• H.R Owen

Episode Nine

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Episode Nine


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Monstrous Agonies E09S01 Transcript


[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]


H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Nine.


[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through static, inaudible speech and pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]


The Presenter

-unwavering commitment to the hunt.


It's almost two o'clock on Thursday morning and time for the UK's only dedicated radio advice programme for members of the creature community.


[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]


The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network, brought to you in association with Cerberus Head, Head, Head and Shoulders Shampoo.


[End background music]


The Presenter

Our first letter tonight is from a listener looking to re-enter the job market after a long absence.


The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

Listen. I know. Alright? I know. If you had asked me literally two seconds before I did it, I'd have told you it was bad idea. But it's like running a teaspoon under the tap or eating chocolate in bed. You just don't think about it until boom! It's done. And now all you have is consequences.


So. Seven years ago, I was walking the dog in the woods round the back of my house, and I wish I could tell you I didn't see the mushrooms until it was too late, but honestly? I just didn't make the connection! I thought they looked kind of cool, growing in a ring like that.


I'd only moved out of the city a month or so before, and these things are largely academic when you live in town. There's nothing malevolent about a ring of take-away boxes on the ground or, I dunno, cigarette ends or something. Unless they're getting really creative these days.


Of course, as soon as I did it I realised my mistake, but that's the thing about mistakes – you can't unmake them.


I'll spare you the details. I kept my wits about me enough turn down their offer of a cup of tea, at least until we'd hashed a few things out. I copped to the trespassing charges, and they set me to work. Nothing too strenuous, just- [muffled attempt to speak]


Well, I was just- [muffled attempt to speak]


[sigh] You know, actually, that brings me to the point nicely. I can't talk about what I was doing. Or where I was, not explicitly. I'm sure you can guess, but if I try and say outright, “I've spent the last seven years in f- [muffled attempt to speak]


See? I can't even write it. I tried miming it to my mum when I first got back, but it just disintegrated like the worst game of charades you've ever played.


And look, I'm fine. I'm... mostly fine. Wish I knew what happened to my dog. And there's still some things I'm... processing. But it's not like I can go to a therapist about it. Been back for about six months now. Staying at my mum's house, she's been great. Really, really great. Just letting me, you know. Find my feet.


Only, this is the thing - I need to find a job. Mum's being really good about it, and I'm grateful, but I need to get my own space. I'm nearly 32... 39 now, and I just want to be on my own for a bit. And besides, I think having something to do will help. There's only so much Netflix a soul can take.


Except here I am with a bloody great seven year gap on my CV, and no way to explain it. I don't stand a chance in this market, and I can't go back to minimum wage dross – I had enough of that in my twenties, and besides, that wouldn't cover rent on a one-bedroom. How do I explain my lack of experience without, you know... explaining anything?


The Presenter (as themselves)

Listener, I worry you might be jumping the gun somewhat. I'm not entirely convinced diving straight back into the workplace is a wise decision.


I don't mean to patronise you. But I don't think six months is long enough for you to adjust to your new reality. Whether you experience trauma from these events or not, you need to work through your feelings. That work will be made much more difficult if you add the stress of employment into the mix.


I do agree, though, that finding some way to fill your time would be good for you. Have you considered going back into education? Part-time training will help fill your days, give you goals to work towards, and meet your need for up-to-date experience, while offering more flexibility than you might be able to find in the workplace.


I hear your desire for space of your own. Even under the best circumstances, moving back in with one's parents is a difficult prospect. But I urge you not to rush.


You're in a safe, stable environment right now. Make the most of it! Take this time to check in with yourself and figure out what's best for you.


If I may, I'd also like to address your comment about being unable to speak to a therapist about your experiences. It's not common knowledge – or at least, it wasn't before this broadcast... But generally speaking, the terms of the prohibitions put on people who've... been through what you've been through are not applicable when speaking to someone from... the place where you were. If you follow me.


Try searching for therapists who describe themselves with phrases like, 'honest folk', or a 'good neighbour'. As long as you're polite in your enquiries, and discuss your payment plans up front, you should be able to find someone with whom you can share your feelings.


