View Full Version : Worms

January 5th, 2014, 09:41 PM
worm [wurm]noun1. an individual who voluntarily partakes in the hoarding of illegal media (ex. books, newspapers, magazines, etc.) especially through stealing Example: Jetsen, a worm, steals books from Maverick Townshend's personal library.2. one who practices unconventional methods of learning through outlawed materials Example: The worm spends hours reading the banned medical journals.

I am writing a satire recognizing the themes of birth restrictions and abortion. These ideas are very real in China, Japan, and parts of North America. Here are the first 1,800 words. This is, essentially, the first chapter of a novella. Not much action happens within these words, but they introduce the characters and the setting. Tell me what you think!

"The name Tabitha sounds so stupid," the little girl crosses her pudgy arms across her equally pudgy chest. I tuck a golden curl behind her ear and finish buttoning the front of her dress.
"It's not stupid," I reply thoughtfully, "It's just mature." Her clothes emanate the rich scents of laundry soap and starch. Both things are absent from my attire. As if she doesn't smell fresh enough, I am required to spray her with perfume before sending her off to breakfast.
"I'm six," she answers, "I don't need to sound mature." For a six year old, her vocabulary is extremely advanced. On several occasions, I had to ask her to rephrase her statements. Some of the words she uses are over my head.
"Well, perhaps we can call you Tabby," I state and tie the ribbon on the back of the dress into a bow. It rests on the small of her back, right above her chubby rear end. The pink gossamer gives her the appearance of a robust woodland fairy. If she was my child, she would wear nothing of the sort. But she isn't my child, and even if she was, I couldn't afford to buy her fine garments.
"Tabby," she repeats. The name is spoken from her fat lips several times. She finally gets a feel for it and smiles with her round, dimpled cheeks. "I like it."
"I'm glad," I fasten the buckles on her black shoes. With the straps as loose as possible, her feet bulge out of them.
Feeding Tabitha is not part of my job. If it was, she wouldn't eat nearly as much as she does now, and her shoes and dresses would fit properly.
The golden haired girl slides off of the stool to her dressing table and twirls in front of her mirror. The looking glass spans from floor to ceiling and is wide enough to include me in the picture. Next to a little girl in a pink dress, there is a plain looking twenty-something year old girl.
"Ready for breakfast, Tabby?" I ask. She nods eagerly. Smiling with little white pearls, she takes my hand, and I lead her out of the dressing room.
. . .
Upon entering the dining hall, I am greeted by Mr. Townsend with a nod. His balding head reflects the lights of the chandelier. Seated at the head of the table is Olan Townsend, Mr. Townsend’s oldest son. Twenty years old and still living at home, Olan butters his toast arrogantly and takes a greedy bite. The collar of his plaid shirt is popped beneath the neckline of his maroon V-neck sweater. He winks at me with one mischievous eye and takes another bite.
“Good morning, my sweet,” Mr. Townsend hefts Tabitha into his lap and brushes her hair over one shoulder. She giggles and puts one finger on his nose playfully.
“Morning, Papa,” the little pearls are revealed through her laugh, and I turn away from the affectionate scene. Olan leaves his seat, and his eyes meet mine. I know what he wants.
I excuse myself quickly from the breakfast room and disappear into the hallway. Olan meets me near the entrance to the kitchen.
“Do you have it?” he asks. I nod.
“It’s in the usual place,” I am speaking of the compartment hidden in the thirteenth stair of the servant’s staircase. Wrapped in several old blankets, there is a bottle of black market moonshine. He turns to leave, but I catch his arm.
“What about my part of the deal?” With arms crossed over my chest, I raise my eyebrows at the spoiled young man.
“Oh, right,” he lifts up the tail of his shirt and pulls something out of the waistband of his pants, a book.
“Thank you,” I pluck the paper back out of his hands.
“That liquor better be a full bottle,” he whispers, “Last time I ran out before the month was up.” Once a month, I hide a bottle of alcohol in the stair compartment. Once a month, Olan smuggles a book out of his father’s library. I always leave the previous book with the moonshine. This way, Maverick Townshend doesn’t suspect a thing.
“I don’t want to have to point out the worm in my house,” he says. The term “worm” is used to describe bibliophiles- people who love books. Reading isn’t the problem. Books are the problem. Physical media- books, newspapers, and magazines- was outlawed several years ago due to the sudden extinction of natural resources. The only reason Mr. Townshend keeps a library is because of his status. He is a wealthy doctor; all of his books are medical diaries.

. . .

