Eeny Meeny Miney Meg, Chapter 2, Daniel

Eeny Meeny Miney Meg, Chapter 2, Daniel

In chapter 1, we were introduced to Meg. This second chapter features her childhood friend, Daniel, and gives a bit of background.


Romance / Women's fiction


L.G. Westfield (France)

~~Daniel woke from a nightmare and looked at his bedside clock. It was only one o’clock, but knowing he wouldn’t get back to sleep, he went downstairs to make a hot drink.
From the kitchen window he could see Meg’s cottage was in darkness and was comforted to know that his childhood friend wasn’t also suffering from insomnia. His parents had told him she came back to her mother’s house after a painful divorce, and his heart ached for her when her mother died only a few months later.
Meg was like a kid sister to him, she had been his confidante and his best friend. Between the ages of two and fifteen, Meg and Daniel were inseparable.
His parents were a product of the sixties, but unlike most people of the flower power era, they never grew out of it. Their clothes were reminiscent of that hedonistic period; long flowing dresses for her and floral shirts over flared trousers for her husband.
At six next morning the blasting of a car horn brought Daniel fully awake again. He looked out of his bedroom window; his parents were ready to leave on a round-the-world trip in their green and white VW camper van. It was packed to the roof with equipment to last a year, but he suspected they’d be gone for longer - if they found their guru in India. This was one of the reasons he’d come back from Africa, they wanted him to look after the house, but truthfully, he was ready to return.
This was not a demonstrative family, so with a quick wave in the direction of their only son, Mr and Mrs O’Neill drove off.

Neither of Daniel’s parents had ever worked for a living, and this caused the boy acute embarrassment at school. Children find it hard to cope with somebody who is different; his classmates assumed that if a person didn’t work they were unemployed – or unemployable. It was non-stop taunting:-
“No wonder you’re so dirty Dan – don’t suppose your dad can afford soap.”
“Did you mother make those trousers out of her curtains?”
And occasionally
“You are so thin Dan; bet your parents can’t afford to feed you.”
Daniel never retaliated; he just retreated like a wounded animal and shared his pain with Meg.
As he reached teenage, he would mooch around the house searching for clues as to why his parents were so different from everybody else’s. And he had plenty of opportunities – Mr & Mrs O’Neill liked to take their old camper van along to pop festivals where they would spend afternoons and nights listening to music and meeting other people who had ‘dropped out’. It was during one of these weekends, that he discovered they had inherited a private income. It wasn’t a fortune but it was enough for them to exist, without getting out of bed too early - so they didn’t. They spent their lives enjoying music, making love not war, and smoking cannabis.
The O’Neills supported their son through university but had been surprised when he chose to study medicine,
“A doctor? But why? You’ll not have to work you know. We’ve been very frugal with our money, only touched the interest – the capital’s intact even now. “
“But I want to do something with my life, I want to help others. I know you and dad have enjoyed your lifestyle and are very happy to continue to do … whatever it is you do, but I need more.”
Mrs O’Neil looked amazed.
“I know the trust fund insists on paying for my education, and I am very grateful for that, but once I qualify I’ll be able to look after myself, so don’t worry about me.”
Not that you ever did, he thought.
Once Daniel had a goal to accomplish, he paid less attention to the school bullies. The knowledge of the trust fund gave him confidence to retaliate a little when the others teased him. He grew out of his skinny, gawky phase and became an attractive, youth, with a quiet considerate manner. At university he was popular with fellow students even though he remained aloof, and was reluctant to become closely involved with anybody. Until he met Amelie. She was a fellow medical student and was everything that Daniel was.
Amelie’s parents, both doctors, encouraged her in her career ambitions. They gave both moral and financial support and were often seen visiting their daughter on campus. They didn’t approve of her friendship with Daniel – he wasn’t of the same class they said. Amelie adored Daniel with the passion that comes with first love. Sadly, the feeling wasn’t reciprocated; Daniel was very fond of her, but he had his heart set on a career path that didn’t include a partner. She did all in her power to make him fall in love, and by the end of the long training period he had come to rely on her totally. She asked him to marry her and against his better judgement, he agreed. They were wed in the registry office near the University with just a few acquaintances as witnesses. Amelie’s parents were horrified when they heard the news; Daniel’s were relieved – it meant they didn’t have to worry about their son ever again.
When he graduated from medical school, and completed two years in the local hospital, Daniel dreamed of ‘making a difference’ Throughout those years working on the wards, Daniel and Amelie struggled to live the life of a happily married couple. It was incredibly tiring and sometimes they worked twenty-hour days. The hospital was frequently short-staffed and the young doctors were always exhausted.
Amelie saw her way out, and suggested to Daniel that they should start a family, but he just wasn’t ready for the responsibility of a new life. There were many arguments fuelled by exhaustion and desperation. But Daniel wouldn’t give in – he remembered his own dysfunctional childhood. At the end of her internship, Amelie gave her husband an ultimatum – let’s start a family or I will leave you.
Threatening didn’t work, and she returned to her parents complaining that Daniel was selfish and unreasonable. The parents were delighted and encouraged their daughter to seek a divorce on the grounds of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ even though she wasn’t emotionally ready for such a drastic step. Amelie confidently expected Daniel to come back to her.
Daniel licked his wounds in private and then decided how he was going to ‘make a difference’. He applied to Medecins sans frontières who were delighted to recruit such a well-qualified, young doctor. The charity posted him to Southern Sudan where he spent the next four years helping the third world, while at the same time increasing his medical expertise.
Daniel made himself a cup of red bush tea (a habit he’d acquired in Africa), and wandered into the neglected garden. He kicked an upturned galvanised pail that once covered the rhubarb, and righted another container that had been meant for herbs.
“I hope you’re going to do something about that dump!” said a voice from the other side of the privet hedge.
“Morning Meg, and how are you today?” he replied with a grin.
“So they’ve finally gone and left you in charge of the cottage?”
“That’s right. Peace and quiet at last. God knows I need it after a day at the hospital.”
“Are you telling me that you won’t be tidying the garden either?”
Meg badgered him– she hated the way her own plot was continually invaded by weed seeds from next door. Nettles, docks – and goodness knows what else.
“You know how it is; I need to keep my fingers clean for my work! My patients wouldn’t like to see me with dirt under my fingernails.”
“And how do you think I keep my hands clean Daniel?” she teased, “That’s why work gloves were invented!”
“Have you still got that funny little parrot of your Mum’s?”
“Yes, she made me promise to care for him.”
“He’s such a little character – what ‘s his name?”
“Colin – the conure. You’ve only been away four years – how could you forget!!”
“I’ve been really busy – life in the Sudan is just unimaginable. Those poor people have nothing.” He paused, he was glad to be back and to find Meg living next door, “ Meg, how are you now – I was sorry to hear about your Mum.”
Meg too, was happy to renew the acquaintance of her childhood friend,
“Are you home early tonight? I could do with a chat and a drink with someone I can talk to,” said Meg.
“Sure thing – I’ll be home sometime after eight – shall I bring a bottle round?”
“Done. I’ll make a spag’ bol’. See you later – have a good day!” and Meg disappeared inside her cottage, wondering what the evening had in store for her.

Competition: Friendly feedback, Round 2


Read Reviews

Review 1:

Compelling hook?


Strong characters?


Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout 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.
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.
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
Somewhat reminded me of the feeling you get when watching the movie The Notebook.