Author Topic: ## Touched -- 1st/2nd/3rd/4th/final part now  (Read 5379 times)

Offline 510bhan

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## Touched -- 1st/2nd/3rd/4th/final part now
« on: December 05, 2011, 09:59:45 PM »
This story is about 4,600 words long. This first part is Jocelyn's POV. It is followed by her father thinking back to the fateful night that brought his troubles. Some of the opening has been tweaked [for those of you who were kind enough to read and comment on the first post] -- green. Any grammatical errors in dialogue is intentional to match the local speech patterns. ;)

Touched

She had made eye contact with him. It was a start. Her father had a room of his own and despite being strapped in a chair, Jocelyn thought he looked better this visit. Still, they had yet to be introduced, though now she was eighteen that would soon change.

Rainclouds threatened a downpour, but she refused to allow anything to dampen her mood. Swinging her handbag, Jocelyn added a skip to her step as she advanced down the sweeping path from the infirmary. Next week, she’d demand as next of kin to be able to see him beyond the safety glass on his door. Nobody could stop her.

Dammit. Huge plops of rain splattered on her shoulders. She looked around for cover, but the expanse of lawns surrounding the old mental hospital only offered a single tree in the middle of the grass. Jocelyn darted towards it for shelter with her bag above her head. While she stood, hoping the shower would ease, she wondered if the gardens had been deliberately designed this way. Sparse, without shrubbery or flowerbeds, perhaps the open vista suggested a free, spacious haven. She frowned. More probably it prevented break outs or runaways from the confines of the Victorian, red brick building. With lightning splintering the sky above, Jocelyn thought it might look creepy at night. She shuddered. God bless the poor creatur’s in there, it’d freak them out.


The rain grew heavier and fell in a mighty shower. A walk to the bus stop would drench her, so Jocelyn rummaged in her bag, pulled out her phone and called a taxi. She smiled when the controller said it would arrive in a matter of minutes.

“You visiting someone?” asked the taxi driver.

No, I’ve escaped and I’m running away. Didn’t think anyone would notice me hiding under a tree. “Aye.” Jocelyn flicked her hair back and kept her eyes front.

Traffic flowed easily on the trip from Holywell Hospital in Antrim, to Ballymena. The cab stopped outside the terrace house in the middle of town. It blocked the road until she paid her fare, said goodbye and dashed through the open front door. Auntie Hilda’s voice called out.

“That you Jos?”

“Aye.”

“Did you get to meet your daddy yet? Did you talk to him?”

Jocelyn walked through to the living room. “Not yet, but they say I can next week.” She gave her aunt a hug and a kiss and sauntered on to the kitchen. “Would’ya like a wee cup of tea?”

“No thanks, love, I’m just after one. There’s a fresh Veda loaf if you’d like a slice and some wee fancies in the tin above the breadbin.”

Jocelyn came in with her cup and a couple of buns balanced on a plate.

“I made those myself, they’re very good.”

“Mmm, you’re right.” Jocelyn sipped at her tea and took another bite from the cupcake. “D’you think he’ll ever come round?”

“Oh, that’s not for me to say. Did the doctors not tell you anything?”

“Not much. He’s still strapped up, but he’s in a different room and he’s out of bed. Since they took him off sedation it doesn’t seem to have improved much for him.”

“But they had to, love.” Auntie Hilda’s arched tone matched her eyebrows. “Sure wasn’t there all that hullabaloo on the news about them poor people in homes being locked up in their rooms and there was nothing wrong with them. They just needed a wee bit of care and attention. Isn’t that what them places are for?”

“Aye. Can you remember why he went there in the first place?”

“I only know wee bits and pieces. It was a dreadful time altogether, it’d drive anyone mad.”

Jocelyn winced and scowled.

