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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » The Pregnant Cuckoo (Flash Fiction)

   
Author Topic: The Pregnant Cuckoo (Flash Fiction)
Delli
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Revised Version

The contraction ripped through me as the investigating officer gestured toward the opposite chair. I looked straight at him.
“I think I’m going to die.”
He glanced at me and then carried on looking at the papers in front of him as if I had said nothing.
“So, it says here that you are pregnant,” the investigating officer finally looked up from his paper shuffling.
“Oh no,” I said. “It must be mistaken; I’ve just overindulged on Trans fats”
“No, no. I think you will find that you are pregnant” he said.
“Really! How on Earth did that happen?”
“Well, have you had any sexual intercourse lately?” he asked.
“Not lately. Perhaps around thirty-eight weeks ago”


First Version

The first contraction ripped through me as the investigating officer motioned for me to sit down in the chair opposite him. I looked straight at him.
“I think I’m going to die,” I said.
He glanced at me and then carried on looking at the papers in front of him as if I had said nothing.
At that first contraction, I decided that humans are stupid and that’s obviously why they keep having our children.
“So, it says here that you are pregnant,” the investigating officer finally looked up from his paper shuffling.
“Oh no,” I said. “It must be mistaken, I’ve just overindulged on trans fats”
“No, no. I think you will find that you are pregnant” he said.

[ November 19, 2011, 03:07 AM: Message edited by: Delli ]

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Bent Tree
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i was a bit frustrated by the intro. Simply because, as written in the first, this has a great deal of squandered potential. especially in regard to the lack of deep sarcastic POV elements. Send it over and I will give it a read and show you in detail what I am referring to...
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Delli
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Awesome! Thank you. I have sent it through.
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Crank
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I'm curious to see where this goes. Send it my way.

S!
S!


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Delli
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Thank you Crank! Have sent it through
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RyanRussellLunde
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I would enjoy reading on and giving a critique if you are looking for more.

[This message has been edited by RyanRussellLunde (edited September 26, 2011).]


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Denevius
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hello. i thought the first line was a little overloaded and had to read it more than once to figure out what you meant. lots of questions are left that will probably be revealed in the entire story. you didn't mention how long the story is. how long is it? i might be interested to read more if it's not too long.
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Dame
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Hi,

Does the MC think she is going to die? I wasn't sure. It seemed undecided as to whether she was flippant or serious.

You have a line of dialogue and one of action, then go back to "at that first contraction." Perhaps it would be smoother to have the decision about humans at that moment rather than later. It feels a little clunky to move around like you do.

Her comment about trans fats seems flippant. I have no idea what she is up to or feeling so I care little for her. My credibility is strained that the cop hasn't noticed the contractions "ripping" through her. In births, contractions usually start slow, so the first would not be so strong - I think I just got into hypercrit mode...

So is the MC human? Humans are stupid for having "our" children, but she is giving birth - so is she human or other? I think it is important to be clear, and I have no idea.

I like the style and voice, sharp and sassy and wry. I'm a little uncertain from this whether it will be a fun read, or whether the author can be trusted with my emotions. Indeed, I'm uncertain what the author wanted me to feel.

I hope some of this is useful/interesting. Ignore the rubbish. [Smile]

D

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Ethereon
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I echo what Dame said about how contractions in early labour start out gradually and build in strength as it progresses. If a woman has never experienced labour before, she might not even be sure that the first contractions are contractions. Since I'm in the 9th month of my second pregnancy this stood out immediately, and kind of broke the realism for me. Then again, I don't know what your gender is Stacey, or if this is based on your own birth experience.
I assumed that the MC was non-human from her comment, so perhaps her experience of labour will be unusual... but I also got the impression that she was supposed to be experiencing human labour?

[ November 09, 2011, 10:19 AM: Message edited by: Ethereon ]

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wisealma
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The first contraction ripped through me as the investigating officer motioned for me to sit down in the chair opposite him. I looked straight at him.
“I think I’m going to die,” I said.
He glanced at me and then carried on looking at the papers in front of him as if I had said nothing.
At that first contraction, I decided that humans are stupid and that’s obviously why they keep having our children.
“So, it says here that you are pregnant,” the investigating officer finally looked up from his paper shuffling.
“Oh no,” I said. “It must be mistaken, I’ve just overindulged on trans fats”
“No, no. I think you will find that you are pregnant” he said. [/QB][/QUOTE]

This started off nicely for me. My issue begins with the line "I decided that humans are stupid..." This sounds a little cliche, but not a show stopper. What really put me off was when it said "It must be mistaken, I've just overindulged on trans fats..."

The reason why I have a hard time with this is because in the first sentence you lead off with first person POV, and "the first contraction."

It sounds like the main character knows that she is pregnant. But then when the officer says that she's pregnant, she denies it as if she doesn't know.

Now, either this is a plot point yet to be developed, a function of the 13 sentence writing format, or a miss (because of the seeming inconsistencies).

What I really did like about your writing was the natural action / reaction sequences (how the officer responded to the main character). Your writing felt real.

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Delli
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Hi! I had thought that this first 13 had fallen off the end of the page, so I am sorry for not replying earlier.

Thank you very much everyone for your comments.

I had already revised the beginning and it is currently out a market. But I may do so again when it bounces back, so your feedback is very helpful.

It is supposed to be a humorous little piece (and we all know humour is subjective - my humour of choice is sarcasm, not everybody's favourite, I know. [Wink] ), only around 950 words. The title of it is "The Pregnant Cuckoo" which may help explain the story a little more.

Basically, an alien species (much like humans in appearance) practise brood parasitism (as the Cuckoo bird does - hence the colloquial name for the aliens) on humans. Humans bear and raise the Cuckoo offspring until they come of age and then they return to become productive members of the Cuckoo society (without the Cuckoo having done any of the hard work of raising them - wouldn't that be nice ;p).

The MC in this story is a teenage Cuckoo who has accidentally become pregnant and is being investigated by a Cuckoo official. This is why he is a little oblivious to her state - he doesn't have a clue about pregnancy and labour, possibly has never seen a pregnant person before. She is a teenager, making fun of the ignorant officer while also being scared of what is happening to her - hence her flippant behaviour, making it out to be not as big a deal as it is.

I address the issue of the contractions coming too hard, too fast later in the story. She is a teenager and has naively assumed her birthing experience will be similar to that of a human - she also has nothing else to go on from her own species, they don't get pregnant. She ends up having the baby very very fast.

Although... I have been through the labour and birth process twice - the youngest currently being 9 months old, younger when I wrote this story [Wink] I would argue against this being an unrealistic portrayal of the start of labour - every woman's labour is different, some have the "kill me now" contractions start immediately without build-up (or without them realising that there has been a build-up.) [Smile]

Look at that, I've used over a third of the words the story makes up to explain about the story. I know I didn't really need to explain - this is only the place for feedback of the first 13 afterall, but I felt like it and it has solidified the story in my mind having it laid out like that. Perhaps this story could end up being longer than flash length afterall. So thank you again for your comments! [Smile]

Cheers,
Delli

[ November 19, 2011, 03:21 AM: Message edited by: Delli ]

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