A unique semi-autobiographical novella written in verse that looks at the impact on a teenager whose mother is terminally ill
Written in the first person, One Hundred and Fifty-two Days tells the story of a teenage boy whose mother is terminally ill. Following a bout of pneumonia, the boy isn’t allowed to visit his mum who is receiving end of life treatment in hospital. His home life feels just as detached as his father turns to drink to mask the pain and escape the challenges they face as a family. As a coping mechanism he develops a powerful bond with his sparky and free-thinking physiotherapist, called Freya. Unlike anyone else in his life, Freya is able to lift his spirits and fill the void left by a distant father, a scatty grandmother and of course his dying mother, and finally open his eyes to a world full of possibility, hope and love.
This free-verse novella is the first time I’ve written for an older audience having mostly written picture books in the past. My intention was always to write this story in free verse as it allowed me to use language to express myself emotionally and artistically so much more than prose ever could.
It also felt like someone could read this is one or two sittings, much like watching a film or listening to an album, allowing the story to be consumed in one piece rather than being nibbled at over several days or weeks.
Above all this is a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a very long time, because a lot of this book is my story, my experiences, my memories wrapped inside of fiction.
Today I said goodbye to mum.
She is going in
just for a little while
we carry on like normal
She's sat on the sofa, dressing gown on
the sun burning a glow on the side
of her face, through the curtain.
Nana Q was going to walk with me
walk with me to school
even though I'm old enough,
I usually walk on my on, but today
they thought Nana Q should go
“It's time you got going.” Mum Says
and as I lean down to her, she
pulls me in and I feel her shaking.
Uncontrollable shaking, and her grip
though weak is prolonged, and she whispers
in my ear and I can't make it out
and I ask to repeat, but she can't
hold back her tears, and as I pull
away, I wish I'd asked again.
Physio Day 108
The clapping under my arms,
“The infection was really severe,” she says
“You've been coming here for quite a while.”
The clapping is percussive, and I close my eyes
The rhythm is somehow soothing, then I ready myself
my position is crucial to make the procedure effective,
to loosen the secretions caused by the infection.
“That's it” she says
“You're doing a good job”
and the cup below becomes stained with green spit
Each cough removes just a little bit more.
It's been weeks since I started,
I hope it's nearly all gone.
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Tuesday, 11 December 2018
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