This is a series of posts that profile each of the main characters from my first novel Here Today. Martin Finn is a successful and highly respected novelist. His credits include the monumental Red Right, which won the Black Ink prize a few years back. His most recent novel is The Sparrow’s Nest, a dark, controversial work for its suggestions of incest and necrophilia.
Many would now assume The Sparrow’s Nest to be Finn’s final work. Following a rare form of stroke, Martin now has the condition called ‘locked-in syndrome’. The resulting paralysis has robbed Martin of all voluntary movement save for vertical movement in his eyes. He cannot speak with his wife and he cannot play with his young children. He is reduced to binary communication: up for yes, down for no.
But Martin isn’t finished telling stories.
From the novel
So this is it. This is what happened to Martin Finn.
It wasn’t that long ago the weekend arts sections trotted out their tired journalistic clichés around disability: Local writer struck down by a handicap. But past the inches of newsprint, this is the reality. Gone are the fierce intelligent poses on paperback novels, the mainstay of the festival circuit, the creative writing lecturer.
For the first time I notice a communication board: mixed up alphabet, numbers and words and phrases. I assume at this early stage the phrases have been chosen for him: STOP, WINDOW, NURSE, DOCTOR, GO, STAY. I notice there are also names: LENA, CONRAD, SHELLEY. And right at the bottom of the board: NEXT PAGE.
He watches me smile a little. Blinks.