ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

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Friday, 20 September 2013

Write...Edit...Publish Blogfest - MOVING ON - to Paris!

Hello everyone!

It's time for the second Write...Edit...Publish blogfest, the prompt, MOVING ON. The only rule is that stories remain around/under 1,000 words. The monthly blogfest is open to all, so watch the prompts and sign up. You're most welcome! OCTOBER is HAUNTING! 

In August I began a story with the premise that a young girl has arrived in Paris to look for her mother who has run away from home. (A little twist, yeah?) Willow meets a young French man, Jacques, whose intention is to help Willow solve the mystery. Today my entry is from the mother's point of view.

If you need me, I’ll be in Paris. Y


Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Cecelia woke with the corny quote swirling round in her head like some bizarre jingle once heard, never forgotten. She opened one eye just a slit—the other was swollen shut. But she could see enough to know she was alone in her bed. Her tormentor had left.

He’d tormented her one last time.

She reached for the clock on her bedside table. “Owwee!” She screamed as pain burned like a lightning bolt. Tears ran down her face as she focused on the dial, but the digits wobbled in her vision, a distorted mirror image. No matter. It was nearly light. It was probably the closing door that had woken her. Thank God he had drawn early shift at the factory today.

Did you ever lay in the dark and sing? Someone had once asked her that question. No, I can’t imagine doing that, she’d replied at an time when she had no hope.

But as she lay in the semi-darkness, arm throbbing, eye throbbing, heart sobbing, she started to sing away the pain. The notes reverberated around the room like one of her father's cracked ’78 records, but as the words welled up from her heart and passed her lips to the outside world, her spirit strengthened. The tense space of the bedroom filled with positive tones; the darkness receded.

Battered and bruised, but not beaten, Cecelia rose from her bed to meet the new day. Her knees cracked, her calves ached from the vicious kicks. She fell back onto the bed and nearly screamed with the pain of it. She reached for the photo frame with her favourite picture of the Eiffel Tower. She found comfort in its strong, sleek lines. She sat awhile until the pain lessened. How tempting to fall back onto the pillows and lay there all day! No! Up she got again. And again. Until finally, she stood strong on legs like steel springs.

The first day of the rest of her life could now begin.

Everything was ready. She’d been planning her escape for years. Her luggage in the basement, hidden in the old fire recess, her travel documents squirreled away in her make up case. She was pretty sure it was safe there. Ewan hated makeup. “A little bit of powder, a little bit of paint, makes a girl look what she ain’t”, he always sniped when she made the effort to hide the bruises, to hide the evidence of his brutality and her weakness from the world.

But her most important stash of all was hidden in plain sight—her precious books stacked on her bedside table would take but a moment to pack. She couldn’t leave them behind after the years spent building her collection. They would give her a kick start in her new life. She ran her tongue over her mouth, remembering the smacks when Ewan saw she’d added another book to her pile. “Spending all our bloody money on books! What good did books ever do for you?”

“Mum? You all right?” 

Darling Willow at the door. How could she leave her behind? What kind of mother was she? But the time had come. She couldn’t take her daughter with her. Not yet. Willow needed to finish her schooling. Ewan adored his daughter. She’d be safe.

“Mum?” The old wooden door creaked open. Willow tiptoed across the space between door and bed.

“Mum? Why are you standing there?” She snapped on the bedside light. An eerie glow seeped into the pre-dawn shadows. 

Cecelia shivered. The floating white curtains had always reminded her of a shroud. She took deep breaths. She couldn't afford a panic attack now. 

Mother and daughter stared at each other, wrapped in light and fear. “Mum…your face. Dad said you fell in the bathroom. He’s hit you again, hasn’t he?”

Willow’s voice was raw with pain…and something else…realization? Her saintly father a sinner after all.

Cecelia couldn’t find words.

“I heard you singing just now, Mum. You sounded happy.”

Cecelia touched her eye, wiping away a tear. “Give me a hug, darling girl. I am so happy right now, you can’t imagine. I have the sweetest daughter in the world. I love you so much.”

“It’s going to be all right, isn’t it Mum?” Willow’s embrace tightened. Cecelia winced at the sharp stab in her ribs. “I have an early class, but don’t worry about dinner. I’ll cook. Dad ordered steak and potatoes, but said he won’t be home till late. Overtime.” She frowned at Cecelia, studied her face. Did Willow sense the change in her mother…a fresh determination after all these years?

Willow held her close. “Another hug, Mum? I love you.”

Cecilia wanted to stay in her daughter’s embrace, but she had a busy day ahead. If she didn't make the break now, she doubted she'd ever gather courage again.

When her daughter read her note tonight, she wouldn’t understand, not at first, but Cecelia knew her Willow. She would struggle with her loyalty to her father, she would struggle with the decision her mother had made. But then she’d recall the yelling, the blows, the brokenness of it all. She’d remember her mother with love and acceptance…eventually.

