Bound By Loss

Eighty-two-year-old Myrtle Crawford stared out her front window- right at Darlene Whitman’s window.  Of course, Darlene had closed her blinds, but the small opening in the slats on the left side revealed that Darlene watched, too.  Myrtle raised her right hand and moved her arthritic fingers in a stiff wave.  The opening closed.

Myrtle smiled.  She made no attempt to hide her snooping.  Over the last forty-one years, she’d built a name for herself as the neighborhood gossip and doing anything less would raise suspicions.  The smile faded from Myrtle’s lips.  Being caretaker of others’ secrets was in her blood just as much as baseball.  She’d become adept at using her neighbors’ dirty laundry to deflect their friendship and questions about her own past.  The only person daft enough to not stay away was Dottie Anderson.

Myrtle played over yesterday’s conversation.  Darlene was adamant that she didn’t want her help.  She may not want it, but she’ll need it, Myrtle thought.  As the guardian of secrets, Myrtle knew things that would make a lesser person sleep with one eye open, or move far away.

Fourteen years in prison for the murder of her cheating bastard husband had hardened Myrtle.  Any softness that remained disappeared when her daughter died several years back.  That relationship was complicated.  It wasn’t even a relationship, really.  While in prison, two-year-old Lucy became a ward of the state.  Once free, Myrtle tracked her down and saw she’d grown into a fine young woman.  At sixteen, she had beauty, grace, a different name- and love from a real family.  Myrtle watched from a distance so she wouldn’t cast a shadow on her daughter’s happiness.

Tears rolled down Myrtle’s cheeks.  Each time she thought of her daughter, the pain seeped like a fresh wound.  The gaping hole in her heart brought her to her knees, but also gave her the will to find justice.

Darlene had lost her mom, and her husband.  Myrtle understood Darlene’s loss.

That’s why Darlene needed her.


TrifectaPicture11-1This is my response to the Trifecta weekly challenge, which is to write a 33 to 333-word response (mine is 333) using the following word/definition:

BLOOD: (a) lifeblood; broadly : life; (b) human stock or lineage; especially : royal lineage <a prince of the blood>; (c) relationship by descent from a common ancestor : kinship; (d) persons related through common descent : kindred; (1)honorable or high birth or descent (2) descent from parents of recognized breed or pedigree

If you want to read other responses, or try the challenge yourself, click on the tricycle picture to view Trifecta’s site.  Happy writing (and reading!)


I changed things up and wrote this from Myrtle’s point of view this time around.  I hope it is interesting enough as a stand-alone piece, but it does continue Darlene’s story.  Click here for Darlene’s Story page if you want to read the entire story.  Thanks for stopping by!

96 thoughts on “Bound By Loss

  1. yarnspinnerr May 6, 2013 / 8:21 AM

    “a person sleep with one eye open” ~ that is a great line.

    Would love to use it ….. may I ?

    Wonderful narration.

    • jannatwrites May 6, 2013 / 8:42 AM

      It’s not my phrase, Yarnspinnerr, so by all means – use away 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by to read Myrtle’s piece!

  2. philosophermouseofthehedge May 6, 2013 / 9:08 AM

    I like the vague suggestions/promises of this line: “As the guardian of secrets, Myrtle…”
    Sounds like a door opening as well as the blinds
    Great episode!

    • jannatwrites May 6, 2013 / 1:29 PM

      Thank for reading (as always), Phil! I really wanted to give some insight as to what makes Myrtle tick this time around. In the longer version I’m working on, I’m alternating chapters between Darlene and Myrtle in hopes of created a fuller story.

  3. Lance May 6, 2013 / 9:14 AM

    I don’t think Myrtle is as hard as she thinks she is. Her heart is large and she cares deeply.

    I love how you made the blinds a character, like a tool really, for the characters to communicate.

    good use of the word, too. *clapping*

    • jannatwrites May 6, 2013 / 1:30 PM

      The toughest ones are usually a little gooey in the middle, Lance. Can’t underestimate the power of grief, though 🙂 I’m glad you liked this part of the story – I appreciate you reading, Lance!

  4. newwhitebear May 6, 2013 / 9:35 AM

    Wonderful story! A small well-developed thriller

    • jannatwrites May 6, 2013 / 1:30 PM

      Thanks, Newwhitebear – I appreciate your comment very much 🙂

  5. Tom MacInnes May 6, 2013 / 11:22 AM

    What an excellent amount of details tio fill out such a grand back story. Extremely well constructed story. Loved everything about it. Thanks for doing such great work.

