Posted in Flash Fiction Pieces, Life Writing, WIPpet Wednesday

WIPpet Wednesday: Mauve’s Story (and Ubunta’s, too)

Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday –K.L. Schwengel’s weekly blog hop which encourages writers to move their WIPs (works-in-progress) to publication by posting excerpts related to the date.

WIPpet Math:

Today is not  April 23, 2014…but last week, when I didn’t link this post, was!

  • Today’s math…
  • 2+3= 5 (adding the digits of the date) 5+ 4=9 (adding the digit of the month)=9 sentences, today.
  • Then add another 7, in a different story, for the seven days since I meant to share this!

This month, I’m offering up a taste of my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. So, today, please allow me to introduce two more of my Kifo Island Chronicles characters…

Ubunta is 14, newly homeless, and with a pressing’s her excerpt: 

Ubunta ran, her eyes unseeing, in her mind the memory of the long grassy plains of the veldt, where it seemed she could run forever, and never find an end to the land.

She stumbled, tripped, fell hard, sand in her eyes and her mouth. Panting, she rose to hands and knees, then knelt, sandy hands cradling her middle, staring around her, her mind groping for reason. She looked upon an endless stretch, not of grasses, but of water. The sun shone down upon it, as it rose and fell, as though breathing with its own life, and it glittered like false promises in Ubunta’s eyes, searing her mind, making it impossible to think.

Ubunta knelt there, not understanding, and held to the hardened swelling of her belly.

Warning: Raw Honesty and Potential Grief Triggers past this point. Please proceed with caution.

Let’s all give a loving WIPeteer welcome to Mauve Carson

Mauve is two months old, and she’s dying. She’s lived her entire life in a coma. Her story is told from the point of view of the NICU nurse assigned to her care.

Doctor Harris held the baby gently, at an arm’s length, her feet against his chest, then firmly manipulated her tiny body. Even though Lara knew that it was impossible, she still rooted for baby Mauve to push into the man’s burly chest, or cry-

Or anything.

Anything at all.

But, of course, she didn’t. Couldn’t.

Her mother sat in the upholstered rocker, her gaze fixed on the man who held her infant daughter, her face faraway and expressionless. She hunched over her own middle, thin arms wrapped around herself as though to shield her. She couldn’t be more than twenty, but the marks on her arms said that she was very determined at escaping- or had been, until reality presented itself in the form of a beautiful baby girl.

This post is a loving tribute to Elijah James Burton, July13-25, 2003. ❤

Mauve is very close to my soul. Her story is the most autobiographical I’ve written for this challenge.

On July 13,2003, after a textbook pregnancy, our second child, Elijah James, was born. It was a hard labor, and, eventually, forceps were used, because he was in distress. He wasn’t breathing, and, once, he was resuscitated, he was whisked off to the NICU before I even saw his face.

I was luckier than Mauve’s mother. When Elijah was four hours old, I met him. Our gazes met. I knew that he recognized my voice, and his were the wisest, most accepting, most peaceful eyes I have ever seen.

The next day, Elijah was put into a medically induced coma, in the hopes that his seizures could be abated.

Four days after that, still in a coma, he had a massive, two-minute grand mal seizure. I feel that whatever made him unique and human vanished in that violent electrical storm of the brain.

Five days after that, we were told by the neuroneonatologist – a specialist who made grand rounds in the NICU monthly – that Elijah had “a nearly flat brain wave architecture” – not brain dead, but very near.

The next afternoon, Elijah died peacefully in my husband’s arms. He never woke up, never cried. He simply slipped away.

There’s not much more to say, except that he is with me always, every moment. He makes me a better mother, and a better person, because I know how very precious life is, and how fragile.

Will you do something for me, for us? Will you do something sweet, right now, for someone you love?

Will Ubunta find a home, and answers? Will Mauve’s family find peace and healing? Will they be shattered by her life, and her death? Can there be meaning, when a newborn dies?

Last question: Have you done that something sweet and loving yet? If not, please do. I’ll wait.

Want more Kifo Island Chronicles posts?

These posts are the seeds of a project that will germinate over the next months, so input is especially valuable. No need to feel shy; I’m a friendly sort, and will keep my talons sheathed…for the most part.

Want more WIPpets?

I’ll leave you with the one song I have sung to all three of my babies…

And a song for Ubunta, as well…



I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

14 thoughts on “WIPpet Wednesday: Mauve’s Story (and Ubunta’s, too)

  1. Here is a great big hug for you, Shan. (((Shan))) There really aren’t words.

    I’m intrigued on both counts. I like Nockatee a lot, but I’d love to see more of Ubuntu and Mauve.

    1. Thank you, ReGi.

      Hugs are gratefully accepted. Hugging those you love would be even better (assuming they like hugs!).

      You’re right. There aren’t really words. I’ve been trying for nearly 11 years, now…

      These characters snuck up on me, and I’m surprised at how layered their stories became, and how they intertwined.

      I like Nockatee, and I’ll be getting back to her in the next few weeks, but I’m looking forward to learning more about these characters, as well. Right now, they’re simmering in my mind, evolving. But they will be back, eventually.