“You know what I mean, pet. When your daddy was first in A&E he rambled on about devils and headless horsemen and all manner of things. He’d just been knocked down by a car and was pumped full of drugs. Sure anys a body would rander on and not know what they were saying.” She picked up the remote and pressed the button to mute the television. “And they filled him with more drugs to calm him down. Anyway, when your mammy and your granny and granda all died so close together it must have put him over the edge. Screamed it was his fault and the devil made him do it. Sure he was talking nonsense. He wasn’t even there. Right enough, the wee nurse that took care of him before he was transferred to the Royal – she died too. Lovely wee girl she was. So caring. She was the only one who’d sit and hold his hand and try and comfort him.”

“What?” The cup raised to Jocelyn’s mouth stopped at chin level. “They all died at the same time?”

“No, not all together, but within a few weeks of each other.”   

Jocelyn sipped some more and sat deep in thought. If that had happened to her she would have either gone mad or gotten religion over the guilt. “Um, have you heard anything on the news about, er . . .” Jocelyn set down her cup and removed a small pad from her bag and looked over some notes. “Here it is: Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard Orders – DOLs?”

“That’s when they can apply to lock them up – for their own good. They can’t just do it because they feel like it anymore.” Hilda sat back with an imperious smile deepening the creases either side of her nose to her mouth.

Jocelyn’s eyes widened. “Oh, can they not, now? That’s interesting.” Her finger traced over the words. “Listen, you can’t remember who he was with or who brought him to the hospital the night of the accident, can you?”

Hilda wagged her head. “No, pet. All I know, he was out with some of his friends from the rugby club. Probably having a drink and enjoying the craic. Haven’t a notion how or why he was found up in Harryville. Sure it’s the other end of town. Big Andy’d be one to ask. He might know.” Leaning forward, Hilda patted Jocelyn’s knee. “Are you sure you’re doing the right thing, love? He’ll not know you. He’s probably not even aware you exist.”

Jocelyn patted her aunt’s hand. “I’ll let him know and he’ll understand.” She gazed into the fire and absentmindedly stroked at her pearl ring. “It’s like he’s been abandoned. I’m eighteen now and I’m his only next of kin. I’ll do something about it. Just wish I’d known a lot more when I was growing up.”

Hilda’s eyelids closed and she sighed. “We were only trying to do our best. There was no one else to take you in. And, well you know what people are like about mental health problems. You’d have been teased rotten. He was locked away then. You wouldn’t have been able to see him anyway. Why would we upset you like that? And you’re still only a we’an really, even though you think you’re all grown up.”

“You’re probably right, but I’d love to hug him just once. Even just hold his hand. Is that too much for a daughter to ask for?” Jocelyn’s eyes misted and she blinked back tears.

“Not at all, pet, not at all.”


« Last Edit: December 11, 2011, 10:20:30 PM by 510bhan »

Offline Laura H

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Re: ## Touched -- first part Jocelyn's POV 1,200 words
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2011, 10:48:52 PM »
Hi Sio,

I do like the new opening.  I now have a clearer picture of Jocelyn as a capable young adult.  I also like the regional voice - it drew me in and seemed very natural.

Just a couple of spots that read awkwardly to me -

"Jocelyn came in with her cup and a couple of buns balanced on a plate."

"“Um, have you heard anything on the news about, er . . .” Jocelyn set down her cup and removed a small pad from her bag and looked over some notes. “Here it is: Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard Orders – DOLs?”
“That’s when they can apply to lock them up – for their own good. They can’t just do it because they feel like it anymore.” Hilda sat back with an imperious smile deepening the creases either side of her nose to her mouth."  This exchange did not seem as natural as the rest to me.

Hilda’s eyelids closed and she sighed. “We were only trying to do our best. There was no one else to take you in. And, well you know what people are like about mental health problems. You’d have been teased rotten. He was locked away then. You wouldn’t have been able to see him anyway. Why would we upset you like that? And you’re still only a we’an really, even though you think you’re all grown up.”  Lot's of starts and stops here where it might read more smoothly by combining some of the sentences - "You wouldn't have been able to see him anyway, it would have just upset you to know"

All just my opinion.

