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"What are you doing?"

She was already buried in a mountain of papers and typing madly onto her computer, eyes feverish from the light of the screen that cast a sickly pallor upon her skin.  Her lackluster hair hung limply from where she had tried to pull it back.  She waved her husband off, ignoring his question.

He stood there somewhat awkwardly, papers crackling beneath his feet in the tiny, dark, run-down room.   His dark eyes flitted from side to side.  He removed his cracked spectacles and tried cleaning them with the hem of his dirty shirt then replaced them on his nose, as dirty as ever.

"Obituaries."  She finally gasped, wasting precious breath.  She ripped open a new packet of paper, ignoring the sheets that spilled out, and stuffed it into the overworked printer which was spouting out page after page.  She had run out of black ink and had switched to pink.

"Um…"  He gnawed on his bottom lip.  "Okay.  Well, we need to go see the doctor now.  We have an appointment.  And traffic.  So much traffic."  His eyes darted back to the printer where another finished document swooped into the air, teetered there for a second, and drifted down to ever-growing pile on the floor.  "You sure bought a lot of paper.  Must have been expensive.  How are we going to pay for heat?  It's going to get cold.  So cold."  He chuckled nervously when she didn't turn.

He stooped down to pick up a sheet and brought it close to his face to discern letters in the poor lighting.  "David Matthew Howard."  He read aloud.  "Died at the age of 67 of a heart attack.  Lawyer, father, and son.  Loved by everyone."  He stopped.  "Who is this?  Why are you writing this?"  He picked up another and muttered the first few lines as well.  "David Matthew Howard.  Died at the age of 94.  A man with a heart-of-gold, loved by everyone.  Talented artist…"  He trailed off.  "We're going to be late.  So late.  Come on.  The doctor."

She shook her head and grunted.  "I'm not finished."

The printer spit out several more pages.  David Matthew Howard.  A mathematician on one, a pilot on another.  Writer, teacher, hobo, engineer, professional athlete, actor-all dying at different ages of different causes yet miraculously loved by everyone.

"Honey.  The doctor."  The husband was getting frantic now.  Sweat beaded on his nose and forehead.  He fiddled with his dirty glasses.  "We're going to be so late.  Traffic.  C'mon."

Her hands went limp against the keyboard and she turned.  "He could have been someone great."  Her hand trailed to her stomach, as flat as ever.  "In this world the possibilities are endless."

He blinked, taking one last look at the onslaught of paper with sudden disgust.  "The fetus can't be anything.  Now the doctor.  C'mon. So much traffic.  And the heating bill.  Ugh, so much paper."

The printer gave one last shudder, ejecting its last sheet, and went clumsily to sleep.  "Maybe he could.  But you won't give him a chance, will you."
Submitting to the current #RawEm0tion theme which is about shameless self promotion. (:

Inspired by the prompt "mother" from =DailyLitDeviations's 7 Day Prompt Contest.

Also inspired by the prompt "Obituary" from #quill-cafe

I killed two birds with one stone.


1) Do you understand what's happening in this piece?
2) What sort of atmosphere do you detect in this piece?
3) What can I do to improve this piece?
Add a Comment:

Daily Deviation

Given 2011-03-08
In honor of International Women's Day, Mother by *vital-organs explores the dedication of a mother to her child in five hundred words. ( Featured by GwenavhyeurAnastasia )
MeesterTweester Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2015
I understand now... it's very sad.

There's a lot going on in this work, but I can still see what's going on.
skatergreene Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
all i can say is wow. one thing that really stood out to me, was the way you showed that the decision to abort isnt always JUST the mother's decision.
immortality-in-words Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
1. Woman is about to get an abortion that she doesn't want.
2. I can sense the tension. I sensed almost a dystopic atmosphere to it. It sort of made me wonder what period of time it was happening. The attitude of the husband, how nervous he was, sort of made me think of him as the victim for a bit though.
3. I think it was pretty good. I also like that you revealed the topic at the end. Let the tension build.

My five cents on this controversial issue: I'm not pro-life, but I think that abortion is the woman's choice, be it whether she wants an abortion, or if she doesn't want one.
latinocheater Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
This here emotionally touched me. Rather endearing piece right here. I love how you made us deduct what really happened. Amazing. You deserve the DD. :)
gummyrabbit Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2011  Student Writer
oh, this is so sad... =(

to answer the questions:
1. Yes, it wasn't confusing at all. I was unsure of what was going on at the beginning, which is a good thing, but by the end I had figured it out.
2. I would describe the atmosphere as dark and slightly desperate. The mother's love for her son keeps it from being depressing, and makes it extremely sad instead. Again, I would say that this is an extremely good thing in terms of the writing.
3. I really can't see how you could improve it, except maybe changing the dialouge of the man a bit, because it seemed slightly unnatural when he repeated himself (i.e. it's going to get cold. so cold.) but that's hardly a problem at all, I had to wrack my brains to find anything wrong.

