Chapter 3

Written by: Donna McTavish

The faded cover on the sofa that tickled the skin on the back of her legs through her thin cotton dress. The smell of cigarette smoke and Fleur de Lys perfume. Urgent voices, shouting, crying, and the clatter of a typewriter.  Fragments of memory, little flashes of quicksilver, fluttered like tiny birds always out of reach. She’d fallen down a rabbit hole and her ordinary life had broken into a million pieces and was floating past her as she fell.

She woke abruptly and lay still for a moment, remembering where she was, what she’d done. Her grandmother was watching from the chair by the window, her face crumpled and sad. Jenna was surprised that she’d never noticed how alike her mother and grandmother were. They had the same round dark eyes although she noted with a shock that today her grandmother’s were narrow and hard, and cold.

She was holding the photograph.

“Where did you find that?” Jenna asked, but she already knew the answer. She’d left the torn fragments in the pocket of her coat that was now lying empty on the floor.

“I could ask you the same thing, young lady.” Dry brown fingers gently stroked the two faces smiling from the broken paper.

“Where did you get this?” Her voice was sharp, and Jenna realised that it wasn’t sadness on her face but white hot anger.

“Do you know what this is? What this could do?” Now her voice was a menacing hiss.

Jenna had always been in awe of her grandmother but now she was terrified. “I found it … In the kitchen … I don’t … It’s just a photograph … I didn’t… Mum….”

“Your mother,” she spat out, ”your mother should have destroyed this. I thought she had, a long time ago. Such a stupid, sentimental girl.”

Jenna felt sick. I’m still falling down the rabbit hole she thought. “What do you mean? What’s going on?”

Her grandmother slumped in the chair and let out a long sigh. She laid her papery hands carefully in her lap still stroking the fragments of that sunny day long ago. Her voice was soft again.

“You were such a bonny baby Jenna. The apple of your father’s eye. He’d watch you sleep for hours and he loved to make you laugh. You’d stop crying as soon as he picked you up. He was the only one who could do that. Not like that … , ” she stopped and shot a glance at Jenna.

“Your mother was always too busy. Important things she said. She had too many secrets. But what’s more important than looking after your own daughter?” she muttered.

Jenna’s head was spinning. What was happening?

“Your father loved you, Jenna. And he loved your mother, too. More than she knew, or cared to know.”

Jenna’s grandmother stared at the words scrawled on the back of the photograph.

There was the sound of a car door slamming, then a knock on the door.

“Oh, Jenna. What have you done?” she whispered.


Great suspense - great chapter Donna. Excellent characters, mood and timing. Can't wait to see what the next writer makes of this.
Loved the opening paragraph - Donna you are a poet. I love poetry too and this paragraph is so real in ones mind because the memories you write of could be our own. Wonderful sense of the inner character of Jenna. The dialogue is so full of emotion and that is what made me read this chapter over again. As always, loved your work. What a gem!
What a fabulous chapter. Thin papery hands....wonderful and the incredibly real. This carried the story forward while raising questions about the mother and the father. I want to know more....Just goes to show how differently we see people and situations and what those perspectives can mean to the way we view a character and what he or she does. Beautifully nuanced...