View Full Version : Baby Shoes

April 7th, 2012, 05:11 PM
Cornelia wailed.

'Stop crying, Cornelia. It's not the end of the world.'

Mama Lambert turned on her son. 'Shut up, Horace. You don't understand. No man alive understands how a woman feels about such things. Your poor wife's had a shock.'

'Thank you Mama Lambert', Cornelia said. You've been my sole support through this.'

'If that judge had a heart he would have given you the baby.'

Horace tried again. 'Judge Maple is a smart man. He knows the law and knows what's best for the baby and for everybody else.'

Mama Lambert looked Horace straight in the eye. 'In about ten years, when that baby's big enough to leave school and start working, will you still think Judge Maple was smart to send him to the Wilcox clan instead of here where he could help you?'

Horace stayed quiet for a minute. 'Having a youngster around to do the chores would be nice', he said. 'It would be especially good as I get older'.

'But what about the shoes?' said Cornelia, on the edge of another wail. 'I worked night after night to knit and crochet and fancy stitch. Six of the prettiest pairs of baby shoes you'll ever see are right there in that shoebox .' She pointed to where the box sat on the kitchen table.

Mama Lambert looked at her daughter-in-law. 'What were you thinking? How in the name of all that's precious can a tiny baby use six pairs of shoes? He'll grow out of them before he starts to walk.'

'Well, I wouldn't know about that, never having a baby of my own.' She looked at Horace.

'Don't be looking at Horace, Cornelia. Everybody knows it's the woman's fault if she can't have a baby.'

'But if I couldn't have my own I believed I'd get this one. I wanted that baby so bad from the time I heard Becky was going to have it and would have to give it up.'

Mama Lambert leaned across and patted Cornelia on the shoulder. 'And you were so sure the judge would give you the baby that when he didn't it was a shock and now you're heart-broke.'

Cornelia began to cry. She pointed again to the shoebox.

'Give those to somebody who can use them. I don't want to see them again. But please don't throw them away. Love made every stitch in those shoes. Maybe some of it'll rub off on whatever baby wears them.'

Horace stood and looked at his wife. 'What's done is done, Cornelia. You don't get the baby, and I don't get a helper when I'm old. We've got to learn to live with what's here, and not cry over what we can't have.'

He picked up the box and headed out the back door.

'I'm going to town. I'll be back for lunch.'

As he turned out of his yard onto Seven-Mile Road, Horace could hear Cornelia begin to wail. 'Lord help me', he said.

On the edge of town is Larsen's Discount Store. You might say it's a poor man's K-Mart, with seconds from the shirt factory, discontinued goods from the Jackson stores, and used things local people bring in to sell for a little cash. Horace stopped his truck, went in, and showed old man Larsen the box with the baby shoes inside.

'Cornelia made these, thinking we could adopt that baby the little Harrison girl had. There are six pairs here, each pair made different.'

Larsen looked in the box. 'They are pretty. Somebody will want them. What happened to the baby?'

'Judge Maple let Manny and Josephine Wilcox adopt it.'

As Horace drove away, Larsen used a marker pen to write on the side of the box, then put the box in the window.

On the side of the box were the words 'For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn'.

April 8th, 2012, 01:59 PM
Wow. Busy? I can't help but notice you lack a lot of description that could be used to describe setting, climate, and things of that nature. It's also a lot of information, and too much dialogue for the little amount of description you've used. Try expanding sentences, it'll help.

April 8th, 2012, 02:53 PM
Elvenswordsman - Thanks for your comments.

I don't expand, I cut. This was originally written for the upcoming LM Challenge thus was limited to 650 words. With such a limit there is little room for narrative or description. The first draft was around 2,000 words and several hours of merciless chopping were needed to get it down to the 650 limit.

For over 50 years I was a journalist and only started trying to write fiction five or six years ago. Dialogue is easier for a beginning fiction writer like me than description or narrative and for the past three or four years I've been working on developing character and telling a story through dialogue only.

Did you sense the personalities of the three main characters? Did you understand the conflict I tried to show? And at the end were you happy the judge gave the baby to someone else and not to this bunch?

I've written another story for the Challenge - again mostly dialogue. It will be posted in the Challenge thread with the same title, so check it out and compare it with this one.

April 8th, 2012, 02:58 PM
I got the personalities, and for the goal (650 words), I mis-critiqued your piece. Oh well, what can I do?

The build-up of the personalities was fantastic, but I found myself wanting more, so no - I don't understand the conflict as well as I would like. Is this in the future where there are more miscarriages? Or perhaps you require, by law, a license to have children?

As for the judge giving the baby to someone else, again - I missed the point of why the baby was being given away. I didn't get the whole image I had hoped for.

As it stands, I appreciate your work. It'd be difficult for me to write an only-dialogue piece. However, I loved the character definitions without using description. Very interesting.

P.s. Where is this piece you mentioned? I may be early to rise, but I can't find it in your started threads. PM me when it's up?

April 9th, 2012, 06:12 PM
Elvenswordsman - The time is the present, and the conflict involves a decision by a county youth court judge in approving an adoption, and the reaction to that judge's ruling by the three characters in the story. Horace was, at first, at odds with his wife. They were childless, and she had her heart set on adopting the baby. Horace didn't care one way or another until his mother-in-law pointed out the advantage of having a boy to do the chores.

The real conflict, though, is on a deeper level and has nothing to do with immediate circumstances. The three of them, Horace, his wife Cornelia, and Cornilia's mother, are in a perpetual three-way conflict of the sort you will see in many families. Each of the three believes in his or her own superiority, but in different ways.

Horace is the long-suffering martyr willing to take what life has to offer. Cornelia believes in the goodness of life, confident that everything will work out the way she wants it to. She is very often disappointed and never shy about letting others know that she has been wronged. Her mother sees herself as the only one with common sense, though much of what she believes to be true is not true at all.

The time is the present. The baby was up for adoption because its mother was a 13-year-old school girl whose parents did not allow an abortion but neither did they allow the girl to keep the baby. This situation is not unheard of in rural McRae County, Mississippi.

nikevious - Thank you for your comments on this story and on the abyss entry. The abyss entry was first written reproducing my grandfather's manner of speaking. Once I had it trimmed down to approximate size, I changed it mostly to standard English, though maintaining as much as possible the rhythm of his speech.

Both stories would no doubt benefit from added length to provide a greater sense of time and place. The abyss entry and one of the baby shoe stories will be added to Seven Miles on a Dirt Road, a collection of sketches tied loosely together in the manner of Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul. The first drafts of these stories run about two thousand words each, and there are many pages of backstory associated with all the families who live along the road.