– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘MAINSTREAM’ blogtour, organised by Inkandescent.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About One of the Authors (Giselle Leeb) :
Giselle Leeb grew up in South Africa and lives in Nottingham. Her short stories have appeared in over forty publications, including Best British Short Stories 2017 (Salt), Ambit, Mslexia, The Lonely Crowd, Litro, Black Static, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. She has been placed or shortlisted in competitions including the Ambit, Bridport and Mslexia prizes. She is an assistant editor at Reckoning Journal and a Word Factory Apprentice Award winner 2019. She was recently chosen to attend the David Higham Associates New Writers’ open week.
She’s absolutely thrilled her short story, Scaffolding, is included in MAINSTREAM, an anthology of stories from the edges, from Inkandescent.
Mainstream brings thirty authors in from the margins to occupy centre-page. Queer storytellers. Working class wordsmiths. Chroniclers of colour. Writers whose life experiences give unique perspectives on universal challenges, whose voices must be heard. And read:
Aisha Phoenix, Alex Hopkins, Bidisha, Chris Simpson, DJ Connell, Elizabeth Baines, Gaylene Gould, Giselle Leeb, Golnoosh Nour, Hedy Hume, Iqbal Hussain, Jonathan Kemp, Julia Bell, Juliet Jacques, Justin David, Kathy Hoyle, Keith Jarrett, Kerry Hudson, Kit de Waal, Lisa Goldman, Lui Sit, Nathan Evans, Neil Bartlett, Neil Lawrence, Neil McKenna, Ollie Charles, Padrika Tarrant, Paul McVeigh, Philip Ridley, Polis Loizou.
The anthology is edited by Justin David and Nathan Evans. Justin says, ‘In publishing, it’s often only the voices of a privileged minority that get heard and those of ‘minority’ groups—specifically the working classes, ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community—don’t get the amplification they deserve. We wanted to bring all those underrepresented groups together in one volume in order to pump up the volume’
by Giselle Leeb
These are the bones that Jack built.
I imagine the doctor works late into the night to solve my wounds. I can see he would like to crack me. I know, as in a nightmare, that he is solving not me but an abstract problem. And when he’s finished, I’ll disappear again—all he can see are the wounds on the surface of my skin.
He has persistence. He would like to drill down to my bones. And when he has done it—which I have every faith he will—he’ll forget about me. I’ll be gone, except as a case study in the journal article that will finally make him famous. My name will be a footnote in history and no one will bother to read it.
This is the skin that lay on the bones that Jack built.
The doctor is droning on.
‘Vitamin C deficiency causes open sores,’ he’d told me on my first visit. ‘Untreated, it can lead to skeletal abnormalities.’
When he thought my case was simple, he couldn’t wait to get rid of me. He chided me on my diet and advised me on which supplements to buy. He didn’t even write a prescription.
He probably didn’t expect to see me again, but I kept coming back. I had to. The doctor’s lectures grew longer as the wounds on my skin and the frequency of my visits increased. I knew he thought I was wasting his time and the NHS’s money, that I wasn’t bothering to take the vitamins.
It was a special day for the doctor when I reported pain and swelling in my joints to accompany the deepening wounds. He took a sudden and unexpected interest in me. Well, in my body. Scurvy is virtually unknown these days, at least in Europe.
‘What is happening?’ I asked him, practically in tears.
He carefully explained: in cases of scurvy, the collagen maintaining scars over old wounds degenerates faster than normal skin collagen…or something. The scars break open. The wounds come back.
‘Nothing to worry about, the vitamin C will kick in soon,’ he said.
‘I’ve been taking the pills. I haven’t missed one,’ I said.
But he still didn’t believe me and arranged for me to take the vitamin C under supervision.
I do remember a moment, after he’d verified I’d swallowed the pills for several weeks, when he turned from the evidence on his computer screen and actually looked at me, properly looked.
He ignored my tears. Or perhaps he just didn’t notice them. Tears, I imagine, are not on his professional—or personal—radar. But I could see the greed for knowledge shining out of him, and I knew then it was bad.
Now the way he looks at me sometimes, I feel like he is asking me something, and he doesn’t know what he is asking.
This is the wound that broke the skin that lay on the bones that Jack built.
I also don’t know what the doctor is asking, but he is wearing down my patience.
The wounds kept reappearing, as if they’d never healed, as if my life was going backwards.
The doctor’s real interest began when I correlated a specific wound with a childhood incident. It was a simple explanation of how the wound had occurred:
I slipped on a patch of ice and cut my hand on a jagged rock buried in the snow; it was a freezing day and nobody came—and did this make the pain a little worse?
Of course, the doctor didn’t comment on my associative ramblings. His interest was not piqued by the emotions attached to the event; his initial aim was simply to find similar correlations and record them.
But the duration of my appointments increased from ten to fifteen minutes after that, then to twenty, and eventually to what felt like an eternity. Only much later did I find out the doctor was neglecting his other patients and risking his job.
It was round about then that he brought up the journal paper. It was in the ideas stage, he said—in a very kind voice; of course, he needed my permission…
The Magic of Wor(l)ds