I'm enjoying Touched - can't wait to read part 2  ;D





“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Offline 510bhan

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Re: ## Touched -- first part Jocelyn's POV 1,200 words
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2011, 06:45:40 AM »
 ;) ;) ;) Thanks Laura. Cup/couple, I shall change it to 'with two buns . . .'

Hilda's all smug and pleased with herself that she knows what DOLs are -- recent news material. (This spoken by her earlier . . .
“But they had to, love.” Auntie Hilda’s arched tone matched her eyebrows. “Sure wasn’t there all that hullabaloo on the news about them poor people in homes being locked up in their rooms and there was nothing wrong with them. They just needed a wee bit of care and attention. Isn’t that what them places are for?”)
 
It's what Jocelyn hopes to challenge management over -- [which is why she refers to notes, to make sure she gets it right, she's not as savvy as Auntie Hilda on the issue. Hence Hilda's imperious smile.] Since that legislation was passed, her father would need to have had an order applied for, otherwise they can't restrain him like that. And as they are keen to be seen as 'client-friendly', it could give her some leverage. It's referenced again later in the piece as 'mental Michelin stars'.

 :) :) :)

Offline heidi52

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Re: ## Touched -- first part Jocelyn's POV 1,200 words
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2011, 10:06:02 AM »
Really like the new opening. The story is coming along great.

I too, kind of faltered at imperious for dear Auntie Hilda. Seems too harsh. How about a "knowing" smile?

Can't wait to read more!  ;D ;D ;D

Offline Sharon L

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Re: ## Touched -- first part Jocelyn's POV 1,200 words
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2011, 10:18:11 AM »
Like addition of taxi cab driver exchange and conflict with aunt as means of getting across the hush-hush manner in which J's father's hospitalization was dealt with.  Perhaps consider not mentioning how people in town would've felt, but rather let aunt's actions ("knowing" ones) speak for themselves when she address this subject, kept secret for so long.

Just checking --is Hilda the father's sister or just related to J through marriage? Play out her prejudices about mental illness more clearly through this distinction (it might color her perceptions if dad isn't her brother, right?)

Looking forward to what happens next!

Sharon L.

Offline 510bhan

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Re: ## Touched -- first part Jocelyn's POV 1,200 words
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2011, 04:19:18 PM »
Thanks for looking. The fact that people talk in this town is important to how Jocelyn comes across pertinent information later, so I'd need to keep that. It's also typical of the area, not just made up -- renowned for it.

Hilda is an elderly [great] aunt related to Jocelyn. She isn't prejudiced, the townspeople are. They love gossip and misfortune, expanded upon later. Denial of Billy's incarceration is the only form of protection she could give Jocelyn.

Will think about something more fitting than 'imperious'.


Cheers everyone. ;) ;) ;)

Offline Dawn

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Re: ## Touched -- first part Jocelyn's POV 1,200 words
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2011, 06:40:25 PM »
I really liked this Sio. I'm hoping there is some kind of wicked twist to the story. It kept me hooked from the start for the entire story.
One little thing though, maybe drop a few of the wee's, I know you are using it for the dialect to come across, but after a while I found it personally a bit off putting. JMO.

I can't wait to read the next chapter.
Time to take it serious and get the job done

Offline 510bhan

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Re: ## Touched -- first part Jocelyn's POV 1,200 words
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2011, 06:46:47 PM »
Thanks for looking. ;) ;) ;)

Offline 510bhan

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Re: ## Touched -- second part Billy's POV 800 words
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2011, 06:55:55 PM »
Next bit . . .

Billy Donnelly, strapped to his chair wondered who the young woman peering through the window had been. There was something familiar about her round the eyes and mouth. She had innocent eyes. More nosey parkers than usual had been looking in at him lately. Even when they had kept him sedated he had overheard the things they said, ‘delusional, demons mainly, says he hears the devil talking to him’.
Why won’t they listen to me? I never said ‘the devil is talking to me’, I said ‘the devil told me’ – past tense. I don’t hear voices now. And that was then, once upon a bloody lifetime ago.

He clenched his fists and wished he could lash out. His chair bounced a little as he tried to jump within his restraints.