[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]


The Presenter

131.3 FM – The Nightfolk Network. Don't touch that dial.


[End background music]


The Presenter

Tonight's second letter is from a listener concerned about a new distance between themselves and their partner.


The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

The sky was golden when we met. Gold on gold, the clouds shining pale and perfect against a sea of sundown. All her angles caught the light, the warm dark of her skin ringing out in subtle harmonics with the sun and earth. She took my hand and when I woke, I felt the press of her fingertips against me, soft clay beneath her push and pull.


We met in real life about a week later, at a mixer for new employees. We went on a few dates, coffee, art galleries, but most of our courtship - an old-fashioned word, I know, but it feels right. She feels archetypal in my arms. For the most part, we courted in that other place, the place we drift to when our minds peel loose of the conscious world and roam about in the space between thoughts.


For months, we spent our nights together exploring our private worlds, our minds working together to craft idyllic fantasies. I kissed her under oceans, among the stars, in steaming forests, in glittering palaces built from nothing but our love.


I've never loved anyone like her before. Never spent so long wrapped in so much joy. We built a life together in the waking world. A house. A cat. The rhythm of our days urging through us both, she, the beat, and I, the syncopation.


And then, one night, I slipped into my dreams and she... wasn't there.


When I woke I asked her where she'd been, and she told me, “Somewhere else.” Dreaming a world without me.


I was sure it was a one-off, a mistake. But the following night I went to find her again and she wasn't there.


She came back the night after. We spent a week in harmony once more. And then, another night alone. It went on. She spent more and more nights dreaming of a place that wasn't me. And every morning I woke in her arms and felt alone.


She spends more nights now away from me than she does in my company, and the dreams we share aren't what they were.


I wish I knew where she went in her dreams. What it is she builds for herself. But she won't let me in, and I won't make her.


She says she still loves me, and in the clear reason of day I believe her. But at night, my certainty slips loose and blue, trailing into the dark like a rope into a great, yawning well.


What does it mean? Why is she keeping herself apart from me? How do I close this distance between us?


The Presenter (as themselves)

Listener, you are massively over-reacting. Your partner is entitled to time by herself. She is a person distinct from you and your relationship with her, and has a right to privacy and autonomy over how she spends her time.


You mention that, you've “never spent so long wrapped in so much joy.” Forgive me if this is incorrect but I understand that to mean this is the first time you've been in a relationship as long as this one.


The first throes of a new relationship are often as you describe. Your new love forms a kind of gravity that has you both orbiting one another, utterly enraptured. You throw yourself into learning one another, drinking each other in. It's intoxicating and addictive - and temporary.


If this is your first long-term relationship, you may never have experienced the end of that honeymoon period before. Or perhaps when the shine wore off you realised that there really wasn't much to the relationship beyond the initial infatuation, and parted ways.


It doesn't sound like that's what's happening here. It sounds like you've built a strong relationship together and still feel very much in love. But, as the haze of that first blush wears off, your partner is starting to need more time and space to herself.


That's perfectly healthy, and something I would encourage you to explore for yourself. Try to reconnect with your own creativity and enjoy the time you spend alone. Then you can step back into your shared spaces refreshed and energised.


Talk to your partner and see if you can plan your time together to find a balance between each of your needs. It's alright to plan these things in advance. It might not seem as romantic as spontaneity and spur of the moment encounters, but it is far more sustainable and need not diminish the experience for either of you.


You might also explore other ways of being intimate so that you can feel that connection even if your partner doesn't wish to venture into a shared

dreamscape with you.


That's all we have time for tonight. Next, division in the graveyard – what does your headstone say about you? The accusation of ostentation-


[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through classical music, talk radio and static before fading out.


Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]


H.R. Owen

Episode Nine of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.


The first letter in tonight's episode is based on an idea by LeeshaJoy and used here with permission.


Remember, you can submit your own monstrous agonies online at MonstrousAgonies.co.uk, by email at submissions@monstrousagonies.co.uk, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.


You can support Monstrous Agonies by leaving a review on iTunes, sharing the programme with your friends and familiars, or supporting us on Patreon at patreon.com/MonstrousAgonies.


This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.


Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.


[Fade to silence]


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