View Full Version : My first story here (mature theme, possibly upsetting)

March 11th, 2013, 09:26 PM
This was inspired by the topic 'Charity Shop'.

The men come in the early hours of the morning. It is still dark in the house. One holds a torch and slides his hand tentatively along the wall to find a light switch. Good luck with that, I think, watching him. The bill hasn’t been paid in months. I laugh a little as another throws his arm up over his mouth, repulsed by the smell. That will teach them to come around here invading my privacy. They look like crime scene investigators, these morons in their white boiler suits. He gives up on the light and begins to pull out rolls of black bags. Outside, amber lights flash as a wagon arrives to deliver a skip.

They start to gather up my belongings and heap them into bags. The dawn illuminates the piles of magazines, books, videotapes and my collections accumulated across every available inch. They represent hours of my life spent in antiques shops, at car boot sales, or simply rummaging through the tip. Each tread the men take amongst them, each handful that they pick up and discard, feels like a slap. I am being beaten down as they remove my life, square foot by square foot.

The last six months have turned everything septic. Everything is rotting from the inside. It's a final irony - the Macmillan Men come to sort through my personal belongings, deciding whether each item is trash or treasure. Cancer has eaten me. Now that it is finished, they are dispatched to seek out the remaining artefacts of my life in order to sell them quickly and make a profit.

Other people leave people as their legacy: children, grandchildren, friends, colleagues. The word 'colleagues' always has connotations of kindliness, of working together towards a mutual goal. The people who I worked with remained invisible to me, penned in behind the walls of each of their booths. Our mission was to make constant impersonal phone calls marketing the latest insurance product. It was a thankless job that attracted the worst from people on the other end of the line. When the cancer took hold, I stopped going and I stopped paying the bills.

Everyone knows the joy that possessions bring. Having things is part of our culture, isn't it? They become a badge of who we are. The things I own aren't status symbols; they reflect what I have loved. The skulls of a menagerie of creatures are evocative of the beauty of nature. I relished the escape into the countryside as a child. I enjoyed searching out wild animals and spotting birds. I felt looked after then. I also have so many landscapes stacked against every wall – in oil, acrylic and watercolour- far too many to display. Each one transports me back to my youth, to the only time I experienced true care and compassion.

Towards the end I grew worried that I would disappear completely. I started to gather evidence of myself. I kept my waste in plastic bottles and put them in the refrigerator. That was working very well until they cut the electric off. I could not tolerate flushing away these parts of me anymore. I had to try to save something from the mastication of death. After I went, the council had great joy clearing that lot out. They certainly won't forget me in a hurry.

Especially since I was still here beyond the piles in the hallway, sitting upright on the sofa, devoured alive by the tumours. Eyes open, challenging them to come.

Regardless of the fact that my body is now in a mortuary, I’m still here. The poor beggars are trying to locate some long lost next-of-kin who might, if they are lucky, fund my funeral. That won't happen. It is interesting, I suppose, that the state will have to take care of me in death yet nobody bothered with me in life.

What will happen next, I don't know. I am scared that what is left of me is being kept here by the things that I adored. When the final item is gone, into plastic bag or skip, I will dissipate. One life lived and gone; the remnants of it priced cheap.

March 13th, 2013, 02:06 AM
Into the mind of the hoarder. A dead hoarder at that. Not bad, no; it's good; really good. To attempt to connect the reader wiith the 'different', the mind of the... is difficult and ambitious.

Paragraph 5 feels light. It could really have more...detail ..../and description of the connections between ideas. Fascinating. skulls? You mean you, sorry, "she" collected them? and the feeing of being looked after..a little more please, fill it out and connect it. The landscapes, are they repressentations of the places you(she, sorry :) ) visited or idealised? I like it but make me a little more sure of it and show me a little more of it.

Overall, the morbid humour, the reactions of the workers, the speculations and conclusions, it's all there., but then you're 'preachiing to the choir' as they say.

March 13th, 2013, 01:38 PM
Thanks for this Kevin, I do appreciate it. I find it really interesting that you read it with a feminised voice when I intended it to be male. What made you think it is a 'she'? I will certainly look back over paragraph 5; I agree with what you say about it needing more connections. I took references to grandparents out of my earlier draft, so perhaps I need to put some of this back again?

Thanks very much :-)

March 14th, 2013, 06:19 AM
How do I like this thread and story. Hey Abbymeg, how are you?

March 14th, 2013, 01:12 PM
Why female? I think it was your moniker- 'abby-meg' are both feminine the States. I must've just read that in as I can't find anything that is an indicator in the story.

Just for fun, I thought I'd list some things that are not familiar (no judgement here, mind you. I like diversity) :
wagon; skip; carboot sale; Macmillan Men; the tip

March 14th, 2013, 02:49 PM
hi abbymeg, kevin mentioned in his reply to your post that he presumed the protagonist was a 'she'... and then you questioned why he thought this was the case

before i explain why i first thought your protagonist was a 'she', let me say this... this is a wonderful short story!... i loved it... and the reasons why might shed some light on why the reader might construe the protagonist as female... and that's neither good or bad...it's just an observation and by no means takes away from anything at all

this line: "Other people leave people as their legacy" ...this is typically a paternal urge, and set me to believe that the protagonist was a female from the start

also, you mention your protagonist was employed doing something that typically demanded isolation... most men don't care about being so sociable at work
you use material goods to help define a life in retrospect... most men could live on a cot in a small room with only the bare necessities, and they'd be perfectly content dying that way

what brought me back to the protagonist being a male was the retention of human waste in the refrigerator... a female would typically find this disgusting and unbecoming of anything dignified

all in all, i found the protagonist very introspective... most men aren't typically so reflective, but i like that yours is! ... the combination of what i believe to be feminine and masculine attributes lends to a great dynamic often denied in contemporary male characters

great piece!

March 14th, 2013, 09:11 PM
Thanks js1268, I really appreciate this and I'm pleased that you liked it :-). It makes very interesting reading, to see which characteristics you identified as masculine and feminine. The whole idea of men and women trying to successfully create the voice of the other is something that I find myself thinking about frequently. I chose my username without thought; it is actually a contraction of two names of a family member. I should have been more mysterious, as I suspect the name does create an element of gender-bias, as Kevin points out.

I also think the reader brings their own set of experiences to a text and fleshes out the story for themselves, so it doesn't really matter whether it is he or she who is speaking.

Glossary - for Kevin and any other readers from the US, who I am grateful for:

Wagon = truck carrying the skip
Skip = a great metal container that people pay to rent that gets left outside a house. They fill it with trash and it gets collected and taken to the...
Tip = a place that people dump their rubbish
Car boot sale = like a yard sale, but people fill their cars up and pay about 5 to park at an agreed location at a certain time on a certain day and other people go along and buy things from them
Macmillan Men = Macmillan is a cancer charity that funds nurses to look after people when they have cancer. Macmillan 'men' used here is just implying that they are people who work for the charity, going to search for items that they could sell. This wouldn't really happen - it would be hospital office staff or some other government worker who would get the joy of going through the belongings for valuables in order to fund the funeral. If someone doesn't have next of kin in this country, the state pays for a funeral and then tries to recoup the costs from the estate.

Thanks again, both of you.

Red Heron
March 22nd, 2013, 02:42 PM
I would like to see this filled out! More descriptions of the house's interior landscape would make the read more tactile, and allow you to write more of your narrators history, like with the skulls. Definitely an interesting story.

January 18th, 2019, 07:46 AM
I enjoyed your post! is there a word limit on this site, I am a total nOOb. I wished for more elaborate descriptions and a more fleshed out story in general.