UKArchive



UKArchive ID: 18955Formerly known as Ashley by chrissytotoro
Originally published on March 19, 2007 in Fiction    

Any kind of comments, please. 'When did I stop just being a fucking kid? Why do they refer to you as what's wrong with you?'



Formerly known as Ashley.

She's told just about everyone she can think of, like it was something to be proud of, yeah?. Oh, don't ask me why. I suppose it gets her off the hook. She can't be thought of as a bad parent if I'm mental. And she would sooner be seen as the brave single mother of a mentally ill kid than as a tart who went out almost every night when her lad was old enough to leave on his own.
It was always what she wanted.
She wanted a new lippy or mascara and it always come out of money that should have been used on me. Always. The times I've tried to walk to school 'cause me bus fare was spread in a big red slash across her fucking face. I always got side tracked, bunked off, did something stupid.
Now they say it's not even my fault. I'm Schitzofrantic or bi polaroid or something.
When did I stop just being a fucking kid? Why do they refer to you as what's wrong with you? You don't hear people say 'Oh the broken leg, or the measles.' Physical illnesses they don't do it. Kevin isn't a slipped disk or a fractured skull. But I'm a schizophrenic or whatever and a lad at junior school was an epileptic. Why do they do it with some things and not others.
She took me with her when she went to tell me gran. We'd just got the diagnosis. I don't know why she bothered telling her mam. I mean what did she think the old bitch was going to say? Did she imagine that gran would be full of sympathy. She's twice the nutter I am if she did.
Do you know what my gran said, when my mam had finished telling her everything the doctor had said, do you know what that fucking ignorant old cow said. She's cleaning her 'silver' candlesticks like that is so much more important than anything my mam has to say, and she says; "Well, he must have got it from his father's side. There's never been any mental illness in our family." Like I wasn't even there.
I wanted to grab the candlesticks and smash 'em on either side of her fat frizzy 'ead.
She hates my dad. I know why. He was black and gran hates blacks. And she thinks that isn't a big sign of mental illness? I hate my gran. She's never liked me. Not even when I were little and my mam used to pay her to baby sit. She never asked for money from auntie Paula. Oh no. Auntie Paula and Uncle Gordon only ever asked her to sit with Trisha and Blake when they had to go to some big function or other. Uncle Gordon was always functioning.
My dad died when I was seven. He was in the army and he got shot. My gran couldn't even bring herself to say his name at his funeral. She never, ever used his name. His name was Winston, Winston Benjamin. He was Jamaican. Really good looking bloke. I've got a picture of him somewhere. He joined the army when he was eighteen. He was thirty two when he was shot.
I'd like to go to Jamaica. My dad wasn't born there, he was from Leicester but I'd like to see what Jamaica's like.
I wish I was Superman. No, straight, if I was Superman, I wouldn't be mental. Like if I was Superman the only thing that could hurt me would be kryptonite and there isn't that much kryptonite, not on planet earth. And if I did come across some kryptonite I'd just put on a lead suit, 'cause if I was Superman it wouldn't be that heavy, 'cause I'd be super and sort of well hard, so I could wear a lead suit no problem.
If I was Superman, I wouldn't be ill and I wouldn't have to take great gobfulls of tablets. These new tablets they got me on, they don'alf make my arse itch. I am serious.
When I was a kid, right, I had this mate called Ronnie. His old man used to work away a lot and one weekend when he come home, he brought Ronnie this puppy. He'd brought it all the way from Norwich or somewhere on his motor bike. It was all wrapped in his coat. How it survived I dunno but it was really cute and it licked your face and that. I got worms off it. So did Ronnie. My arse itched so much. My mum bandaged my hands so I wouldn't scratch.
That's what these new tablets are like, they make my arse itch like havin' worms.
My psychiatrist, and believe me I ain't lying, his name is Dr Reason, he says that I have to keep a diary. He says that some of his patients keep video diaries. Like my mum would spring for a video camera just for me to talk to. I don't think so.
So I'm writing it all down, everything. Even what I don't want other people to know. Dr Reason thinks that it will help me to get to grips with my 'disorder'.
What would help me is if my mum didn't go braggin' on it to anyone and everyone, like it somehow made me different. I don't want to be different. I don't want to be some illness that was formerly known as Ashley. I want to be me again and take the blame for bad things I do. I want my control back.
I want to be Superman.

© chrissytotoro (chrissy on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 18955
Archived comments for Formerly known as Ashley
deepoceanfish2 on 19-03-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
chrissy,

This piece flowed for me. You have a genuine command of dialog. This poignant character is really gripping. Do you intend to take this further in a longer work? I'd be interested to see more. A very fine read, in my opinion.

Warm regards,

Adele

Author's Reply:
Hello, Adele, how very kind of you to say such nice things and I mean that. I was expecting this piece to get some stick because it seems a bit rough and ready, you can have no idea of the work that went into making it that way, and so to see that for you it worked and worked well is truly great and very much appreciated.
I don't have any real intention of developing it into a longer piece but who knows with me?
Many thanks for taking an interest and welcome back. I've missed you.
chrissy

Rupe on 19-03-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
Very much like the voice you've created in this piece - it's viscerally bitter but incorporates an element of uneasy humour (the itchy arse episode in particular). And it sounds authentic.

