Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What happened last night?

From the reflection of a mirror I see a girl raising her head slowly, painfully, and staring at her dehydrated and chalky face. Her eyes are sunken, dark grey circles hanging beneath them, mascara smudged along the lower lids, her eyes swollen and red. Her cheeks are pale, the green and purple veins creeping across the lines of her chin and over the bridge of her nose. She runs her tongue across the rough and dry surface of her crackling lips and as she leans closer, I can see the scratches and purple bruising that is beginning to emerge just below her hairline.

Her eyes widen. She searches the reflection, gently brushing aside a mess of curls and flattening them to her head. Examining her battered brow, she is genuinely surprised. Suddenly, her attention turns to the room around her. The sneakers in the corner, neatly placed by the door are of particular interest and are, in fact, out of place compared to the general untidiness of their surroundings. She steps towards them, eager and quick, only to buckle part way and gawk down at her bare and bruised knees still bleeding slightly from their scrapes. The eyes widen even more so, the attention to this new detail is frightening, the effort to move clearly painful. In jerky strained steps she walks towards the dresser, resting her hands on the smooth wooded surface. She inhales deeply as she her face pales and her stomach revolts against the sudden movement.

She is confused. When she is alone, she slips frantically out of each article of clothing, leaving her pants piled on the floor behind her as she climbs into bed completely naked. When she is not, the sheets are torn off and kicked violent to the foot of the bed, pillows are generally knocked to the ground and she would have wakes up in a loose male undershirt if not entirely naked. Neither of these have happened. Taking a look at her relatively unruffled bed and the untouched pillows she was sure that she been put to bed, not taken to it.

With this threat dispelled the girl’s next concern is caffeine. Sniffing slightly, it is clear there is already something brewing from the room adjacent and the corners of her mouth begin to turn up in a smile. She walks from the room, eyes closed, inhaling deeply.

“ I love you, you know that?” she hums.

A young man sits in the chair before her, a steaming mug of coffee in hand, a television remote in the other. He looks surprised, his lips begin to curl, his eyes shine. He looks amused.

“Well that’s certainly a change from last night.”

The girl’s eyes snap open. Smile vanishing instantly, she freezes, hand stall mid-scratch so that her hair stands puffing out around her fist. Her stomach lurches violently as she watches the young man sipping from the purple mug. Lowering her hand from her hair, her shocked and horrified expression barely wavers as she reaches out for the ceramic handle, brushing past his bruised and scabbed fist.

Her body melts into the nearest chair, the purple mug cuddled against her chest as the hidden memories of the night unveil themselves rapidly in her mind. A giggling friend followed by an angry boy, this one with black hair, not the sandy blonde of the man in front of her. One of her bruises is explained, another flash of the black haired boy trailed closely by a powerful image of an infuriated blonde.

Her stomach lurches violently one more time and the last flood of awareness is that of her drunken body slouching against the side of a building, vomiting into the dirt of the ground. The memory is suddenly too fluid, to real, each sensation incredibly prevalent, the pressure building in her throat, the stinging behind her eyes. Pushing her chair back with a forceful shove, she jumps from the chair, hot coffee erupting from the mug as she rushes to the washroom. Barrelling through the doorway she throws herself towards the toilet, one hand flinging the lid wide as the other catches her falling body on the edge of the bowl and supports her lurching frame as she vomits fiercely, releasing the last of the memories from her system.

“How much did I drink last night?” she groans over the flushing toilet, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand and leaning her head against the cool tiled wall behind her.

“Enough for it to be coming up again this morning,” he answers leaning against with doorframe, his coffee dangling from his thumb and two middle fingers.

“Fuck off,” she says coldly, as she crawls towards the sink, pulling herself up by the porcelain basin and leaning into the running tap.

“Yeah, you said that several times last night too.”


  1. This is an absolutely intriguing bit of work. I really love the whole thing-- Obviously, it's something that many of us --at least on some level-- can relate to. But that's not the main strength. Not even close, by my estimation.

    What I really love, and what seems like a really inspired (if not original!) style of writing is the portrayal of the main girl (whomever it is) being written in as "the girl" or "a girl". In fact, the very first line gives us this. It's a style that I feel beautifully captures an abstract state of being drunk or hungover because it displays that obvious detachment from sensory perception and the world. "I see a girl in the mirror" -- Instead of "I see myself..." --there's that obvious detachment, and it's a beautiful representation, I think, of the slowing of the brain and the displacement of sense and thought whilst drunk.
    ((I honestly can't get over how cool that effect is!))

    Of course, that detachment continues in some ways throughout, and I think that it works so well in all of its uses.

    --A fantastic line: "Her body melts into the nearest chair, the purple mug cuddled against her chest as the hidden memories of the night unveil themselves rapidly in her mind." --

    The displacement of memory too, and the gradual gaining of it is wonderfully effective to me in the way that the recollections are discribed. Piece by piece, reasoning by reasoning, with a great descriptive style.

    This bit stands out:

    "A giggling friend followed by an angry boy, this one with black hair, not the sandy blonde of the man in front of her. One of her bruises is explained, another flash of the black haired boy trailed closely by a powerful image of an infuriated blonde."

    Great work, I could go on. I loved the style and approach to the subject matter. You made it come alive, you made it real, and you completely established this as anything but a run of the mill drinking tale.


  2. Hey, this was an interesting blog post. I liked the amount of detail you included in the piece. I don't know if this would change the piece in any other way, but I thought perhaps naming the girl, saying ‘the girl’ I find becomes repetitive. I enjoyed your post.

  3. I really enjoyed the "Joan Didion-ness" of this post. I don't know if this was a personal story or not but some of the details given can't really be known without actually being the person they happened to. I felt like I was actually living out the story with the protagonist. The somewhat "slow tone" (I don't mean that in a bad way at all) made the story come alive for me, as a reader. The way you ended it was the perfect example of not neatly tying up all the loose ends. It left me wanting to return to the beginning and read it again to see if there was something that I missed. Really great job!

  4. I really enjoyed this. The way you described everything in detail created visual images in my mind. This post really showed off you abilities as a writer, by employing a huge range of descriptive words and vocabulary.

    I liked how you slowly give us bits about what happened to this character. It kept me guessing, and it made me want to keep reading. I also think the ending works well…there’s no unnecessary “happily ever after” paragraph that tells the reader the moral of the story.

    I also think that the use of “the girl” works well for this story. If you would have given her a name, I think it would have taken away from the general haziness/confusion (if those are the right words to use) of the story. The story is about remembering, and I think if you would have given her a name, it would have seemed too concrete and real. Therefore, you used this device effectively.

    The only criticism I have is for you to watch your spelling. You say “kicked violent” (you probably meant “violently”), “she would have wakes up”, and “hand stall mid-scratch.” These errors distracted me a little and ruined the flow in some parts because I had to go back and re-read the sentence to understand it. But these are only tiny errors, and are insignificant in comparison to the story in general.

    This was really well done! Other than the spelling errors, I thought this could have been a professional piece of writing.