New Project

The first chapter of a new book I've started to write, Woodsocket ’79.

Gerald and Izzy

Her contractions were coming every two minutes. He knew this because, despite the broken reading on the car’s dashboard, the distance between her last moan and the current one could be measured been between Dairy Sue’s on the south side of town and the First National Bank of Woodsocket over on the north, just a few blocks before county road 115. That’s where Woodsocket ended, and the rest of the world for all anyone cared.

As soon as he passed the bank another moan started, long and low. He’d never heard her moan like that, not even while having sex. Making a sharp right, he secretly became jealous of life and infancy and all of creation for making such intimate responses in her, in ways he never could.

“I’m driving as fast as I can, honey. Please try to stay calm.” He was hot. The air-conditioner had stopped working as well. In fact, just about the only thing that worked in his damn volvo was the engine, and even that was on the fritz. But he didn’t know how to fix such things, and he didn’t have the money to take it in. Not with a baby coming.

There was pink wall paper, pink bedding, pink carpet, and pink curtains. It was like one big strawberry milkshake explosion and it gave him a huge headache. She shopped at the local Gibson’s, and had darn near almost cleaned out their entire baby section.

“I gotta push!”

“No. Don’t push. Don’t you dare push!”

“But I gotta. I can feel the head coming out.”

Oh God. It was all too soon. Nine months just wasn’t enough time for a man to accept the arrival of another man’s child.

Hitting the gas, he sped through another intersection and turned onto the small business road that he knew would lead them to the hospital parking lot. A white van was parked just so it neither aligned with its intended spot by the front entrance, nor allowed anyone else through the narrow lane with arrows indicating a one-way passage.

“For Chrissake! Move your Goddamned car you stupid son of a—”

“Gerald, don’t cuss.”

Of all things she could be worried about, she was going to point out his speech. He rolled his head against the seatback in agitation.

“Yes, when the baby gets here, I want none of your vulgar language, no beer bottles on the table, no sports on the television and no men coming over with their cards and stories. Ooooooooh.”

That just about covered everything in his life that brought him any real joy. Or made him a man. He’d long ago suspected that she hated men, but couldn't figure out why she slept with so many all the time. It didn’t make sense, but then, none of the other husbands around him seemed to have wives that made sense either, so he figured it was useless to complain.

The white van finally moved forward and he curved around its fender to get a spot in the emergency lane. With a jerk, the car was in its place, and he was hopping out and rushing around to the back passenger side door.

“I can get out just fine,” she complained, pushing away his hands when he reached in. But he persisted. Dammit, this was what men did in the movies, they grabbed their laboring wives and carried them into the lobby and announced for all to hear, “Hark, my beloved is in labor. Lead the way.”

Oh, but she was heavy.

Someone opened the front door for him and stepped aside. He made it through the door, he made it into the lobby, and he was just about to announce their arrival when he felt something strange happen. She went limp and warm liquid began to spill out of her body.

It ran down his arms and seeped all through his pants and dripped down onto the clean laminate floor. Red, and sticky.

“Izzy? Izzy!” he yelled, shaking her just a bit. Then he looked up at the nurses who sat at the front station. His eyes were wide and scared.

One nurse shot a look at the other sitting next to her and yelled, “Call Doctor Kent! Now!” then jumped out of her seat and came around the desk to stand next to them.

“How long has she been out?”

“It just happened.”

“How long has she been bleeding?”

“I . . . I don’t know. She’s in labour, the baby is coming. We called first . . .”

A stretcher was wheeled in and they took her out of his arms. Dr. Kent came in the room just in time to see them disappear into the hall, protected by the swinging doors. But he didn’t follow. Not for a minute. Not the way Gerald would have expected him to.

He just stood there for a while and looked at the bloody man. Then, holding the clipboard closer to his chest, he walked through the swinging doors and left Gerald alone.

It was late evening when they told him she was dead. That they were dead. He signed the papers, and viewed the delicate little human laid out on a soft pink blanket, and his wife, gray and covered with a long sheet, and he went home.


  1. Oh my goodness, that was a bit grim! I got to read your last posting (before it was deleted). I'm sorry for you, but I think your reaction is right. I'm certain that 99% of all 'published' writers could tell much the same story.

    Bisou, Cro.

  2. Yeah, time to work on other things and take a breather so to speak. Thank you for your great friendship, Cro!

  3. I just wanted to say about the above excerpt, that is is a bit grim, and I had no idea I'd start a book off this way, but it seemed to make sense to me somehow. The book will be about the entire town of Woodsocket, and this was just one of the resident's stories which will be touched upon later in the book. My favorite story so far is Ned's Bed. Everyone in the Woodsocket garden auxiliary club is talking about the new man in town and all the wonderful things he does. There's only one person left who hasn't gone to see him yet, Ophelia Long. She refuses to go over there, thinks it's vulgar. But one day, she decides to tell him exactly how she feels.

    Haha, that's been a fun one to write.

  4. I was intrigued right from the get go and you made chuckle when you wrote - Oh God. It was all too soon. Nine months just wasn’t enough time for a man to accept the arrival of another man’s child. - however the ending took a sad, sad turn. How awful. I'm so curious how he is going to cope through all of this, if it is a blessing or if he truly did love her.

    Great start Amy, I'm very much intrigued about where this is going. Not at all what I would have expected.

    What's even weirder is that my privacy word setting was grimme (I know it's spelled wrong, but how ironic.)

  5. Thank you Jen. I kind of surprised myself when I wrote it. I just wanted to sort of vicariously jump into the life of this town, and the best way to do that was by showing someone in labor. But then somewhere along the line I thought, she's going to die and so is the child and Gerald will now get that freedom he wanted, but instead of feeling happy, he'll be devastated. I have plans of something good happening later on, but not until after many, many stories have passed.

  6. Wow pretty heavy stuff. You seem to have perfect pace, and the build up was really quite perfect. Great writing and a great feel for tragedy. Also, nice dialogue. Good work thank you for posting this Amy

  7. Wow, you're welcome Culture! Thanks for the warm comments—it's great to get positive feedback like this!

  8. Thanks for commenting on my interview over at Jen's blog!

    I loved the beginning--but the ending was too grim for me! I'm totally depressed.I was so intrigued by the idea of a man carrying for another man's child. I felt cheated out of that experience. but good writing!

  9. Hi Tamara, it's great to have you here! Yes, I do feel as if I've cheated a little on this opening, but something good will happen to Gerald later on, just you wait and see :" )


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