Faber Academy Course – Week 5


Time and pace was what this week’s Faber Academy Course was all about.

Our task for week five was to write a 500-700 word piece focusing on summary and scene. Slowing time down, but also speeding it up when necessary. Probably my trickiest exercise so far.

I chose to post my ‘A Day in the Life of…’ story, covering 24 hours of someone’s life, to the discussion forum. I noticed as I started to write about Elsie – as she appeared in my head – that I was writing in present tense when it’s past that normally comes out. Most interesting.

The other classmates who commented on my work said they thoroughly enjoyed it again this week, which is wonderful to hear. I’ve gained so much confidence from this course in such a small space of time. Critiquing their work, also, has made me notice things in my own writing I’d not seen before. Such a great learning curve.

Only three more weeks to go!

Here’s Elsie if you’d like to read about her, too.


A Day in the Life of Elsie Jones

 The brightness of the light above my head coming on filters through my closed eyelids, paper thin with age.

“It’s all right, Elsie love, I’ve just come to do your medicine.”

It’s midnight.

How do I know this with my eyes shut? Because I can smell the lavender perfume of Rita, the night nurse at Yew Tree Rest Home, and she always does her rounds at twelve o’clock, that’s how.

Coldness creeps into my veins. “There, all done, dear. You can go back to sleep now.”

I don’t speak back to her. I would if I could; I’m not rude. But after the stroke I suffered on my ninety ninth birthday last year my mouth forgot how to work. The light fades. I pray as always that I don’t wake up again.

“Morning, Mrs Jones. Breakfast is served.” I’m still alive then. I lay perfectly still, pretend I don’t know she’s there; Julie, the day nurse, who’s come to pump liquid food into my stomach tube, to keep me alive for another day. I know it’s her because of the coconut shampoo she always uses. It’s revolting. She pushes open the curtains before she leaves.

When I’m sure no-one else is there I open my eyes. It takes a while for them to focus properly. On the table next to my bed is a large white envelope addressed to me, Mrs E P Jones, in big swirly black writing. It wasn’t there yesterday. A miniature portrait of our Queen sits in the top right hand corner.  I call it that because I cannot remember its proper name. I guess it’s a birthday card. I wonder who it’s from. I can’t reach out for it because, as I said already, things gave up working after the stroke.

Tomorrow is my one hundredth birthday. Seventh born to Arthur Drake the butcher and his tired wife Gladys, married to Stanley Jones the baker boy at eighteen, pregnant with twins at nineteen and widowed at twenty two, I never thought I’d ever reach such a milestone. A stamp! That’s what it’s called. My eyelids, heavy with time, start to droop. I pray I don’t wake up again.

“Hey, love, time for a quick wash, just a cat’s lick an’ a promise today, eh. No-one’ll know.” This one doesn’t smell so I open my eyes. Her back’s turned. She’s rinsing out a flannel. “Oh, you’re awake,” she says, now smiling down at me, hand raised, waiting. The tiny dot of a stud in her nose winks at me as it reflects in the light. Cubic zirconia, I guess. There’s no way she could afford a real diamond.  I want to tell her to go away, to leave me to die, not to care for me. I try to convey this through a furrowing of my brow and a really cold hard stare but she doesn’t notice. Instead she just waits for me to close my eyes again so she can wash my face. I conform. Silent tears slip down my face. I pray I don’t wake up again.

The day carries on in much the same way, as always: Lunch, tea, supper. It’s all the same, because I can’t taste any of it. I keep my eyes shut when someone tucks me in for the night and pray I don’t wake up again.

The brightness of the light above my head coming on filters through my closed eyelids, paper thin with age.

“It’s all right, Elsie love, I’ve just come to do your medicine.”

It’s midnight.




2 thoughts on “Faber Academy Course – Week 5

  1. Loved this Debra, is it true? I know I always ask you this about your writing, but it just feels as though it is.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s