Monday, July 26, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #46

Three Lives
by Lissy Jones


I have one life left. Two I already gave away. To my daughters. I bought their lives with precious stones. One stone for one life. I don’t know where my daughters are. My husband gave them away instead of drowning them. But they live.

Three stones had been my dowry given to me by my mother.

“They will save you,” she had whispered when she slipped them into my hand the day of my wedding. Her mother had given them to her, but she didn’t need them. Her firstborn was a son, an heir, and that’s why she was allowed to live and I, the second child, too. Three times you may try to give birth to a son. Then your husband will kill you and take another wife. Such is the custom of our people. I could buy my life with a stone.

But I have only one stone left to plead for a life and in my arms I am holding my newborn daughter.

18 comments:

Oddyoddyo13 said...

What a tough choice! Now I want to know what happens...

JR's Thumbprints said...

At first I thought I was reading about some kittens, but soon found it not to be so.

Like Oddyoddyo13 says: tough choice!

Peter Dudley said...

Simply written and straightforward, direct in the presentation of the facts. I think the way you've written this indicates that she's detached herself from her own fate and has already decided to buy her daughter's life.

What's really interesting to me is the mother's statement that the gems will save her. Not "save your life," but "save you." As a father, I can think of no worse thing than losing my child. And I suspect that's even more true for mothers. With only three gems, clearly her mother knew the score. Three daughters means four lives.

I think this story was very carefully worded. Well done. I'm unconvinced of the integrity of the plot (where did her mom get the gems; and if they're dowry don't they become the husband's upon marriage; and if the only daughters allowed to live are the ones born after sons or the ones whose lives are bought, are there really enough women around for husbands to kill and take new wives?), but I still like this a lot.

Michael Morse said...

I like the way this just seems to flow. I may be mistaken, but it seems it just appeared as you were writing it, great work!

Angel Zapata said...

This is chock-full of story in very few words. Well done.

Jade L Blackwater said...

Painful and beautiful. I love how much emotion and conflict you manage to deliver in such a short word count.

Aimee Laine said...

Ouch. I can't even imagine life without my children or my children's lives without me. Great job!

Erratic Thoughts said...

My sympathies with her n I really really hope this piece was an invention.Powerful subject and beautifully written.Brilliant! :)

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Lissy

Yep, a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do. It isn't a sacrifice, she'll live on through her daughters, I wish they could know how she bought their lives with her own.

Dottie :)

fairyhedgehog said...

I found this quite powerful. How can a mother make a choice like this? I'm guessing the daughter will live.

Precie said...

Not a tough choice at all. ;) really, the mother doesn't get to raise her children or know their conditions. And it sounds like a world I wouldn't want to live in...so using the last gem to save a third daughter seems the only possible course. But then, yes, I'm a mom. Well-written and vivid!

Laurel said...

Powerful tension in the choices here. And really unique tie-in to the prompt.

Laurel said...

Powerful tension in the choices here. And really unique tie-in to the prompt.

JaneyV said...

I thought this was a really strong and powerful piece. I took it that the stones were passed from mother to daughter at their wedding. Perhaps they get them by agreeing to raise another's child once they are 'safe' having birthed a male heir. However it comes about it's a wonderful plot device for and intriguing story.

And I can't imagine it's a choice anybody wants to make...

Deb Smythe said...

A powerful piece.

I can see how Pete would be bothered by the dowry aspect. Still, I didn't focus on the word so much as the action. The fact that her mother "slipped" the gems into her hands and "whispered" to her, evoked secrecy and made me think this was a mother-daughter tradition even before it was spelled out.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks so much for your comments everybody. A friend sent me this site and I'm thrilled!
Lissy

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

This makes me wonder what is in store for her daughters, who have no jewels with which to bargain - for their own lives or those of their daughters.

Word verification: dingo. For reals.

Vincent Kale said...

A brutal choice and a bad streak of luck for our narrator. Even if she saves this daughter, she's out of gems and leaves the next child to chance. But even then, she won't have any stones left to pass on. So many sad, but honest, choices here.

I like how you've tied a bit of a fantasy aspect into a real world problem, where overpopulated countries prize sons over daughters. Nicely done!