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The last punch - feedback please

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 5:16 am
by berry
Could please have some feedback on this short story. I am wondering whether some back story is required.

The Last punch

“You can tell it if you like, before we go.”
“Don’t you know, I thought you knew everything?”
“Not for me, it’s important for some, maybe for you. You don’t seem quite ready.”
“There’s so much, it’s too much.”
“So make it short, the important bits. Things will start to fade soon. That’s how it goes.”
“Okay, the important bits.”
There was the punch, I don’t where it hit I just know it was pain, intense and sudden, I saw stars, actual stars just like the cartoons. Pain and flashing stars. But it was just an accident, it was just the booze, it was just a weird night. Things get out of hand but we reign them in again.

A new day all fresh with no mistakes in it. I remembered that from when I was a kid ‘Anne of Green Gables’ don’t know what it was about it that made me think of Anne with an ‘e’. Maybe because she lived in a world of pain she could only escape through her imagination. She always said tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it, yet. So I had a new day and he was a new man and I put the memory of the other man behind me.

Don’t hang on to things, don’t be the one to make a fuss. Don’t confuse the two, they weren’t the same person. Mum always used to say ‘love is pain’. She said ‘If he hits you, he’s lost control and that means you’ve won.’

Then, just when I was feeling like it was all gone, just when I had almost finished digging a hole for the memory, it came back, another one wham! Across the cheek. The memory might have faded but my cheek, it remembered all by itself. Pain and stars. I should have known, staggering in late, giggling at my own drunkenness, dropping my keys as I wobbled in the front door. You could see into the sitting room from the front door, he was sitting there, in the dark with the light from the T.V flickering over his face. It was a hard face, for a moment I didn’t recognise him. I should have.
I called, as I tried to hang my coat up, I kept missing the hook, had to keep picking the coat up over and over again. I was still trying when I felt him behind me.
“Where’ve you been then?”
His voice was very low and very quiet, distant thunder, a storm about to break and me with no shelter. I tell him about my evening, pull my scarf from my neck, kick off my shoes and bend down to push them aside and then, pain and stars. He was shouting,
“Look at the state of you. You’re an embarrassment, staggering around the streets at night like some drunken whore!”
There was more, more shouting, more slurs against my character but I didn’t stay, I slipped out and watched. I was watching as he kicked out, hitting her in the stomach, I was watching as he stood over her crying on the floor wondering, why doesn’t she move, why doesn’t she get up? She just lay there in a pile looking up at him with a stupid expression on her face.

Where was the action, the primal reflex? Even the lowliest of animals manage that don’t they? Fight or flight? but there’s no counter attack, no fleeing, she doesn’t even play dead. She just lies there looking up at him and I just watch.

Then there’s tears, not hers, his. He’s down on the floor too, stroking her hair and whispering sorry over and over again. She pats him on the back and tells him it’s okay like she’s comforting a child but, there’s no compassion on her face she’s just staring at the wall and patting him absently, and I slip back into place.
He loves me, he says.
He loves me, I tell myself.
“Its just that I get so angry, you make me so angry, why do you do it. I don’t want to hurt you, you know that don’t you?”
I guess it all makes sense when he explains.

Then it’s tomorrow again all fresh with no mistakes in it. Let’s forget, it doesn’t do to dwell on things. Just do the living thing, work, home, dinner, T.V. it’ll be like it never happened. But it’s not fresh this tomorrow, it’s has mistakes in it, built in, down to the foundations. You’d have to blow it all up and start again.

Instead, use window dressing, change a few things on the outside, cheaper than starting again. Subtle changes, little modifications to my behaviour and little adjustments to my thinking. Now I’m undercover, so very careful, don’t give yourself away, showing your real self is dangerous. Morph into something else.

Then it begins, losing yourself is easy. You tell yourself that you’re busy, day to day life is demanding. Those friends of mine, they take up too much time, I’m an undercover agent, a spy, they can’t risk a social life. Don’t have time for shopping I’ve got my disguise, don’t need anything new. Don’t have time to read, books are just full of tales that make me forget my cover story.

