November Spotlight: Felicity Marsh
Felicity began her writing career whilst living in the USA, writing reviews for the Baltimore International Film Festival before going on to publish a number of articles on British and American culture and then moving on to write fiction for children and adults. After several years working as an editor with academic publishers, she has returned to writing across a variety of genres and moods, as likely to want to laugh as be serious, and refusing to be tied down to any one idea of what she or her work is about.
About the piece
I’m very interested in voice in my writing and, conversely, in lack of voice.
There is a long history of women being raised to accept and to reabsorb feelings and desires that will be unwelcome or uncomfortable for others while also bearing the weight of emotional labour in relationships: feeling for others but not themselves, showing happiness so that others can be happy, and I chose to look at this in In the Swing of the Sea, where I wanted to explore the pain of someone unable to communicate their feelings but also to acknowledge that no one part of ourselves defines us, and that the person involved in negative emotions we hold is not always to blame for them.
I have explored similar themes of expectation, isolation and self-expression in If I Had Only One Story to Read in the anthology Same Same But Different, published by Everything with Words and The January House, published in the January edition of The Simple Things.
In the Swing of the Sea
He is determinedly upbeat: the weather is bracing, not freezing; the food is homely, not bland, repetitive and poorly cooked; the rooms they rent, personal, not shabby. He is one euphemism short of calling this dismal journey an experience.
She thinks, ‘He is doing this for me; he is hefting the weight of all this now for my sake, and I am not grateful.’ She doesn’t feel grateful. She wants not to feel at all: not to feel the roil of suppressed rage in her stomach or the sullen load of misery mantling her shoulders. She doesn’t want to pretend things are better than they are, to hold back the bulging weight of acceptance until it splits the paper-thin façade pasted back each day. She can’t find the words to say so, or to
say how she hates the unhappiness that inhabits her like an alien parasite. So she doesn’t say anything but nods with a movement too small to discern.
They walk on in silence, leaving two sets of footprints behind them until the wet sand oozes back into the hollows. It doesn’t take long.
She feels as though she will never speak again if she doesn’t say something soon.
Suddenly, grabbing a sea-sodden stick, he pulls her after him as he traces her initials large and impermanent on the beach and, running on alone for the path home, leaves only footsteps and laughter behind. She feels her mouth twitch, warmth flow down from a smile as the first wave hits her.