I am taking part in Writer in Motion this month, bringing a short story from First draft to polished edits before your very eyes. You can read more about it here
Here is the second draft, my self-edited version of my short story based on the photo below: Gloves
by Belinda Grant
Another box of twenty gloves arrived.
I walk to Doveton to pick them up and suffer under Max’s suspicious gaze. “What do you do with all those gloves?” He asks for the seventeenth time. What was I supposed to say? I give a bland smile and fled away, holding the box to my chest as if I could hide behind such a flimsy thing.
I should’ve avoided town today. After last night the stares are worse than normal, and that’s saying something. No pretext of politeness, people stop mid-sentence as I come into view. But I know what they’re saying. About the boat, and how weird things didn’t used to happen in their precious town. I feel their eyes on my Lizzie Bennett Dress, the gloves, the hair piled up high. Dad’s idea to make the gloves seem part of an eccentric fashion statement, and not a precaution against disaster.
But the gloves aren’t why people stare. Not today.
I see Davison exist the butchers and I speed up to a gentle run, pretending a I don’t hear his “Hannah” as I head down the street.
At least the box is light. The sun beats down as I lift my dress to run between the shade pooled at the base of the ghost-gums. Doveton is beautiful if you only look with your eyes. Dad says there is no point in moving on, that everywhere will be hard at first. Make more of an effort Hannah. He doesn’t feel the stares. I want to move to the hippy Hills, where people believe that crystals help a cold and cards will warn of your impending death. Where strange is a draw card.
I arrive home and go straight to the glove room. I drop my box on top of another, this one with ‘four hours’ scrawled in red texta on the side.
Dinner’s quiet. Sadie takes turns glaring at me and Mum. Mum because she has to stay at the table and not use her phone. Me because of last night, and the way her friends pull back from her after an ‘incident’. One day of my life, one tea-spoon of my suffering, and she looks at me with daggers. Cow.
Father stirs his remaining peas around his plate, trailing gravy across the plate.
“I’ve ordered two more replica vases.”
Mum puts down her wine. “I told you I didn’t want us doing that anymore.”
“We need the money. What happens if this boat thing blows up? We’ll need savings until we find our feet somewhere new. Precautions.” No one looks at me.
Father strikes the table with his fist and the peas jump.
“I don’t mind.” I lay my forehead on the vases, and I see the lives they could have lived. Peonies, Gerberas, tulips and roses. Views of lounge rooms from the mantel, as the Vase watches down on families growing up and growing old.
And forged antiques make good money.
“We didn’t ask you Hannah.” Snaps Mum, and Sadie chews on a carrot and smirks at me.
Maybe I should go without them. Quit school and find a job in the city. Save precious Sadie from all her suffering. And myself from Davison’s gaze.
I can’t sleep that night. I put on a four-hour pair of gloves. They’re yellowed and worn, they could be my Grandmothers. I press a gloved finger to my forehead and I watch, as if on screen, what could have been. Debutant balls and costume parties. A life, rather than a few small hours protecting everything around me as I pull on my boots and head to the creek.
The boat sits, leaning against the bank like it’s been there for years. So different from the day before. Why couldn’t I leave it alone? But there was something about that varnished wood glowing in the late afternoon sun. A stupid compulsion and it was twenty years older in an instant.
But today it’s deliberate. I pull off one glove and press my hand against the side. The wood is worn, and splinters dig into my skin.
“You should keep going. Just to be safe.” How is it that Davison, who knows so little, can always guess where I’ll be? I rest my forehead against the hull to try to block out his presence and watch the life the boat should have had. Adventures down the river, beers on the deck.
Davison is like a spinning magnet, cycling round from repellent to attractive. I sit beside him, and we wait. The boat lives out hundreds of years in minutes, crumpling to dust and settling into the river under the stars.
“It’s just a boat Hannah, don’t feel bad. Your hands are amazing.” He reaches for one, and I let him take it, almost feeling his skin through the faded fabric.
“We could leave Doveton together.”
He gets stared at too. Would it be so wrong? To have a friend, who saw me as the heroine not the witch?
A friend who knew what it was like to be a miracle and a curse.
A baby’s face flashes over the handsome grown one. Choking and gasping for breath, his preemie lungs struggling against a simple cold. Too small and weak to fight it off. What else could I do? I whipped off a glove and placed it on his tiny chest. But I wasn’t quick enough.
“Hannah.” He reaches for my face and I let him take it, resting my forehead against his. And I see the years I took. Baby Davison learning to walk, then giggling boy, jumping the waves. Then ten, shooting hoops with this Dad.
Repellent again. I stand up and run.
I don’t listen, I just run and run.
And the gloves on my hands crumple to dust.
So what did Self-Editing involve?
-Giving it a 48 hours of space to get some distance
-Proof reading for typos, tense mistakes, and sentences that didn’t make sense.
-Clearing up things that I knew were issues with clarity, like making more obvious Davison’s back story.
-Cutting words to get it below the 1K (I cut about 100 words I believe)
-Reading through it around ten times, tinkering with every go.
-And I settled on the title “Gloves.” Might change, but I tend to prefer simple titles that don’t give away too much.
Here is a screen shot of my track changes, to give you a sense of how much the story changes from first draft to self-edited second draft.
I’m looking forward to the next round, where fellow writers go through my piece and give me feedback. This has been so helpful with my novel writing, I can’t wait to see how it tightens and improves Hannah’s story.