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Another Failure: ‘The Blanket’.

We’ve been quiet here for ages… So many blog posts have been started or thought about but we’ve been stuck in a rut of not doing anything. Last year was rough from start to finish, mostly because of fighting for PIP and therapy (which we finally started in December - only took three years from telling our docs we have DID and need help, please?), it culminated in us having to quickly move house (which is another unfinished blog post - but hopefully this one is a quick win and others will be easier after… maybe).

Anyway, another failure… We entered NYC Midnight’s 48-hour micro fiction contest, it was fun to write for and we got the genre ‘thriller/suspense’, had to use the word ‘understand’, and use the action of putting something under the mattress. 

We used something that happened to us and then fictionalised it. I (Mia) went to the police, visiting three police stations trying to find someone to talk to in 2021, and Amber did wake up talking to a detective. It was fun to write and we got a lot of advice and feedback from people - who of course all know us and/or have DID… oops. We struggled with the ending too, we had so many iterations and eventually just had to pick one.

We thought we’d written something good, but we didn’t get through the first round which was upsetting until we got the feedback and realised our existence is confusing to most people and it’s hard to write a story in 250 words, especially someone with DID and squeezing enough info to make it clear in!

This is our story, ‘The Blanket’ - 248 words, TW abuse (no details).

“Can you remember anything else about that night?” 

The detective’s words were distant, and Erin could feel herself slipping away; she didn’t fight the switch as it happened, not now that she’d brought them this far. 

Fuck thought Emma, realising she was conscious, in a police station. The man in plain clothes looked kind... Emma tried to remember his name but couldn't. His eyes betrayed a hint of surprise, though he masked it well. 

"Emma?” he asked gently. She nodded. 

He understands us, somehow? What did Erin tell him? she thought. Memories were filled in sporadically - Erin driving to the first police station, crying all the way... being told there was no front desk there... driving to the next station... and the next... the empathy in the policeman’s eyes while she told him their story.

Emma remembered his question, could they remember anything else about the night it happened? She asked inside, felt Emmeline come closer, felt the memories of the night that changed their life forever seep through to her own consciousness. 

She saw his face swimming in their mind, smelled his rancid breath, felt her own small hand stuffing the blood stained blanket underneath the mattress.

Remembering what did, but didn't, happen to her, Emma whispered "we might have something". 

Emmeline blinked awake, feeling Emma and Erin close to her. Silent tears streamed down their face, and relief washed over them, while the detective affirmed that the blanket was the evidence needed.

At last, they could heal.

This is the feedback we got, which, as we said, made us feel a bit better. 

“WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - There's a lot to love about this story. I loved that you wrote about an individual with multiple personalities in a realistic way. You get extra points for writing about a detective who treats the protagonist in a kind manner. Great job.  

This was an ambitious concept to write in so few words. It can be challenging enough to write on protagonist well, let alone three of them inside the same body. Choosing to do so provided us with a unique story and allowed us insight into what must surely be a tumultuous mind under normal circumstances. How wonderful that they have found someone who understands them, and is able to take the time needed to draw out the story they clearly are so very desperate to tell.  

A careful and intimate narrative here, with some really vivid descriptions. I was particularly struck by the following: "She saw his face swimming in their mind, smelled his rancid breath, felt her own small hand stuffing the blood stained blanket underneath the mattress."   

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK - I did want to ask this, and this is more of an observation than a criticism: could Erin, Emma, or Emmaline have called the police instead of going to search for a police station? Or was it not safe to do this from wherever she stored the blanket? I think that your story might be served if you addressed this. If you agree and want to delete any words to do this, then I would suggest deleting starting with the beginning of the story: "could" "hint of" "there" "small" "to her". Perhaps you will address this, but that's only a suggestion.  

I found I didn't quite understand the climax of the story - or at least that there was enough doubt, that a further read didn't clear up. Is Emma/Erin/Emmeline the victim or the perpetrator in this story? The blood stained blanket suggested they may have murdered whomever the "rancid breath" man was, but I'm not sure if that was the intention. And, without a few more context clues, it's then difficult for us to empathise as fully as the policeman does.  

I was a little confused by the line "she didn’t fight the switch as it happened, not now that she’d brought them this far". This early in the narrative, it's not yet clear that 'the switch' denotes DID. In fact, even by the end of the narrative some readers may not grasp the fact that the central character has DID.”

Yeah, some of them were confused... Ah well.

We’ve still not had anything positive happen about our writing; we’ve tried and tried, and just got rejection after rejection, which is hard of course, but we don’t have anything else to do with our life so hopefully will get back to blogs and books sometime. Now that we have therapy, PIP, and have moved house, we don't have anything left to fight for... so sometime we might have headspace!

Mia and Mona


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