Friday, July 23, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #27

Early Riser
by T.M. Riddle


There was nothing that Mary Francis hated more than cleaning out the chicken coup and collecting the eggs. Everyone else was still warm and sleeping in the house while she picked though the straw filled with droppings and held her breath against the smell. She made sure that she handled each egg so that it didn’t break. Any evidence of a broken or cracked shell and she would be the one without breakfast.

Mary looked down into the basket. She had only found three eggs. They always laid four. If she didn’t find it now, then she’d be looking for a rotten egg later. She thrust her hand back into the coup and began to rummage around. It had to be there somewhere. Then she grasped something that felt strange. It wasn’t warm; it was cool, and felt like glass. She closed her hand around it and drew it out just as the sun was beginning to rise. She opened her hand and the morning light glinted off the jewel she held. It looked like something she’d seen in the movies that she and Claire went to. She remembered something Father had read in the paper about a robbery and how she had thought she had heard someone running through the yard last night.

She dug her hand into the straw, greedy now and came up with two more jewels. She dropped them down into her rubber boots. She’d leave the ruby under Claire’s pillow before she caught the train.

17 comments:

Aniket said...

The early bird does get the worm! :D
A well crafted piece.


On a complete different note, it your name that caught my eye. Is that your real name? You know where I'm going with this right? :P

Aimee Laine said...

At first I thought Mary Francis might be young but I'm assuming with the 'train' notation that she's not?

jelismorgan said...

And if I were Claire, and woke up with a ruby under my pillow, I'd think I died and went to heaven! Very entertaining!

Peter Dudley said...

I was reading thinking, "Oh boy, that's a valuable chicken. It's got the goose with the golden eggs beat by a mile." Then I read about the robber. Sometimes fate smiles on the hardworking.

Two other thoughts:
1: What kind of stupid thief puts his booty right where someone is guaranteed to go looking?

2. I think you mean "chicken coop," not "chicken coup." Unless it was the chicken that stole the jewels. That indeed would be a massive coup for a chicken.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Bet she wouldn't mind looking through the chicken coop now!

Aerin said...

Aniket, I know where you're going. If TMR actually wrote this piece, I think it should win just so we all don't get Avada Kedavra-d.

Having her suddenly remember hearing someone in the yard last night threw me - it might be a better way to begin that to put it in the middle as an obvious tell.

Jade L Blackwater said...

Nice and complete - you tell us a lot in a short space, and I love how the narrator is whisked away by the end.

JR's Thumbprints said...

There's a few spelling errors, but it doesn't distract from the story. And yes ... it made me think about Jack & the Beanstalk.

Michael Morse said...

I like the way this made me think about family members left behind. I don't know if that is what you meant but that's what I got from the story.

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi T.M. Riddle!

(Love the name!)

This truly is a case of the early bird and the worm. Hard work always pays!

Dottie :)

fairyhedgehog said...

I love how close this sticks to the prompt and yet is completely unexpected and I like the happy ending.

Joni said...

The closing line clinched it for me.

Very nice work.

JaneyV said...

I wish her well on her journey into a new life away from the cruelty and drudgery of home. I was left wondering if perhaps the thief left them for her to provide an escape for her and Claire...

Lovely story T.M.

Laurel said...

I leaned toward fairy tale/mystical realism until She remembered something Father had read in the paper about a robbery and how she had thought she had heard someone running through the yard last night.

I love the story arc and how this windfall represents a new beginning for Mary Francis. A couple of the details could be tighter, for my liking. I assumed the robbery and hiding of the jewels would have taken place near the same time and if so the appearance of the story in the paper seems early. You collect eggs first thing in the morning, right? She's not getting any breakfast if she doesn't find the fourth egg.

Aside from the nit-picks, I liked it a lot. Nice tone overall.

SzélsőFa said...

i did like the story, the voice and the flowing. it reminded me of Tess d'Urbenville.
it wonder why she leaves Claire there instead of fleeing with her in a pair.
great job.

Vincent Kale said...

That sneaky jewel thief stole the 4th egg too. How greedy! Serves him right.

I loved the twist at the end, though I wished the narrator would have grabbed Claire and pulled her along on the escape/adventure.

Catherine Vibert said...

My maternal fear instincts kicked off when I got to the end. I can imagine the wayward thief coming back to find his loot, and some horrible holdup and kidnapping and all kinds of horrible things happening next. happening at the house. But that's just me. Fun story!