View Full Version : Last Day - Chapter One

April 15th, 2012, 04:00 PM
As I closed the door to the flat I noticed someone had kindly deposited a stack of catalogues beside me. I’m not picking them up; lest I incur the wrath of the Avon lady like the last time I binned an unsolicited piece of junk mail. If you want to keep something, it would probably be a good idea not to post it through a stranger’s mailbox in the first place. Maybe if the pile is still there when they come back next week with more crap, they’ll take the hint I’m not interested and won’t leave anything else. Failing that, perhaps they’ll trip over them and die. Then the problem would be solved entirely.

It’s a shame I don’t live in Texas. They aren’t exactly friendly on trespassers over there. If somebody with incomprehensible English started ringing every doorbell on my home trying to get into my hallway, I could just shoot them in the face. I’d be applauded as a strong, independent woman defending myself against trespassers. If it was a curry house menu they’d probably chalk it up as another victory in the war on terror as well.

The sound of my boots on the floor tiles echoed as I walked down the hallway to the front door. What is it about hearing your own footsteps that gives you that little feeling of swagger? It’s maybe just because it’s only the expensive shoes that do it. Guys seem to look round, thinking it’s the sound of a stunning woman in heels approaching from the distance. Either that or they think its horse trotting up from the rear.

As I opened the front door I was hit by the constant hum of traffic, voices and humid warmth of summer in Camden. Leaves rustled in the breeze and despite being almost blinded as I stepped out, the sunshine was immediately uplifting. I felt a rush of energy as I slipped on my sunglasses and dragged the door shut by the key.

Just as I pulled the key from the door, I realised I’d once more come face to face with the lecherous workmen digging up my street. They probably aren’t as bad as some; they don’t wolf whistle at indignant feminist columnists from The Guardian. Those bitches really don’t need any more ammunition. But the stare and piggish facial expressions they make at women from behind are bad enough. Somehow just the way they look at people is enough to be offensive. I’m surprised they can hold in the primal urge to stand and grunt as they curl their lip in approval at every tight skirt walking by. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could understand why we are paying them all to stand around the one hole in London they clearly have no desire to fill any time soon.

I found myself grumbling aloud as I walked away.

“What are they even doing? Everyone on building sites just walks around looking at things. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody actually build something. It’s amazing we have buildings at all when nobody ever seems to do anything…”

After noticing my mutterings had probably just been overheard, blatantly deriding the guys opposite; I started making my way down the street as briskly as possible, beyond the range of potential eye contact. Pretty sure my staring builders have gone from hearing a trotting horse to a galloping bitch.

Turning the corner, I couldn’t help finding it a little funny. Approaching strangers, insulting their appearance and professional capabilities then running away could become the middle class equivalent of happy slapping. I should really have recorded it.

As I walked down the street I started to notice a reflection in the periphery of my vision. Glancing to the side I paid less and less attention to where I was going, although I guess that’s hardly unusual. My appearance in mirrors or pretty much any other polished surface larger than a spoon is an easy distraction. To some extent everybody must do it, but my observations have always tended to suggest I’m usually the only one walking down the street looking sideways.

Through the faded reflection in a furniture store window only my strongest features were obvious; a slim profile, a slight flare at the bottom of my jeans, a strong jawline party covered by my swooping hairline and a red Prada strip just visible on my sunglasses. It was enough to leave me with a warm feeling of satisfaction and pride that everyone around could see me. Enough even, that I found myself smiling slightly.

The smile was quickly taken as I passed a newsagent billboard, a headline sheet mentioning gay marriage fluttered lightly in the breeze. “Destroying centuries of tradition and belief” says some representative of a church that probably has about four parishioners.

When you are young, you see that adults have grown up, met someone they loved and gotten married. It’s the standard structure you see for a loving relationship. Why take that away from someone? Nobody gains from denying them it and nobody is hurt by allowing it. Yet plenty of people are hurt by denying them the same recognition and normal life everybody else leads.

It’s funny how they’re talking about centuries of tradition. Surely the reason there are centuries of tradition behind it is because the church was a homophobic organisation that has been persecuting people for centuries as a matter of tradition.

They obviously wouldn’t have bothered making allowance for people of other religious, ethnic origins or of differing sexuality to enter into the institution of marriage because they weren’t allowed to live in normal society at all. If people had been traditionally accepted into society then they probably would have been traditionally afforded the same rights. So surely, now they are accepted in society, they should be entitled to the same rights as everybody else, if we are really retracting the persecution of the past? They would’ve had the rights in the first place were the church not spreading hate for the preceding centuries.

Anyway, I can feel myself furrowing my face as I think about this. I must have such weirdly animated facial expressions to anybody that sees me coming in the opposite direction…quietly walking along glowering, muttering and showing total indignation at thin air.

I’m not buying the paper. I don’t want to read any more about it than that headline. I don’t really need to know about it. It isn’t going to make any difference. It’s already left me feeling frustrated to the point I’d probably want to crush it into a ball anyway, between that and talking to myself I really will look crazy. You just have to hope they are outnumbered by the people who care about the happiness of others over semantics and the technicalities of history.

I pressed the button on the pedestrian crossing, the “wait” light had been newly spray painted to read “wank”. It made me laugh just a little, though I felt guilty for sanctioning vandalism, it was still pretty funny seeing it light up. I wasn’t willing to wait for the little green man and ran across the road, weaving through the traffic midway across. Just as I reached the tube station, sunglasses off, the crossing started beeping and the cars stopped, for nobody. Sorry.

The overcrowding on the Camden Town tube station really is pretty ridiculous. It’s all tourists as well; it’s never anybody who actually lives here that’s stopping the place up. I found myself glaring towards a group of Americans blocking half the gates trying to swipe their paper tickets over Oyster card readers. In typical Londoner fashion, the natives shuffled past sighing, making discontent glances without offering the assistance required to resolve the problem.