    • Tom MacInnes May 6, 2013 / 11:25 AM

      Jeez! I am typing/reading at school and am making typos galore due to kids in the hallway, etc. Sorry. “What an excellent amount of detail to fill out such a grand back story.” That’s what I meant to type. This is what I get for doing Trifecta at school. 🙂

      • jannatwrites May 6, 2013 / 1:32 PM

        I’m glad you liked it that much, Tom! I really appreciate you taking time to read it (especially at school) and for sharing your reaction via comment 🙂

    • jannatwrites May 6, 2013 / 1:33 PM

      Thanks for continuing to follow the story, Widdershins!

  6. Maggie Grace May 6, 2013 / 11:45 AM

    Wonderfully written. Complex emotions expressed so well.

    • jannatwrites May 6, 2013 / 2:06 PM

      Thanks, Maggie…I’m glad you liked this story!

  7. joetwo May 6, 2013 / 11:56 AM

    Some nice characters here!

  8. bottledworder May 6, 2013 / 12:07 PM

    I liked the characterization and description here. The beginning hooked me!

    • jannatwrites May 6, 2013 / 2:09 PM

      I appreciate the feedback, Bottledworder! I’m glad the story held your interest 🙂

  9. Sean May 6, 2013 / 12:23 PM

    There’s good character development and background for our favorite Mrytle. You could probably create a completely different line off of Myrtle if you so desired. Of course I liked how you incorporated a new player in the mix that may know information that is there and needed. Always keeping us on our toes. Again, you have a wonderful knack for words and usage that keeps story-telling alive. Thank you

    • jannatwrites May 6, 2013 / 2:12 PM

      Hehe…Myrtle could steal the show (or make her own show) – but I won’t let her do that, Sean 🙂 Mrs. Anderson was briefly mentioned in an earlier piece, but yes, she will be formally introduced to the story later (in my longer version at least). I appreciate you taking time to read my stories and to offer your thoughtful comments/feedback!

  10. Valerie May 6, 2013 / 12:33 PM

    “Tears rolled down Myrtle’s cheeks. Each time she thought of her daughter, the pain seeped like a fresh wound. The gaping hole in her heart brought her to her knees, but also gave her the will to find justice.”

    Tears are rolling down my cheeks after reading that passage. She has my permission to do anything she wants…

    • jannatwrites May 6, 2013 / 2:14 PM

      Permission or not, I have a feeling Myrtle does whatever she wants to 🙂

      I’m glad something in the story reached you, Valerie- thanks for reading!

  11. lovethebadguy May 6, 2013 / 6:17 PM

    I’m not familiar with Darlene’s story, so rest assured that Myrtle’s perspective, as a stand-alone piece, works wonderfully! It was a fantastic blend of cynicism and angst, and beautifully written.

    Really nice work. 🙂

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 7:05 AM

      Thanks for reading and sharing your feedback, LTBG. It’s so hard for me to see if it’s a stand-alone or not since I’m too close to it 🙂

  12. Eric Alagan May 6, 2013 / 6:22 PM

    Interesting back story about Myrtle – the cardboard character is fleshing out very well.

    I especially like this approach, Janna and do it in all my novels – introduce a one dimensional character who blossoms – just like the plot.

    Cheers, Eric

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 7:05 AM

      It works well for you, from what I’ve read, Eric. It’s a fun exercise, even if nothing else comes of it 🙂 Thanks so much for following the story!

  13. nrhatch May 6, 2013 / 6:59 PM

    Myrtle is a jailbird! I didn’t see that coming. 😀

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 7:06 AM

      Well, in the last piece I alluded to her killing her husband, so I figured to keep it realistic, she’d have to do some jail time. Thanks for reading, Nancy!

  14. Draug419 May 6, 2013 / 7:46 PM

    I’ve got confusing feelings for Myrtle. I want to sympathize with her, but she’s such a snoop! (:

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 7:08 AM

      We do have to be cautious of snoopy people, Draug. No telling what they will do with information they know 🙂

  15. pattisj May 6, 2013 / 7:54 PM

    I like this segment of the story, getting to know a little about Myrtle.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 7:09 AM

      I’m glad you liked it, Patti! I appreciate you taking time to read it 🙂

  16. trifectawriting May 6, 2013 / 8:22 PM

    One can’t say Myrtle doesn’t take her position seriously. Let’s hope she really can help Darlene.

    Thanks for linking up!