Anyway, this is a wonderful, touching piece of literature. Congratulations on the DD!
akaRoger Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2011  Student Photographer
1. Yes, it is a wonderfully written piece about a woman whose husband is making her get an abortion and her peculiar way of dealing with it.
2. One of a desperate couple living in poverty with barely enough money to support themselves let alone a child.
3. Honestly, I would call this a a completed piece. I'm trying to look for nitpicky things at this point and I can't find anything that I would want changed.

Congrats on the DD!
Sachi-pon Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1. not exactly... something about a dead fetus, that the woman is sad about. but i have to read the story over and over, and read the comments, to figure out what's happening. so, the woman really does do obituaries for a newspaper? or she's just writing them on her own to mourn the dead baby? does the man even care what the woman thinks?
2. frantic, under pressure
3. maybe at the end, make things clearer, reveal what's happening at the end. i mean you did but it's a little hard to understand!
Sachi-pon Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
oh and, did she have the abortion? about to have it? had it a while ago? might have it? might not?
Haiyun Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
1. Husband wants the wife to abort her child because they are too poor and cannot afford to support it. Wife thinks otherwise.
2. tense, lingering hope
3. I think it's fine as is, though saying 'fetus' as the word itself kind of makes the passage too direct. It kind of feels like everything is revealed in that one line instead of letting the reader figure it out.

Great piece though. I really like the flow and how you revealed the story little by little :]
mysticross Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
nice piece of story :)

but I think, the phrase "he could", it's ambiguous:
1. she already had the abortion...
2. she already gave up all her hope...
phantomdragons Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
1) they're going to go get a abortion, dad (possibly forcing her to do this) is getting insisting on going while Mom is writing obituaries for their unborn son. Father has a different view than the mother does.
2) frantic
3)I dunno it's pretty awesome
drbonescomics Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow. This is an amazingly moving piece. I feel bad that the highest way I can honor this is by merely putting it into my faves.
Rhaylee Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I have to admit, I had to read the comments to understand what's happening. But now i get it, it's wonderful writing!
bRoKeNgRiN Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Interesting piece. I like how you did this. I can't describe how I feel about it much more than just saying I liked it. Short and to the point, but a nice read with some thought behind it. Great job. As for your questions:

1) Yes, I believe I understand. I suppose the loss had just happened, and things are being left on the wayside by the wake of the tragedy, at least in the woman's perspective. Although you could pin this abstraction from reality as being mostly attributed to the woman I guess I could see it as being in part the man as well since he too seems to be distracted, focusing on unimportant details and also failing to pay for the heat and such.

2) It seems random at the beginning, just odd, but as the piece moves toward the ending, you can detect two flavors: solemnity and hurt. Although the woman demonstrates this quite clearly,I feel like the man demonstrates this as well in the manner I mentioned earlier.

3) Maybe tweak the language a bit, add more description. It's certainly not necessary, but little details can make a huge difference. If there would be anything else to improve I almost wish you could expand on it, but with a piece like this it would seem difficult to do.

Congrats on the daily deviation!
AlecWolfe Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
Wow. I had no idea where this was going from the start but by the end I couldn't look away. What a loving and tragic story. Really well done. Congrats on a DD well deserved. :heart:
lilfixit Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
1) I'm pretty sure her husband is pressuring her to get an abortion. I would go with the miscarriage or stillborn theory as it's slightly more pleasant to think about than her husband wanting her to get an abortion that she doesn't want, but they are using present tense at the bottom of the piece.
However, it's confusing that her stomach is flat as ever, but I've interpreted that as she's not showing yet.
2) The wife really doesn't want to get an abortion and is really unhappy. There's a very desperate feeling and a lot of despair as well. I identify more with the woman, the husband seems very cold and distant and more concerned about money than his wife.
3) The husband seems really pathetic. I feel like both characters would be really weak in real life if the wife is listening to him when all he can repeat is "Traffic. C'mon." I mean it gives you a sense that the husband doesn't want to think about abortion in that way either and is just really ignorant in general. I guess that could be why the wife is desperate though, maybe she got married to him when she was young and they both had different world views and this event is a breaking point for her, she's finally fighting back at him or going crazy about listening to him at least. I don't know how you would improve that, I mean there are definitely people in real life like the husband, I just don't feel like he's represented very well but he is very easy to dislike and that could be a good thing if you're trying to support the idea that abortion is harmful.

