Author Topic: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)  (Read 2301 times)

Offline 510bhan

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For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« on: May 31, 2012, 07:50:36 PM »
With suggested tweaks and corrections ;)

For the Love of Lily

I had to get there before the blood dried. Sneaking into a dead woman's house at ten o'clock at night didn't bother me, but I wanted to avoid nosey neighbours with condolences and questions. The residents should be settled, at the sheltered housing complex, I thought as I eased the car into a parking space near Lily's door. Of course, every noise outside the sheltered housing complex sounded exaggerated on the night air. I cursed the car door and the boot, which refused to join my stealthy approach, and I slinked toward the porch. No curtains twitched.

Beneath the light I set down my bags on the step, retrieved the key from between my teeth and opened the lock. It took a moment to step inside. This morning, police had escorted my brother and me through the doorway after warning us about the corpse blocking our entry. Deep breath. No crying, now.Big girls don't cry, she'd say.  

The blood stain, already brown on the oatmeal carpet, was about the size of a side plate. When Lily's body had lain there twelve hours earlier, her faced concealed most of the mark. Her bruises and lividity had fascinated me then – and how small she looked in death. It shouldn't have surprised me if I thought logically about it, well, my logic. Lily had such a big heart, filled with immense spirit, of course she'd have shrunk once it'd left her body. I tried to shrug off the creeping madness. Shock affects people in different ways and I knew which direction mine would take if I let it.

In the kitchen, as I filled a basin with water, I sniffed back a tear that threatened to fall. “Come on, come on, fill up you bloody stupid thing, would ya?”  Crossing back through the living room, Lily's empty chair annoyed me. I shook my head, instantly regretting the movement as water wobbled, ready to splash over the rim. With a more steady step and intense concentration I reached the hallway and the dreadful spot where I did my best to blot it into cloths I had brought. Born with a duster in her hand, Lily would hate the new tenant to see any evidence of her demise, so this small gesture, I performed with love.

Her daughter had cleared the fridge and the cupboards too. Lucky for me, the supplies in my car sufficed for the job. A towel or two, some upholstery spray, Vanish powder and wipes. As the stain shrank from the outside in, I made sure each cleaning stroke followed the pile.

God, this blood has seeped through to the backing. Keep at it.

Blot, stomp, dampen, wipe. It looked like a tea spill now – nothing to show where she collapsed, smacked her face on the floor and bled from her nose and mouth. Still, it required more work. I sniggered as Lady Macbeth's lines ran through my mind. 'Out damned spot'. What the hell had Spot the dog ever done, I wondered.

Don't lose the plot now. Concentrate.

The skin on my fingers reddened and gleamed with continued firm pressure against the chemicals and the wool tufts. After two hours, much of it spent trying to dry the carpet I'd soaked to release some blood without it spreading and contaminating nearby fibres, I took all the soiled wipes out to the bin and packed away my cleaning materials. At least it didn't look obviously like a blood stain now. I hoped that when the area dried my work would be invisible. Any callers over the weekend, except the carer and warden who had discovered her body, would be unaware of what must have happened. Aunt Lily would be happy enough that people might only refer to her having had a heart attack. The triple by-pass at 85 had allowed her an extra ten years, so it would be no surprise. The rest could remain private, just as the funeral arrangements she requested.

« Last Edit: June 01, 2012, 06:27:22 AM by 510bhan »

Offline junel

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2012, 08:43:04 PM »
Hi Sio,

I haven't had a proper read through I'm afraid, can't take most of it in due to my flu.

But all I've managed is below.

Residents at the sheltered housing complex should be settled, I thought . . .

doesn't read like a natural thought, more like your forcing the opportunity to let your reader know where you are -- why would you need to be telling yourself it's the "sheltered housing complex" when you drove there?

Could be: The residents should be settled, I thought . . .

It means you'll have to find another way to let your reader know the location, but I don't see that as a big problem.

Also,

Deep breath. No crying, now.

you're allowed some fiction in non-fiction, right?

you could let a part of Lily's personality be known here and let the reader feel a connection with an alternative line.

