WeWriWa—Nightmarish development

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

I’m now returning to my alternative history, with the working title A Dream of Peacocks. It starts on May Day 1274, when Dante met his great love and muse Beatrice Portinari, and will give them an eventual happy ending, with lots of Sturm und Drang.

This comes from Chapter XVI, “Permanently Broken Bond,” a few pages after last week’s excerpt. It’s now 1287, and Dante is 22 years old, married for the last two and a half years to Gemma Donati. He was summoned home when Gemma unexpectedly went into labor about two months early, but is barred from the birthing room due to the customs of the era.

After spending the rest of the day with his much-younger halfsiblings and a near-sleepless night, he’s been awakened by a barrage of noise.

I raced down the hall towards my room and flung the door open to a sight I shall never forget even if I’m blessed to live as long as Moses. A tiny infant with a distorted, still body lay in a basin. His skin was bright red, his mouth was dark purple, and his mouth and eyes were wide open, as though frozen in a silent scream. Gemma also was unnaturally still, and the bed linens were soaked with blood.

Gemma let out a small moan, and I rushed to her side.

“The baby was stuck, and then we discovered he was in the wrong position,” the taller of the midwives began. “By the time we managed to maneuver the child out, his neck, shoulders, and limbs were broken. Madonna Gemma also lost a great deal of blood during the entire delivery, and it got worse when we extracted the afterbirth.  I’m afraid it’s too late to save her. We sent your manservant to fetch a priest for Last Rites, but Madonna Gemma might already in the other world by the time he arrives.”

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

I knelt by the bed and took Gemma’s hand. She had a faint, weak pulse, though her skin was deathly grey, and she didn’t move or attempt to speak. Her only other sign of life was the muffled moaning.

“Please forgive me for not being a perfect husband to you,” I whispered. “May God speed your soul to Paradise.”

Author: Carrie-Anne

Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

4 thoughts on “WeWriWa—Nightmarish development”

  1. Today we know that childbirth has its risks, but nothing near to what they were in pst eras. This scenario, while horrific and terribly sad, was quite common in the Middle Ages and into the 20th century. You decribe it unflinchingly, giving the reader a clear picture of the perils of the time. Great snippet! Tweeted.

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