But Cecelia had to take that first step to a new life. She'd leave the picture of the Eiffel Tower behind. She'd have the real thing instead.

Paris. Here I come! 





WORD COUNT: 810

I am happy for a full critique. All constructive criticism welcome. Just play nice.

Click on the names below the WEP image in the sidebar to read more stories. Thank you!



LINKY WILL GO UP EARLY OCTOBER AT WRITE...EDIT...PUBLISH Start dreaming up something scary, wicked or just plain fun for Halloween!





48 comments:

  1. I'm in there with the mum, feeling her pain, her anxiety and her need to walk away from it all. And her worry for her child. Even though she knows the child would be safe.

    Great description Denise. Chilling story, I hope we get to read the full someday.

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    1. Thanks Kelly. I'm glad the story rang true for you. I loved your story too.

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  2. Great story! So glad her daughter is old enough to understand, but how sad to have to leave her behind. Can't wait to read more!

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  3. No easy way to handle that situation. But leaving the maturing daughter with a brute of a father is something never to be proud of. Great portrayal of a heart in anguish, body bruised, and spirit near to breaking.

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    1. Thanks Roland. No easy answer to domestic violence. My soapbox.

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  4. Oh, Denise!!! I wanted to be angry at her for leaving her daughter....but I can't. Are we going to be able to read the rest of the story?!!!! Bravo!

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    1. Yes you will Words Crafter. Each month. Thanks for your reaction!

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  5. Should I feel sorry for her daughter? Or should I celebrate with her decision to move on? You showed two angles of the story perfectly Denise! Hope to read the rest of it :)

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    1. You will eventually Anne. It's a hard decision for her.

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  6. You want this story to continue? Thanks for saying that. Well, this is the second installment. (I hope you read last month's!) I am hoping to continue it every month during the blogfest. Hmm...next month we'll be in Paris with Willow and Jacques...haunting will be happening!

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  7. I like the voice and emotional tension in this Denise. Many won't understand how a mother could leave a child behind. Many don't understand the oppression of a woman in a DV situation. You portrayed your character and her desperate situation well.

    I like the excerpt. I like the emotional depth, the hard decision, the physical pain that isn't quite as deep as the emotional pain. Excuse me, I need a tissue.

    ......dhole

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    1. I'm sure you've heard a few DV stories in your time Donna. No easy out.

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  8. Oh, mine will be up this weekend, and I'll add a direct link.

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  9. I definitely want to read more, Denise. I enjoyed the first part and now this sets the picture for the mother's departure. My sympathy is with Cecilia as a mother and a beaten wife, which is good because in the first section, I was in doubt about her. There were just a couple of sentences that made me read them again because of the punctuation, but I don't know if you want to know this now. Let me know if you do and I'll point them out :-)

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    1. I would be pleased to hear your critique re punctuation Val. Don't want anything to detract from the story. Glad you like it.

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    2. Hi Denise. Punctuation is so tricky in a narrative, and I'm far from suggesting yours is wrong. It's just that I found the first sentence had me re-reading it as I didn't get it the first couple of times. It might be the position of the comma where it is. If it were me, I think I might put a colon or a full stop after 'jingle'. The other sentence may well have confused me because of the limited space you have here. Layout in a text can also affect how we read it, can't it? Anyway, it's the sentence that includes the hyphen between 'sight' and 'her'. I would probably just use a full stop instead of a hyphen myself. However, I realise these are very individual points and maybe no one else had a problem with them, so feel free to ignore me :-)

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    3. Thanks for your help, Val, but as you say, punctuation is tricky. I wrote it as I'd read it, but you may have a different way to read it. When I add to it for my novella, I will have a closer look. Thanks again for your suggestions.

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  10. 'But her most important stash of all was hidden in plain sight—her precious books' can so relate to that! :)

    A great but sad tale, a mixture of hope and heartbreak for the mother. Life's complex, hope she finds happiness. I know her daughter's take from the earlier snippet. Definitely want to read more.

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    1. Thanks Nilanjana. Yeah, the books are necessary aren't they?

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  11. Wow! We were very much on the same wavelength, weren't we? The addition of a child and obvious violence are heartrending, of course.

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    1. Yes Armchair, I couldn't believe how close our ideas were!

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    2. I've already started next month's post. Denise, this has been a great kick in the pants for me to start writing fiction again. It's been quite a while.

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  12. Wow interesting point of view here Denise. Very vivid emotionally.

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  13. You've shown the anguish of being brave enough to move out of a very bad situation and the dilemma of leaving her daughter.

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  14. Hi, Denise,
    This was bitter-sweet and made my eyes smart. I like what you did with Cecilia's pain, making me feel what she had gone through. Must have been painful not to tell her daughter, but you've written this in such a way that the reader knows Willow is sensible and will understand. As always, you have to wonder how we end up with men like these and then stay for years of abuse.

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  15. I can only applaud a woman who gets herself out of a bad situation, but leaving her daughter with the dad who may decide to inflict his anger on her daughter doesn't sit well with me. I've seen examples of men like this. They don't change. (He doesn't have anything to vent his bad nature upon now does he?)

