Author Topic: continuation of Born to Die [now called: Surprise!]  (Read 1224 times)

Offline 510bhan

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continuation of Born to Die [now called: Surprise!]
« on: January 18, 2011, 05:55:20 PM »
Prior to this, the mc has been woken by her noisy dogs expecting to sign for an eBay package. It is not the postman at the door but the police to inform her of her aunt's death. They have just asked her if she want's to call the daughter.http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=32113.30



I tried to cover my hesitation with a draw on my cigarette and a shake of my head. I wanted to sit down but of course there was nothing available. “Shouldn’t you?” I suggested.
     “I’m afraid we can’t, Mrs Clayden --” he said. The WPC riffled some sheets of paper she had on a clipboard, checking names and numbers I could see upside down.
     “Oh, I have her number if you need it. It’s on my mobile. I could dial it for you --”
     “No, I’m afraid you have misunderstood. We can’t tell her.”
     “Why? Why not? You told me and I’m not even next of kin.”
     “We understand that but what I mean is we would have to pay her a call, physically knock on her door. We are not allowed to break news like that over the phone. We’d have to send officers from Lisburn Police Station round to her address. That’s why we came to you first. You were the closest. You can call her, but we can’t.”
“Oh.” I nodded but I knew it was not a call I wanted to make. Laura would go ballistic. It was bad enough that I’d taken her mother out of the residential nursing home to live with me. May’s broken heart pleaded to escape the incarceration her loving daughter had thoughtfully organised. I’d listened to it. To be the one to tell her that her mother was dead would be torture. Despite our mutual hatred, I didn’t jump at the chance. It did flit through my mind but I thought better of it. Anyone, anyone but me would be ideal. I thought a little longer and it struck me that Laura would be even more mortified if police came knocking on her door. Presbyterian image is more important that Christian principles. This wasn’t the time to score points over the bitch. She was lucky I loved her mother so much. The opportunity was sublimely tempting. Oh, god -- rock and hard a place, and I wasn’t even awake yet.

     By 9:34am I had informed Laura, my brother at home and the siblings in Australia. I got dressed, fed the dogs and waited for Carl to get round to my place before we would go together to Auntie May’s house. I lit a cigarette as my first tears trickled down my cheek. No mascara today, I thought.

     A police car with an officer inside, parked at May’s door alerted all the neighbours to what had happened in their sheltered fold. My aunt would have been horrified if people were talking about her. The sergeant on duty warned us what to expect and added that there wasn’t much blood. My shoulders juddered and I clenched my jaw. His soothing tones failed to lessen the sting in his devastating words. He led my brother and I through. May’s body lay as the sergeant had described, between the front door and her bedroom, blocking the way in. We stepped over her. Prone and outstretched, a small blood pool stained the beige carpet below her side-turned jaw. Someone had moved her Zimmer frame and covered her with some blankets. She looked so small. It seemed obscene to kiss her in what appeared to be a crime scene. From what the doctor had told the police and they told us, May had probably died the night before, her body was cold and rigour had set. Lividity and the discolouration over her crêpey skin suggested she had died where she had fallen, a heart attack the suspected cause of death at this point.

     “Well, she went the way she wanted to,” Carl said.
     “Yep,” I agreed, “ in her own house and without any lingering illness.”
     “She’d a good innings. It’s still sad though.”
I sniffed back some dribbles from my nose and nodded. “Not much we can do about it.”
     Carl exhaled a deep sigh. “When’s the Ice-Maiden coming?”
     “I rang her before I rang you, she said it’d be ten minutes before she’d be on her way. Should only be a half hour or so on top of that -- maybe by half-ten?”
     “We’ll be lucky if we see her before lunch,” he snipped.
     “Yeah, only a dead mum lying on a floor. She’s probably got something important to do,” I quipped back. “Got any fags on you?”

     We both lit up our smokes and went outside the kitchen door though why I don’t know, we both used to smoke in Auntie May’s house when she was alive. I suppose it was a small gesture of respect. It was a bizarre acceptance that she had gone, ‘left the building’ as many quip, while her corpse lay on the floor. May, the last of her generation, made it to 95. Always emphatic that she never wanted to see one hundred, she’d say, “I don’t want a telegram from Her Majesty or my photograph in the newspaper. I don’t want it all.” The direct glare at the end of her oft-rhymed spiel reinforced her message.  

     Carl kicked at the snow on the grass. “Do you know who her undertaker is?”
     “Not a notion.” I puffed on my cigarette. “I know her doctor’s name.”
     “We’ll have to wait until Laura comes then. Maybe it’s in her address book.”
     “Could have a look when we go back in.”

