Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Fiction

Hey everybody. I'm participating in Friday Fiction today so here is an excerpt of my current NaNo project. Remember it's a rough draft but comments are encouraged. This will be a story about God's redeeming Grace so I want it to be good.

Chapter 1
 January 1970   
      Consuela put the thick envelope deep inside the old roll top desk.  She had taken her mail next door to have a neighbor read while her baby slept alone in the apartment she had up until recently shared with her husband John Richardson. “All lies,” she hissed. “How dare they challenge my competency as a mother? Retinitis pigmentosa is stealing my sight. I won’t let it steal my baby. John was just as much to blame as I was. He never helped with Jack, but he’s going to let them lie and say the baby was left in his own waste. How dare he. How dare he!” Consuela’s anger boiled up inside her. She paced the living room muttering under her breath through clenched teeth. A painful throbbing started in her temples. “I don’t care what anyone says. I am a good mother!”  Consuela collapsed on the couch. Instinctively she picked up one of the ashtrays John left behind off of the side table and hurled it at the wall. She heard it land with a muffled thud on the carpeted floor.
       The noise woke up 8-month-old baby Jack sleeping in his bassinet in the bedroom. Consuela took a deep breath and went into the bedroom. The baby was in need of a change. Before taking him to the changing table she got paper towels to clean him with and wet them with hot water. Jack wailed as his bottom was wiped vigorously. “Now you just hush. You have to be clean. The snobbish social worker says so. She says I can’t take care of you because I’m almost blind. I’ll show them. I’ll show them all.” After diapering him Consuela yanked the baby off the table and sat with him in the living room.
       The couch sagged in the middle so she moved to one side. The fabric was fading from old age or maybe it was her failing eyesight. John had promised new furniture someday but someday never came in their short three year marriage. He was so sure he could handle marriage even marriage to a woman losing her vision but he was wrong and shortly after Jack was born he just up and left. Their marriage wasn’t all unhappy so his leaving caught her by surprise.
       Jack’s crying brought Consuela out of thoughts of the past and trying to figure out what she could have done differently.  She laid him in the sagging part of the couch and went to the kitchen for a bottle. She filled it with canned formula and warmed it in boiling water on the stove. She screwed on the top and tested it on her wrist like she’d been taught in her Mother’s With Low Vision class at the Los Angeles Braille Institute. She had been reluctant to go at first thinking it was only for those who read Braille. She had never learned the print system of raised dots. But a social worker had convinced her it was also for people with low vision. They had cooking classes and mobility training as well as support groups.
      The bottle was a tad hot so she ran cold water from the faucet on it and tested it again. It seemed fine. Before leaving the kitchen she got a towel out of a drawer so she could burp the baby. Thinking of happier times with John when their romance was new had put her in a better mood. She picked up the baby gently and cradled him in her arms. He sucked the bottle eagerly and quickly. She set the empty bottle on the side table and put him on her shoulder for a burp. They didn’t have a coffee table in front of the sofa. One of John’s last acts of kindness was to remove it because Consuela had started bumping into it all the time. She patted the baby’s back until a burp came with a velocity she didn’t know an infant was capable of.  “That would have made your daddy proud.  Now it’s a bright sunny day so why don’t you and I go for a walk?”
       Consuela put the baby in the stroller which she kept by the door. She knew her neighborhood and her eyesight was still good enough to safely go out for some fresh air as long as it was a nice day.  She wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be able to see well enough to go out. Her vision seemed to be failing more rapidly than ever in the six months since John left. She forced the accusations of the social worker out of her mind and hummed a tune she’d picked up from the radio somewhere. She wasn’t sure of the words but the tune cheered her.
     When she got back home she put Jack in his crib and got a spoon for the pint of rocky road ice cream she had bought at the corner market. She turned on the television. She didn’t bother with a bowl but dug right into the carton finishing it off while the TV droned on in the background. She tried to listen but the voices in her head were loud today. The louder they got, the quicker she ate. She was sick and exhausted by the time the condition of the carton equaled that of her heart-empty. 
        Consuela had felt shame when news of her divorce got out and she left the church. But it was only a few blocks from her home and most of her neighbors went there. She’d only felt this alone once before: when she was a teen ager and her mother had done the unthinkable. Her father had moved the family then and that had seemed to help so that is what she planned on doing now. Consuela didn’t know how but she would leave this place and start over.
        Before she went to sleep that night she thought of ways she could save money from her Social Security Disability Check. The rules didn’t allow for a savings account. It seemed like for every dollar a person saved two were cut from the small check which was barely enough to survive. If John hadn’t promised to pay for the apartment, she didn’t know what she would do. But she also knew he wasn’t always good at keeping promises. But Consuela was determined to get out of the neighborhood where everyone knew her shame.
        “I’ll go where no one knows me. I’ll let them believe I’m a widow. John never comes around to see Jack anyway and if he does, he’ll just have to play along with my secret. I just have to get out of here and go somewhere. But where?” she pondered aloud as she drifted off to sleep.
     Months passed routinely. Consuela went to Braille Institute for classes. She was thankful for the daycare since it gave her a break from the demands of motherhood. Her declining vision stabilized and she was happier than she’d ever been as Mother’s Day approached. She had been ready to burst the year before. She was sure Jack would be a Mother’s Day baby but he came 4 days later. It reminded her of a song she heard once about the story of Lazarus. There was a line about God being 4 days late but still right on time. Sometimes she wondered where God was.

There are more stories at An Open Book


  1. Lisa,
    I love the development of Consuela! I wish I could read more . . . I want to see what happens next! I know that feeling, of wanting to start over.

    write on, and God bless,
    Chris Stachura

  2. You've shown some amazing struggles for this woman! And I care for her - good writing, Lisa! Keep plugging away!

  3. This is a very powerful story premise. Can't wait to see how it continues to develop!

    --And I admire you, and the others who have posted your raw NaNo stuff. I'm not that brave! (And / or I'm too obsessive / too much of a perfectionist.) But I enjoy reading what others have posted and seeing the process, and I'm sure others feel the same way.

    May God continue to bless your writing.

  4. Great writing! I could truly feel her struggles, see the sagging couch, and even imagine the look of the baby, his crib, etc. I haven't been able to find this kind of intense drama for my character yet, so your writing is a good example of what I'd like to do with mine. Please make sure to edit this after NaNo as a viable submission for publication.

  5. My mom used to babysit for a blind lady. It would be hard but it is doable. Thankful for the classes at the blind school, too! You drew me in and I look forward to reading more of this powerful story.

  6. I've participated in NaNo twice and I'm working a re-write and tuning my first one. I switched it to first person and it feels so much more alive. "Seeing" things through the voice of of your MC's blindness in first person could really carry a powerful punch.

    I love nanoing by the seat of my pants and creating characters and developing a story line. This is awesome direction. Keep marching forward.

  7. Sparrow~I was raised by a TOTALLY blind woman so it is social services ignorance that say's Consuela can't raise a child. Also later more of the mental illness (which is the real issue) will come out.

    Mari~ I had a totally blind character in my first NaNo (the 2 women know each other) and it was a challenge but also an accomplishment to describe a scene from her POV. POV is my nemesis and I know I'll have issues to fix when the frenzy is over.

  8. I like how you show her ways of coping with her blindness. The more you show it, the less you have to explain things. Let her actions and thoughts tell the story. I realize this is the rough draft, but I can feel the emotional struggle and want to know how it ends.

  9. Ohhh, how sad. You did really well with tying in emotions to the atmosphere to explain what's going on with Consuela. Nice job and keep on nanoing! ^_^