Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Untitled - a nano novel

I think this probably counts as cheating, but whilst I brew up something newer about a guy who doesn't dream, I thought I'd share with you the first chapter of my recent NaNoWriMo novel.

Be warned though, if you show any interest, I might post the rest of it, chapter by chapter.

I'm looking for a title too, so suggestions welcomed.

(oh, and I haven't really read back through it yet, so please try and ignore all glaring errors).

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Chapter 1

Can you remember the first time that you were dumped? The first time that someone decided to cut their relationship with you short; to tell you that you aren’t wanted and to sever all ties and to walk off into the distance? I think it is supposed to happen to you when you are a kid. Perhaps it happened to you when you were ten and it was your first girlfriend. Perhaps you thought you’d never recover from the pain and shame of it all, but before the end of the week you were snogging Melanie Johnson in the bus-stop as though nothing had happened. Does that count? Perhaps it doesn’t, and you haven’t really experienced a dumping until you are ditched by your first serious girlfriend, where your relationship has gone a little further than those first kisses. Maybe even that doesn’t count as a proper dumping; maybe you can only consider yourself to have been truly ditched when someone you love unconditionally casts you aside and leaves you gaping like a fish and wailing at the injustice of it all.

In this world, you are either a dumper or dumped. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and the only way to protect yourself is to get them before they get you.

I can’t say that I agree with that point of view, although on the bare statistics of my life might lead you to think that I do: of the three serious girlfriends I have had, I dumped two of them. The first was easy. We’d been going out for about three months when we both graduated from University. She lived in one part of the country and I lived in another. There didn’t seem to be any point pretending that this could turn out to be the great love affair of my life, so I told her that it was over. I don’t flatter myself that she was especially surprised or upset by this news, but as I basically told her on the last night of term, I didn’t really get to see close up if this was the case. The second time was harder, and it took me a full year to pluck up the courage to do it. The relationship had lasted for three years and we were living together. The news came as a brutal shock, and I felt like a total shit. I still do. I had been thinking about it for months, but for her it was news totally out of the blue. To make matters worse, we continued to live together for another month before I was able to move out. Throughout the whole sorry business, I was sustained by one thing: the sure and certain knowledge that I was doing the right thing for both of us in the long run. Apart from a couple of brief visits in the first few months after the break-up, I haven’t seen her since. My parents still exchange Christmas Cards with her.

Are there guidelines for dumping someone? Is there a resource that outlines what is, and what is not, acceptable behaviour? Should you give someone notice? I, the undersigned, hereby notify you that I wish to terminate our relationship in one month’s time. That kind of thing. Would making the whole process more businesslike make it any less painful or difficult? Would there be the right of appeal? Relationship tribunals? Claims for unfair or constructive dismissal?

Can you dump someone nicely, or is it such a fundamentally distasteful task for everyone concerned that you are better off just spitting it out and being done with it? You could be about to shatter someone else’s world, does it make any difference how you do it? It’s not as though being nice about it ultimately softens the blow, is it? What purpose does it really serve, except perhaps to make you feel a little better about yourself, to maintain that illusion you have of yourself as being a decent person. It was a tough job, but you did it as nicely as you could to spare her feelings. Bully for you.

Actually, I don’t believe that, although I suppose that all these things are relative. I don’t know whether being as nice as I could about the whole thing softened the blow at all for my last girlfriend, or if ultimately the Stalinism of time has re-written what happened in her own head with a view that better suits the purposes of her own ego and her own self-esteem. Why not? That’s what I’ve done in my head. Dammit, it was tough at the time and the poor girl took it hard, but I’m pretty sure it was for the best in the long run and she’s probably happier now, eh?

I got dumped for the first time when I was 31 years old. It came completely out of the blue and has left me shaken. I am finding myself running over and over in my head the sequence of events that has led us here. Could I have done anything different that could have avoided this? Of course I could. Could I do anything now that might alter this? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I shouldn’t really be surprised that I got away with it for so long. I can’t imagine that there are many more certain ways of avoiding being dumped than the one I have steadfastly adopted over the years; be spectacularly unsuccessful with women. It’s the best way. It’s far more reliable than the “dump lest ye be dumped” school of thought, even if it’s not a course to be taken lightly. In fact, I’d go further. Not only should you be spectacularly unsuccessful with women, but you shouldn’t even run the risk. You shouldn’t try, lest you succeed. Ah, way to go to find someone to share your life, James, way to go. Moron.