Deep Breath. Big girls don't cry, she'd say.

'she' being Lily, of course.

I think it works better for the story and reader, but if you want to stay true to Lily's character and it's not something she would have said, I can understand that. Or you may find something that she would have said and fits appropriatley here. Just something to ponder.

sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Junel.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2012, 10:09:49 PM by junel »

Offline Butterfly21

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2012, 10:13:22 PM »
Hi, Sio.

Lily had such a big heart, filled with immense spirit, of course she'd have shrunk once it'd left her body.

That's my favorite line.

The imagery is very vivid but not overly descriptive.

Just one thing I noticed:

...her faced concealed most of the mark. Should it be face?

 :)


Offline Laura H

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2012, 10:21:03 PM »
I tend to be dense when things aren't laid out for me -  "The triple by-pass at 85 had allowed her an extra ten years, so it would be no surprise. The rest could remain private, just as the funeral arrangements she requested."  Was she a suicide?

Fabulous first line, by the way  :)
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Offline 510bhan

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2012, 05:57:39 AM »
Junel, Butterfly and Laura -- thank you all for taking the time to read the piece and leave comment. ;)

Junel -- I could probably work the sheltered housing mention into the nosey neighbours sentence. Thanks for pointing that out. Like the inclusion of an Aunt Lily-ism. ;D

Butterfly -- great eyes, yes, it should be 'face' -- thanks! ;)

Laura -- you're not being thick, you're just hoping for too much . . . no great drama here, just an act of kindness to help keep her privacy, (hence all the sneaking around) no great twist or reveal. Basically she got an extra 10 years out of her heart, nobody would be surprised that was what caused her death, they didn't need to know anything further about smashing her face on the floor and lying there in a pool of blood until her carers found her the following morning. :)

Silt-2

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2012, 06:33:15 AM »
After I had a coffee and am more suitablely awake, I will look at this piece, Sio.

Silt-2

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2012, 06:57:21 AM »
Just one thing while I'm waiting for my coffee.

I really like your first sentence, but believe right after it you could go to the second para without the mention of the car/sneaking up and such. I know it sounds like a drastic cut but you start off so strong and then veer away too quickly so that powerful statement 'I had to get there before the blood dried'  gets weakened.

More in a bit :), just little things nothing that should stop you writing

Quote
The blood stain, already brown on the oatmeal carpet, was about the size of a side plate. When Lily's body had lain there twelve hours earlier, her faced concealed most of the mark. Her bruises and lividity had fascinated me then – and how small she looked in death. It shouldn't have surprised me if I thought logically about it, well, my logic. Lily had such a big heart, filled with immense spirit, of course she'd have shrunk once it'd left her body. I tried to shrug off the creeping madness. Shock affects people in different ways and I knew which direction mine would take if I let it.

size of a side -   s'  sounding too close together.   dinner  plate?

oatmeat carpet -  the mention of another colour takes away from the presence of blood red.

Lily had such a big .....   - love this line, excellent imagery.

Shock affects people .... -  could be removed as it steers away from your mc and talks about people not in the story.

Quote
In the kitchen, as I filled a basin with water, I sniffed back a tear that threatened to fall. “Come on, come on, fill up you bloody stupid thing, would ya?”  Crossing back through the living room, Lily's empty chair annoyed me. I shook my head, instantly regretting the movement as water wobbled, ready to splash over the rim. With a more steady step and intense concentration I reached the hallway and the dreadful spot where I did my best to blot it into cloths I had brought. Born with a duster in her hand, Lily would hate the new tenant to see any evidence of her demise, so this small gesture, I performed with love.

I believe the one mention of annoyance should be enough. Choose between the tear moment or the chair, but both felt too much. I woould prefer the stain as you mentioned tears/crying previously.

...it into cloths I had brought -   I think this bit of explanation is un-necessary.

