.

No, it’s not for the hierarchy of Christian Aid as their BMW’s are needing new air conditioners.

And as much as I would love to help, it’s not for any thirsty donkey or any poor animal abused by the bastard that is man.

It isn’t even for crayons and paper for mute kids who have tourettes to allow them to write words like ‘FLAPS’, ‘ARSE’, ‘FUCK’ and ‘BUTTPLUGS’ (Politicians is a difficult word for kids to spell!)

No, it is an old plea.

WE WANT COMMENTS!!!!!

Kathryn Toolan has written her story ‘Little Stones’ in a very particular style and we are very interested to read what you think about this discipline. She’s been brave enough to put herself out there and we hope that she’ll receive a whole load of feedback.

This type of writing can fall into a love or hate bracket. The first time I saw it and I tried to punctuate it in my mind, that was when I realised that the text would need to be completely changed and I appreciated the skill involved.

Kathryn is happy to receive all comments so I’ll leave her thoughts with you and hope you enjoy!!

****

Thanks for the interest, a pleasure to have Literally Stories cast an eye at my story, truly. I have written fiction before, I’ve written satire, informational pieces and general rambles on my own blog but I never thought that I would slip into the auld joycean stream of consciousness strain of writing. I feel that it makes people uncomfortable, and usually forces a second read to fully understand what the hell is happening. And I have to say, I’m not even a huge fan of it myself, but for “Little Stones” I felt it come naturally. Internal verbal vomit shall we say. An avalanche of weird thoughts and feelings. Not always making sense or having relevance until you realize you’re inside this person’s head so everything has relevance when understanding the character’s mental state. Images, snippets, dreams, memories. I read Joyce in college and sort of enjoyed him, I read Eimear McBride and I wasn’t as keen. But I needed people to get inside her head.

I’m interested to hear what other writers/readers think, so work away—pin it up there! I’m really just chuffed that the five of you guys read it! 

We need to thank Kathryn so much for allowing us to do this!!

Now don’t be getting too experimental with style or structure. Please no Wingding plot or structure! I can hardly make out the shapes. But I do think my eyesight is going. I’m expecting the next time I go to Specsavers they won’t give me glasses, they’ll give me a dog!!

Hugh

*************************************

little stones

by Kathryn Toolan

***

a line of red makes its slow journey to the bottom of my chin it tickles but in the bad way it began in a freshly dug hole not of my own making that had a basin in my scalp i was wired drunk and young and this wasn’t the first time

there are small stones in my underwear i feel them as i move to keep warm i want to giggle or don’t it’s a bright night but the shadow of the church tower makes it seem dark where i stand i use my hair to wipe the blood away and pick up my shoes that i’d stepped out of because of the pins and needles from standing so long i walk down the small lane beside the church and let my hand run along the pebble stone wall of the pub i’d been drinking in before i went up the lane with him as i walk i press my hand harder against the wall i feel a pressure in my chest like a hand trying to push my ribs out of me from the inside i stop and slide my hand one last time and feel every stone and i open my mouth and it stays open but nothing comes out i looked at my hand but it’s too dark to see what the damage is i start walking faster towards home i like when my breath comes quicker

a car slows down behind me but doesn’t stop i don’t look up they’d know who i am i’ve lived here my whole life and so have they most likely and the car picks up speed and i recognize the license plate the sun is filling up the bottom of the horizon with a yolky yellow color before me and the sky above it is a purple color and everything smells like rotting leaves and i can see my hand now it’s in smithereens as my granny says and there are drops of blood on my bare legs and i’m cold but i lift my dress to feel the wind between my thighs and it’s nice but there’s something in my stomach now pushing the same as before but lower i’m almost at my house i drop my dress and see the gate my house is next

i turn the key in the back door and push it open slowly but it still screams like a fucking banshee despite my best efforts i wait and wait the fridge hums the remains of the logs in the fire crack and a snore reverberates through the house followed by another dad’s bed is above the kitchen one night the snores stopped but i didn’t hear the two thuds and scrape of slippers and i faced him at the bottom of the stairs and braced myself and nothing happened but his eyes were red and filled with sleep and he looked sad and are you ok and my slurred response and him turning to go back upstairs and hot tears he talked to me a week after that about being safe with my drinking

i lock the back door and walk to my room and the snores keep rhythm in my room i survey the damage the blood in my hair is crispy now and my hand looks bad so i wash it and it’s better i have football the next day so that’s a good cover story

i stand in my underwear and try to stare at my body for longer than 15 seconds my eyes scanning my hips and my legs and my stomach and what age will i be when they look normal i sit down on the floor facing the mirror i lean to the left and reach under the mattress until i find the sharp edge with my index finger the razor feels hot or maybe i’m hot i am hot i’m sweating and my heart starts to beat faster and my pits are sweating now i know what’s coming i lie down on the floor with two fingers pressing either side of the razor hard i gently run it over my hips until the bumps are there my lines all straight lines various stages of healing i press the blade into my hip feel a break and then slide the blade to the left slowly stings not breathing the red line thickens spills down the first is always the best but the others feel good too seeing the red is satisfying when there is enough and it’s sticky i stand up slowly go to the bathroom clean the floor/blade/sleep

