magpie 30

Author: angiem, 09 04th, 2010

It was early.  A fire had already been laid in the big stone fireplace. I watched the woman make her way to the threadbare cushioned seat before it, holding on to her distended belly as though it were a melon she was in danger of dropping.  Giant shadows danced upon the walls, reaching up into the eaves where the garlic and the peppers were hung to dry.  I slipped into the room as quietly as I could, and slid underneath the lacy bedskirts of my mother’s bed, into my hiding place.

It smelled like drying apples in there. It smelled like cinnamon and nutmeg, and mint, and thyme and dill. It smelled like my mother.  Tears bubbled up in the corners of my eyes, but I did not want to cry, and thought of something else, something funny that almost made me laugh out loud, until I remembered that I was spying.  So then I thought about my mother again, and how sad I was to be in the world without her.  I thought about the wailing women at her funeral, and my father’s sad smile and reddened eyes, and then I thought about how he went away one day and came back with this woman to take care of me.  Except she didn’t really take care of me.  She mostly sat and brushed her long hair and chattered to me about parties and dancing and dresses.

And then she got busy with making a baby.  And when her belly began to round she smirked at me and told me that I was a big girl from this day on and no more climbing on my father’s lap.  And sure enough I didn’t believe her until my father came home and he sat me on the bed next to him and told me the same thing himself.

It was grey outside when my father and the midwife arrived. I worried that he would go to my room and find me missing. Instead he carried the woman into my mother’s bed and set to boiling water and rags for the birth.  The midwife shooed him out and sent him to wait underneath the shuttered window, promising that it wouldn’t be long.

The woman was silent in childbirth.  A drop of blood plopped on the wood before me.  Then another. And yet another.  And just when I was sure that she was dead, I heard a grunt and the wailing of the newborn pierce the air.  The midwife went to the window to announce the birth of a boy.  From my father’s happy whistling I knew the woman had won.  My mother was forgotten.  My childhood was over.

This is a work of fiction.  For more, please head over to Magpie Tales.


38 Responses to “magpie 30”

  1. Susan Deborah Says:

    What a poignant Magpie, Angie. So many things happening and the emotional trappings! I liked the way you used blood in this piece.

    Joy always,

  2. Diane Says:

    A flurry of emotions are running through me right now….. well done Angie! :O)

  3. Krunal Says:

    wonderfully written, very poignant.

  4. brian Says:

    oh so sad, but i imagine the feeling to be true…even of siblings…much less and adopted child…wonderful write. you stirred my heart…

  5. lisahgolden Says:

    This is so good! I’m going to email you a link that you might be interested in. A friend of mine is putting together an anthology of stories rewriting the female in myths and fairy tales. Your writing style seems very suited to that.

  6. Mary Moon Says:

    Excellent! Very, very nice, Angie.

  7. willow Says:

    Delicious piece. So full of aromatic life.

  8. Helen Says:

    I felt every emotion this little girl felt as you wove your Magpie Tale!!!!

  9. Victoria @ Hibiscus Bloem Says:

    Hi Angie. So moving and so sad and such great writing. I seem to have missed reading you blog these past weeks - my reader hasn’t been updating properly and I thought you’d take some extended summer blog leave! So glad to see there’s lots for me to catch up with. x

  10. Jingle Says:

    the ending is sad and dramatic…

    lovely writing….

    My Magpie

  11. Susan Says:

    The scents, sounds, sights…excellent.

  12. cathi Says:

    What a moving story! Loved it! xxoo :)

  13. brigid Says:

    Great story, Angie, it would make an excellent start to a novel. Really moving tale.

  14. Cindy L Says:

    Ah, beautiful imagery … I can smell the scent of the apples you wrote about. A beautiful fairy tale and memory.

  15. Patience Ray Says:

    amazing writing as ever. the first paragraph pulled me right in and when you got to describing the scent of spices and herbs, i was right there. beautiful, yet sad. well done.

  16. Fireblossom Says:

    Oh man. So sad! I liked the decription of the room, and the telling detail that she didn’t make any sound during childbirth. But it’s just almost too sad to read. :-(

  17. Berowne Says:

    Very well written

  18. Corinne Says:

    I really enjoyed this - as always. The emotions are so raw, and how you describe the scene, I’m smelling it. Birth and apples and herbs… and tears.

  19. Michelle @ The True Book Addict Says:

    Very nice, Angie! Poignant and descriptive.

    I haven’t talked with you in awhile…how are you doing?

  20. Tumblewords Says:

    A finely tuned story! Sad but well written, indeed.

  21. Nes Says:

    Wow, such powerful imagery. I love the metaphor of the apple. Great writing! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  22. Lori Says:

    You can set up a scene so well, Angie. And the ending is always so, so strong. It’s wonderful.

  23. sw Says:

    Nicely done, as usual. Your writing makes me wistful.

  24. Kathe W. Says:

    I really enjoyed your story-pulled me in from the very beginning.
    Wonderful weaving of words to capture the scents and imagery
    …poor little motherless girl.

  25. Elisa_Croatia Says:

    I felt every emotion the little girl was feeling as I read along. Good piece of pie!

  26. La Belette Rouge Says:

    I love how you pace a story. You say so much in such a small space. As always, love it.

  27. Susan Tiner Says:

    The phrase “I knew the woman had won” struck as the saddest part of the story. Mother would be forgotten and childhood end anyway but this woman selfishly wants the changes to happen faster.

  28. deb @ talk at the table Says:

    these stories are always so poignant.

  29. Francesca Says:

    So sad! The new beginning of a life should never be the loss of the memory of some one else’s.

  30. Christie Says:

    Poor, sweet girl. My heart goes out to the young girl you have created.

  31. Julie Says:

    So sad… the child [and the mother] ceased to exist once the long awaited boy arrived …I know that mother will always be precious in the child’s heart and memory.. The young girl will grow to be rich and famous and what will she do the day her father comes begging???? haha.. sorry my twisted side coming out..

    Was just thinking of you when you popped up on my radar.. I am very slow to visit everyone these days!!!

    Have a lovely week xxx Julie

  32. Lydia Says:

    Remarkable piece, Angie. By using the term “the woman” for the new wife instead of naming her you have completed the girl’s isolation and separateness. That was a powerful distinction for me.

  33. French Fancy Says:

    Another stunning story, Angie

  34. audrey Says:

    augh! heartbreaking and captivating. as always i love the details; the blood drop on the wooden floor, images of a girl climbing up on her father’s lap, long hair being brushed while chatting about parties and dances and dresses… lovely and heartbreaking all at the same time.

  35. Mama Zen Says:

    Oh, wow. This is just heartbreaking.

  36. Bunny Says:

    Angie, I have goose bumps and a chill after reading your beautiful and heart wrenching story. So many children have to deal with the emotional cruelty of an evil step mother, that sadly is not always only found in fairy tales.

  37. Holly L Says:

    My heart sank at the end. You are talented.

  38. Relyn Says:

    This one hurt to read. Just excellent!

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