     We stubbed out our half-smoked cigarettes on the footpath, picked up the butts and put them in the outside bin. Inside we offered the police beverages but they refused, told them they could use the bathroom if they needed to and busied ourselves sorting out the boxes of tablets for the officer to record and remove. Practical things kept our minds off the cadaver in the hall -- a little. Talk about the elephant in the room.

     It struck me that somebody would have to clear up the blood. House-proud May would be mortified if the new occupants saw evidence of the tragedy on her pristine carpet. I decided I’d return later, when no one was about and do this last thing for her. I wondered if she knew -- if she suffered, and was taken back to my last visit with her just yesterday -- already long ago.

Offline Kennedy

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Re: continuation of Born to Die [now called: Surprise!]
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2011, 03:33:16 AM »
Though I have not read the other part of your story, I enjoyed reading this one. The dialogue is clear. However, I seek clarification on the use of the word 'about' in this sentence...
'I decided I’d return later, when no one was about and do this last thing for her.'

All the best.
Ken

Offline WoodridgeNZ

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Re: continuation of Born to Die [now called: Surprise!]
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2011, 07:58:23 AM »
Kennedy - it means "around", "handy", "close by", etc. Hope that helps.

Sio - hope to get a chance to look at your story properly soon.  :)

Offline Kennedy

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Re: continuation of Born to Die [now called: Surprise!]
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2011, 08:26:52 AM »
WoodridgeNZ, Thank you for the clarification.

Ken

Max_with_word_processor

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Re: continuation of Born to Die [now called: Surprise!]
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2011, 05:07:29 PM »
Hi 510bahn, I appreciate all the advice you provide others, and hope I can offer a little in return. Here's some points I noticed. Just opinions:

The opportunity was sublimely [don't think sublimely works well, or at least is not necessary]

-- rock and hard a place [don't think this phrase suits the situation. Seems like she is torn between sympathy and having a stab at Laura, so Rock and hard place doesnt clearly convey that]

waited for Carl to get round to [suggest, "arrive at"] my place

...my first tears trickled down my cheek...[prior to this, the MC seemed like a hard person without much emotion, so this felt a little unexpected. No doubt she might shed a tear, but the description that led up to this just didnt flow quite right. Perhaps ealier give some clue that she is sad]

My shoulders juddered and I clenched my jaw. His soothing tones failed to lessen the sting in his devastating words. [I know here you are trying to show and not tell, which is good, but it looked a bit too obvious, as though you were trying too hard]

...a small blood pool [I dont understand the blood if it was a heart attack, perhaps this is normal?]

... he snipped.... I quipped back. [I think you should try to convey the intent without snipped and quipped]

Inside we offered the police beverages...bathroom...[didn't see the point of this, or at least it seems a bit of time has already passed so it's a bit late to offer now]

Talk about the elephant in the room. [hmmm, perhaps a bit cliche]


Offline 510bhan

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Re: continuation of Born to Die [now called: Surprise!]
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2011, 05:31:07 PM »
Thanks Max - appreciated.

I think that Sarah has been so stunned and surprised by the news that there wasn't an opportunity to even consider crying or being sad so it was meant to convey that she does actually have a heart once she had time on her own. Maybe she could feel something earlier but won't cry in front of strangers?

To elaborate on the small pool of blood. Heart attack, they think, she fell, bashed her face and bled but not much because then she died. At this point there has been no 'medical' confirmation of the cause of death, mainly speculation and it's only what was observed.

rock and hard place can change ... decisions

Meant to be a cliche - probably me being too clever, using something so overused for something that is so unusual. Ah well, we learn every day.

Offering the police the use of the bathroom etc, surreal situation trying to be practical, who knew how long they would have to be there. Maybe I'll include a little bit of that to clarify.

Sorry, I'm scrolling up and down here so this is all out of sequence.

Carl arrived would be better, thanks.

Not sure about the juddering - it's what happened, I'll try and modify it - maybe that's where the refusing to cry bit could come in.

Laura/Sarah   . . .  trust me, the temptation to wreck her day [under other circumstances] was sublime.

Lots to consider and lots of which I shall steal. Thank you so much for your comments. ;) ;) ;)

Max_with_word_processor

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Re: continuation of Born to Die [now called: Surprise!]
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 05:38:23 PM »
You're welcome. keep up the good work!

twisted wheel

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Re: continuation of Born to Die [now called: Surprise!]
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2011, 05:40:48 AM »
hi siobhan,

i'm working on a full crit over the next few days.