with my football bag now i walk down the high street and i hear the car before i see it tinted windows red with a low rear bumper it stops beside me and i turn the window is rolled down i get in because he says he’ll drive me home we pull into the marina that’s right before the turn for my road under a tree he turns the engine off but keeps one hand on the wheel and picks a scab on his left hand and he begins to talk his words sound hollow empty a bone with no marrow tapping a piece of bamboo on a hard surface tap tap tap repetition he doesn’t remember last night he wishes he didn’t drink that much his head is in bits i should have texted him back what happened to your hand it’s cut to shit don’t remember what i say

can you drop me home i’ve to work at 3

he turns the engine on but doesn’t drive yet sorry i’m sorry ok i love you

he leans over and pulls me over by my shoulders and wraps his arms around my whole body the gear stick presses into left hip i can feel one of the fresh ones open a bit i groan his mouth is over mine he thinks my moan is good his hand is under my top mashing my breast into my ribcage i start to sweat and want to vomit the gear stick presses harder against my side he pulls back and stares and stares and turns back to the wheel and releases the handbrake pulls off drops me at my neighbors house down the road from mine he’s never met my parents in 2 years i walk back towards my gate before i get to the back door he texts me

hot water rushes at my face i open my mouth and let it fill and overflow my eyes are closed i tilt my head back further i inhale water through my nose bending over i feel the blood rush to my head i sit on the floor of the shower my foot covers the drain and the water begins to fill up the bottom it’s a little pink from my hip / sitting at a brown table on a brown straight back chair he’s there across from me i feel the push in my chest again i look down to my left pink water lapping at me ankles, i see little stones through the water different greys one more push my ribs open outwards like two well-oiled gates my hands move quickly this isn’t the first time display organs neatly on the table my heart one lung my kidneys my intestines stacked neatly glance up he picks at a scab on his left hand and coughs / i cough i lift my foot the water drains away stand up

we sit by the fountain outside our school and she touches the now black scab resting under my hair does it hurt

no it’s fine now, almost healed i think

did he say sorry

yeah, sort of he was out of his mind though that night because they had lost the final you know

oh yeah i forgot that, i heard ryan connelly got thrown out of JPs that night for punching a bartender, so ridiculous

oh i didn’t hear that

well i’m sure he didn’t mean it, your head i mean, he’s mad about you sure, you’re the only one who can calm him down not to mention the fact he’s the year above us i’m actually still so jealous

yeah, i guess i’ll just see what happens i’m sure it won’t happen again

does your mam know

no no at all, when he hurt my arm at christmas i think she was suspicious it was something to do with him but he got me that bracelet after that anyway i don’t think she’d know him from adam if he passed her on the street

it’s only when he’s drunk though it’s not really his fault

yeah i know

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Week 134 – An Appeal, Kathryn Toolan And No Punctuation.

  1. I made my only New Years resolution ever for 2017: I will comment as best I can on every story. Whether it be as Irene12 or walking boss Cooper, I believe that I haven’t missed yet (save for my own nonsense) Still, I have a good way to go. Reading is rewarding.
    With that said, I like the free form, stream of consciousness prose just read. Need another go at it, but it flows and has its own time signature. I once read a book, writ long ago, in which the author omitted all punctuation till the end. There he printed dozens of commas and periods and such, and told the reader to “intersperse these like pepper and salt.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked the story and the experimentation with form. I would have enjoyed it being even “streamier” with more interior monologue. As for the lack of punctuation, I can kind of take it or leave it. I look forward to seeing more of Kathryn’s work.

    Like

  3. I don’t know if I would seek out this type of writing but I really do enjoy it when I read it. There is a whole different discipline and quite a bit of skill involved to allow the story to flow.
    I am always happy when I see something against convention. The specifics escape me but certain authors only put dialogue on new lines. Colloquialism was taken to new heights when Mr Welsh had the success that was Trainspotting. (I honestly wonder how many English speaking folks gave up on that?!) Writers now have the confidence to experiment with style, no structure is correct and I love that!
    To comment on the story, well I think this style does fit the issues that are raised. I believe anyone who has so much going on in their head and how they cope with it isn’t logical to a conclusion. It would more likely to be a continuing internal dialogue that never ended.
    I’ve been told that cutting the already cut is a classic symptom of sexual abuse and I have always wondered why.
    No matter what, the character in this story is tormented and your heart bleeds for her.
    I have to thank Kathryn for allowing us to do this. She has tremendous skill with the imagery and flow of plot. Her bravery is there for all to see so we are all excited to read her next submission.
    Hugh

    Like

  4. Hi Kathryn,

    I think the style of ‘stream of consciousness’ demands the readers’ attention, because they are forced to slow their reading to grasp the flow of the story. This was successfully achieved in this piece, for me in any case.
    The method also suits the subject, where we have a young woman trapped in an abusive situation, has low self esteem, self-harms and is not sure where to turn for help, her only escape is self depreciation. Her naivety and conflicts are obvious, but her friend reinforces and excuses the behaviour of her boyfriend. This makes me as the reader become judgemental about the society, community and environment she lives in and I am left feeling helpless because our character is both physically and emotionally trapped, the technique creates a deeper empathy. Then worse, when we try and guess her age – mid-teens – think about underage drinking and all that stuff.

    As for the writing technique. The method allows the reader deep into the chaotic mind of the character, immediately it is clear she is confused, disturbed and lacks control – the writing does that.

    However; the use of the slash disrupts the flow and trips me out of the reading trance, likewise the dialogue with her friend. I think this would have been better run together rather than the conventional new paragraph for different characters.
    Since it is all in the present tense, the dialogue would come across as staying inside the character’s mind, rather than introducing the friend as a separate person.

    Just my first impressions.

    Good luck with your writing.

    Like

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