Friday, April 10, 2015

TMoH #8: The Birth

Another Friday, another thirty minutes of hell!  If you don't know what I'm talking about, my introductory post on this topic provides a quick summary.

The writing prompt from NANO fiction is: Write a story about something being born. It can be from the POV of the baby or of the parents or of the doctor. It can be about the birth of a human or an animal or even an idea. It can be set in the womb or the mind or the delivery room. It’s all up to you. One stipulation: no death, just birth.

The Birth

The birth happened five years after they met and three years after they got married.  That was how long it took for the tempestuous crests and valleys of their relationship to settle, for the extremes of their passion and joy and doubt to level off into a flat plateau of certainty.  He had wanted children from the start; she was less certain that she was ready for the sacrifices and compromises that would be needed.

Yet he was insistent, if likeably so.  He charmed her with promises and visions of the future.  He spoke with patience but also with certainty, and it was the latter that wore down her defenses until she could no longer hold back his calm constancy.  And so it was that one year after their wedding, they began to try for a child.

Even now she will admit that it was fun at first.  There were seduction and games and smiles derived from hope for the future.  Remember: the plateau had not yet been reached.  Remember: they still loved each other.

Weeks turned to months turned to a year and there was no sign of a pregnancy.  His laughter turned bewildered, and her uncertainty returned.  But it was not until his puzzlement turned to frustration that her uncertainty started changing into something new, something that came into focus with each sullen glare or petty word.  This thing that was new was 'certainty', and that certainty was this: having a child would be a mistake.  Especially with this man she had married.

The birth happened the year after that.  It happened like this: the man found a prescription left carelessly - or was it? - on her nightstand.  He picked it up with a curiosity that turned to confusion as he deciphered the doctor's scribbled note.  And when the confusion turned to an understanding that she had never wanted to have a baby at all - that was the moment when the birth happened.  It was that moment when he knew that he hated his wife.

But what he still did not know was this: her hatred for him had been born nine months ago.


To those that know anything about me, I feel obligated to make this statement: this story has zero autobiographical features.  With that out of the way...

Well, that was unpleasant to write.  It came about because I have a contrary mind: I saw the word "birth" in the writing prompt and immediately thought "death".  Sadly the prompt creators forestalled me with their qualification that the written story could absolutely not be about death.  So I went for the next best thing: a story about a failed birth.

How would I continue work on this story?  First I would add some texture and depth to their disintegrating feelings for each other.  Right now I'm just 'telling', and although that may be okay-ish for an intentionally short story, I think two or three added details would help pull the reader in more.

Second: I would carefully consider whether either party in the marriage seems more at fault.  Neither one is supposed to be; instead the true culprit - lack of communication - is supposed to be shared.  So I think I'd have to step back for some time and then re-examine the story to see if any balancing is needed.

Well, this has not been an uplifting thirty minutes.  Time to see if the Red Sox can survive extra innings against the Yankees!

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