Quote
Her daughter had cleared the fridge and the cupboards too. Lucky for me, the supplies in my car sufficed for the job. A towel or two, some upholstery spray, Vanish powder and wipes. As the stain shrank from the outside in, I made sure each cleaning stroke followed the pile.

God, this blood has seeped through to the backing. Keep at it.

Blot, stomp, dampen, wipe. It looked like a tea spill now – nothing to show where she collapsed, smacked her face on the floor and bled from her nose and mouth. Still, it required more work. I sniggered as Lady Macbeth's lines ran through my mind. 'Out damned spot'. What the hell had Spot the dog ever done, I wondered.

Don't lose the plot now. Concentrate.

God, this blood .... -  I think separates too much from grief. What I'm saying is it sounded to much like you were cleaning something else not a person you know's blood. I don't know if how she died is worth mentioning, was there a witness?

In a way I can see how a person's mind can drift to weird thoughts in the craziness of death, but I don't know if you have enough words to build both the love and weirdness of thought. It could be just me.

The last para, or the section of the last para felt like data added on that had not much to do with the story. I know it is about the future tenants and such, but I think it could be thinned.

***

Some very nice descriptions, Sio, and my opinion is just an opinion, not a fact.

Thanks for the read
« Last Edit: June 01, 2012, 07:45:37 AM by Silt-2 »

Offline 510bhan

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2012, 07:55:52 AM »
I'm just back in and coffee-ing myself now, so will read your comments again.  ;D

Thanks for taking the time to read, I appreciate your critique. ;)

Offline 510bhan

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2012, 08:35:58 AM »
So . . . I took on board your comments, Silt, and made some tweaks. I think it's important to keep the sneaking up, as this is true to the story and how you have to go about things in Northern Ireland if you want to avoid meeting the gossips. I waited until I thought most of the old dears would have had all their night-time carer visits and being winter there would have been little chance of late-night watering of plants, putting out bins etc.

Anyways . . . here's the revision:

For the Love of Lily

I had to get there before the blood dried. Sneaking into a dead woman's house at ten o'clock at night didn't bother me, but I wanted to avoid nosey neighbours with condolences and questions. The residents should be settled, I thought as I eased the car into a parking space near Lily's door. Of course, every noise outside the sheltered housing complex sounded exaggerated on the night air. I cursed the car door and the boot, which refused to join my stealthy approach, and I slinked toward the porch. No curtains twitched.

Beneath the light I set down my bags on the step, retrieved the key from between my teeth and opened the lock. It took a moment to step inside. This morning, police had escorted my brother and me through the doorway after warning us about the corpse blocking our entry. Deep breath. Big girls don't cry, she'd say.   

The blood stain, already brown on the carpet, was about the size of a dinner plate. When Lily's body had lain there twelve hours earlier, her face concealed most of the mark. Her bruises and lividity had fascinated me then – and how small she looked in death. It shouldn't have surprised me if I thought logically about it, well, my logic. Lily had such a big heart, filled with immense spirit, of course she'd have shrunk once it'd left her body. I tried to shrug off the creeping madness.

In the kitchen I filled a basin with water. “Come on, come on, fill up you bloody stupid thing, would ya?”  Lily's empty chair annoyed me and as I crossed back through the living room I shook my head. Instantly, I  regretted the movement as water wobbled, ready to splash over the rim. With a more steady step and intense concentration I reached the hallway and the dreadful spot where I did my best to blot it. Born with a duster in her hand, Lily would hate the new tenant to see any evidence of her demise, so this small, practical gesture, I performed with love.

Since her daughter had cleared the fridge and the cupboards too, no one was expected to call until after the funeral. Lucky for me, the supplies in my car sufficed for the job. A towel or two, some upholstery spray, Vanish powder and wipes. As the stain shrank from the outside in, I made sure each cleaning stroke on the carpet ran with the pile.


Blot, stomp, dampen, wipe. It looked like a tea spill now – nothing to show where she collapsed, smacked her face on the floor and bled from her nose and mouth. Still, it required more work. I sniggered as Lady Macbeth's lines ran through my mind. 'Out damned spot'. What the hell had Spot the dog ever done, I wondered.

