Stop. Stop. Stop. Can’t stop. He might catch me, and…Hit! Hit! Hit! Keep moving moving moving. Maybe, allow for a breath. Legs all rubbery like Jell-0. Wobble stumble fall. Get up. Get up. Get up. I try. I fail. He slows. I breathe. He’s all cocksure. I breathe. He’s all nonchalance. I breathe. I can smell the Jim Beam from here. Can taste the nicotine. But all I needed was one-two-three breaths.

13 Comments

  1. Al Kratz

    good example of language being physical and containing movement. Impossible to read this and not feel it. Interesting that the smell language doesn’t have that unstoppable connection that the movement language does if that makes sense. I mean Jim Beam and Nicotine are strong and unique smells, but I can read them without smelling them, but I can’t read this “Stop. Stop. Stop. Can’t stop. He might catch me, and…Hit! Hit! Hit! Keep moving moving moving. Maybe, allow for a breath. Legs all rubbery like Jell-0. Wobble stumble fall. Get up. Get up. Get up. I try. I fail.” without feeling it in my body.

    • Constance Malloy

      Thanks, Al. Glad you could feel all the movement, and it’s very interesting about the lack of smelling the smells. I’ll have to think on that.

  2. Trent

    Something that I think is cool – it has a kind of timeless quality. There aren’t any other markers of an era – songs in the background, or
    the narrator wondering where a mobile is, etc. Really gets some illumination on the imagery.

    • Constance Malloy

      Thanks, Trent. I’m glad you noticed that, because it was intentional. The bullied running from the bully is timeless.

  3. Francine Witte

    Really love the rhythm and pace of this. Sort of grabs you and leads you quickly through. Love all the pop pop pop. Great job.

  4. Meg Tuite

    Connie!
    I’ve read this through more than a few times. Wondering how this would read with “I can smell the Jim Beam from here.” The repetitive before this doesn’t work for me. But I LOVE when this line comes up. Any chance you’d work on it from here? We never know where our stories really begin. This is where I resonated with the story. Great first draft! HUGS!

    • Constance Malloy

      Thanks, Meg,
      I really like your suggestion. This first draft was such a fun exercise in playing with punctuation, but starting with the Jim Beam line creates a different tension in the beginning that I like.

  5. sara lippmann

    Hi Connie, Your writing is kinetic, the moment haunts. I love how you play with staccato and repetition to approximate the danger and terror. The smell of Jim Beam is a salient sensory detail that anchors the reader in specificity, and so we attach to it. And the other reason we attach to this image is because it feels organic and inevitable and internal to this story as it unfolds in real time — whereas legs like jello — that feels like a detail that’s more overlaid, external, that perhaps arrives later through retrospection and retelling. In the moment I would question it — not the sensation, but the word choice in the heat of it. Meg raises an interesting question for all of us to think about — where does a story begin? I think it’s Kathy Fish who talks about “arriving late, leaving early” in a flash structure, so that might be something to consider when dropping us down mid-action. I think present tense delivers the urgency for a story like this, and so I’m curious about your choice to swing into the past for the last line. The title completely messed me up with its subversion of a phrase we associate with play, and I would encourage you to lean into that even more. (Also, makes me think the narrator is a child?) I look forward to seeing what you do with this!

    • Constance Malloy

      Sara, thank you for your thoughtful and though provoking comments. I really enjoyed the exercise of playing with punctuation. I like this rough that came out of it, and hope to develop it more. Thanks, too, for commenting on the last line. It was my hope to suggest that she had recovered and was already on the move again. She was in the “Go” portion of the title, I want that to be clear and not confusing, however. You have given me much to think about.

      Also, really enjoyed all your prompts. I had done a version of the copy cat prompt before, but many years ago. I am now inspired to do it again.

  6. Melanie Haws

    I felt the sensation of running and trying to elude someone. There’s a breathless, frantic quality to this beginning, and then “he slows,” and as a reader I literally caught my breath too. Love the inclusion of “cocksure.” I want to know more about the chased and the chaser.

  7. John Steines

    Hello Connie. Bit of panic here. I don’t notice the repetition of the ‘I breathe’ as I do the 3 word repetitions. Those 3 word repetitions communicate a very young girl as the being chased. That she’s chased by someone drinking Jim Beam and smoking cigs (an adult or near adult) is disturbing. I like the repetition of the 1-2-3 breaths. I am left feeling caution and concern about the situation – an unsettling.

  8. Patricia Bidar

    Breakneck and timeless. The importance of oxygen–breathing as imperative, as a needed turnning point after which it is implied she will be ok. Taut and scary.

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