Uni Week 7: Disturbing news

Poetry is over and I had to hand in my assignment. This was daunting, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to do something like that.

The tutor has taken them home today to mark over the weekend. I really hope I’ve got a reasonable mark. Most of my class mates like my poem. Someone called my reflexive piece ‘very intellectual’. I can’t help it. How else was I supposed to say ‘it just happens’ for a 1000 words?

Any way, this morning’s workshop was a change from our usual presentation plus exercises. We wrote flash fiction about the US election result and then wrote about our credo as writers. Someone actually wrote porn for this exercise. It was very funny. I wrote a couple of pieces, one short and slightly humorous and the the other longer but slightly dystopian. I thought I’d share them with you all.

The Day Obama Changed The Locks

Activity around the White House increased as the Obamas prepared for the future. The locksmith arrived at dawn the day the results were confirmed.

CW: Suicide


The neighbours had all voted Trump, against their better interests, taken in by the rhetoric of racism and fear. Colleagues joked about moving to Canada but Shannon couldn’t afford that; three years of temping, in and out of work, struggling with medical problems and Unemployment, had wrecked her savings. Besides, she couldn’t leave her mother, who wouldn’t leave and thought Trump was the Second Coming. The roads north were very tempting. Every day she got up, dressed, refused to watch the news, drove to work, if there was work, came home, ate dinner, slept and did it all over again the next day. Every day she chose to stay, chose between escape and her mother.

The first hint that something was wrong came in January 2017 when her doctor refused to treat her for bronchitis; Medicare had been binned and she had no insurance. She went home, coughing and wheezing, unsafe to drive really but the buses didn’t run out to her suburb anymore. The next day she tried to go to work, too sick really to manage, and was turned away; one day missed was enough to get her the sack. When her pill ran out she found PP was closed, the building fire bombed and derelict.

The rent became due and in February she couldn’t pay, still coughing and out of work. Her Unemployment cut to $30 a week. She begged her mother for help, her mother who expected her to be driver, cook and housekeeper since Shannon ‘wasn’t doing anything else’, but mother refused to listen, refused to give her any help to pay the rent, buy food or visit the doctor. Shannon, she said, deserved everything that happened to her for being lazy, for not going to church enough, for being too progressive, it was God’s will and punishment for her sins. Defeated and ashamed of her poverty, her weakness, her inability to work walked home; she’d sold the car for food and to keep the lights on.

In the mirror Shannon saw a shadow, the pale skin of the walking dead stretched over meatless bones. The pills were there. The road north was long out of reach. But another road waited. She reached for the pills and took the second road.

So that was cheery. I kill a lot of my characters off. I don’t know why, for some reason it just sort of happens. Flash fiction, for those that are unaware, is very short fiction, under 500 words and usually between 100 and 300 words. It was fun to try to get a plot into that few words, since I’m normally a sprawling novel type person.

Talking of novels, number three is coming along well, I even managed to get some written on the train home today. I did manage to leave my scarf on the train though because I’m an idiot.

We finished poetry this week, except that next week and on the 30th there are going to be two visiting poets doing readings. Between those and after, until we break up on 14th December, we are covering script writing for TV and radio. I’m looking forward to that, although I hear the subject of our assignment has already been decided by the head of programme, who will be my tutor from now on for the rest of term.

My assignment for my other module this term is at a good point, the first draft is complete ahead of schedule and I’ve sent it to my tutor for critique and feedback. The I’ll work on it a bit more. I have until 25th January to get it complete and write a 1000 word (or possibly 2000 word, I’m a bit hazy on that) reflexive piece. I have to find more ways of writing ‘it just sort of happens’. To be fair though, I will have things to say about how the story changed from the very first draft, at the moment it’s gone from 1st person to 3rd person.The tense was wobbly in the very first draft, and I hope I’ve got that sorted out, and a new character appeared out of the blue. Also, some of the characters get permanently laminated to a cave floor by dragon fire. The floor melts and everything.

Look, I admit to being weird, I’m allowed to have dragons as main characters and kill off my protagonists.

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