“You WILL Answer Me”: WIPpet Wednesday

Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday, a weekly blog hop which encourages writers to move WIPs (works-in-progress) to publication by posting excerpts related to the date. It’s hosted by the lovely K.L. Schwengel, maven of bad boys, stock dogs, and flying monkeys! She may be less physically present for a bit, but she’s still our fearless shepherd…or something like that, anyway.

Before I get on with the WIPpetty (it’s a word; I just made it up!) business of the day, I have an announcement:


This is the 1000th post on this blog! And here we are, all here together! How cool is that? Because now, I can invite you over to my 999 party for fun and refreshments and the chance to meet some new friends, and say hi to older ones. C’mon over and party with me!


Today’s WIPpet is brought to you by CampNaNoWriMo

I’m sharing, from Generations (name may change); the second novel in my Kifo Island Chronicles series-in-the-making. The Kifo Island stories takes place at a resort that’s a little like hospice meets Fantasy Island

Generations Premise:

Can Kifo Island help three generations of a wounded makeshift family coexist despite the forces and secrets that tear them apart, or will time run out for the dying grandmother, the abusive stepfather, and the brilliant, traumatized little girl caught in the middle?

WIPpet Math:

  • Today is April 22, 2015 – Earth Day, in America.
  • I‘m giving you the first 22 sentences, plus one to remind us that we all share one world (and because the last sentence rounds things out).

Today we meet Gladys, an elderly woman with Parkinson’s Disease; Howard, her grandson; and Iris, Howard’s young stepdaughter. Gladys is in her kitchen, with a window cracked open, when she hears Howard and Iris arriving by car.

Iris. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

Disclaimer for language and possible triggers…I want this story to offer a positive message; but not to shy away from the topic of child abuse and its impacts. If you’re especially sensitive to fictional mistreatment of children, please don’t read this, because someone is not going to be very nice to a child, right from the start.

And listen here, you little bastard brat. You will answer me when I speak to you – and you will call me Father Howie, and nothing else. Got that?”

There were times when Gladys Marieta wished that her hearing had gone the way of her agility. But, then again, her not hearing wouldn’t stop the verbal blows that her grandson lobbed at the huddled little lump of a girl who stared at him with wide and stunned eyes.

There was no sound from the child. There never was. Gladys wished that she could reach into Iris’s mind, and tell her that if she could just bring herself to answer, things would be all right.

I expect you to do as you’re told – and that means that you will answer me. Say it, brat. ‘Yes, Father Howie, I hear you.’” A car door slammed, and Gladys took as deep a breath as she could manage, in a futile attempt to prepare herself for the onslaught to come. She was thankful, at least, that she had had enough warning to take her medication – she shouldn’t be especially shaky. For some reason, Howard was always edgier, and far less pleasant, when her Parkinson’s was very evident.

There wasn’t a peep from the girl; she slipped out of the car, dark head bowed and shoulders hunched; and Gladys, watching them come, wished that she could still run outside, scoop the girl into her arms, and whirl her around in a dance, the way she had Howard, when Estella would dump him with her.

Then, she could whisper that as long as he was here with her, everything would be all right. There would be enough to eat, enough to do, enough hugs and kisses and laughter –

But she’d been wrong back then. It had been enough when he was here, but not enough to hold him through the long months and years of boarding and prep schools. And there was even less to give to this motherless little waif who had the manner of a puppy who’s been kicked its entire life.

She couldn’t make it all right that Iris had lost her mama- her ‘hahaoya’, whom she still called out for in the night. Those pitiful whimpered cries were the only time Gladys had ever heard the child speak; the only reason she knew Iris could speak.

If only she would speak to her stepfather, say the words he demanded…

Looking for cheerier WIPpet Snippets? Well, hop onto the little blue froggy; assorted genres, styles, lengths and moods of WIPpet lily-pads to choose from! =D



    • Unlike Howard, I’m not big on trying to make anyone do anything.

