I’ve been busy editing my book for the past few. I’m not incredibly happy with the first scene of the book (the “hook”), though, and I have reworked it something like four times now. I thought to break up the pace of the blog, I’d just put it up for all to see and get some feedback on the latest version. Here it is in all its polished-turd glory! 🙂
Anne Welch struggled to walk through the hospital doors. Her breathing was labored and shallow, and her legs were unsteady. Her mother-in-law, Lydia, stood behind her issuing a flurry of words that Anne couldn’t say herself through the pain of her condition and helped her into a provided wheelchair.
A blood-curdling scream echoed from outside and broke Anne’s limited concentration. A disheveled young woman, the apparent afflicted, burst through the doors seconds later.
“She’s going to kill her!” the woman yelled.
Her slender frame revealed the potential source of her terror. Her hands clutched at the baby bump that looked near bursting through her thin cotton dress. Her strawberry-blond hair was stuck to her forehead where beads of sweat lined every inch and dripped into her eyes and down her cheeks.
A nurse was already running to the woman’s side with a wheelchair. Lydia placed a hand on Anne’s shoulder and whispered something into her ear, but Anne was consumed in thought about her own delivery. It was likely going to be delayed now.
“Hester… Golden,” she heard the woman answer a question she didn’t hear asked.
“Don’t you worry, Hester. We’ll take perfect care of you and your child.” The nurse consoled Hester with a gentle touch to her womb.
A bright spark between the fabric and the nurse’s hand forced her to snatch it away with a yelp. Shaking her hand, she muttered, “Uh… must have been static electricity.”
Hester screamed. With it wind blew across the emergency room waiting area in all directions. The uncertainty of its source frightened Anne, and she began to tremble. The wheelchair lurched towards the maternity ward. Anne shuddered at the sudden movement, but Lydia patted her shoulder again bringing a surge of calm despite her fear.
Hester’s screams followed as they were both rushed down the halls.
“You people don –don -don’t understand!” Hester yelled. “She’s going to kill her! You’ve got to stop it!”
“Who’s killin’ who?” the nurse asked. Anne grimaced at the poor grammar.
“Rhiannon… Rhiannon’s trying to kill Shannon,” Hester answered.
Anne heard sobbing and turned to face Hester. For a split second, they shared a look together. Both struggled with their situations differently. Anne was frightened, but she was serene despite it all. Hester’s face showed a wealth of pain and concentration like she was somehow battling something far beyond her.
The nurse pushed Hester and overtook Anne’s wheelchair. She entered the maternity ward, calling out, “She’s got twins! Something’s wrong!”
Anne watched the medical staff rush into action. Momentarily more concerned for Hester than herself.
* * * * * *
Everything was a blur for Hester. So much was going on around her that she was only half aware when she was placed on a bed and her feet were raised. Words about feet and dilation eddied around the frantic room, but her full concentration would not be broken.
Her brow furrowed, and she whined heavily with every breath.
“Hester,” she heard.
She blinked and saw the doctor standing over her.
“The baby is coming,” he said. “But… the umbilical cord is wrapped around her throat…. She’s choking.”
Hester screamed and squeezed her eyes closed. She pursed her lips and beads of sweat ran like rivers down her face and onto her ears.
Wind swept through the delivery room and electricity sparked on all of the machines attached to Hester. A few of the nurses shirked back in fear, but the doctor resumed his position – his face intent on the baby.
Hester cried in agony while the doctor tried to save the baby. The ground shook in the room, and most of the nurses ran away. Words – demon, witch – echoed around the room.
Still the doctor remained. Hester opened her eyes suddenly and revealed blood-filled retinas. She coughed, and blood trickled down her chin while the umbilical cord loosened to the surprise of the doctor.
The only remaining nurse called out for the doctor as she wiped the blood on Hester’s chin, but he seemed to ignore her. His voice dominated, “Push, Hester!”
Hester screamed at the first real push. She focused all of her energy on this one act and became only aware the doctor was holding a baby girl when he said it. Her tiny hands and legs twitched, and for a brief moment, Hester smiled. The babe’s blond hair and shiny blue eyes stared back at her, appearing both healthy and strong.
“H…i… Shannon Lee,” Hester whispered.
The babe’s fingers flexed while her bright eyes stayed intent on her mother.
Hester waved back at the gorgeous babe. Your sister won’t be able to harm you now.
She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth. Her body convulsed in violent spurts. Involuntary coughs caused eruptions of thick blood to spill out of mouth in streams. She became increasingly aware of death but pushed the thought away intent on completing her last act. Her life to save Shannon’s. That’s all that mattered now.
The room exploded into action again. Equipment toppled over, and instruments flew off shelves towards the babe. The doctor guarded Shannon and tried to remove her from the chaos.
Once she was handed to a nurse outside the room, everything went unnaturally quiet – like the calm in the eye of the storm.
Hester let out a final scream. Her body jerked and then just stopped moving. The doctor ran back to her and called the remaining nurses to come back. Hesitant at first, they came.
Shannon’s cries pierced the walls of the delivery room as the machines hooked up to Hester started to flat-line.
Hester lingered between this world and the next. Her body may not have allowed her to keep fighting, but she’d be damned if she wasn’t staying to the very end.
The doctor and nurses worked tirelessly to revive her, but she knew they would have no success. Her insides had been torn asunder to prevent the life of the other.
That July day, Hester Eleanor Golden was pronounced dead, and despite the inexhaustible efforts of the hospital staff, Rhiannon Golden was pronounced stillborn minutes later.
With quiet deliberation, the staff cleaned up, and the doctor was forced to prepare for his next delivery.
Shannon continued to wail. Her voice resonated through the ward.
Hester regretted leaving the babe an orphan, but she knew she had done the right thing. Content with her efforts, her soul drifted from this life. With her every question went unanswered.
At least, for now, Shannon was safe, albeit alone.