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red writing hood — the role of fate

June 16, 2012

Happy weekend.  Today, I am linking up with the community at Write on Edge, having responded to this prompt:

This week, write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece where fate plays a prominent role. You can write from the position of a complete belief or absolute disbelief in the role of fate in our lives or the lives of our characters.

The word limit was 400.


My mother told me about a benevolent, benign, white-bearded Father.  I relished Him, since my own father was nothing more than half a face in one curling photograph.  My father was a cautionary legend told through clenched teeth and averted eyes (the moral:  don’t turn out like him), while everything I heard about God in Sunday school was stained glass and miracles.

Apparently, one of my parents’ great battles was about religion.  My earthly father’s tribe believed in totems and nature, so I imagine the idea of a universal CEO with stern eyes made the hair on his arms stand on end.  My mother, uniformed in Presbyterianism, needed me to accept the ordered universe as she understood it.  Her God wanted confessions of wrongdoing in order to forgive.  Her God had already decided how we would all end up, although we should certainly keep trying anyway.  What she believed – that everything happens for a reason, that God is demanding and merciful – was how she loved me.  As a child in her house, I didn’t want to test her capacity for forgiveness.  It was easier to just be good.

“Step slowly, honey.”  The voice is vaguely familiar, like a character in a movie I watched once, years ago.

“Lots of rocks out here, maybe even a snake.”

It’s a kind voice.  It should belong to a round face with smooth cheeks, but I can’t make out anything through the black cloth tied around my eyes.

Sweat is collecting in the corners of my eyes, but when I start to wipe it away, I realize my hands are bound behind my back.  A firm hand, presumably attached to the voice, grips my upper arm.  I take a sharp breath as a slow panic roils in my stomach.

Dear God please protect me.  Please let this all be a dream.

It is such an old prayer; a child’s prayer, reflexive.  “Bright, God helps those who help themselves,” I hear the voice of Sister Veronica, my religion teacher in fifth grade, admonishing me.

My face is soaked with sweat now, and I feel the sun burning the top of my head.  A pain is building behind my eyes.  I try to steady myself before I speak, too politely.

“Excuse me.” I clear my throat. “Who are you?  And what’s happening?” Panic tips up my final word.


“Oh, Natalie, it’s me… your mother.”


Thanks for any feedback you are willing to share.

Here’s to keeping our eyes wide open to the inspiration all around us.  Thanks, as always, for showing up.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2012 9:43 am

    I’d like to know more. It feels as if this piece isn’t finished yet. One bit of concrit – it is a little difficult, for me at least, to follow what’s going on between the thoughts on religion and the action toward the end of the piece. Maybe turning this into a longer piece to “finish it” would fix that? Either way, I think what you have written here is well written.

  2. June 16, 2012 10:37 am

    Thanks so much, Wisper. I should have mentioned that I’ve been using these RWH prompts to move my novel along. This piece is just a scene in that story. While not every RWH piece will make it into the book, the prompts have been enormously helpful in stirring up my story. 🙂 I so appreciate your having stopped by, and I look forward to reading your work!

  3. June 16, 2012 2:53 pm

    Have I mentioned yet how I love your voice? Your style flows well for me, almost lyrically. I love the perception the protag has about the religions. She speaks of rigidity, but there is a comfort seeded there. That last bit was creepy, and tilted the tone of the piece. On it’s own, it’s a bit of a kicker. As part of a whole, it works well as a plot mover. (Did that make sense? I haven’t had enough coffee yet today.)

    Very well done!

    • June 18, 2012 8:17 am

      Shelton, thanks so much for your comment — I so appreciate it. I was testing out this piece as a plot mover, so I am glad to hear that it worked for you. I look forward to reading what you’ve written this week as I always enjoy your writing! Many thanks.

  4. June 17, 2012 4:15 pm

    I was a little confused by the transition from religion to the action, but I can see how this would work if it were expanded and part of something bigger.

    Very creepy. I liked it, and want to know what comes next!

    • June 18, 2012 8:19 am

      Thank you, Suzanne! Creepy was definitely what I was going for. I should have prefaced this piece with the information that it is intended to be a part of a larger whole. I so appreciate your feedback, and I look forward to stopping by your blog to read what you have been working on!

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