A minder rushed through the door. “Now, now Billy, there’s no need to be getting yourself all upset. If you need anyone, just push the buzzer on your chair. Do you want to go to the bathroom?”

“Get away from me, get away from me,” he screamed. “I’ll kill you.”

The minder bolted from the room and slammed the door.

Billy looked up at the camera and wondered if all the clients had such close watch on them. He hung his head then raised it and shouted at the small device.  “Don’t you stupid bastards understand? I’m only telling the truth. I’m not sick. How can I get out of here if you won’t listen to me?” He struggled in his seat again and wailed.

He tried to think of a way to explain his situation to them afresh. All he could do was tell the truth, but no one believed him. Misunderstood, forever in torment, Billy wished he had died in the accident.

That dreadful night had started out as a bit of fun. Some eejits were telling ghost stories and a rake of drink was taken. Big Andy, Spider, Toasty and Peter McLelland had all been sinking pints and telling yarns. They tried to work out how many ghosts there were in Ballymena or round and about.

The debate grew more heated. Peter slammed his glass on the counter emphatically. “No, I’m telling you, there’s Henry O’Hara and the headless horse –”

“Ah, now wait a minute,” Andy said, “doesn’t that one only come out at Christmas Eve or Halloween or something?”

Spider joined in. “Aye, you’re right. Up round Crebilly, the White Gate Estate or the cemetery. I know bugger all about ghosts. I don’t believe in them. It’s a lot of shite if you ask me.”

“Now, hould on a minute. It’s not whether there are any ghosts or not. It’s what people say. How many are there d’you reckon?” asked Big Andy.

Billy laughed. “You’re all talking shite.”

Big Andy downed his pint and ordered another round for the lads. “It’s just a wee bit of craic, how many are there all tell?”

Peter counted them off on his fingers. “Right, the headless horseman riding over Kennel Bridge, that’s one.” The men nodded. “And there’s bound to be ghosts from the boys executed on the Moat. I mean heads on spikes and all that. C’mon, now lads, they’d hardly float off happy with how they died would they?”

The men laughed and drank at their beer.

“Hey, if we’re talking ghosts that’s what I reckon. Been a quare few sightings down there – so they say. There was a gallows there. What do you think it was for?”

“Don’t forget Galgorm Castle, Peter,” said Toasty.

“Aye, that’s three. And there’s the one of a wee girl at the top of the town. And probably the hospital too. Hospital corridors are always creepy. Especially the ones near the morgue.”

Billy pantomimed his best spooky act, rolling his eyes and waving his hands about as he spoke. “For God’s sake, do the ghosts have a wee spot they just float around in? I mean, where do they go if their place is knocked down like the Sportsman’s Bar? There could be buggers from Broughshane and Ballymoney floating around having wee ghostie parties, all meeting up at the bandstand on the Broadway and getting full in the Imperial. Oooooh. Now there’s a scary place.”

The group chortled and drank some more.

“Right, I’ll tell you what I’ll do," said Billy, "I’ll walk the length of the town and call all the wee ghosts out to play. See if any of them turn up.”

“Piss off, Billy,” said Toasty.

“No,” said Peter, “let him. If he’s daft enough to do it, let him. You’re bloody touched, Donnelly.”

Billy raised his glass. “Then I will. And I bet you not one crosses my path.”

Spider winked. “Aye, well just mind out for the Galgorm one, that’s definitely real.”

Billy shuddered in his seat. It was easy remembering that part. It had all been a joke.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2011, 09:30:59 AM by 510bhan »

Offline junel

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Re: ## Touched -- 1st part and 2nd part now [Box 8]
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2011, 02:28:45 AM »
Hello Sio,

I could be wrong here as no else has mentioned it, but I'm sure there is a problem with continuity in the opening.

In para 1 you put Jocelyn inside the room with her father, but in para 2 she is outside skipping. I don't know how she got there  ???

That's how it read to me anyway.

Junel.

btw, I'm referring to part 1.

