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Responses to Naomi Rose's Challenge to Write Long(er) Sentences
Challenge to Write Long Entries : Response by Patricia Dillon

Challenge to Write Long: Response by Patricia Dillon

Nenagh, County Tipperary / Republic of Ireland

Naomi Rose comments: This is a whole piece, of whole cloth, very evocative and beautiful; and the length of it only serves to draw it out so that what's felt in it and under it can be transferred to the reader. How could this brief story / recollection have been anything other than a long breath, drawn out, and had the power it does have?
Writer's process notes: Ironically, long-sentence writing fits this story perfectly because it all happened in a sudden, breathless kind of way without pause for thought or consequences. At first I found it difficult to write that way but soon it just seemed to write itself. This was probably because I actually felt that a child was hurting and needed my attention. It felt good to be there for her.

To be truthful I'm not aware of any great change at this moment, except to say that my daughter rang me just before I sat down to do this. She told me of a family crisis. Usually — and it always, always seems to happen when I'm trying to get back to my writing and I always, always put my writing on hold until a voice says What's the use? But not today. Today I got on with my writing — such as it is — and I don't feel bad about it at all. I'm grateful to you for giving me the opportunity.

A recent incident in my life has triggered a memory so vivid, so close-up that I can hear the voices of those four girls, thin, high-pitched; hear their starched summer dresses crinkling closer and closer so that the fragrance of Sunlight Soap and Suleo becomes the very breeze that's rustling my Corpus Christi veil and dress which, only minutes ago felt beautiful, princess-like; soft and innocent as the flower petals I'd just sprinkled before Our Lady asking her to please make my mother better even though my auntie had promised me that mammy would get better soon and now, now the purity of my dress and veil, of the flower petals, of my prayer and yes, of my beautiful, tender, delicate mother were being jeered at, sniggered at, desecrated, violated by something which could only have been contrived in hell and made manifest in these four girls; in the effervescent delight in their eyes as they pointed and chanted, pointed and chanted louder and louder, center-punching into my soul a truth which had been hidden from me: your-mother-is-going-to-die-your-mother-is-going-to-die-your-mother-is-going-to-die... pushing me backwards, twirling me round on my heels till all I could hear was the clatter of my Communion shoes as I ran full pelt, only stopping at my own front door, left open so that neighbours could visit my sick mother but this time my father, slim and elegant, had just come from her room because he was coming down the stairs saying, atmospherically, when he saw me: Your mother's calling for you, go up to her will you?

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4/24/11