Those are my interpretations.
lilfixit Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
I also want to add that I love how all the abortions said "loved by everyone." It adds a lot to how the wife is feeling. She feels guilty about not giving the fetus a chance, like it never had a chance to be loved but she wanted so much for it and wanted to love it. She wants/wanted the baby to be loved and it's going to die without anyone knowing who it is.
flying-katana Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
1: She's writing hypothetical obituaries for the child she's about to have aborted.
2: Frantic, dark, and that certain quality that's reminiscent of a mental facility in a really good way.
3: I would have liked the husband to use longer sentences and not say "so ___" as often, but that's just my sense of aesthetic talking.
spygirl48 Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Student Digital Artist
DEFINITELY wasn't expecting the end. Very moving.
Ginnabean Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
This is amazingly powerful. In terms of formatting, watch for things like dialogue tags - even if your sentence ends with a period, you do a comma, because the tag is still part of the sentence.

Instead of: "Dialogue." She said.
Do: "Dialogue," she said.

Also, double spaces after periods are no longer "correct" or whatever. But that's generally a matter of personal preference in fiction.

Of the subject matter I can critique nothing. This is a truly amazing way of showing what you wanted to show. So creative and touching and painful.

1) I'd like to think so? XD But I won't presume to know authorial intent. I understand the basic plot, at least.
2) I get a claustrophobic, trapped atmosphere where communication is lost.
3) Whoops, listed my typographical issues above. XD Other than that, the only thing I could suggest is making the ending a *little* more clear. Since he's insisting that she go to the doctor, I initially got the impression that she was still pregnant, and that her husband wasn't feeling as positively about the child as she was. On the second read-through of the last few paragraphs it made sense, but with something as important as an ending, it's better to hold the reader's hand a little. As my creative writing prof says, "don't be coy."
AkihikoKiryu Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
I love it. I didn't understand it at first but now I do.

1.) The mother is typing up the things her son could have been, while the husband is telling her to hurry so they can go have an abortion.

2.) sense an heavy depressing atmosphere along with nervousness and sadness.

3.) I think you did just fine.
lolhahawut Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
Nice piece! Love the form and presentation. Great job!
Anguishing-Misery Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
1. Their son died and the was-to-be mother is writing obituaries for all the things he could have been and the life he could have lived did they get an abortion maybe ?

2. sadness and loneliness

3. Maybe a couple more hints as to how their child died if he actually did

all in all it was great ^^ glad i got to read this
Mothhawk Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
1) Somewhat

2) anger, hopelessness, regret

3) It's best as is. Mysterious and can be interpreted in different ways.
TheRealSouthDakota Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
Wait, she wants to keep the baby but she's getting an abortion... are they poor?
Ithilaur Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
This is a beautiful piece, and so sad too. It made me want to cry. . . Wonderful writing. :heart:
InReal3D Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
1) Yes
2) Bereavement, confusion, mesmerised by grief. It's surreal - she recognises what has happened but she won't let herself believe it.
3) Nothing. Leave it just as it is. It is brilliant.

You're incredibly talented.
LadyKylin Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist
This was fantastic, the only thing I could think of to improve this would be to actully I don't know. I really don't know. This was just amazeing. The way you led the reader around not quite sure what they were reading but wanting to know, and the surreal but cramp and stiflling feel was quite well done. The way it only hit's home until the last bit and you don't expect it was homehitting. Probably one of the best peices of lit I've read on DA for a long long while, and it really explores the issues of abortion as well in a way that deosn't take away from the peice.
neverforgethem14 Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
giddymangaka Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
I... want to cry now TT^TT

An amazing short piece about abortion... it's just... wow...

And I adore how you hinted about how the husband is worried about financial costs for the child with that heating comment there. Really clever :)
BurningRoseBud Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
1)at first I was a bit confused, but I understood soon after I had finished the reading

2)It gives me the feeling of love, great rush to do something to remember this life that probably will not live. It leaves me appalled when her husban reads the obituaries and says that the baby can be nothing; he uses the term fetus, maybe to make it seem distant and like an unliving thing, more scinetifical than human.
I can't believe he is not afected in any way by what his wife is doing.

3)it does not need to be improved, it's great, I didn't read stuff like that in a wile
MellieBels Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Student Digital Artist
O-o ...interesting.....
Princessnapped Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Okay, umh, I'm just gonna try and comment!