Offline Dawn

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Re: ## Touched -- 1st part and 2nd part now [Box 8]
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2011, 04:55:59 AM »
I think she is looking back, thinking about when she made eye contact, maybe wrong though ;D
Time to take it serious and get the job done

Offline 510bhan

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Re: ## Touched -- 1st part and 2nd part now [Box 8]
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2011, 08:47:30 AM »
Hi junel -- she doesn't get into the room . . .  P2: Next week, she’d demand as next of kin to be able to see him beyond the safety glass on his door.

If it causes confusion, that P could come down and join the end of P2 I suppose. :-X

You're right afiemama.

Thanks for looking guys. ;) ;) ;)

Offline Laura H

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Re: ## Touched -- 1st part and 2nd part now [Box 8]
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2011, 09:11:22 AM »
No pick-a-parts for this bit from me  :)

Ready for more!  I want to know what happened!
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Offline 510bhan

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Re: ## Touched -- 1st/2nd/3rd part now
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2011, 07:29:14 PM »
Next bit -- back to Jocelyn . . .



Jocelyn scribbled the dates on a piece of paper. Aunt Hilda was right. Her mother and grandparents had all died in the fortnight following her father’s admission to hospital. She tapped her pen up and down against her teeth and calculated their ages. None of them would have died of old age and nobody ever mentioned any type of accident. It was far too much of a coincidence. Lost in thought, she clicked its top repeatedly. Far too much of a coincidence. And there was the nurse too. Her mind raced. Were there any more deaths? Were they linked to her father somehow? She looked down at the ring on her finger. The large freshwater pearl was all she had to connect her to her parents. Its unusual contours invited her touch and she rubbed its surface with her thumb.

“Hello, is that Andy Curran? It’s Jocelyn Donnelly, Billy’s daughter. Could we meet? There are some things I think only you could tell me. Uh huh, yeah, I know it. That’d be great. Thank you. Thank you so much. See you then.”

Jocelyn grabbed her bag and ran down the stairs. “I’m off out again. Seeing Big Andy. Not sure when I’ll be back.” She came into the living room and hugged her aunt.

“All right, love. It’s only soup for tea so it’ll be easily heated when you get in.”

“Bye!” Jocelyn left, blowing a kiss behind her.

In the Imperial Bar, men with sour, gurny faces cradled their pints or muttered into their whiskey after they’d given her disapproving glances when she jostled her way through. Jocelyn squirmed on her barstool while she waited for Andy. She sipped at an orange juice and glanced at her watch. Why on earth had she agreed to meet him here? She answered her own question. Of course, he didn’t know what she looked like. An eighteen year old girl in this misogynist’s watering hole would have to be her.

Her shoes tapped the counter as her feet kicked back and forth, and she drummed the side of her glass. Someone tapped her on the shoulder. She jerked back and swung round. A man with sandy hair and a wispy moustache, in his forties she guessed, stood behind her. “Andy?”

“God, you look just like your ma.” He offered his hand and shook Jocelyn’s. She kissed him on each cheek. “Would you prefer to go somewhere else?”

She looked round the tiny, dark bar. “If you wouldn’t mind.”

“Spinning Mill okay? It’s just around the corner.”

Jocelyn nodded, left her unfinished drink and followed Andy out of the pub. “Do I really look like her?”

“Oh, aye. Round the eyes and you’ve the same mouth. Lovely girl.”

Andy held open the door for her as they entered the Spinning Mill. They sat in a snug and a barman took their order. “So, what is it you think I can tell you, pet?”

“Anything you can about my daddy. What happened that night. How my mammy and my granny and granda died. Anything.”

Andy stroked down his moustache, averted his gaze and looked at the flagstone floor.

“Andy?”

“Listen, I feel guilty. I never visited your da when they took him in and when he went to Belfast, I was on holiday. I heard about your family, right enough. It was awful. I think that’s partly what sent Billy over the edge. And well, you know – once he went to Holywell . . . it’s for mental patients, isn’t it? I get enough stick having a harelip, as if I’m simple or something.”

