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The First, Last, and Only

When Story Writes Itself

By Nicky FranklyPublished 9 months ago Updated 9 months ago 5 min read

The first thing I ever wrote came hurling out of me at top speed with its arms flailing mad. It came like a half-lit nightmare that released my adrenals.

It woke me up.

From sleep and from the depths of subconscious repression I had been living in. It ripped open the freshness seal on my bottled self-delusion and unhinged everything I had scotch-taped together to sustain that false reality.

My first story destroyed me, in the higher sense, rendering me completely given over to a merciless force.

And it’s a terrible story. Damn well written, but the keywords are horrid. Imagine a list of things that you hope never happen to your best friend’s daughter. It’s the story of those things.

It somehow found its way into every other story that came after. Every word, every space between. It chained me up and broke me, and not in a kind way. It did the whole train-an-elephant-to remain-captive-by-tying-a-rope-to-its-leg-when-it’s-small-and-as-the-elephant-grows-it-becomes-conditioned-to-believe-that-it-still-cannot-break-free thing.

It demanded to be written down. To pulse through my fingertips out into reality regardless of the emotional aftermath. It bothered me. The core of me, the center of my core of being was irked by this thing that had planted itself at my wheel and commandeered my vehicle. I had to learn how to dissociate from my humanity just to sleep at night so that this *[double bleeper]* would stay out of my hands.

The first story I wrote was stale. Rancid. Devolved back into the raw, primordial energetic form from which it came.

And it pissed me off. I was ignorantly blissful in my delusion, and then that was gone. And then I had work to do. Grueling, exhausting, necessary work to do if I wanted to survive the awakening.

I was ready, though.

I had been warming up, goddammit. I didn’t mean to. I wasn’t practicing on purpose, but it happened. I was in a good place one day, one of those days when you forget about your mental illnesses and can just live. That day, I wrote a Thank You card to my uncle for something, and it was like the words came from not my conscious effort but just kind of fell out onto the card. It was so good that he wrote me a Thank You card in return. My words were so precious that he thanked me for thanking him. I saved it. His card is stashed away somewhere in a gift bag of memories, probably in my parent’s basement where all the best crap is kept.

So I wrote that bomb ass Thank You note, and then a writing competition came across my desk. At the time, I was working in an environmental lab, using my Biology degree, like a good little graduate, and I got a standard email from the Environmental Protection Agency. They were hosting an essay writing contest on Intergenerational Environmentality. An idea came to me, and I wrote it down and turned it into an essay. It was more about following through with the idea out of duty and doing what I said I’d do than it was about the writing. It was more about pleasing the people who had created the contest and emailed me about it. I didn’t win, but I did receive Honorable Mention, and that meant more to me. That meant one of those imaginary people thought I was a good writer, which, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but writers need that.

The coup de grâce came in the middle of the night soon thereafter. I woke with vengeance. It was more than the proverbial “rude” that people use to describe such awakenings. Rude is a kind word. Rude would’ve been fine. I would’ve been fine with rude. I knew how to handle and justify rude, but this was different. This hurt.

I shot straight up in bed like a soldier, overtly aware of my heartbeat kickstarting me into motion. I slapped at the bedside light to click it on, the kind of light that was built into the headboard and would’ve worked just fine if I had remembered to buy the replacement bulb. It felt like not my hand, like when you fall asleep with your arm above your head and wake up attached to a stranger’s limb. Flopping over in the dark, I threw that hand down to the drawer, the kind with no handle, and pinched my finger in it before opening it successfully. Feeling around, my fingers found a miniature pencil with a stubby point, drudged down from filling out the golf scorecard beside it. I did not play golf, and I do not remember why this scrap of paper and tiny pencil were in that drawer, but they were.

The first thing I wrote came out in non sequitur scribbles and an unknown shorthand that outlined the tragedy and comedy of my life from a protagonist's point of view. Burning like mini magma, the pencil battled my reluctant hand to get it all down. I remember the cramp and how much it hurt, but I did not stop. It did not stop. It engulfed me in flame and tore through my flesh like a memory pours out in tears in the dark in the middle of the night for no reason.

Just a fool to believe I got it all out that night.

Every time I recover from the past just a little bit more, I revisit that first story, which took me weeks to transcribe and years to finish. I tweak it and flick it until it’s straightened up and more true. That story has been adapted into poems, play scripts, speeches, and more. Fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and canon. Every new style brings a new perspective, a new way to show what happened, a new layer of understanding to describe it. For someone. For anyone.

It’s my trauma story, my understanding of what happened and why and how to keep going when the memory of it threatens to paralyze me. It finds its way into everything I write because it comes through me in all the same words and feelings that bled onto that scorecard.

It's the first thing I wrote, it’s the last thing I wrote, it’s every tangential timeline in between. By telling the same story in a hundred different ways, I learned how to frame my writing so that it looked like art.


About the Creator

Nicky Frankly

I love writing !

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  • HandsomelouiiThePoet (Lonzo ward)9 months ago


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