Beyond the Fence

Beyond the Fence

A Story by Kaitlin Shea

An excerpt from a novel I'm writing.


I’m exhausted. My skin is clammy, I have the shakes, my head is throbbing, and I’ve become an insomniac in the last week or so which I know Fara just loves. I stay up until my body physically shuts me down, exhausted from shaking and sweating all god damn day.

I watch bad TV, listen to Fara ramble with attempts to distract me, and crave some beer: any beer, s****y beer, whatever I can get. Sometimes I’ll make it for a good while without thinking about drinking; without thinking about anything. But then somehow, my addicted brain will get this aching feeling in it which will lead me to wonder what the aching could be about, like when something’s been bothering you but you momentarily forget about it and start having fun but there’s still this nagging feeling that tells you that you shouldn’t be having fun; that you should be suffering. So you start to think. And wonder. And bug the s**t out of your brain to remember this horrible thing that has been bothering you because for some reason or another, you just can’t let it go, damnit. And there it is. Alcohol. I want it so badly that it physically hurts and it manifests itself in the withdrawal symptoms.

Fara tries to help; she knows what it’s like. She attempts to tell me stories about her dad and the things he did to get through the withdrawal symptoms but we both know her advice isn’t very reassuring; that the advice doesn’t have much credibility because her dad succumbed to the drink in the end; that there was no happy ending for him.

“Jess?” Fara appears at the doorway�"the one to my bedroom�"bleary eyed in one of my over-sized t-shirts and nothing else.

“What is it?” I ask. I’m sprawled out on the couch, tossing and turning every which way. I’ve already sweated through three different t-shirts before giving up the effort all together, t-shirtless and still hellishly hot.

She wipes at her eyes with the back of her hand, clearing the sleep with the mannerisms of a child. She frowns. She takes a step into the room. “I’m fine,” I say, “Go back to bed. You’ve got class in the morning.”

“What time is it?” She says, ignoring me.


“Damn, Jesse, and you haven’t slept yet?”

“Not a wink.” I sit up and lean against the back of the couch, throwing my arms behind my head.

“What about those pills the doctor gave you?”

“What about them?”

“Aren’t they helping?”

“Wouldn’t know,” I say.

“Why not?”

“’Cause I haven’t taken them.” God, I’m tired. Tired, tired, tired. Fading, fading, fading. I’ve got to pass out soon. I’ve got to.

“I don’t understand.” She shakes her head and takes a few more steps.

“Dear,” I say, slightly condescending, “if I’m doing this, I’m doing it on my own.”

“Men,” she says, shaking her head again. My mind for some reason or another, links onto the word men and the way it was said. Familiar. Lissa. When we were in the woods at the party, talking about her baby. Talking about our baby…

But before I can sink back I feel Fara landing on the cushion beside me. “Wet,” she mutters. “You sweated through the couch.”

She doesn’t sound upset but I can’t make my eyes focus on her, torn between the past and now. “I’ll get you some towels. Do you want a cool shower? It might help.”

“No,” I manage to say.

“Well can I get you something? Anything besides the towels? A glass of water maybe?” Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer.


“I’ll be right back.” And the weight of someone on the cushion next to me is lifted and I’m all alone with the baby; my baby; my baby that never got the chance to exist.


            Clara.” Lissa had said the day before we went to get her abortion. “I’ve always pictured my daughter being named Clara.” And I had thought: s**t. What is she doing? “Or if I had a son, I think I’d name him Tyler. Ty for short.”

            “Lissa,” I had said, “Are you sure about this?”

            “About what?”

            “This abortion. You don’t have to.”

            The way she had stared at me leveled me out. “Yes, Jesse, I do.”

            And the day we did the horrible deed, the day when my mother wouldn’t come, I ended up holding Lissa’s hand and she cried and cried and cried, “Clara. Oh, Clara. I’m sorry. Clara. Clara. Clara.


So Clara it is. I’m holding Clara in my arms and she’s wrapped in one of those pink hospital blankets to tell the girls from the boys in the maternity ward. And her little wrinkled face is so beautiful and her little wrinkled eyes are closed and a voice says, “Bring her to me,” and I look up and Lissa is in a hospital bed, sweaty and red-faced, and I smile for some reason and walk towards her, making cooing noises at the baby like people always seemingly can’t resist doing and I hand her, Clara, to Lissa but it’s a hard thing to do because, inexplicably, I don’t want to let go of the tiny little life in my arms. “Clara, Clara, Clara,” I moan until I feel a hand on my arm and cold wetness on my face and then the hospital starts to fade away.


“Jesse? S**t, Jesse, you’re shaking worse than ever before.”

“Clara,” I mutter, and I try to focus my eyes and when I do I see a confused look on the girl’s face.

“Fara,” she says, and her face takes on a panicked look.

Oh, Fara. Fara. Fara. Fara. I realize that she’s placed a wet towel on my forehead but that the wetness is coming from my eyes; that I’m crying. “Fara,” I repeat, trying to let her know that I’m here; that I recognize her.

“Yes,” she says, nodding. She takes another wet cloth and starts wiping me down, cooling me off, glancing back at my eyes every now and again nervously. I want to say something but everything is all jumbled.


“You okay? Is the washcloth helping? Here, drink this.” She hands me a glass of water and I suddenly realize I’m dying of thirst and I drink it down in one gulp. Then I realize it’s not that kind of thirst.

“I’m alright,” I finally manage to muster.

“You don’t seem alright.”

“No, really, I’m better now. Thanks.”

“Jesse, I really think you should take the medicine,” Fara pleads.

“Fara, I really wish you’d quit worrying. Just go back to bed. I’m fine. Tired even. I’m about to go to sleep myself.” I know she doesn’t buy it. She looks at me, sweat-soaked, shaking, and crying, and then she sits down next to me without another word, refusing to let me suffer alone.



© 2010 Kaitlin Shea

Author's Note

Kaitlin Shea
Just in case this doesn't make sense on its own, here are some main details:
Male perspective (Jesse), Fara is his girlfriend, and this scene is one where Jesse is withdrawing from alcohol.

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Added on February 26, 2010
Last Updated on February 26, 2010


Kaitlin Shea
Kaitlin Shea


I'm Kaitlin. I love to write almost anything, but "About Me" sections are the exception. Okay, let's see. The favorite authors would be George Orwell, John Green, and Ellen Hopkins. I also have .. more..