Pseudopod 89: Wounds

By Celia Marsh

Read by Mur Lafferty

I cut myself when I was younger, trying to make my outsides match my
insides. I slit my wrists in the bath the night that my mother told
me she’d only asked for custody so my father couldn’t have me. Slit
them the right way, palm to elbow. I passed out from blood loss, but
woke when the water grew cold, pale new skin glowing beneath the dried
blood, beneath the murky water. I could cut myself and watch it heal,
almost before I put the knife down. Once I let the knife dig deeply
while cooking dinner at my father’s house, through the bone in my
thumb. Even the nail was back by morning.

I’ve pierced my ears so many times I’ve lost count. If I sleep
without earrings in they heal over before morning, and I must redo
them before class, or go without earrings that day. Tattoos last
longer. The colors melt back into my skin within a month, white and
yellow first, blue and the black outlines last. By the time I moved
back to my father’s house, the tattoo I would have gotten to annoy my
mother would be all but gone. By the time I came back to her house,
she would have forgotten it completely.

This week’s episode sponsored by The Shadow Pavilion by Liz Williams, out now from Night Shade Books.

May 9th, 2008 9:51 pm

A little more up beat than your typical work, but I liked it. Actually, it was a nice change of pace.

Great to hear your voice again here Mur, definitely missed your voice around here!

May 10th, 2008 8:22 am

not a bad character driven story, but honestly i found it abit tame (or maby just overly subtle) for pseudopod. i think the issue was that it didn’t push the envelope like it could have.

i never really felt the weight of the girl’s loneliness or unhappy family life as much as i really could have. likewise, the bodymodding/healing aspect never really worked it’s symbolism as much as it could have if an effort had been made to try and actually weird us out abit with it.

in current form, i suspect that this one might have been a better fit on one of the other pods.

again, not bad, but had the potential to be much better.

May 11th, 2008 12:23 pm

You all scare me so much.

N. Tate
May 11th, 2008 5:43 pm

It is great to hear her again but felt rushed.

The idea was interesting, but it did not feed my horror fix. Not that it was bad just could have used more.

The ending was too light.

I think pain defines who we are.

May 12th, 2008 1:54 am

I agree with J. The only truly horrifying moment of the story was the revelation that the narrator had slit her wrists vertically only to awake in a tepid pool of her own diluted blood. Everything that came afterwards was downright tame when compared to, say, an issue of Marvel’s Wolverine or an episode of Heroes. Like it or not, we’ve all seen the mutant healing factor a few too many times to find it engaging, let alone shocking. Marsh’s spin just didn’t break the gravity of such a well-worn literary convention.

I did appreciate Al’s rather eclectic closing remarks. We can all use a gentle reminder now and again that the past is often an ill-suited tool with which to build our futures. Dwelling in our past mistakes is easy, perversely gratifying, but ultimately leads us nowhere and so it is only after we surrender the hold our personal history has on us can we truly grow as human beings. It’s just a pity that Marsh wasn’t able to sculpt the apocryphal elephant, as it were.

“Wounds” reminded me a little of Howard Zinn’s anecdote about Helen Keller as she was represented in the play and film “The Miracle Worker.” Yes, Keller overcame, Zinn wrote. But for what? To be immortalized forever as the girl who merely overcame? What of the life’s work she was responsible for as a grown woman? What of her social activism and controversial politics? I feel the same shortcoming applies to Marsh’s character, especially given how easy a job Tommy had compared to Annie Sullivan’s.

Yes, I understand that “Wounds” is a short story and yes, I understand that short stories tend to focus on small, pivotal moments in the lives of their characters. But Marsh only endowed her protagonist with two interesting qualities: her preternatural ability to heal physically and her all-too-natural inability to heal emotionally. Marsh strips both qualities away by the end, leaving us with nothing more than a vague and uninspired hope for the future.

May 13th, 2008 9:53 pm

Yeahh… Not too bad of a story. Not scary, but interesting, certainly. I enjoyed Mur’s reading most of all, though. Mur, please come back and read more often, would you? We miss your voice.

May 14th, 2008 3:50 pm

I liked this story a lot, even though it wasn’t all that horrific. But then, I’m not really a horror person. And I find myself automatically liking anything that Mur reads.

May 14th, 2008 7:18 pm

Little girl has bad parents who divorce and make her feel sad and neglected.

Little girl has daddy issues.

Little girl is a cutter who only bleeds to know she’s alive.

Little girl shoves weird things under her rapidly healing skin.


Little girl goes to college and has relationship issues.

Little girl comes out of her shell to the first male to be nice to her, even though he kind of ignores her, too. (See daddy issues)

Little girl stops healing so quickly as she emotionally begins to “heal.”


Where’s the horrific element to all this? It ends on a hopeful, cheery note.

Also, when will we get to hear some feedback discussed on the podcast like Escape Pod and the new Podcastle do? It would be nice to not only be told once in almost a hundred stories that our feedback is read and taken to heart, but it would be another thing all together to actually see (hear) it being considered.

N. Tate
May 15th, 2008 8:14 pm

But Spork, you dislike almost everything.

May 16th, 2008 2:17 am

…yes, but he heals quickly. It’s a trade-off, you know?

May 16th, 2008 10:01 pm

When I find something praiseworthy, I praise it. Editorial failures in story selection are rampant with this podcast. But, when they’re good, they’re really good. The gems really do shine amongst these here turds of fiction!

N. Tate
May 30th, 2008 3:58 pm

You should start your own horror podcast. Put some action into those words.

Myspace is free and has podcasts.

May 31st, 2008 2:50 pm

Ben, please step in again.

I have no interest in defending myself, as you have indicated such is not welcome. Nor, do I have any interest in explaining the difference between a critic, a reader/consumer, and a creator. Again.

June 23rd, 2008 6:57 pm

I do recall the FireFox movie comment–“You need to think in Russian to operate the plane!!”
I’m not a horror person per se, but my friends are and they are going to enjoy this site. Thanks for having a place for all of us to come together and share the creative nature of the web and each other.

June 23rd, 2008 6:58 pm

I remeber the Firefox line, great movie for the time –spies, fast planes, and suspense.

July 7th, 2008 7:36 pm

This was okay. Well-written, nice ending. Not horror, though, more like humanistic sci-fi. Making it more squishy would have edged it closer to horror but also undermined it’s nicely deployed point. Good story but not a horror story.

Thanks for listening.

“Basically, our memories of many of the key events of our past are now recollections not of “actual” past events, but of the photographs or videos we have taken of them. In a sense, people often now use the “real experience” – a trip to the Grand Canyon, our daughters wedding – primarily as a “pretext” for the more “substantial” later experience of “reliving” these experiences through reproduced sounds and images that magically conjure up for us our past, a conjuration that seems more “substantial” precisely because it can be endlessly reproduced.”
Larry McCaffrey, “Introduction: The Desert Of The Real”, STORMING THE REALITY STUDIO (1991)