Jen Craig, Since the Accident

An exclusive excerpt from Jen Craig's new novel

An exclusive excerpt from Jen Craig's novel, Since the Accident, in which a woman harangues her sister, telling her how her life has changed after a recent car crash:
Whenever she looked out at the places our mother would point out and invariably disparage, Trude would still feel a little of the revulsion that our mother had wanted us to feel. Those houses certainly looked unloved and dusty and grimy with pollution. They also looked airless and friendless and hopeless and sad. And yet, along with this revulsion, there was always fascination. It would be dark in those houses, she would think, the passing traffic would drone all night, and yet she could see herself in such a place, lying on a shabby bed, on unwashed sheets, and listening to the traffic as it droned along the road outside (the play of headlights through the shabby curtains as comforting as television). She would be alone in such a place, she said. There would only be that droning and that shabbiness, that flickering of headlights through the holes in the curtains and the rings on the railings. It was voluptuous, this image of herself in the friendless place, the horrible and lonely house.

This had been with her ever since, she said – all her life there had been the comfort of this possibility. The pubs too, she said – all those pubs she used to see, those whiffs of beer and urine and sweat she would get when the car door opened and our uncle was pushed in – the pubs too began to look comforting, because they were horrible in the same way as those houses on the main roads were. This had always been the last thing – the last thing that could ever be taken away from her. She knew that if the rest of her life fell apart, she said, there would always be the comfort of such houses, the houses even more than the pubs. It had only been since the accident that she realised this – in fact sometime later than the accident (although related in its way to the accident). It all hinged, she said, on this time after the workshop: not the workshop itself but the time after the workshop. It is usually not until afterwards that we ever realise the significance of anything, she told me. We are always living our lives in this afterwards mode.

Jen Craig, Since the Accident
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