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My short story for my CW class - any pointers?

(4 Posts)
APieOfButter Mon 30-May-11 15:28:12

It's a bit morbid, but we were given five possible things to write about, and the rest were just stupid (serial killing village butcher, anyone?) so, here it is...I've not written anything like this since school, so be gentle, but at the same time, I want to make it the best I can, otherwise, what would be the point in doing the class?

We had a limited word count, and my task was "nurse who murdered her illegitimate grandchild 30 years ago"

Oh, warning, could be upsetting, don't read if you are likely to get upset, as I am rpetty certain I've not been sensitive enough.


That photo in the biscuit tin? Oh, I hide it usually. It’s my daughter. I don’t see her any more. Suppose the next time she hears of me will be when I die, she’ll have to come and get my things. I did everything I could for her though, even when it was hard. Still, I suppose she’s been through a lot, over all.

I’ll tell you about her, but only because you need to sit still, and I’m a very ill woman. You might meet her soon. Tell her I spoke about her. Tell her I love her. Tell her I’m sorry.

She was always a good girl. Worked hard at school, helped in the house. Of course, with her Dad having passed on when she was a baby, it was just me and her for all those years. I thought we were close. I cared so much for that girl, I was devastated when I had to start work again, but somebody had to work to put food in our bellies. So, I went back to nursing. I found a good woman down the road who could watch Lizzie for me while I worked. I suppose that is where it all started, with her mixing with the children there, and then as she grew she stayed friends with them, I couldn’t watch her all the time.

Of course, I made Lizzie’s clothes. It was cheaper, and some of the fashions in those days were shocking. I’m no innocent - I was 25 before I was married, although I was far too busy working to be following the fashions, but by the time it got to the end of the 70’s, things were getting out of hand. I allowed her some leeway, but nothing ridiculous, nothing that made her look like she had loose morals. So I noticed her waist thickening, I think before she did. After I had taken her dresses out for the second time, I looked at her, made myself see what I had been looking at all along.

Well, of course I was devastated. I’d worked so hard for the girl, and had it thrown back in my face. We moved, went to live in one of those awful flats in the city. At least there nobody cared what anyone else was up to. Lizzie was utterly mortified that I had taken her away from her friends, but she was only a girl, what did she know. It would have been round the village before we knew it. Of course, the boy was nowhere to be seen. She swore she said no, that he had ignored her, that he was drunk. She told me that she had just gone for a walk with him and he had pounced. She told me she couldn’t remember which boy it was.

As the months passed, I tried to get her to eat well, I really did. I tried to make her see there was a future for us and the baby. We could maybe pass it off as mine, or she could go away to school. We’d manage somehow. I’m not sure even I beleived it. I wanted her to go to the doctor, but she was so scared, she thougt she would be in trouble. I thought I would.

I was used to seeing that bloom - even when girls are sick, or tired, they still have that bloom, that glow that life is starting inside them. Lizzie didn’t have that. Each week she got paler, skinnier, with just that bump sticking out in front. We never really talked about what was growing inside her - we looked on it as an intruder. We didn’t even know how far gone she was for definite, but I would guess she was about eight weeks before her time when her waters went.

It wasa quick labour. I knew what I was doing - I think I went into automatic mode. My poor girl was split in half by the pains. I hated that boy for doing it to her. I hated the baby for doing it to her. I held her hand, and she cried, and she was my little girl, fallen over in the playground, or crying for my milk at night. She wasn’t old enough for this.

By the time the child came out, she was delerious. So was I. I knew what I was doing, though. I saw that little scrap of flesh and blood and the tiniest flicker of life. I saw that the cord was wrapped around its - his - neck. I knew how to save him. I didn’t. I wrapped everything up in a towel, put it to one side while I revived my girl, then broke the news that the baby had been born blue, as he gasped his last breath.

I know people would condemn me. I know Lizzie did when she found out. Until you have been a mother though, and seen the heartache, the total devotion that you give to your children, you can never know how easy it is to remember your own baby and forget your training on how to save another.

She went back to school, really knuckled down from then on. Went to college, got married. When I held her first legitimate baby in my arms, she started crying about that first child, and for whatever reason I told her. That was the last story I ever told to my beautiful girl, and still I don’t think she knows how I would move heaven and earth to give her the best chance in life.

So, tell her. Show her that I keep her photo. Tell her that I did my best.

Zoidberg Tue 31-May-11 13:26:20

oo, I really enjoyed that, very good writing. pointers, hmm..
once I got into it, and by the end definitely, the first para reads in a way that doesn't fit the rest, could be less loose/colloquial I think.

I wondered where you were going with "of course, I made Lizzie's clothes" but that turned into an interesting way to reveal that info.

Something about the line "you can never know how easy it is to remember your own baby and forget your training on how to save another" doesn't work for me, not sure what, the last bit especially.

Last week I joined and have had useful reviews from people on there, though as you're doing a course you may well find you get enough feedback.

Well done.

TheBride Wed 01-Jun-11 07:14:24

The writing's good. The voice is strong and you're a natural story teller. However, for me there's a credibility gap- the fact she told her daughter that she killed her baby. We need a reason for such a seemingly crazy decision, as it underpins the whole story (that she's now estranged from her daughter).

APieOfButter Thu 09-Jun-11 11:08:07

Thanks for your tips - I think they are really good pointers. Because I am a forgetful nob, I forgot to edit it before the final hand in date, but I think I will edit it anyway for my own satisfaction.

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