Jocelyn sighed. “Yeah, I understand.” She shifted back in her chair so the barman could set their drinks down. “But, did you know my family?”

Andy nodded and sipped his pint. “Oh aye. Big Sammy, your granda was a great man. Loved football. And your granny, always very smartly dressed. She’d a lot of time for us when we were growing up. Always made us a good fry. ”

Jocelyn smiled. “And my mammy?”

“Gloria? She was a lovely girl. Far too good for Billy. A real catch.”

“Were any of them ill or in an accident or anything?”

Andy shifted in his seat. He shook his head.

“What is it? What aren’t you telling me?”

He looked around over his shoulder and turned back, smoothing his moustache again. “Well, you know the way Ballymena ones love to talk, ganching on about any poor sod’s bad luck.”

Jocelyn rolled her eyes. “Tell me about it.” She folded a coaster into a fan while she waited for
Andy to continue. “Well?” she asked, cocking her head to the side.

Once more, Andy’s gaze swept the room. “Well, we – the boys and me – we all thought it a bit strange at the time. And then we heard about the nurse. She was a wee girl lived in Kells and worked in Antrim. Lived down the road from my brother. Gillian, I think her name was. Gillian Masters. Just all seemed a bit creepy. That’s another reason why I didn’t visit.” He took a large gulp from his glass. “We’d been talking some bollocks about ghosts and all that night, and he went off on a dare. He was probably full and that’s why he got knocked down when he staggered into the middle of the road. But you can’t help but wonder. Creepy, freaky, spooky – call it what you want.”

“So do you know how they died?”

“That’s the weird thing. They just took fits or seizures or whatever you call them. Some of the ganches round here say they were frightened to death. I’d have said that was a pack of shite, but now I think about it – they could be right.”

Jocelyn leant in to Andy. “You know the nurse – she was his primary carer wasn’t she? When he first went in? She was really nice to him wasn’t she? That’s what Auntie Hilda says, anyway.”

“Far as I know. Everybody always used to say how friendly she was. An old-fashioned nurse, very hands-on. Really cared about her patients.”

“And after that Daddy went to Belfast, the Royal, and apart from the family nobody visited him.”

“Aye, that’d be right. He was injured awful bad, awful bad, and Big Sammy and Greta didn’t leave his bedside. Neither did your mammy. And then of course she had you prematurely. He was in intensive care for a good wee while. What are you getting at?”

She drew back and played with the fan she had folded, pinching the creases together between her thumb and forefinger. “It was only close people that died.”

“Aye, but the wee nurse hardly knew him really. You couldn’t call her close. Some people thought they’d all gotten a virus or something. But Billy was fine. Mind you, he was in the hospital and they checked him every day with their stethoscopes and rubber gloves and steri-scrub. Have you seen all them wee dispensers whenever you’re in a hospital now? That MRSA bug and C-difficile. Our neighbour got it.”

Jocelyn shrugged. She ran her finger around the top of glass, thinking. “Maybe it was delayed shock or something. From what Auntie Hilda says, everyone was devoted to him.”

“Oh aye. The sun shone out of his arse.” Andy gazed into the distance wistfully and sipped at his pint. “You were lucky she took you in. Well, Billy couldn’t take care of you. You were about to go into foster care and she come back from England for you. She never got a chance to visit him. He was in Holywell by then and all drugged up. They said he was delusional, insane. A danger to people. He grabbed one nurse by the throat. She never attended him again. Somebody said she died too, but I don’t know if there’s any truth in that. Anyway, Billy kept telling the staff he was going to kill them if they came near him. Powerful sad case.”



« Last Edit: December 11, 2011, 06:58:14 AM by 510bhan »

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: ## Touched -- 1st/2nd/3rd part now
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2011, 07:42:24 PM »
You wrote:

“Anything you can about my daddy. What happened that night. How my mammy and my granny and granda died. Anything.”

Shouldn't two of these sentences have question marks as punctuation?

“Anything you can about my daddy. What happened that night? How my mammy and my granny and granda died? Anything.”

Maybe?

EDIT: or are they statements?