      The warning is heartfelt. This story sprang from things I knew too well in my own childhood – and then, as I was plotting it, it took a hard left turn into even darker places. I’m hoping there’s light at the end of the tunnel…but this isn’t going to be easy to write, and I understand if you want to give it a pass and wait for the brighter stories to come…

  1. You gave a trigger warning…. and yet, it didn’t connect fully until the song. The words were… well, they were, but because so much of the scene was in Gladys’ head, they didn’t hold the power that the song gave them.

    1000 posts…. wow.

    • Yes – this scene will build up to its impact, because Gladys can’t exactly move fast, and she isn’t living with Howard and Iris to know the details of what it’s like there – and Iris doesn’t talk, so she has nothing to add – and her trauma began long before Howard came into her life, unfortunately.

      The next 8 sentences will be at #8sunday this week, and they give a little more nastiness than this…but, to me, personally, people calling children names and making those types of demands in a way that virtually guarantees the child can’t comply with them is triggering in and of itself – probably because I’m so intimately aware of how that feels (and, sadly, because there was a time, as you know, when I repeated that pattern, and there simply is no way to undo it, even if our story is hugely different now…).

      Suffice it to say that Howard is not, and likely will not be, a positive influence in Iris’ life…

      • I understand. And I didn’t think Iris was somehow content with the situation or that Howard’s actions weren’t hurtful. It was that I felt SO entrenched in Gladys’ slightly meandering thoughts that I kept getting drawn away from the effect of Howard’s abusiveness. Which is fine if the story is about Gladys. It felt like a “where should I focus” issue.

        • Some of it may be that I jumped into Iris’ head only minutes after leaving Barry, Terrance, and Corinne. I like to have a day or two, at least, between noveling drafts, but I was SO close to my CampNaNo goal, I went for it. Haven’t written anything more on this since Tuesday night, though, so maybe I did need the break (or just needed to get my act together for the five hour drive and the weekend away!).

          Another part of it is that Gladys is very old – ninety-eight. Although her ears are good, her mind isn’t maybe quite as sharp as it used to be, and she spends most of her time alone, in her own thoughts. She also has a blind spot where Howard is concerned, so there are things that she doesn’t want to see or acknowledge about him.

          The story is about all three characters…but Iris owns it…we just need to be a bit more patient, and not stare directly at her, if we’d like her to reveal herself, because she’s lived a very hidden life, by necessity.

          It’s a hard story for me, and I don’t know that I got that beginning just right…it usually takes me a few thousand words or so to start to “settle” into a character…even though I did almost 15K of plotting for this novel!

          I hope you’ll read subsequent snippets and let me know if the focus thing remains an issue….

          • Sounds like any one of those (or all) could be a cause for the focus thing I noticed. Not that my opinion really means squat in the grand scheme… it’s your story (or more truthfully it’s your characters’ story) and it will be written the way that works best for you (all).

            And, yes, I can see how it would be a hard story for you to write. Many, many hugs….

          • I’ve never before written a character that I dislike as intensely as I do Howard – not even Kaitiiraan. I hope I can find SOMETHING to like about him, or at least sympathize with…

            A part of me doesn’t want to write this one….which shows me that I need to write it…

            Hugs gratefully accepted, all along the way.

          • Those characters we hate to write really do challenge us. Thing is… no person is completely good or bad either, so.. it’s up to us as writers to find that spot where they become human not just villains

          • Well, it’s not a problem of anyone, even Howard, being human. I know why he’s the way he is, and he’s human…but I don’t like him, and I don’t think I will….as my kids would say, because reasons.

            He’s not so much a villain, as an antagonist… but, in some ways, he’s harder to deal with, because I can’t just hate him, but I do intensely dislike him.

  2. Oh, that’s heartbreaking. What a difficult situation for Gladys, too, as there’s not much she can do. I’ll be interested to see where their story goes. Is this separate from the other story, or will they intertwine eventually?

    • They will intertwine, to a degree…but these characters will have their own stories.

      Each novel will have three focal characters, who come to Kifo for a variety of reasons.

      So far, I have ten ideas in development. But there could be more…

      As for this – yes, it’s difficult for Gladys, knowing that there’s something very wrong, even knowing that she might have contributed without meaning to…

      At this point, though, Iris might not expect life to be any different than this – at least not while she’s awake. The trauma in her life predates Howard, and that’s all I’m going to say for now.

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