The Merits of Diving

24 07 2009

This is intended to be part of a series of thirty snippets based in Dublin. There will not be any happy parts.


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© skrblr 2009

I was fourteen years old that summer when I watched Donny die down by the bathing place at the Forty Foot, just around the back of Sandycove Beach. Powered by a dive, he used his neck as a switch, the rocks hidden below the water line as a finger, to turn off the lights. When we dragged his long blonde body out of the sea onto the rough concrete at the edge of the water, it was quivering with stray nerve impulses, exerting their finite energies in a futile attempt to reanimate their now-smothering cloak of meat. The stuffing of his neck was gone, crushed by the impact, and when his head, with its weight of now-useless pudding, slipped to one side, a final throe caused water to spill from his mouth and over my bare feet.

I recall that part so vividly, the water from his mouth was hot, even hotter than the sun-warmed concrete where I stood. Sometimes, I fancy that the fluid leaving his grazed face represented his body’s last effort to jettison the tiny nucleus of being that once controlled it, in the hope that, ejected from the moribund, there would be some small chance it might land in a place where it could continue, could find some other vessel to prolong its existence in the world of matter. To think that the remains of Donny, his soul, or essence, or whatever, was gasped over my feet on that day makes me want to puke. That was many years ago, but my memory of that moment is polished, like a jasper, impervious.

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15 responses

24 07 2009
battypip

That’s so powerful. Made me cry.

24 07 2009
Laura Eno

Wow…you did a great job with the gruesome imagery! This will stay with me for a long time!

24 07 2009
Chris Chartrand

A moving piece. It amazes me how in the midst of such trauma one thing stands out and changes us in profound ways. Your story captured that perfectly.

24 07 2009
Jen

Amazing imagery. I will have to read again and again.

25 07 2009
KjM

Memories of Dublin – thanks for that.

I love the details and your language. Between them I could see and feel everything.

Well done.

25 07 2009
J. M. Strother

Such a powerful, powerful piece. Very few words. Very big impact. This is a very real, very haunting piece. I have complete empathy for you MC and the torment he must live through daily.
~jon

25 07 2009
Stephen book

It was easy to visualize the events of this tragic piece. You did a fine job with the langauage and narrative.

27 07 2009
Ryan Bradford

Favorite line: When we dragged his long blonde body out of the sea onto the rough concrete at the edge of the water, it was quivering with stray nerve impulses, exerting their finite energies in a futile attempt to reanimate their now-smothering cloak of meat.

27 07 2009
Anasazi Stories

Whoa, powerful piece. I love your simple descriptive powers: “the stuffing of his neck was gone,” “that memory is polished, like a jasper,” “his head, wit its weight of now-useless pudding.” Outstanding wordsmithery there.

That last line kind of took me out of the tale. The drugs? I’d been reading this up to that point as a sad reverie, not as a symptom of mental illness (or, perhaps, causal to mental illness). So are these drugs taken by choice, bought on the street, an act of trying to hide from the memories? Or drugs given by doctors to medicate overt madness? And when the drugs, taken for whatever reason, wear off, the narrator things of the merits of diving? As in it’s not a very good idea to dive into Dublin Bay? That’s not something I’d think a fellow under the effects of mental illness would think. Seems too straightforward a lesson, too obvious, too logical.

Maybe I’m reading it wrong. Or trying to interpret too much into it.

Great piece in creating a scene and setting with a compelling tone and very tight descriptions. Good piece, and thanks for sharing with us.

Now I’ll go read the comments of others, since I’m finishing up my #FridayFlash reads on Monday.

–Jeff Posey

27 07 2009
skrblr

You’ve spotted the weak ending. I’m not happy with it, so there’s a chance it’ll morph a little once I think of a sentence that encapsulates the character’s sense of continual horror once he is released from the goosedown embrace of the drugs.

28 07 2009
Dan Powell

The imagery here creates a very real picture for the reader. The flopping of the head and spilling of the water over the narrators feet is as striking a piece of description as I have read. I’m with Jeff on the ending. Loved the image of the memory as a polished stone, worn smooth with handling. Perhaps you should end there. Powerful work. 🙂

28 07 2009
skrblr

@Dan – you have it, that’s the thing to do, end it before it gets raggy. I’ll update the piece, and finish on the image of the jasper, methinks.

A blanket thank-you to everyone for taking the time to read the piece, and further time to comment!

28 07 2009
J. M. Strother

I liked the original ending fine. I figured the guy was on antidepressants, like a lot of post traumatic stress syndrome patients are, and that when he quits taking his meds the depression gets worse and he contemplates following in Donny’s wake. Can’t really say which is better, but I thought that original ending worked fine.
~jon

29 07 2009
skrblr

@jon, that was the original intent for sure, but I think I muffed it first time around. I’ll come back to this one, however, as it is part of a series of 30 interrelated short pieces joined together by locations on Dublin’s DART train line, accompanied by photographs that are evocative of the mood of the piece. I have only got 5 done so far, ranging from 14 to 400 words, so lots of scriblig left to do…not to mention taking the photos…

29 07 2009
J. M. Strother

Neat concept. Good luck on that project.
~jon

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