Saturday, May 14, 2011

Burnt Offering from a writing class...

A few years ago, I took a writing class. It was fun and i met some great people, but the main thing it taught me was that I'm a bit of a lazy/sporadic writer. Sometimes it's all I do and then I go for months not bothering. I also find that I write better when I am meant to be doing something else!

Anyway, at this class the tutor read us a story and then told us to write it ourselves, the concept has to remain true to the 'real' story but we were free to put our own stamp on the tale.

I'm not too sure now who wrote the original story, but here, keeping the same names for the main characters, is the re-write that I did....

The Burial (c) - Amanda Stephens


Mary peeked into the small shabby room where the twins were sleeping peacefully, satisfied they were asleep she tip-toed down the hall and looking into the room to the left could see that Megan was also asleep. She made her way in the dark back down the hall and into the kitchen where her younger brother Romey was waiting anxiously. “Well?”


“Yeah, they’re asleep. Let’s go.” She pushed open the door and stepped out into the night. A nor’west wind blew warmly and the stars winked brightly in their brooding nest as Mary, leading Romey by the hand, opened the shed door and grabbed the handle of the faded green trolley. They paused in their efforts to drag the trolley through the shed door to look at the body on the trolley. Their father. Fine last night. Happy as a sandboy, every one said that about Roy. This morning dead. “As a door nail,” Romey had said although Mary scolded him that he really didn’t know what that meant and shouldn’t have said it.


Sighing with effort and sadness they moved the trolley through the gate and out onto the west paddock, Mount Torlesse almost invisible in the darkness. In the distance they could hear weka’s calling out and occasionally the gentle hum of freight and cattle trucks slowing down as they travelled through Sheffield before heading out on the nearby highway to the West Coast. “Smells like rain,” Mary had often heard their father say that but for some reason it wasn’t until this very moment that she knew what he had meant. From where they were standing it looked very much to Romey as if the whole of Sheffield had disappeared, not just his father, but Mary assured him that they just had their lights out on account of it being so late. “Although maybe the Worrall’ s are up because they got a sick horse,” she added.


The body lurched suddenly as the trolley hit a tree root. Romey whimpered. Mary checked that the body was still on properly and they continued heaving the trolley through the tussock, making their own track as they went. Romey cried out as he grazed his leg against a bush.


“You’re going too fast.”


“We’ve got to keep on, Romey,” Mary panted, pushing the trolley into her brother’s legs to get him moving again.


Romey sat down, dirt and tears staining his face. “We shouldn’t. We’ve got to tell.”


“I’ll do it myself then, cry-baby. Do you want the welfare to split the family all up? At least after Mum died we had dad to look after us, now its up to me to keep us together. That’s what we have to do - stay together,” she slashed at the beech trees with her spade. Romey tried to get his eleven year old brain round the prospect of not being in the family he knew so well and loved so much. Maybe they would all be sent to different towns? “Probably different cities!” Mary muttered darkly. Romey got up and together they tugged and pulled, effort rippling through their frail bodies, as they manoeuvred the overloaded trolley. Reaching the place Mary had picked out earlier in the day, a final shove sent the trolley shooting over a dip and into the dry river bed. Mary started to sob. Romey stood looking in terror at the stiff figure that had been his father such a short time before but was now lying grotesquely and awkwardly, mouth gaping like a fish out of water. He shuddered.


“M-Mary, we could go and get Mr Jackson,”


“No – nobody can know about this. I told you. I told you.” Her chest heaved and she wiped her hand across her face, down over her soiled dress. “Come on.” She strode over to the body. Her father. Her dear father. Hot tears pricking at her eyes, she angrily grabbed the once-loving arms and pulled with all her 14 year old strength. Anguish marked her face as she slowly dragged his body to where she had dug a shallow grave that morning. She rolled her father’s body over and into the grave so that he lay face up. “So he can see where he’s going,” she explained as soothingly as she could to Romey who stood crying wretchedly by the mound of dank dirt.


Mary gasped as a light, warm rain began to fall softly from the bruised sky.


“I want to go,” Romey pleaded, kicking at the trolley, his hands firmly in his pockets.


“Just help me here then we’ll be finished,” Mary wheedled, handing her younger brother a trowel. Romey gingerly took it and threw a trowel full of dirt into the grave, it landed heavily against his father’s shoes. Crying out, Romey ran off through the paddock leaving a sobbing Mary feverishly piling dirt on top of her father. She carefully placed stones and tussock over the grave and went to leave but something gleaming in the wet moonlight caught her eye. Her father’s pipe. She picked it up and caressed its bony handle against her cheek. As the aroma of the tobacco stamped itself into her very being she wiped her eyes and set off across the paddock after her brother, dragging the trolley effortlessly this time, the pipe snug in the pocket of her apron.


9 comments:

margaret said...

omg, Saj, that is a gripping tale. You've perfectly expressed the awareness and distress of these two young people. Also left some tantalizing questions: how did he die? will they be caught (forensics being what it is)? Or will they have finessed it and remain a parentless family? Very intriguing story and extremely well told.

...louciao... said...

Oh my goodness, what a story of desperation and love. I could envision the scene and feel the poor kids' emotions. It reminds me of the bleak sort of tales that come out of Canada's Newfoundland, beautifully and heart-rendingly wrought; tales of real grit and hardship but, above all, tales of love.

Owen said...

Can't get much bleaker... something Maupassant might have written...

One can't stop reading, to find out what's going to happen... a sign of good writing.

Have a fine Sunday, already underway where you are I guess...

Steve said...

Yeah, you've really caught the atmosphere just right. And the kids voices are totally believable. Superb piece of writing.

Brother Tobias said...

It works for me - immediately absorbed, and wanting to go on.
Need to catch up on your situation; some reading to do...

(BTW, your email didn't reach me. Try rmacleodataoldotcom again?).

The Sagittarian said...

You're all so very kind, thank you. :-)

Selina Kingston said...

You need to keep writing - you have too real a talent to hide it away. Excellent

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Funnily enough I had a recurring dream as a child that my parents had died and I was trying to hide it from the authorities so this was a spookily deja vu tale - what happens next though Sagittarian? Methinks there is room for a sequel here!

Phil said...

So when’s Chapter 2 going to emerge for us all then? How about…”The Rise of Roy” ? You really should go and buy yourself a bigger pen this time Saj. Don’t hide your light under a bushel this time.