This has got to be the most sweated over 270 words in my writing career. Well worth the cathartic experience of being lost in another world this afternoon, while I tried to get lost in it amidst the screams and excited laughter of dozens of children in at an indoor playground.
Sorry in advance for the formatting – as someone who can’t help but insert dialogue – I lumped it in (against all style guidelines) into the single paragraph.
You can reacquaint yourself with my opening sentence before reading on. Comments welcome!
Round 2 Challenge: Write the opening paragraph of your novella. It should be no more than 300 words, not including your opening sentence, and should be about interactions that take place over the web.
The crone at the head of the pregnant woman pressed a finger to her thin lips and hissed through the gap where her front teeth had been. Sylvie’s cheeks burned. Placing the pinnard back in her kit, she rubbed her hands together to warm them, wishing them to stop shaking before she touched the woman. She palpitated the distended stomach to identify the position of the two babies, sitting back on her heels when the womb beneath stirred. The labouring woman was helped onto all fours, groaning and swinging her hips as the contraction crested then crashed through her. A final moan choked into a sob as she surrendered into a mountain of cushions. “There is only meant to be one,” Sylvie heard as she snatched her kit and ran from the room. Her throat burnt as she sucked in huge gulps of the frigid air. The icy bricks bit into her back as she slumped against the fortified wall of the Birthing House. She took the PDA out of the canvas bag, relieved it was fully charged. The blank screen was a dim glow in the opaque night. “It doesn’t work here either,” he said stepping out of the shadows for the second time that night as panic threatened to overwhelm her. “Just like your GPS and car. They don’t call this the Dead Zone for nothing.” “No! She would never have sent me here. Not alone.” Sylvie jabbed at the buttons defiantly, willing the device to connect to the internet. “She didn’t,” said a voice from the doorway. “We sent the message.”