Anyway. So I was dumped. I have been dumped. I am dumped.

I don’t like it.

I have no right of reply.

What’s worse is that I was dumped by email. I heard that Phil Collins once informed his wife that it was over by fax, and I thought that would be pretty hard to beat, but email isn’t really any better. It’s a disposable form of communication. It says it all for me that you can’t be prosecuted for libel for something you have written down in an email, only for slander. It’s a strangely permanent impermanence, and it’s a terrible way to find out that you have been dropped. I think what is worse it that I was at work when the message arrived. Usually a non-work message is something to be treasured, something to be read immediately, and I instantly dropped whatever pointless task it was that I was doing to read the new message.

Dumped.

“Okay, here’s the thing. Now I was going to send this months ago but I guess I was avoiding it, thinking I wouldn’t have to and now I do.

“I just don’t see the point in us being friends any more. And far from being a weird and immature decision, I think it’s a very adult one. The last year or so that we’ve met up, things have been very strained between us. Neither of us seems that happy to see the other. Neither of us really asks or seems to care how the other one really is. Bitterness and envy – I don’t know why – seems to hang in the air, coming from both of us. The atmosphere is very odd. And there is bickering and bad looks and bad moods. And both of us are guilty of this. Just the whole experience isn’t great. It’s not all the time. Meeting up with you there are doubtless a few moments over the weekend/whatever but there’s also lots of other things going on and I don’t know why. It’s almost as though neither of us really wants to hang out together but we feel we have to. We’re clinging to years of history together. And it doesn’t have to be like that.

“I guess another problem is that I never feel this way with any other friends of mine. I always feel like they want to see me and that we have a laugh. And that when I leave them I want to see them again and there aren’t any problems. But it’s not like that when I’ve seen you. I always feel that either you or I are pissed off. They’re pained experiences. And so I’ve just been wondering why we still do it, why we still meet up. I don’t really think you are bothered. I’ve had one email from you in months. No phone calls. All other emails have been jokes or group get togethers. Nothing personal at all – no how are yous, where are you, what’s wrong. Nothing. I just don’t think we want to hang around together any more.

“BUT I don’t think the blame lies at any one person’s door. I’m not finger pointing and I don’t want any bitter slanging matches. I think for whatever reason we’ve grown apart and we’re different people now and we should just move on. We’ve had some good times and let’s just leave it at that.”

Yeah, that’s right. I wasn’t dumped by a girlfriend, or anything as prosaic as that. No. I was dumped from a far greater height than that. I was dropped by one of my oldest friends. A guy that I have known for more than twenty years. A guy who I first met when I was 7 years old. Dumped. Dropped. No right of reply. As far as he was concerned, that email was it. I was dead to him.

5 Comments:

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Alecya Giovanni said...

Well, since you posted this just after I posted from my NaNo novel, I think you are safe :)

I love your novel. I am still thinking on a title. I liked Coming Home but that is too trite for my tastes. I'll think some more. You're a great writer, I am looking forward to the new one soon.

 
At 10:23 PM, Blogger Crucifer said...

Having never been dumped or dumped anyone else (I'm in my first ongoing relationship of 8 years now), it does make for an interesting read, especially when the ending comes and you realise the dumping was done by a childhood friend.

Very nicely done, Sir.

But what is all this about a NaNo novel?

And are you two going to put up the rest of the novels up or must I whine incessantly until someone emails them to me? :)

 
At 10:31 PM, Blogger SwissToni said...

Nano novel: a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the calendar month of November. This was chapter one of my effort, and yes, there is a lot more of it.....

Glad you liked it.

ST

 
At 12:06 AM, Blogger bytheseashore said...

I liked the first installment and completely fell for the idea that you weren't talking about a partner doing the dumping. I'd be interested to see more and will, at some point, contribute here. Work and writer's block have prevented me recently but I thought of something this evening that interested me. If I can work out where it might go, I'll put something up soon and stop lurking!

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger nadine said...

A very good read Swisstoni. Thanks for posting it.

I'm not really a writer but only tried to do so since last year but you won't find any of my writing on the internet for now - I'm just a begginner.

But i very much enjoyed your text. More, please. *grins*

 

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