More Early Works

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This would have been written in about 1971-2, when I was fourteen.

Again, this is exactly as it was originally written. Now, of course, I can see the nonsense of having the girl taken out of school for a funeral. For a rush to hospital maybe, but for a planned event like a funeral, they would just have delayed her enrollment by a day. Sigh.

 

Through the eyes of a child

Helen Boitoult

Form 4W

 

“If all grown-ups are like them, I hope I stay just as I am!” she said to herself. “They just can’t make up their minds. ‘Go to school’ they say, so I go. And what happens when I get there? ‘Come home.’ They’re crazy!”

She looked around her at the huge faces of her relations, all dressed in black, with red eyes and wet handkerchiefs.

“Why doesn’t one of them say something?” she asked herself.

“Where is Uncle Henry?” she asked aloud suddenly.

The faces loomed down at her in obvious disapproval at her interruption of the solemn silence.

“What did I say that was so wrong?” She just couldn’t understand what was going on. Why were they all dressed like that? Why had they made her dress like that? Her brain was bursting with questions she dare not ask. Maybe this always happens on your first day at school. But the other children of her age had stayed when the woman in the funny hat and cloak had come in and taken her away.

At the mention of Uncle Henry, her mother had burst into tears again. Why should she cry because her brother’s name was mentioned? Her father put his arm around her mother and said something that she couldn’t understand. She looked up at her mother, not daring to speak again but wanting to know so many things. All she had been told so far was: “Not now, dear. You’ll understand one day, when you’re a bit older.”

What was it she was too young to understand? As time passed the questions mounted up until she couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“Mummy, what’s in that big box, and where is Uncle Henry?” The tears rolled down her cheeks and she started to sob so loudly and so hard that she could hardly breathe.

Her grandfather stood up and addressed his son. “Don’t you think we ought to tell her, Adam. She probably won’t know what it means anyway. She’s only five after all…”

“Nearly six >sob< Grandpa,” she put in indignantly. No one could resist a smile despite their grief. She became wildly happy as she discovered she had broken the strained atmosphere.

“Do >sob< tell me, Daddy, I won’t understand if you don’t want me to.” She was eager to please now as laughter broke out at her words.

Her father knelt down and kissed her. How could he tell his only child that she would never see her favourite uncle again? It would be a difficult task, he knew, but it had to be done sometime.

Suddenly, she broke away, remembering something she had heard somewhere.

“He’s on a trip to Heaven, isn’t he, Daddy? And he won’t be coming back.”

 

B(+) Good, Helen. You capture the child’s mood and innocence well, and there is a sense of shape.

 

What grade would you have given me?

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Early works

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Since I’m having such trouble with my current writings, I’m going to revisit some old stuff.

And I mean really old stuff.

I’ve been sorting out cupboards and drawers. We’re thinking of downsizing, so I’m making a concerted effort to declutter. It hasn’t been going very fast, but I have made some progress. I’ve cleared a whole drawer of my filing cabinet to make room for newer stuff. I’ve shredded about ten years’ worth of old bank statements that were more than ten years old.

I’ve also found some very old ring binders, from my school days. Old essays and stories and poems. Most of the essays have just hit the recycling bin. Although I have found some that I did in the Lower Sixth Classical Literature class that I got A or A- for, that I may just read again before I retire them.

Looking at the stories and poems, I’m surprised how obsessed with death I seem to have been around that time. No reason for it. No bereavement during that period or anything. Oh well. Just a phase I was going through I guess.

I thought I’d publish some of these early works here. If only to show the journey I’ve traveled as a writer. I’m going to reproduce them exactly. No editing whatsoever, no matter how much I may be tempted to ‘correct’ or ‘improve’ them.

I also found the items I’m going to start off with. We were set a homework to imagine we were an agony aunt, giving advice to characters in the Greek Literature stories we were studying. This is what I turned in:

Dear Jocasta

Well really, my dear, all I can say to you is that you don’t want to believe everything you hear. Can you really remain convinced of the truth of this Delphic oracle? You must admit it is a bit far-fetched. Are you sure you haven’t been reading too many science fiction and horror stories?

Well, anyway, there are other solutions. Don’t you think it is just the tiniest bit drastic to have your little boy taken out and chained to a mountain like a common Spartan?

Surely if you just bring him up like any normal boy with love and understanding he won’t want to go through with the thing. He must see he can gain nothing from it.

Besides, you obviously know better and he can’t do all that much without your consent. Believe me, my dear, you have some rights and there is no way he can make you marry him. I’m sorry dear, I know it isn’t what you wanted to hear, but I really cannot condone such drastic measures, it can only lead to grief and heartache, I assure you.

 

My dear Jocasta,

Hold everything and phone the Samaritans. I can give you their number. I’m sure they can comfort and advise you. It surely can’t be as bad as you seem to think. I realize what you must be going through, and it must destroy your faith in a widow re-marrying, but my dear, stop blaming yourself. You couldn’t have known who he was. Besides, suicide won’t alter things, it will only add insult to injury. And remember, your children need you. Is it fair to punish them too? I know how you and your husband – I’m sorry, I should say son – must feel about his children, oh dear, um brothers and sisters, but once again I say that they are innocent. If you disrupt them now, it can only lead to worse trouble. Don’t you want your little Antigone to be a normal happy little girl? Think what effect your death could have on her.

No dear, you must take a deep breath and try to start again. What has happened is in the past. Remember that you cannot change the past, but your reaction, and that means whatever you decide to do now, could well change the future,

Best of luck dear

 

Dear Cassandra

I know it must be hard for you to pull up your roots and move to a foreign land where you don’t know anyone, but I’m sure it won’t be as bad as you fear. It is only natural to be apprehensive about change, but you seem to be obsessed with this silly notion that it will be the death of you. Calm down dear, stop ‘seeing things’ that aren’t there. It is just your imagination working overtime because you don’t want to leave home. Look on it as an adventure. Personally, I envy you. These days I can’t afford to travel, while you’re getting a trip abroad for nothing. You’ll get to see all the sights, no doubt. Lucky girl I say. And a handsome boyfriend thrown in too! I wouldn’t mind changing places, you’ve got it made!

What grade would you have given me? Remember, this was written back in 1974!