The Hollow Place: #StoryADay May; Day Thirty

The Prompt:

  • Write a Hansel & Gretel Structured Story.

  • This story is the thirtieth in a series of explorations for my upcoming novel, Still Nameless (Kifo Island #8), which I will be drafting in July.

The Hollow Place

“Put it back on! Put it back on!” Marilyn squeezes her eyes closed, claps her hands over them.

“Marilyn, put your hands down and look at your daughter. You can’t hide from this.” There is something in Ophelia’s tone that Marilyn latches onto. It’s a distraction; she won’t have to think about how childish she looks like this, covering her eyes so she won’t see the baby girl.

“You aren’t my mother!”

“No. But you are hers.”

Damn! She’d fallen right into the trap. Ophelia is good enough at that to actually be someone’s mother.

Would her nameless broken doll of a baby be broken if Ophelia was her mother?

“She’s a broken doll – ”

“No, she isn’t. She’s a living being. She’s going to die soon – and she deserves to be seen by her mother while she’s still alive.”

But Ophelia’s wrong. This isn’t a baby, and not a living being. Not really. It’s a broken doll, and she doesn’t want to look at the shattered places in the doll’s head, and the hollow place where a brain should be, but isn’t. It reminds her of the hollow house, and her hollow life.

And the hollowness inside her.


Damned Ophelia, not letting her hide, not giving up on her. How the hell did she get so stubborn, so strong?

But Marilyn knows the answer to that.

She has a mother who loves her. A mother who stayed alive, and does the things a mother is supposed to do for her child.

Marilyn has a baby now. That makes her a mother.

The mother of this nameless, broken baby girl.

She’s broken too – not with a skull that has a hole in it, and no brain inside…no. Not like that. But she’s no less broken.

Sometimes broken doesn’t show unless someone peels back her long sleeves to find the track marks.

“Marilyn. It’s time to look at your daughter. To face this. That’s why we came here, after all.”

She doesn’t argue. There’s no point. Ophelia takes her wrists and applies gentle pressure upward. Gentle, but firm and relentless, just like this strange half-sister who is at least half a mother.

And more of a mother than Marilyn can ever remember having. So she lets Ophelia guide her up, guide her to the side of the little clear plastic basinette where she knows her sister taped pictures and notes – stupid, to do that for a baby who is blind, deaf, and has nothing to see or hear or think with…but that’s not the best thing to be thinking about, because it just slices at her insides, and Ophelia isn’t going to let her loose until she looks, and she doesn’t want to think about what’s waiting when she does.

“Let’s count to three, then it’s time to put down your hands and open your eyes. See her, hold her, and give her a name. Then we can put the cap back on.”

She isn’t going to give up. Marilyn pretends she’s on the nod inside, and counts with her sister.

And then she has to look. At the places where there’s no skull, and emptiness stares up at her…it helps to pretend she’s looking at a doll, and nothing more, but she doesn’t say so, since Ophelia will try to force her to see a real live baby. She looks, but won’t let herself feel. She doesn’t even feel when she holds the little warm bundle – she used to have lifelike baby dolls – that’s all this is. No matter if she doesn’t name her –

“Time to give her a name, Marilyn.”

“Damned nosy kid.”

“That would make a lousy name. You can do better.”

She just wants Ophelia off her back. Out of her face. She tries to think of something – anything.

There’s a lavender band around the edge of the blanket, and on the cuffs of the baby’s sleeper.
It gave her an idea – “Lavender. Her name is Lavender.”

“Miss Morgan?”

Marilyn knows the doctor’s voice; she has an unmistakable accent. Warm and soft, like the way she feels after she shoots up. But now, there’s something darker lacing it, and Marilyn holds the broken doll of a baby close to her, and rocks it. She turns to look at the doctor.

“She can’t live much longer than another day or two. Her breathing is failing. I know you haven’t been ready till now, but the donation papers need to be signed before she dies, if her organs are going to have the maximum positive impact -”

“I have to use the bathroom.” She presses the baby toward her sister; Ophelia opens her arms, cooing senselesly to the blind deaf brainless little thing. She’s distracted by that; she doesn’t look supicious, and the doctor doesn’t know her well enough.

But she has to get away, has to escape. Somewhere with no broken baby dolls, no broken places in herself, no papers to sign and pieces of her doll given to all the mothers of all the other broken baby dolls, because those ones can be fixed, but hers is broken forever –

She grabs her purse and leaves them there. She can feel her kit through the fabric.

She thinks of Brad. This is his broken baby doll, but he left her here alone with it.

He escaped.

She can escape, too.

Will she sing the organ donation papers?

What kind of escape is Marilyn planning?

Is there any hope for her hollow placces?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!


    • Yes. My baby had his brain, but it was profoundly and irreparably damaged at birth, so I know the level of anguish here….and it helps some to write it out.

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