Louise Doughty says, “A novel is written in increments, just as a weight-loss plan happens pound by pound…it is important to realise that there will always be times when it is one step forward, two steps back.” She concludes this particular chapter by declaring, “Today is the first day of the rest of my novel.” – not a bad mantra to have!
I am continuing to get to know my characters via how they deal with pain. Here is a small piece of writing:
Zikmund’s mother was very young. His father, like his grandfather before, was greedy and ambitious. He chose the most beautiful girl in the village for his wife. It was said she was in love with another, but what is love compared with marriage to a wealthy family. As the story goes, she cried as she walked down the aisle and Zikmund’s father took part in the ceremony as though a business agreement were being struck. Within a year, the young bride was pregnant, but it was not a happy marriage.
On the day Zikmund was born, his father was out of town. It was the height of summer. Nothing stirred beneath the searing gaze of the solar eye. Birds, too hot to fly sought refuge in leafy trees, fish sank to the river’s coolest depths, wolves crawled into sunless caverns. The world held its breath.
The babe was overdue and stubborn. Born feet first, his hands gripped the umbillical cord, refusing to be birthed. The midwife, sweating with the effort, pulled the child’s feet as the mother screamed silently into her husband’s pillow. No words were spoken for the effort of speech was too taxing. The birth was primal, brutal; the mother and midwife both terrified, both exhausted. In one final pull on the baby’s feet, the child was wrenched from the womb. Zikmund fought, clawing and ripping his mother’s flesh. The only sound was the crunch of bone as the thumb on Zikmund’s left hand broke and his mother shattered around him.
Zikmund came into the world screaming, the pain of his thumb, the agony of breath, affronted his senses. His mother died, silently crying into her husband’s pillow never having laid eyes on her son. The midwife swaddled the babe in blankets and handed the child to a wet-nurse before covering the mother’s body.
Zikmund cried for four years, until his father’s second wife had her first child. Supplanted, Zikmund, with his thumb now healed into an unbendable will, drew breath and developed other strategies for getting ahead.
Photo credit: pregnant
Photo credit: baby