Don't lose the plot now. Concentrate.

The skin on my fingers reddened and gleamed with continued firm pressure against the chemicals and the pale wool tufts. After two hours, much of it spent trying to dry the carpet I'd soaked to release some blood without it spreading and contaminating nearby fibres, I took all the soiled wipes out to the bin and packed away my cleaning materials. At least it didn't look  like an obvious blood stain now. I hoped that when the area dried my work would be invisible. She'd have done the same for anyone else who valued privacy. Aunt Lily would be happy enough that people might only refer to her having had a heart attack. The triple by-pass at 85 had allowed her an extra ten years, so it would be no surprise. The rest could remain private, just as the funeral arrangements she requested.

Offline Margarett

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2012, 12:13:10 AM »
Very well done. Great hook! Needing to appease my curiosity you tugged me along right to the final word.
Dance in the raindrops. Slide down a rainbow. Make our world a more beautiful place. Keep a smile handy and give them away.
After all they are free!  " SMILE "

Offline Maulus

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2012, 06:03:48 AM »
I really enjoyed reading this piece, could almost imagine being in a similar situation, felt quite vivid. Well done :)

Dan

Offline 510bhan

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2012, 06:08:24 AM »
Thank you Margarett and Dan -- appreciate your time and comments. ;) ;) ;)

Silt-2

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2012, 07:23:05 AM »
I pondered saying this a few times but believe that the sneaking in could be better placed, sneaking out, bloody rags in hand, wash bucket.

Wouldn't the tenants have seen the police/ambulance and such at the time of her removal?

**

One line bothers me..


This morning .....    (felt too present tense. I am sure there is a way to word around that tense issue)


Well done on the editing. As always ignore my thoughts. It is just I believe the blood should stick to the opening scene right away, and then the hopes of escaping undetected at the end. Because she still has to leave.

Anyway, no coffee in me yet, so sense has left.

Offline 510bhan

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2012, 07:38:20 AM »
When my aunt died, as I was the emergency contact number the cops called at my house. She'd taken a heart attack and fallen, collapsing on the hallway floor, blocking the front door -- Zimmer spun away from her and she cracked her face as she against the door jamb of her bedroom. When her morning carer got no response and looked through the letter box, she saw her, contacted the warden and they contacted the police.

Yes the people knew she had died and the body was put into the ambulance/hearse once her daughter made an appearance [different story, grrrr] later in the afternoon. It wasn't that she died that would have bugged her, part of her wish was to die at home and not in a hospital [which had been on the cards in recent weeks before her death], but she was pathologically private and she'd have freaked if people had seen her house with blood stains -- dust or footprints were bad enough and as far as she'd have been concerned, the neighbours would have no need to know the particulars of what she looked like when they found her -- especially in a mess, soooooo not her. Ideally, she'd have been tucked up in bed with a fresh nightie and died in her sleep, or perhaps in her chair after she had visited the hairdressers. ;D I swear, if she could have risen, she'd have cleared up the blood herself somehow. :D

We had to fib to her next door neighbour, who enquired about her funeral, and pretend we didn't know just yet as the coroner's report hadn't been completed and  . . . fudge, fudge, fudge. She had made it quite clear that it was strictly close family, no gawpers at the graveside or waiting outside the funeral home to wave farewell.

Anyway, thanks for looking again, Silt -- much appreciated. :) :) :)

hillwalker3000

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Re: For the Love of Lily -- Creative Non-Fiction (658 words)
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2012, 09:18:27 AM »
I think you've done a great job with the rewrite,
and the sneaking around after dark adds a little tension
to what might otherwise be just a personal recollection
of a particularly stressful episode in your life.

The only bit that threw me on first reading:

Beneath the light I set down my bags on the step, retrieved the key from between my teeth and opened the lock.

which made me wonder why you kept the key in such a strange place.
Do we need this superfluous bit of information? Not sure,
but a compact piece of writing all the same.

H3K