I went to a women's meeting last night that meets in our community. A few of the women there know that I am an aspiring writer, and it was fun to talk about the projects I'm working on. Unfortunately, I didn't have much to report because my writing has been such a dead end lately. Fortunately, they were very encouraging, and I'm ready to try again.
Plot development seems to be my weakness. I love character development and exposition, but I can never seem to get the plot off the ground satisfactorily. That is why I'm only halfway through Marilyn Marlin. It doesn't help that several of the people who have read it hate the main character's name and personality. Well, I like her, and I like how dismal she is, and I'd rather have people hate her than be bored by her- so she stays the way she is.
I am going to try, try again. Here is the second half of chapter one.
So instead of quitting, she simply nodded and muttered under her breath, “I will take care of her for her sake, but never for yours. And I will do my best to make sure she turns out nothing like you.”
Miss Fanny arrived at Mrs. Marlin’s house every weekday at noon with her cats. She departed at four o’clock. During the four hours of her shift, she did her best to take care of Marilyn as much as possible. For those four hours, Marilyn was fed, clothed, and loved. Even the cats enjoyed lying next to her because she was such a quiet baby. She was on her own for weekends and for the other twenty hours of the day.
Mrs. Marlin was almost always home watching television or chatting on the phone, but she managed to ignore the cries of her baby girl.
Through no fault of Mrs. Marlin, Marilyn was a very practical child. When Marilyn was two weeks old, she learned not to cry anymore. It simply did no good. By the time she was one, she had figured out how to change her own diaper, and dress herself. At the age of five, after watching a television program that talked about children going to school, she enrolled herself in the local kindergarten, learned the route, fixed her own breakfast, and walked herself to school and back every day.
Miss Fanny was usually waiting for her when she came home, and between school and the afternoon hours with the housekeeper, her life was almost happy. Miss Fanny had one beautiful feature, and that was her smile. When Miss Fanny smiled, Marilyn could almost believe that the world was a less intimidating place than she had thought. Unfortunately, Miss Fanny rarely smiled.
Marilyn Marlin was mediocre at school. She brought home C’s on her report cards, and learned the basics, but she often felt just as invisible there as she did at home. It took almost the entire school year for the other students to learn her name, and teachers never seemed to call on her.
Sometimes she tried talking to her mother, but no matter what she said, her mother would always respond, “I’m busy, Sweetie-Pie, go see if Miss Fanny can help you.” Mrs. Marlin said this no matter what time of day it was.
Life fell into a predictable pattern for Marilyn, until one Tuesday when she was eight years old, something changed. Miss Fanny and her cats never arrived. Miss Fanny had never been late before.
Marilyn waited and waited, and worried.
That evening, she forced herself to try to talk to her mother.
“Mother,” she asked,“Do you know where Miss Fanny is?”
“I’m busy, Sweetie-Pie.”
“But, Miss Fanny never came to day,” Marilyn said hopelessly.
“Not now, Sweetie-Pie.”
“Mother, where is Miss Fanny?”
For a moment, it looked as if Mrs. Marlin would simply continue watching television and ignore Marilyn, but Marilyn was so desperate and worried, that she tried something she had never tried before. She stood in front of the television.
“Marilyn, what are you doing?!
“Where is Miss Fanny?” Marilyn asked again, looking down timidly at her undersized feet.
“Who? Oh…yes, sweetie-pie. She died. Dreadfully inconsiderate of her in the middle of the week.”
“She died?” Marilyn gasped weakly.
“Yes, but she was only a housekeeper. Close your mouth, Sweetie-pie, and move over. I’m missing my shows.”
Marilyn wandered weakly into her bedroom. She curled up in the crib that her mother had never bothered to replace with a bed and stared at the wall. She could not have known how drastically her life was about to change. She only knew that she had lost her only real mother, and the only person whose smile could make her feel that the world might not be such an intimidating place after all.