“Walk to Durmton”: my brother’s drawing

This fusion of illustration and the written word was my autistic younger brother’s first complete work of literary fiction. He always found solace with a pencil in his hand, yet this picture was different. It was unlike any other, in that it was not the centrepiece, or at least was not intended to be.

The drawing is the illustration for a story, an attempt to conform to societal values that he himself doesn’t hold. The education system had told him that words were valued and that they must be expressed in a logical, linear way; having a beginning, middle and an end.

The tale’s narrative is far from normative, seeming to only have a beginning; the bold assertion of ‘Chapter 1’ and a not unobvious number designating this as the first page, implied there was more to follow. Yet the energy of the drawing is not matched by that of the scrawled text; giving form to a maelstrom of thought is much easier than condensing it into words. The illustration attempts to bridge the gap between an inner voice and the confusion of an ordered, world beyond. The signposted 40 miles should be enough to fill a book but there is nothing more to be said; overwhelmed by the process, his final thoughts become fixed in a few abrupt, token words… it is time to reflect on whether the journey is complete.

Since his birth at the tail end of the 20th century, Fionn Quilty has tried his utmost to avoid work of any sort. Now finding himself in medical school, it is beginning to dawn on him that he has made a catastrophic error of judgement.