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 7:11 AM

      Her identity is the knowledge she has of those in her neighborhood. I’ve enjoyed these challenges, Trifecta 🙂

  17. Ambalika May 6, 2013 / 8:36 PM

    I like this line ” She’d become adept at using her neighbors’ dirty laundry to deflect their friendship and questions about her own past ” ,the most .
    Nice piece .

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 7:11 AM

      Thanks for reading, Ambalika! I’m glad you enjoyed the story 🙂

  18. September Dreams May 6, 2013 / 11:32 PM

    Nice piece Yanna. Enjoyed reading it, especially the line “She may not want it, but she’ll need it.” Sounds prophetic.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 7:12 AM

      Myrtle knows more than Darlene realizes, so it is prophetic in a way. I appreciate you taking time to read the story, September Dreams!

  19. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) May 7, 2013 / 4:20 AM

    I love this piece.. It stands by itself, and a lot of secrets that gives explanations gradually.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 7:13 AM

      Thanks, Bjorn! I am relieved that it works well on its own. I’m not entirely sure that all the parts do, especially as the story progresses.

  20. Ann Bennett (@AnnBennett12) May 7, 2013 / 7:39 AM

    I am so impressed. I like the purpose of the information gathering. That is cool. I also like the realization at the end of Myrtle’s desire to help Darlene. You packed a lot in a flash.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 5:34 PM

      Thanks for reading, Ann – I’m glad you enjoyed Myrtle’s piece 🙂

  21. Brian Benoit May 7, 2013 / 9:05 AM

    Nice job fleshing Myrtle out! She was already my favorite, and this just gives her a great level of depth. Great continuation!

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 5:35 PM

      Thanks, Brian! I’m glad you are liking Myrtle- she’s a fun one to write.

  22. lyssamedana May 7, 2013 / 9:21 AM

    Myrtle sounds like a tough old bird and Darlene’s lucky to have her onside – thank you for sharing. LM x

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 5:36 PM

      She’s tough, but the benefits could come at a price. Thanks for reading, Lyssa!

  23. Debbie May 7, 2013 / 10:07 AM

    I like hearing Myrtle’s viewpoint. It provides a depth and richness to your tale! I’m assuming, of course, that you’ll find a way to separate her POV from Darlene’s if you decide to roll this into one mystery. Knowing Myrtle’s past helps us empathize with what she’s doing.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 5:37 PM

      That’s the good part about writing third person- I can work in others’ point of views as long as they are in different sections or chapters. I wouldn’t do more than the two on this one, though 🙂 Thanks for continuing to follow along with the story, Debbie.

  24. Sandra May 7, 2013 / 1:17 PM

    I’m so in awe of your fiction writing. The characters here are so complex and real. I hadn’t realized that Myrtle is in her 80s. I’m guessing their relationship is more complicated than it seems in their little neighborhood?!

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 5:44 PM

      Thanks for your huge compliment, Sandra! Whenever someone says that the characters seem real I feel like I did something right. Myrtle’s age was alluded to in a couple of posts, but I don’t expect everyone to remember details with a week or more between parts. This is where I’m getting caught – recap enough so that the story stands on its own, but not so much that there isn’t room to progress the story. Man, I’ve GOT to figure out how to end this thing 🙂

  25. diannegray May 7, 2013 / 1:36 PM

    WOW! Myrtle is my hero (jail time for murdering her cheating bastard husband) she just gets better and better!

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 5:45 PM

      Hahaha! Your comment made me laugh, Dianne! I hated to have her do jail time, but I just didn’t think it would be realistic if she killed her husband but didn’t serve time.

  26. humanTriumphant May 7, 2013 / 2:22 PM

    rightly or wrongly, I’m beginning to make my own conclusions – which is what keeps me coming back for more….more, please…

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2013 / 5:46 PM

      I wonder if your conclusions will match the story? Only time will tell 🙂 Thanks for reading, HT!

  27. Megan Eccles May 7, 2013 / 9:38 PM

    I love the desperate housewives vibe. I really enjoyed this!

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:14 PM

      I’m glad you liked it, Megan – I appreciate you taking time to read it!

  28. Young Adult Fiction Writer May 7, 2013 / 11:56 PM

    I read the first paragraph and HAD to keep reading to see where it was going. It was an awesome story.

    Keep your pen busy…
    Alex Kennedy.

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:15 PM

      Wow, thanks for the compliment, Alex. I do appreciate you stopping by to read and share your thoughts!

