Snowcase #9 • 15 August 2007 • The SnowBlog
Nearly in double digits! Here's a (beautifully formatted - thank you!) snowcase submission from Juliet O'Callaghan. Juliet began her career as a nurse, then trained as a teacher of psychology. The opening pages of her first novel, about sex, guilt and dying, were long-listed in the UKA Press Competition.
The novel is How to Love Flynn. Ashley is dying; she writes a manual on how to love her husband, intended for Esther, his best friend, but then Kasia, the Nurse arrives... How to love Flynn
Prologue - May 28th
Egg timers. We've all got one filled with bitter salt, leeching life.
Mine's nearly run out. A little triangle of white grain is all that's left. Yours might be about to run out too. And you might know like I do, or you might not, like Diana and Dodi speeding through the Parisian night, orange flashes of concrete; closer, closer... Bam!
Whether you do or not oughtn't to matter because you can't turn it over and start again, but it does. I dream about buses. I step off the pavement in front of a big red double decker and wake wondering why it is a London bus and not the Green Dart single decker of the Home Counties.
Of course, I have time to say goodbye. My family, studded like odd buttons across the meadow at my feet have time for closure, have time to make their peace. At my funeral they will sob whilst patting each others shoulders and whisper: At least we had time to say goodbye, we were lucky. Lucky! I won't be feeling lucky! I won't feel anything at all. I will not be. And this is all I can think about in between the gasping, drowning fear of pain. Will it hurt? Will I claw the air?
Will I know that I am about to take my final breath? I have too much time to think, yet, I have too little time to live.
The hot wind rushes across the hillside and whips at my hair, bringing the itchy scent of rapeseed from the field beyond the rumble and roar of the motorway; impossibly yellow, it stings my eyes. I look down on my grave. Three months. A rough guide. A guesstimate. Doctors don't like putting time frames on things like that; it implies they have more control than they really do. Life and death. They're not even certain when either begin. Too many incidents of the 'dead' awakening after being frozen under ice; or, limbs twitching on the cold morgue slab; and, only yesterday, a tiny baby placed into its mothers arms for a heart numbing goodbye, starts to suckle, comes back to life. I have to make sure I am dead, dead.
The grassy hillocks rebound under my feet as I begin the descent.
Flynn waves and his hand flickers reminding me of the whirring, clicking images of Grace and I cart wheeling across daisy lawns and chasing butterflies in bamboo stick nets. Sisters, frozen in time on a cine film from a faraway summer, when we believed we had forever.
Three months or thereabouts. I should be dead by the end of July, which would be ideal for Flynn; he could have me buried before term starts and then be too busy scolding the next generation to mourn.
It's highly possible of course that I won't make it to the end of July, or I might go on for another six months and see Christmas. As I've said, doctors don't like to give prognoses; it's the families that demand them.
Author: Juliet O'C