Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Little Bit of Marlena

This last excerpt is 19-year-old Marlena’s account, relaying her personal experience at a hospital, with her new friend, Dave.

They told me I had to take off the clothes that Dr. Phelps gave me, and put on another little shirt that tied in the back. New people asked me questions, ones I had already answered. They also stuck things in my mouth, listened to my heart, and hit my knee. Mostly they only annoyed me, but then they wanted to poke me with a sharp needle.

I jumped off the table and shouted, “No! I’m leaving right now!” Then I told Dave to take me to my people.

He took my hand and stepped between me and the others.

“Marlena,” he said in a gentle voice, “you don’t have anyone yet. These people don’t want to hurt you, they simply need to make sure your blood is healthy, and they can’t let you leave until they make sure you’re completely well.”

I took a deep breath and didn’t shout this time. I folded my arms tighter. “I am perfectly well. How would you like it if I poked all of you with a sharp stick?” I didn’t take my eyes off them, and I didn’t budge.

Dave made the others leave for a minute and then took my hand again.

“Marlena, this is something they have to do. It won’t hurt too bad, I promise.”

I wanted to believe him. “Then I want you to do it to me. I know you’ll be gentle.”

“Okay.” He quickly he tied a piece of rubber around my arm. Then he rubbed a spot with something cold. “Ready?”

I closed my eyes. “Yes.”

I cried into his shirt, not because it hurt, but because I didn’t have any people yet.


  1. I'm intrigued by the comment about 'not having any people'... what does it mean? Simple lonliness, or something deeper? She seems to have Dave as a friend...

  2. I'm so impressed with your talent to switch POV's and convey the characters with such divergent voices. It adds so much depth and believablity to the novel.

  3. I agree with Deb. You have created such unique voices. Marlena is quite the interesting character.

  4. I'm w/ Norm about being intrigued by the people comment (and now, for some random reason, I'm thinking of Soylent Green :)

  5. Norm,
    The hard part of picking an excerpt from this part of the story was finding something that didn’t give away too much information. There were other blocks of narrative and dialogue that better represented her voice, but it’s all crucial to that big ‘Ahah’ moment in the story. So, I can’t tell you what the comment about ‘not having any people’ means. You’ll just have to wait and read the novel...

    Deb & Susan
    Thanks—I found it challenging to reconcile the change in voice from Marlena, the formal storyteller to the more primitive, almost child-like prose of this sample, while still keeping her story engaging. She is nothing, if not peculiar!

    Bane, wasn’t that the story about food made from reconstituted human bits? Rest assured, her ‘people’ are in the fully constituted, or would that be pre-reconstituted state.
    ...And you too will just have to read it to find out!

  6. Serves me right, Bridget. After all, I've left YOU with a dead guy in the desert, a young Palestinian girl with her leg blown off, and two blown-out 'scenes' in a 'play' :):)

  7. Yeah, Norm, that’s right...

    But I think I have yours figured out. The dead guy in the desert was planning to avenge is sister Laila’s leg, but Vern from Kentucky ruined everything by inadvertently blowing-out the ‘scene.’ Now Casimir Pliskin and Vasily Chernenko have to find another ‘actor’ as motivated as dead-desert guy, someone who won’t be so careless as to hang around in jackrabbit hunting grounds. Otherwise the ‘Director’ will send them off to Siberia—no more Rolex or Movado’s
    Am I close?

  8. Nope. The dead guy in the desert wasn't related to Laila, and wasn't part of any scene. (Hehehehe... got you sucked in, didn't I? I think I'll post yet another sample, just to confuse you a little more!)

  9. Yay, Norm—I hoped you would.

    By the way, you just inspired me to enter “The corpse in the desert wasn’t related to his sister," in a ten-word flash fiction contest over at www.