The spy, she’s learnt everything she needs to know, all the details, all the secrets. There she goes out into the world. At work I see her talk easily with my colleagues, they don’t even know that I’ve been replaced, she’s all bluff and bravado, a brave face even when that face has a black eye. They try to catch her out but she’s got an explanation for everything. Nod and smile everybody, you knows she’s lying but, got to collude in the lie, just like when the villain is pretending that James bond is really just some sharp suited business man or a rich playboy just out for some fun. She doesn’t really exist anywhere else now. She gets the bus but even those who remember seeing her yesterday and the day before, they don’t know her.

The spy takes care of the public and I’m left at home. A toy that just lies there on the bed waiting for her owner to get home but, it’s all wrong. Toys are supposed to come alive when you leave, to have their secret magical life, but there’s no magic, no life, just secrets.

I came alive when he came home. Then the undercover agent really came into her own. She would switch places with me so I could hide. She was good too but she can’t get it right all the time. I would pop out at the wrong moment, stick my head over the barricades, bad move. Bad move. Punishment follows but then prisoners just take their punishment, that’s just the way of things, what else is there to do?

Then I would catch my reflection and, it was me, not the spy, not the toy, just me. I could see who I used to be but there’s no longing or sadness attached to the memory. ‘Are you going to stay?” she whispers, quiet words about escape, fantasies that seem dangerous. He’ll come for me though I’d tell her. He’ll always come for me. He promised and, he keeps those sort of promises.

“But here I am, I guess he can’t come for me now, can he?”
“No. No he can’t. Would you like to go now?”
“Oh… I guess so, it’s so weird this collection of empties, empty pill bottle, empty vodka bottle, empty woman slumped in a chair. I should feel something for her, shouldn’t I?”
“It is you and not you. Familiar and foreign. That’s the way of things that you leave behind.”
“You know I thought you’d look different, shouldn’t you be all in black, you know, have a cloak and a scythe or something like that?”
“I have different styles, but I can do that, if it helps.”
“No… no you’re okay as you are. What do we do now?”
“We walk away.”
“That’s all?”
“That’s all.”
The End

Re: The last punch - feedback please

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:33 am
by Bmat
This is an emotional and powerful topic. It also may address some reasons that some women stay with abusers.

Was this conjecture or is it something you have been told or found about abused women?

The ending is effective, and no, I don't think back story is needed. Abuse can lead to death.


Re: The last punch - feedback please

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:58 pm
by Asp Zelazny
Well done, effective ending.

Just a bit of proof-reading:
Line 6: should be "rein" not "reign" ... I had to go look it up to be sure.
Line 26: "It's" should be "its"
Line 33: capitalize the B in Bond.

The dissociation that is well played here is pretty striking. It took a bit to catch on when it first happened though. Perhaps you could stress it a bit more with paragraph breaks between the "characters" or perhaps type face changes? Might otherwise be a bit subtle for the general audience (of which I have a lower and lower opinion every day I go to Facebook).

Re: The last punch - feedback please

PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:47 am
by berry
Thanks very much guys. I am surprised at the idea that it is subtle, I didn't think I was capable of writing subtle! I will give the idea of paragraph breaks or type face changes a go.

Re: The last punch - feedback please

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:08 am
by pete.maguire
I actually think the opposite of back story. I think you could go straight in at 'I should have known, staggering in late...' because the reader is then immediately pulled into the story. It is very gripping at the action point, yet fades out a bit at the internal thought bits. I would suggest more action interspersed in the internal thought. Put the reader right in there. Keep working on it. :D


Re: The last punch - feedback please

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:02 am
by Bmat
I think I'd omit the first few lines and start with There was the punch....
And then the last part, ending with He keeps those sort of promises.

It changes the story a bit, but focuses on what I consider the meat of the story.