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Crushed Violets Chapter one

Crushed Violets Chapter one

Victoria Simmons begins her story, recounting the problems and the secrets that she is now being forced to admit. Will Emma still love her when the circumstances surrounding her mother's death are revealed.

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Crime / Suspense / Mystery / Thriller


author-small

G. Rosalyn West (United Kingdom)


Crushed Violets – chapter 1.

The ancient headstones emerged like miniature custodians, bravely protecting their loved ones. They surrounded the tiny sixteenth century church that was the final resting place for Alan and Barbara Simmons; an idyllic setting, but not for Victoria. As the small group of mourners stood around the open grave, a soft mist fell, making the artificial green carpet glisten with a million tiny droplets of rain.
Victoria didn't move, even though she could feel water dripping off her little black hat, and making its way down her neck. Even at the tender age of six, she sensed that this solemn occasion demanded her stillness. She was glad it was raining. Raising her small face to the grey sky above, she let the raindrops mingle with her tears, as she searched the clouds.
Victoria feared she would never see her parents again. Auntie Madge said they were up there somewhere with Jesus. Why had he taken them from her when she needed them here to hug her? The sad faces looking down into the grave seemed so far away to her. Victoria watched as the rain formed a large droplet of water on the end of her Uncle Ben’s nose. She reached into her pocket, and pulling out a paper hanky, tucked it gently into his hand. He smiled down at her from his great height; his eyes brimming with unshed tears. She watched as he wiped the moisture from the end of his large rounded nose. It was a part of his face that had always fascinated her. The size of it, and the fact that there were little red lines running down the centre that met around his nostrils. Those same lines were echoed in his cheeks and large fleshy ears. Aunt Madge said he was always sticking his nose into everything - that was why it was so red.
Victoria’s fourteen-year-old sister, Sylvia, stood next to Aunt Madge, her slim arms folded defensively in front of her. Bony hands clutching the elbows of her coat sleeves, turning her knuckles white with tension. As sisters, they were surprisingly different. Victoria’s fiery spirit was depicted in bright coppery curls and brilliant green eyes. Sylvia didn’t have that essential spark. Her pinched sallow features, and straggly brown hair, should have conjured up feelings of sympathy. However, the hateful glare she projected with one glance, repulsed most people who came in contact with her. She was uncommonly mature for one so young, and everyone was surprised to learn these two young orphans were sisters.
After their parents had been killed in a car crash, Victoria had retreated into a dream world of happy memories, where there was no place for grief.
She liked to escape to her parents’ bedroom and remember all the good times; every Sunday morning while her parents were still snuggled down, she would creep into their bedroom and stand by the bed, silently gazing at their relaxed faces. Her mother’s head would be resting in the safety of her father’s arm, her mouth curved into a contented smile.
Victoria would drag the stool over from the dressing table to her father's side of the bed and clamber up next to him, knowing he would stir. He would open his eyes and look towards her as she tugged at the bedclothes, then smile that half-awake grin that she loved so much. Slowly raising his free arm, Victoria would slip into the warmth next to him and be gathered up by a strength that would make her feel safe and loved.
She would lie quietly, breathing in that sweet musky aroma she associated with her parents. To her childlike innocence, it was their special smell that meant they loved one another, and she wanted with all her heart to be a part of that warm peace.
As she grew older she didn't need the stool anymore to reach up into their bed, and there was never seemed to be enough room on her father's side, so she’d gently shake her mother’s arm and slip in beside her for a Sunday morning cuddle. It was just as loving as her father’s but different somehow, with the lingering smell of Sweet Violets, on her mother’s skin.

Victoria remembered the first time she had made her parents a cup of tea. They were so pleased when they realised what she had done, they sat up in bed smiling at each other, sipping their tea, telling her how clever she was.
Excitement rushing through her, she ran into Sylvia’s bedroom to share her triumph and tugged at the blankets that Sylvia always pulled over her head.
“Go away!” Sylvia snarled.
Victoria stopped tugging.
“I want to show you the tea I made.”
Sylvia’s head appeared from beneath the blankets, the shadows beneath her eyes giving her a ghost-like appearance. Victoria’s excitement was instantly dampened, and the look on her sister’s face frightened her.
“I don’t care about your stupid tea, just go away and leave me alone.”
Victoria’s lip trembled. She always thought her sister didn’t like her very much, but it still made her cry. She ran back to her parents’ room, brushing the tears from her eyes, hoping for a comforting hug.

Now, they were here, standing next to each other, in the rain with their Aunt Madge and Uncle Ben. Victoria knew, but couldn’t accept, her Mummy and Daddy were gone forever. Looking up into the grey sky, she knew they were up there somewhere, out of reach.
Who was going to remind her to wash behind her ears or tell her to brush her teeth everyday? Who was going to kiss the parts that hurt and magically make the pain go away......who? The ache in her young heart was dragging her down. Somehow, she knew this pain could never be kissed away. Time may make its intensity fade - but it would never disappear completely.
Sylvia tugged viciously at Victoria's sleeve, jolting her back to reality.
"The flowers" she whispered harshly, "throw the flowers like I told you to"
Victoria had forgotten what to do. All she could see was the impatience in her sister's eyes and it frightened her. Sylvia bent over and prised the little bunch of Sweet Violets from Victoria's tightly clenched fist, and threw them into the grave. They landed with a splat on the drenched lid of the coffin, slowly darkening as the crushed petals absorbed the rain.
Victoria’s eyes, brimming over with tears, looked down on her pathetic little posy, recalling the sweet scent of Violets on her mother’s skin. Standing by her side, Sylvia was dry-eyed and solemn. She vowed never to cry again.


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Read Reviews

Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • The protagonist didn’t always respond believably against the backdrop of the story. Ask yourself if people would really answer to a situation in that way. Think about whether the characters’ voices could be more convincing for their age, background, gender, time period, genre, gender and ethnicity. Dialogue should be natural and consistent throughout the story.
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
I think you write well, and what I have is nothing really more than nit-picking. There there a few words that jarred a little for me - some small cliches that won't bother many people, but I think things like - "jolting her back to reality" and "Excitement rushing through her" - which are perfectly fine sentences, can be written in a much more interesting way. I was impressed with the writing though and the story is intriging in so much that I am interested in what is coming next. The dialouge was a little flat for me - and think although there isn't much of it - "stupid cup of tea" is obviously fine, but with the dialouge you have an opportunity to inject personality into your characters - dare I say, even some humour. Good luck with this. Enjoyed it.

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
As a reader, you know it's a good- scratch that; GREAT book, when everything is silent and you're transported into that world. The way you brought your characters to life.. OH MY GOSH. Great. Although, i want a little more insight on the big sister. However great twist, fresh take. I would say have a little more space between paragraphs so everything isn't bunched up, but other than that- I WANT TO READ MORE!

Review 3:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
General comments from your fellow writer 3:
Congratulations! Technically yours is the best of six stories I've reviewed on the Pen Factor. I'm very critical, but I've spotted hardly anything to criticise in your chapter. I wasn't sure a six year old would have offered a hanky for her uncle's dewdrop, and there are some minor clichés (eg 'tender age of') but that's nit-picking! Well done. I'd like to read more.