    I can't help but think that mother is a bit self-centered, and I don't approve of leaving any child with a father with pugilistic tendencies. Just my take, Denise.

    Very well written.

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  16. I have so many feelings reading this. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. I loved this even more than the first installment and I'm SO glad to have her POV. In the first story I kind-of villanized her- how could she abandon her daughter? But seeing what she went through, and her rationale for leaving Willow behind- you made her human, reachable.
    I still can't imagine it, but at least I understand her reationale.

    The sensory descriptions are impressive- could really feel her pain. And the way she sings to herself to give herself strength, the memory of what he'd said about make-up, the secrecy of her hidden plan all made it real.

    Really, just loved this piece!

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    1. If you felt her pain Beverly that was my intention. Thanks.

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  18. Wow, she's leaving her daughter behind? How sad. Surprised he never hit the daughter as well.

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  19. Denise, you capture the complexity of torn emotions beautifully. Mother is evidently torn. Your treatment of that concept shows how difficult it is to make decisions in such a situation. The plus for me as a reader is the self empowerment that this woman arms herself with, to leave a hopeless life and start afresh. Her daughter would back on this one day and be proud of her.

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  20. I like that this was based on a story you'd written previously. You'll find that your writing becomes more rich when you do things like that.

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  21. Wonderful scene, Denise. I completely understand the mother. As you know, I wrote of a similar situation in BG...

    She needs to move on to save herself. Her soul needs to live another day.

    I felt her pain through your words. Well done.

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    1. It's good to hear a guy can understand some of the intricacies of this disturbing situation. I just finished reading a book, The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson which really helps to get more understanding from the woman's point of view. I read it after I wrote this and I feel justified in my take on it. Thanks Michael.

      Denise

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  22. Hi Denise
    Oh what a choice. I would have taken my daughter, but then that's me. I think you did a great job capturing the emotion. I did find one typo. Anyone in this situation is often so isolated that it is hard for them to take action.
    Nancy

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    1. Yes, and I wanted to get her long struggle across, but I may not have been absolutely successful in such a short piece.

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  23. Hey Denise, thanks for sharing this piece of your story with us. You've done a great job capturing the emotion and letting the reader know how much Ewan has put Cecelia through. I loved the line:

    He'd tormented her one last time.

    Very effective standing on it's own line. I also really like the hopefulness Cecelia has mustered about leaving and about how Willow will eventually handle it.

    A minor typo here or there, nothing a quick proofread won't fix. Loved this :)

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    1. Gulp...a typo...I was aghast but did find one. I'll have an even closer look for more. Thank you for your comment.

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  24. Oh Denise... this is wonderful!
    This tugged at the heart strings... a real tug-of-war... as I vacillated between anger, admiration and sympathy, at the thought of her leaving the child behind.
    What if he takes it out on the child when he finds her missing? Has she thought of that possibility? She probably has. But she has no other options. That's quite clear.
    What a dilemma! And you portrayed it brilliantly!

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    1. Yes, Michelle, all those emotions...but thanks for your comment!

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  25. Hi Denise .. love to read the rest - gosh life can be cruel and I sure hope all will be well ..

    I echo Michelle's comment above ... not nice at all - but so well written .. Hilary

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  26. Can't say I'm amazed, because I already know how talented you are Denise! Great piece and what a great reaction you've received! Well done.

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  27. What a hard decision for Cecelia to have to make; to leave her daughter behind. I'm glad we get to read more of this Paris-story and get the mother's point of view.
    Good story for the theme, 'Moving on...' I hope you will let us read more.

    [By the way, have you noticed my Paris treasury on Etsy? https://www.etsy.com/treasury/NjMyNDYxOXwyNzIyNDQ4OTU5/the-eiffel-tower-as-icon-and-in]

    Thanks for you thoughts and suggestions for my story. I read Kafka's Metamorphosis, but I am not going to take my story down the same road. Kafka lets Gregor Samsa die as a bug! I am not going to let Melissa Hart die as a cat. Melissa wants to make the best of any situation and her philosophy is that as long as you are able to think, there is hope. But it was good to read Kafka because he is a master of making such an absurd situation believable!

    So far I can see at least three ways of taking my story. But I've changed my mind about revealing the next scene. I need to think about it first.

    Next time we have the Halloween challenge, always a high point in our writing year. That should be fun.

    I am so late doing the rounds, and you are first on the list. I've promised myself that I'll read everyone's entry, even if it will take me a few days to do it.
    Take care,
    Best wishes,
    Anna
    Anna's W-E-P-Challenge for September: Moving on...

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  28. Great insight into why the mother fled the scene. I'm even more curious now to see what happens if/when mother and daughter are reunited in Paris!

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  29. Oh, that's gut-wrenching Denise. Can't wait for the next installment.
    I understand how she feels, not wanting to leave those books behind!

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