Angela Readman on ‘A Little Prayer’ 14th October 2017 – Posted in: Unthology
Angela Readman writes about her Unthology 5 story, A Little Prayer
When I sat down to write the story I had no idea what it would be. I was writing a lot of flash fiction at the time and when I sat at my desk I thought I would write a thousand words. I had read a quote from a kidnapping victim in 1982 that fascinated me, ‘He treated me well, I’m not sure he is the evil ogre the world now thinks he is.’
I started to type. It became clear after 2000 words this didn’t want to be a flash fiction and going back to look at what I’d written and attempting to edit it wasn’t going to satisfy the story. I’d just have to continue writing to find out what the story wanted from me. Writing the story made me quite tense. I was outside my comfort zone subject wise, and I was unsure if I get away with it. I found myself getting up and doing things that would look strange if you didn’t know what writing a story is like sometimes. I can only compare it to method acting, I suppose. I would write, hold my wrists together and see what it was like to attempt eat something with limited movement. I would get up and pace the room to feel what it would be like to have how far I could pace restricted. I went upstairs and looked at the beams in the attic and the cracks between the roof tiles. The roof was leaking a little, I noticed. I listened to the birds and looked at the strands of light that came into the dark space. I live in the city and I don’t have a garden, so I was really surprised at being able to hear birds. Not just one bird, a few different birds. I couldn’t see them, I could only imagine what they were. I went back to my desk and wrote.
If this sounds like a strange way to write a story, it’s because it is. It’s not the way I usually write, but something about this made me have to pace around and notice small things. I couldn’t relax until the story was finished, I was waiting for someone to come through that hatch and rescue the girl at any time. When they didn’t, I had to keep writing.
Once the story was done, I breathed. I read through it and felt so sad at some points I couldn’t explain it. The whole thing made me nervous. I wanted to attempt to explain it all away somehow by mentioning Stockholm Syndrome, but I didn’t feel there was anywhere in the story wanted it. It would just be a case of me wanting to jam the words in to make me less nervous, so I didn’t do it. I was satisfied that I’d told the story as it wanted to be told, but I didn’t know anywhere that would consider such an uncomfortable piece. I was concerned about articles in the papers about people who go missing and I was waiting until there weren’t any so I could submit the story. This didn’t happen. There are always stories like that. I started to realise there may never be a time this story didn’t make me feel a bit tense, or strike a chord. Perhaps that’s OK. Things happen that should make us tense, if we are human. And so I submitted the story to Unthank. They were the only people I knew who might take a chance on such a strange story. It was a story I almost didn’t want to write that insisted on being written whether I liked it not.