Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Drop The Needle 17

Title: The Edge of Memory
Genre: Upmarket Women's Fiction

Helena stood on the opposite bank, the hood of her coat pulled around her face as she lifted a finger to her lips and motioned towards the pedestrian bridge a few hundred feet up the river.

Beatrice darted towards the bridge; her mother met her halfway across and embraced her.

"I'm really sorry about this, honey," Helena said, "but you have to say goodbye to Patsy now." She held out a trembling hand.

"But, why, Mama?" Her voice was tiny as she handed over the doll.

Helena's shoulders shook. She knelt down beside her daughter. "Sometimes, when you really love someone, you have to say goodbye to them."

The tone of her mother's voice meant no more questions. Beatrice looked up at her mother puzzled, but whispered, "Goodbye, Patsy." She kissed the doll's cheek and then watched as Helena dropped it into the river. Beatrice's mouth gaped open but no sound came out as Patsy swept into the speeding current, her layered dress dragging her deeper into the murky water until she vanished from sight.

The noise of the children playing washed over the spot where the pair stood over the river. Helena snatched her daughter's hand and dragged her across the bridge and through a thicket of trees to the parked car.

Beatrice's head swam as she scrambled into the front seat and her mother closed the door behind her. Danger pulsed from Helena in noxious waves. Beatrice had never been so afraid of her mother.


  1. I'm drawn in by the story, but a little confused by Helena. I can't tell if she's getting rid of the doll because it's evil or dangerous, or to hurt Beatrice, but that's the limitation of the contest. Within this, however, it seems like Helena is caring toward Beatrice, but then danger is coming off of her, which seems unwarranted but might be supported by earlier parts of the text.

    The bottom line question is whether Helena is compelling; yes, she is - but also confusing in this passage.

  2. I think Helena is interesting. I'm not sure if she's good or evil, though. She seems good on the onset because she the mother, but then it says Beatrice was afraid of her. So, I ended up feeling Helena was evil but masked it with her daughter.

    Overall, this had a creepy supernatural feel to it with the sound of children laughing and all.

  3. This Helena is an enigma to me.
    In an interesting way, but since this "contest" is to see if a SC is well-rounded enough< i don't ahve much to comment on.

  4. The first few paragraphs confused me a little bit... but going by the rest of the snippet, Helene is the SC.

    She is well described... and I don't blame the kid for being a little spooked at the end.

  5. He he...I know who you are! :)

    The writing is solid, as always, but just looking at this snipet, I'd thought it was in Helena's POV until half way through, and then slipped back into hers in the last two paragraphs, IMHO.

  6. I agree with the commenter who said the viewpoints switch. The scene starts with Helena, moves to Beatrice in the middle, switches to Helena again for a paragraph, and changes once more to Beatrice in the last paragraph. Because of this, I'm not sure who is supposed to be the SC.

  7. This seems to be in Beatrice's (the daughter, I think) POV so then Helena was the SC. I didn't get much of a sense of Helena till the end of the scene where I got a bit of a hint that she's quite mean. But I don't think she hits hard enough through the scene.

  8. Didn't see that coming. Just from that scene, I had the impression that Mommy Dearest wasn't quite sane, or just horribly mean.

    :) Terri

  9. I have to say I got a creepy feeling from the SC. Is she practicing to throw another in the river? The comment about saying goodbye, pushed me towards the conclusion that the SC isn't all there and capable of a great deal of violence. I didn't get that she was being mean to a child here, but that you hinted at a darker purpose to what she's doing.
    I think she's practicing to dump the child in the river.
    Nice show.

  10. This is a terribly creepy scene. Because we're all accustomed to thinking of mothers as gentle and nurturing (unless we've spent time with Mommy Dearest), we expect them to have their children's best interests at heart. Making the child throw the doll in the river (instead of snatching the doll and tossing it herself) -- all the while maintaining a "soft" aspect (her shoulders indicate she may be sobbing, but for all I know she could be engaging in an evil laugh that the child simply doesn't recognize) -- seems a bit unhinged. Then Mom suddenly snags the child and whisks her through a patch of brambles to a car...nice job of leaving me firmly straddling the fence about exactly what kind of character the mother is. (That was a compliment. "Rounded" takes on new meaning in this woman.)

    I like the haunting nature of this passage. :-)

  11. Helena is the SC. And yes, she does come off as a little creepy. It seems from this passage that she could go either way, but since I've read is good that she's developed just enough to make you wonder what she's doing and why.

    Good job!

  12. Poor Beatrice! I wonder about Helena's character. But within the limitations of this contest, there's no way to know.

    Helena is intruiging, and realistic.

  13. Helena's actions are unexplained, which develops some mystery about her. I think I know what she's doing but not why.

    The situation is more compelling to me than the character development of Helena. But I'd love to read more.


  14. The writing is tight and I liked the scene very much. I would read more but the exercise was secondary character development and I don't think it worked for me.

    It wasn't until the very end that I actually knew who was the MC and who was the SC. I didn't get enough of a feel for either character, but the action was very compelling.