Seemingly oblivious to the irritation they were causing, I overheard one of the men in the group laughing loudly and lamenting that technology was going “one step forward and two steps back”. I felt the sudden urge to slap him in the face as he ignored the bright yellow sticker and arrows marked “TICKETS”. I’d rather join the back of the Londoners queue than help that. Even ants have collective intelligence; it seems that phenomenon doesn’t extend to tourists.

As I finally shuffled past the ticket barrier and down the stairs I felt the breeze as a train pulled onto the platform below. The station was always warm and the breeze cool and refreshing. For that I enjoyed it.

On another level I was acutely aware that the extra warmth was probably caused by the body heat, sweat and germs of the people around me. Meanwhile the London Underground breathes out cool air on me like a disease ridden giant exhaling over my face. Being forced to stand in such close proximity to other people always brings out my paranoid side. I feel like I’m going to catch something at any second. My breathing became just a little shallower, in a pointless attempt to avoid inhaling as many germs from strangers.

I never understand why you see the Japanese bothering to wear protective masks to shield themselves from chemicals that could give them cancer in another forty or fifty years. Personally, I’m far more concerned about the skank opposite that could give me the black death in the next ten or fifteen minutes. That would leave the mask looking a little more urgent.

Apparently I’m far from the only person on the tube obsessed with their ill health this morning. Billboards for a digestive supplement lined the curvature of the ceiling as I made my way down the stairs. I don’t understand why the world is so littered with adverts for products to help with your digestion, constipation and incontinence. How can I walk past all three in the space of minutes?

It’s always on the TV too. Apparently everybody in Britain these days is either miserable because they can’t go to the bathroom or because they go too much. The government should include urinary function on its National Happiness Index. Half of these adverts just look like testimonials for the other half…before I felt bloated and unhappy…now I’m smiling in a field and make wet patches on white furniture.

Six minutes. The departure boards are a little bit redundant really, the next one is always in a few minutes or there’s a strike on and it won’t be here for a week. Yet they somehow seem to encourage you to become neurotic and stand there counting down the seconds until it ticks to five.

I stood right on the yellow line by the edge of the platform, gazing just down the tunnel, counting the wires hanging, seemingly casually abandoned, draped down the walls.

I looked down to the tracks and the deep gap below. I could envision myself standing there, still looking expectantly, just down the tunnel.

It’s usually the bigger trains people use like that though, I can’t think of anyone doing it on the tube lately.

Why do they try to slow down when they are going to hit the guy anyway? Surely it’s better to hit them quickly? It would be horrible if it hit me slowly, I remember hearing of someone dragged along while they were still alive. I wouldn’t want the pain of being squished while I was getting slowly run over. Although I do find that idea slightly funny, I’m not sure why.

Maybe it would be better if you lean your head forwards. I’d probably get knocked out the moment it hit.

I began to hear the screeching sound of the train on the rails. Two minutes.

Curiosity grew to temptation as I looked down at the point I’d seen myself standing in moments ago…I could feel my chest pulling closer to the precipice. I could see myself there again standing, watching. I’d want to see it coming face on.

I could see the lights of the train coming into sight at the bend in the tunnel as the sound grew louder. People began to move in towards the platform edge. I shuffled a little further forward, right to the edge, fixated on the flat end of the train coasting closer towards me. I could see the driver looking back towards me.

I was hit by another rush of air as the train swept by me and along the platform, inches from my face. The doors slid open and I stepped on.

April 15th, 2012, 04:05 PM
This is the first chapter of my first Novella.

All feedback would be really appreciated :)

In particular it would be nice to know what people think of the 'inner monologue' writing style. Its let to me being very minimal on the descriptive aspect of the story in most parts as the main character would likely find it irrelevant in familliar surroundings and not give it much attention. Does this work or could that do with some further detail?

Plus I'm undecided if the 'gay marriage' block works and I had considered removing it? She comments on current events later in the story too, but I feel it comes across as far more introspective as she draws comparisons between bigots and her own behaviours later...I'm not sure if that chunk just seems preachy?

April 16th, 2012, 09:09 PM
I didn't read it all, but I will definitely be coming back to this thread, mainly because I really enjoyed it. Sometimes inner monologues don't work, but this time I think I really does and people can relate to it. People would read this and it would remind them of themselves and how they think to themselves. I love the humour, it's very dry.

I was a little surprised when it suddenly went to the characters views on gay marriage, but I like it. I think it is very brave of you and shows people more of what the character is like. You say she speaks of other events through the story, if this is so then good, the gay marriage bit would fit perfectly is it is an on going thing in your story the the character speaks of current events and her view. Just remember not to let her, or your points of view over run the story.

I will be coming back to read the rest of the chapter later, good work so far. :)

April 23rd, 2012, 08:06 PM
Thanks for your feedback :). Its reassuring that somebody enjoyed it as the first time I've ever had anyone read my work! :)

April 23rd, 2012, 08:22 PM
If I may be so bold to mention. I have not yet read your piece and will tell you why:
This being your first time post it is only natural you don't know or realize.
When you post things it is best not to post to large chunks of text in one go.
If you would have posted half of what's on here now a lot more people would be inclined to read and comment (And at your second post they would come back and comment again.) The way it is now, reading all of it in one go would seem to much like a chore.
Hope I have not discouraged you...
Anyway I plan on reading this when I have some more time.

Cheers GHound

May 3rd, 2012, 01:05 AM
Ah, yeah I did realise after posting I had left a longer block than I'd originally intended! I was trying to cover the flow of the beginning to new stand monologue and then back over to the narrative again to see what people thought of how that worked. But I do see what you mean!

I do intend to keep my snippets shorter in future posts :)