Tabitha has a morning governess and an evening governess. It is all a bit extreme, but I don’t argue with the program. My hours are easy, and I have more time to devour this month’s medical journal. I specifically asked for a pregnancy hand book. Several weeks ago, I was approached by a familiar face. His wife is pregnant, and they are not approved parents.
Once he told me, I was involved. There are no other options. Without hesitation, he brought his obviously pregnant wife to my doorstep. She has been hiding at my house for the past several weeks, and I have been caring for her in her emotionally fragile state. She doesn’t talk much, but when she does, it is always to say “thank you.”
Sarah and Cass are going to be fantastic parents. That is, assuming that our plan proceeds without difficulty and the delivery goes as planned. The difficult part is going to be hiding the baby after birth. Infants are loud, needy things. One of the reasons Cass came to me is because of my location. I live in the Old Mill District outside of town. I have an individual house. The walls are thick enough to muffle the cries before, during, and after child birth.
After I finish with Tabby for the afternoon, I hike my backpack over my shoulder and exit Townsend Manor. The house is ancient, hundreds of years old. With walls of thick, green wood and windows lined with lead, it is quite beautiful. My bike does not belong on the back porch. Rusted spokes and dull paint pale in comparison to the grandeur in which I work.
The hum of my bike tires on the asphalt is the only sound. All of the socialites are tucked into their houses for afternoon tea and meaningless gossip. My breath makes little clouds of vapor as I exhale into the bright, winter sky. It is times like these that I wish I was an aristocrat. My fingers wouldn’t be freezing to my handle bars, and the faucet of my nose would be permanently switched off.
As I ride into the Old Mill District, the humming of my tires is accompanied by hammering and yelling and sniffling. All of us underclass citizens share a chronic cold: runny nose, scratchy throat, and numb fingers. Most of us are well into adulthood. There are children, but they are hidden away until they are old enough to pass as an adult. Occasionally, parents forge parental approval papers, but that always results in a public execution of the child and immediate imprisonment of the parents.
I chain my bike to the front porch of my lodgings. The small house has a coat of chipping, white paint on the clapboard siding, and planks of wood hammered over the windows. The glass was broken long before I moved in, but it was my idea to nail the empty window sockets shut during the winter. I pull my keys from my backpack and unlock the front door. Expecting to be alone, I let out a lengthy sigh and pull my boots off. However, a throat clears, and I look up to find Cass sitting on the floor next to Sarah’s bed palette.
She is asleep with one hand in Cass’s and the other resting on her protruding belly. He must be on lunch break, for he is still covered with coal dust and sweat. The scene is so personal that I cannot help but look away.
I busy myself by straightening up the kitchen. As I scrub the tin plates with murky dishwater, I can hear Cass whispering. Between sloshes, I capture bits of his sweet nothings. Glancing over my shoulder, I see him brushing a strand of her khaki hair out of her face as she sleeps. There is a deeply seated sadness in the pit of my stomach that I cannot seem to shake. It is brought about by Cass’s love for his wife.
Cass clears his throat and stands up. The floor boards creak beneath his boots. “Thank you, Jetsen,” he says and walks stiffly and furtively out of my house. Once the cold air touches his lungs, I hear him cough. The coal dust collects in his lungs and causes chronic bronchitis. Within the next twenty years, he is going to drown in his own lung fluid. I try not to think about it as I dry the plates and set them back in their cabinets.
. . .
Sarah wakes some time later, and I greet her with a bowl of soup. It is composed of broth, roots, and chicken, and the smell fills the small house. Without windows for ventilation, smells circulate through the house and escape little by little through the front door.
“Cass came to visit,” I tell her as I help her sit up and lean against the wall. She props the bowl of soup on her belly and stares at it. Even when she is depressed, pregnant, and exhausted, she is still beautiful. The pink in her cheeks breathes life into the room. Tendrils of dark gold tumble down her back and across her stomach. I tuck some of the hair behind her ears to make it easier for her to eat.
She doesn’t reply. Instead, she picks up the little tin bowl and presses the edge to her lips. The steam spiraling off of the soup caresses her cheeks, and I sit back and let her eat. At six months, her stomach is roughly the size of a full term baby bump. I haven’t told her yet, but I’m almost positive that she is having twins. It is both a blessing and a curse. Sarah is going to love her children with everything she has, but it is going to be dangerous. She is going to worry constantly.
She finishes her soup, and I take the bowl from her and put it in the kitchen. She lies back down to sleep, and I curl up on my bed pad and begin rifling through the pages of my new book. I search chapter titles for information on twins, and spend the rest of the evening drinking the words.

January 5th, 2014, 10:10 PM
I really enjoyed this - it drew me right in, and I would continue reading if I could. So far, reminds me a little bit of The Handmaid's Tale. Unfortunately I don't have any general critiques for you, as I thought it flowed very well, and the tone is consistent throughout. Looking forward to seeing more!

January 5th, 2014, 10:29 PM
I have what I have written on wattpad. Here's the link if you want to read the rest. http://www.wattpad.com/story/11054767-worms

February 3rd, 2014, 04:37 PM
I found your storytelling well crafted, flowing smoothly, with just enough blips to keep one attentive — even through the additional parts you have posted elsewhere. My intent was to try to come up with some suggestion that might help in improving your writing, but instead got drawn in and found myself thinking of philosophizing on the theme.

Which, I would think is the mark of good storytelling in this concern :-)

Write on,
Lee C

February 3rd, 2014, 06:47 PM
I enjoyed that. It flowed just nicely and had enough beats to keep my attention firmly focused. It had a very consistent feel to it which I often find is hard to get right in short stories as most people tend to write them in a writing flow and then return to them and edit out that nice consistency. Very well written in my opinion.

February 4th, 2014, 12:16 PM
I was really drawn and loved the concept of 'worms'. I like dystopian fiction and you set you that story very well. My one critique would be that at times the description felt a little too much. But that's just a personal opinion.

Good work!

- - - Updated - - -

I was really drawn and loved the concept of 'worms'. I like dystopian fiction and you set you that story very well. My one critique would be that at times the description felt a little too much. But that's just a personal opinion.

Good work!

M. Cull
February 9th, 2014, 11:12 PM
I'll join right in with the rest of the responses and say that I enjoyed it. There were some typos, like Townshend and Townsend both being used, but those are minor concerns, with the really important goal being met: you got me interested. You got me thinking. In fact, at one point, I thought to myself, "this is a great idea! I wish I'd thought of it myself!"

Well done.