Paratalk or Torque?

Suzie Eisfelder

Where I type out a paragraph and examine it how I wish. I never know what I’m going to get from this until I start work. Let’s see what I’ve got today…open Overland at random and…turns out I had nothing with any of those paragraphs so I moved onto a story by SJ Finn called ‘Infiltration’.

Lying still, Skilton imagines little robotic Pac-Men chomping through the inflamed tissue along her spine. Their mouths, almost half the size of their heads, are gobbling up everything that hurts, swallowing the big glob of shadow she remembers from her X-rays. it’s like they jumped from one of the machines they’ve put in all the pubs and landed in her back, devouring her pulpy tissue like they do ghosts. The vision of them is the one thing she’s retained from the meditation course she did in autumn.

I have a love/hate relationship with this paragraph. I mean, it has really good imagery which means I can just about feel the pain this character is in. I still love the game of Pac-Man, when I can find time to play a little and the imagery of multiple Pac-Men eating up the pain is a really good one. What I have issues with is that it doesn’t appear to just eat the pain and leave it with no-pain, instead it feels as if the Pac-Men are also eating the good tissue. So, it’s on the one hand the Pac-Men are doing good things, but on the hand it feels as if they’re not really.

This is the first paragraph in the story. It leads into another paragraph that fits perfectly. Just like Skilton, I need to stand and just stand before I move, and often I need to move slowly before I can move quickly. The body needs time to adjust to the moving and it needs time to unkink.

But I don’t remember the machines in the pubs. I didn’t really go to pubs much, nor do I go much now…just ignore lockdown. I’m not a pub-goer. But in the 1980s when I did go occasionally, it was before the government banned smoking inside. I remember them as being rather smokey and dim.

Meditation can be good to help manage the pain. I don’t know if the pain actually gets better but you’re supposed to be able to cope with it better. But the problem of being in pain is that you don’t always retain all the information you’re given. So with Skilton only remembering the image of the Pac-Men eating the pain is totally understandable. I’m finding my subconscious mind is remembering more of the meditation I did when I was young than my conscious mind. I was recently given a little meditation to do before I go to sleep, I’ve never managed to get to the end as I fall asleep. I put that down to my subconscious mind having learned more about the meditation than I thought and now when I’m supposed to be asleep doing this little meditation activates my subconscious mind and away I go. It’s a pity I can’t give this skill to the character in this story, I have this feeling it might help a little.

Anyway, you can buy this issue here but while you’re there you can also get a subscription. It’s well worth the money and it helps the writers.

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