    1. Rachel,

      I was in labor for Elijah overnight, and I walked a lot. My path took me past the entrance to the NICU, and I remember feeling pity for the families that needed to be there. I had no idea that, by the same time the next day, we would be one of them.

      Mauve, like Elijah, will have impact that reaches far beyond the time she lives.

      And Ubunta –

      Ubunta has a long journey to make, with an inconclusive and uncertain destination.

      I’m giving these stories space to breathe for a while, before I come back to them, and see how they’ve grown and evolved.

  2. Well, I’m very glad I didn’t read that at work today. But it certainly puts all the minor inconveniences of work into perspective in a shattering sort of way. It must be very difficult for you to write this. Yet so wonderful of you to share the wealth of emotion, and depth of feeling that is life.

    1. Kathy,

      Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you – I’m doing Story A Day this month, telling T’Pol and Trip’s story (as I imagine it!). It’s been a little – consuming.

      Writing about Elijah – fictionalized or not – is…I don’t know how to explain it. He would be 11 this month; I have a friend who’s son is 3 days younger. Annalise’s birthday is just before Elijah’s; mine is four days after the date o his death. That makes July an emotionally chaotic month, to say the least.

      Writing about him both brings me back to the immediacy of those twelve surreal days where the rest of life was suspended, and emphasizes how joyful life is today. It’s a paradox, and I think it always will be.

      And I agree. Sometimes, when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by life -especially Jeremiah and Annalise – I remember that the annoyances are a part of them being healthy and capable of growth. That’s a huge gift.

      So many gifts came from Elijah’s life and death. My perspective on nearly everything has shifted.There’s healing in exploring that; and in not taking life for granted.

      At the same time, when Elijah died, my boss said something very profound.”Everyone’s biggest problem is as big as everyone’s biggest problem.”

      Our baby died before he ever really had the chance to live, and that sucks in a huge way. But it doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be annoyed by your workload. I have two healthy, thriving, incredible children, and a marriage that survived the cataclysm (something like 85% don’t), and actually has grown far stronger and more sustaining as the result of it. I’m profoundly But that doesn’t mean that I don’t ever get frustrated and growly about the seemingly endless round of laundry, dishes, clutter, and all the other things that go with being wife and mother….because I do.

      But it’s not to the same degree, because, in the end, I’m really just deeply thankful I get to share my life with three really cool people who also put up with me, and that I can share my stories, even when they don’t have built-in happy endings.

    1. Sys,

      You’ve been that for almost 11 years, now…and it’s appreciated, always.

      Yes, Ubunta comes from Ubuntu, although I didn’t so much “take” it as was revealed to me, from somewhere inside…

      I suspect the name will become significant, as her story evolves. Already, her character arc seems to be rife with friction between the concept, and the way women and girls are too often discriminated against…

  3. This was a hard post for me to read. While I’ve never lost a child, my good friend recently lost her twins. I firmly believe that this loss is something that needs to be talked about in order to help others who experience similar losses. Thank you for being willing to tell us your story.

    I love the world you’re creating. It’s very interesting thus far, and I can’t wait to read more of it.

    1. Adrian,

      Sending so much love toward your friend. I also have friend who lost twins some years ago. It’s so tragic to contemplate going from the abundance of twins to such a depth of grief and loss.

      I, too, believe infant loss needs to be brought into the open. My own family of origin will not discuss Elijah, seeming to prefer to simply forget that he ever lived, because he is the only baby in our family to die. But, to me, as his mother, the twelve days he lived make him no less a person; no less my son. I am the mother of three, forever. I simply have one child I can’t watch grow.

      As I said before, telling Elijah’s story is about the only thing I can do for him. ❤

      Kifo Island and the people I met there surprised me greatly. I'm not sure I can claim that I created it, though – like most of my stories, it seems to have sprung to life, and grown, on a level below the conscious…

      I can't wait to see where it goes from here!

  4. *cries* I’ve never lost a baby like that, but too many of my friends have. Hugs, and thank you for being willing to share your story.

    Both of these women intrigue me, and I want to know more of their stories. I’m very much enjoying these snippets about the island. Are the stories interconnected, or will they be?

    Also, Paul Simon!

    1. Amy,

      Sharing Elijah’s story in various forms is a way of remembering him, and giving more meaning to the life he lived. Since those are the only things I can still do, and because there’s always the potential that sharing might help someone in some way – I’ll keep on sharing.

      I am sending much love and deep understanding to your friends and their families. The loss of a baby (or any child, I imagine), is a void that can’t be filled and never truly goes away. Elijah is always here, with us, in a sense, reminding us not to take things for granted, to share all the love we can, to relish the good times and let go of the not so good as soon as we can, to stop and look and listen and enjoy…what a gift he has given to us!

      I’m not sure if Mauve’s and Ubunta’s stories will converge, although there is a possibility they will, at some point or points. Some of the stories will be interwoven; I’m feeling that they’re a series of novellas waiting to be born. Right now, they’re resting while I play with other things…time will likely supply possibilities if not answers.

      And, yes, always Paul Simon! =D

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