1) Do you understand what's happening in this piece?
-I think so, yes. She had a baby, but it died, probably stillborn, and she lost her sanity due to this. She is not so well off anymore, and is obsessed with her baby, David, correct? Her husband is not so happy with this, and the doctor is the one who is trying to restore her sanity.

2) What sort of atmosphere do you detect in this piece?
It's... surreal. It's not pleasant, but I like it either way. It pulls you in, but it's very surreal and confusing, until you re-read it several times.

3) What can I do to improve this piece?
I honestly don't know, I'm no good at this! I like it as it is, anyway.
Wizard-Queen-Evelyn Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1. Yes I do.
2. A somewhat hostile atmosphere that feels cramped and unrelenting.
3. I think maybe a few more obituaries written out with the ages and the professions, instead of just listing them very quickly might have helped build up more tension so that when the ending came it REALLY hit home. But other than that, I thought it was very well written.
greenhollyhox Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
D= That... was both amazing and devastating. The obituaries... and the hand on her stomach... and the mood of the whole piece. Once I realized what was going on I wanted to cry.

Congrats on the DD, I think it's well-deserved.
luthien-surion Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
oh wow... this is beautiful. i don't really know what to say. i didn't quite get what was actually going on until the very end, but it was good because i was so hooked, trying to understand what the mother was trying to say...

congrats on the DD!
KatharsisAmok Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
Concept disturbs & saddens me, having quite the brood of my own... It's an excellent piece of work, though. I thought you conveyed your story very clearly & got it immediately. Just the fact that it bothers me so much is a testament to the fact that you did an awesome job of hitting those emotional buttons.
HostileMoonlight Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Beautiful piece. I think it's pretty clear what it's about, love the way you didn't make it all too obvious though, leaves more impact on the reader.
Probably you don't want overly emotional comments but I feel I need to tell you it actually made me cry. If it hadn't been for somebody's last-minute decision 22 years ago, I wouldn't have even had the chance to deserve an obituary.
vital-organs Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Writer

Thank you for your kind comment and I'm happy that that decision was made in your case.
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011   Writer
From :iconunconventional-story: and all who work there, big CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!! :iconfireworkplz:
YoungLink19 Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
To your questions:

1) Yes, if what is happening is indeed what I think the story is about - the husband wants the wife to abort her child, and the wife responses in a clear but indirect way.

2) Before the end of the story, it felt like the wife was doing her own work while the husband was urging her for a checkup. As the story goes on, the husband was revealed to be hostile. The air was tense.

3) I honestly do not know. Perhaps the husband's true intention was revealed a bit too early, but the story is just fine as it is.
TheJoBo Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh. Oh my goodness. This is amazing, the twists and turn of the plot, that sickening feeling you realize what's happening. Delightfully haunting. :star: :heart:
ReitaLOVE818 Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
Congrats on the DD!!! :D
peridot-magelette Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
oh! my goodness. wow.
KeeperoftheRealms Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Student General Artist
I agree with the first commenter that said that this "hits you in the gut" when you realize what's happening. At first, the would-be mother frantically seems like a madwoman that he husband tries to care for her mental state, and suddenly the curtain pulls back and you realize that he's the one that's causing it. Powerful, haunting, incredible.
that-spooky-kid Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011
Words cannot describe my love for this. I am an avid pro-life supporter, and . . . well, I have no words. Thank you for writing this. Congratulations on the DD.
faerywitch Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Very interesting! Very interesting indeed! I really liked how you developed the piece.
1) I think I do. She is pregnant and he is pushing for an abortion, she obviously does not want that, but also she is not standing against it so strongly as to say "no". Maybe she is having last minute regrets? maybe she gave up fighting for her unborn child? Maybe she values more a marriage that does not value the life in her than walking away with her child?
2) Atmosphere, tense, frantic, a little on the mental break down side.
3) I can't offer suggestions, I know not much about writing ;)
Solarune Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011   Writer
>.< I'm sorry – I meant to say congrats on the DD, not DLD. Apologies, don't know where my brain is today!
Solarune Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011   Writer
Oh wow. This is amazingly well-written; I love the way you've shown the tension between them, and all the different possibilities.
Congrats on the DLD. :)
Vanessanon Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2011  Professional Writer
1)the husband wants her to have an abortion; she can see a future - the future of her unborn child. He sees only the financial cost involved.
2)the atmosphere is tense, but different to each of them. He has one thing on his mind and is frustrated by what he clearly sees as a waste of effort on her part. She also has frustration, but a small amount of excitement at what her child could become - if only he could see it...Awkwardness, i can feel the awkward feelings he has about the whole 'matter'
3)Only editing errors - I think it is perfect just the way it is.
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