A minor quibble - you could perhaps make the language register a little more consistent. Sometimes, it's clearly colloquial (I ain't lying) & at other times more articulated ('I am serious'). I also noticed a missing question-mark or two missing.

The piece feels a little open-ended - is it the beginning of a longer work? It feels like it could be.

Rupe

Author's Reply:
Rupe, many thanks for taking the time to read and comment, it is much appreciated.
I will look again for the missing question marks when I am feeling a little less 'brain dead'.
As for the 'I am serious' thing, I thought about this and from where I stand it fits. I've been listening to a lot of young people 'Ashley's' age talking and this is something they would say. For instance, they don't say 'you're not serious', they will say 'you are not serious' as if to stress what they're saying. I have noticed one thing that I'm going to have to do something about and that is the slipping of mam to mum and my to me. Should be one thing or t'other.
chrissy

Hazy on 19-03-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
Loved this piece - a fave for me. Some of those 'rough edges' are what makes it appealing so don't go ironing too many out!

You might like a book called 'Lazy Eye' by Donna Daley-Clarke. Amazon link here: http://tinyurl.com/23toge

Take care,

Hazy x

Author's Reply:
Hazy, many thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I am glad you enjoyed the piece.
Don't intend to do any rough edge smoothing, it took me too long to get them in. I will probably take another look at the punctuation though.
Can't find out what the book's about.
chrissy

Hazy on 19-03-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
Just to let you know, there's another link here with a brief synopsis: http://tinyurl.com/25nutv

Your tale reminded me of the book and thought you might enjoy it!

Anyway, shoving a 10 your way too... really enjoyed the way you told this - some skilful writing.

Hazy x

Author's Reply:
Hazy, thanks for the ten and for the second link. Will take a look when I get five.
chrissy

orangedream on 20-03-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
Oh I loved this Chrissy. I could really hear Ashley. The dialogue was splendidly done. The entire piece, for me, something special. It leapt off the page at me and by the time I'd read the last word all I wanted to do was give Ashley a big hug.

Super - well deserving of the nib.

Tina:-)

Author's Reply:
Tina, many thanks for reading, commenting and for the generous rating. I'm glad that you enjoyed reading about Ashley.
chrissy

Bradene on 20-03-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
A great piece of writing Chrissy. With a lot of apparent insight into the disorder as well as getting under the skin of an adolescent. Brilliantly told. Val x

Author's Reply:
Val, many thanks for reading, commenting and the generous rating. Not sure how much I really know about mental disorders but I was an adolescent once, a very long time ago 🙂
chrissy

chrissy on 20-03-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
Val, many thanks for reading, commenting and the generous rating. Not sure how much I really know about mental disorders but I was an adolescent once, a very long time ago 🙂
chrissy

Author's Reply:

juliet on 22-03-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
I really enjoyed this. The voice is authentic and the types of things he talks about jumping from major issues to fantasy is really well done. The message about labelling comes across very strongly without any patronising.

I don't think it needs to be any longer, but it would make a great series, like a diary if you did do more. I would however change 'I am serious' to 'I'm' just reads better.

Juliet

Author's Reply:
Juliet, many thanks for reading and for your comments, much appreciated.
I'm not sure if Ashley will have more to say, it's possible.
I did think that the 'I am serious' thing fitted for reasons already given to Rupe but I will think about it.
chrissy

teifii on 23-03-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
Another wonderful story, Chrissy. I couldn't resist a quick dose of prose when I spied it. You certainly bring Ashley to life.
Daff

Author's Reply:
Daff, many thanks for reading and for your lovely comments. Much appreciated.
chrissy

sirat on 25-03-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
Sorry I'm so late in adding my few words, I've been away. This is a very strong story with a great narrator's voice. Any tidying-up might spoil it. The only tiny thing I wondered about was his use of the word "diagnosis" which seems just a bit technical for this speaker. "Schitzofrantic or bi polaroid" sounded just right. I don't think it needs to be any longer or shorter or different to the way it is. Great work.

Author's Reply:
Sirat, many thanks for stopping by to read and comment. I truly appreciate your interest.
The tiny thing, diagnosis, yes I agree that it would be out of place if it was the isolated word 'diagnosis' but it's the phrase 'got the diagnosis' which appears in countless medical dramas and would, as many other phrases, come in to the vocabulary of a grumpy teenager or at least that was the idea behind putting it in there.
chrissy

SugarMama34 on 28-04-2007
Formerly known as Ashley
Hi Chrissy,

This to me was a powerful piece of writing. I thought the voice of Ashley was very good and his emotions and thoughts came across very well. The character shines through and it gives you an insight of what this lad is going through mentally. The begining of this really catches the readers attention and it definatley has that 'read on' factor throughout. I couldn't stop until I had finished. I liked this piece very much and thouroughly enjoyed the read and the journey into Ashley's mind and his life as he see's it.
Congrats on the nomination, it deserves it.

Hugs,

Lis'.xx

Author's Reply:
Lis many thanks for your kind comments and I'm really pleased that you enjoyed the story.
chrissy