      • Young Adult Fiction Writer May 10, 2013 / 1:49 AM

        You are a very talented writer and I hope your words make your dreams come true within the future.


        • jannatwrites May 10, 2013 / 10:54 AM

          Thank you so much, Alex. I appreciate the encouraging words!

  29. DonettaS May 8, 2013 / 2:00 AM

    Wow. This is great. ‘Being the caretaker of other’s secrets’. Love that line!!

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:17 PM

      She does have some dark spots in her past, but I don’t think she’s evil or anything 🙂 Thanks for reading, Kymm!

  30. steph May 8, 2013 / 8:00 AM

    Even the snooper of secrets has her own secrets. That’s a great addition to the story. You just never know what lurks behind someone’s persona. It’s always surprising. I’m impressed with all the layers to this story. Looking forward to more..

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:18 PM

      I’m glad you are enjoying the story, Steph. I appreciate your encouraging comment.

  31. Thomas Marlowe May 8, 2013 / 12:28 PM

    You made me feel for Myrtle and her life… and you have a great way with a powerful phrase. “Caretaker of other’s secrets” indeed. Lovely.

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:19 PM

      Thanks for reading and sharing your comment, Thomas. I wanted to give some background on her that helps explain why she is the way she is.

  32. Imelda May 8, 2013 / 9:37 PM

    ah…. I am kind of thrilled about where this Myrtle story is going. 🙂

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:20 PM

      Thanks, Imelda! I hope the future parts don’t disappoint.

  33. Spider42 May 9, 2013 / 12:43 AM

    Hey, nice work.
    I haven’t read the Darlene story and that’s fine because I enjoyed this as it is – Myrtle is definitely an interesting and tragic character. Could be quite interesting to explore someone like her.
    I found little to critique as such so the only 2 things that sprung to mind are really minor but figured I’d point them out before you headed back to edit it whenever you do:
    1) In the para about her past life, it should be ” the love OF a real family”
    2) ” the pain seeped like a fresh wound. ” Somehow I think you could find a better way to put this. Maybe it’s just me but either it should be a graphic description of a freshly poked wound (eg: the pain was like a spike driven into her xyz)or should indicate a hyper-bolic description of pain (eg: the old pain overwhelmed her like a fresh wound) – this seems to be neither.

    Look forward to reading more here, cheers!

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:26 PM

      I appreciate the well thought out comment, Spider42. You are right – I did forget a word there. I swear I read this out loud at least eight times and didn’t even notice. I did fix it, but had to change the wording a bit since I was at the max word limit (rules are rules :))

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the wound wording. Knowing others’ reactions is helpful in the writing process 🙂

      • Spider42 May 10, 2013 / 4:53 AM

        Happy to help! 🙂

  34. kdillmanjones May 9, 2013 / 7:57 AM

    I definitely like this as a stand-alone piece!

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:27 PM

      I’m glad it worked alone, Kdillmanjones…I never can tell 🙂

  35. Jennifer May 9, 2013 / 8:22 AM

    This is my very favorite type of character. The one with the mother’s heart and an eye for vengeance. I think I may have described myself….

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:28 PM

      Your comment made me laugh, Jennifer! I’m glad you enjoyed Myrtle (I wasn’t writing about you…I promise :))

  36. Sarah Ann May 9, 2013 / 9:01 AM

    There is so much story here and so much still hinted at. I loved the way you incorporated the prompt, so natural and clever. Looking forward to more from Myrtle.

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:29 PM

      I appreciate you reading and sharing your comment, Sarah Ann. I’m sure I’ll write more about Myrtle…she’s fun 🙂

  37. Suzanne May 9, 2013 / 10:59 AM

    I’m liking Myrtle more and more! Love how you’re letting her depth come through slowly. I also love how the story is developing. Lots of intrigue here!

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:30 PM

      Well, the word count limits help with slow reveals, Suzanne! Thanks for reading 🙂

  38. stankmeaner May 9, 2013 / 3:06 PM

    all these blogs keep pulling me in with their recurring characters. the first Myrtle / Darlene piece that I read had a slightly comic bent that I thought was great. it’s a nice range to take them into more serious territory and flesh out characters that were already interesting on the surface.

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:32 PM

      I’m glad you noticed the change in tone – I was hoping it would feel realistic since life isn’t always funny or serious. Thanks for sharing your comment, Stankmeaner.

  39. Sharp Little Pencil May 9, 2013 / 6:18 PM

    Janna, this is my first time reading about Darlene. Myrtle is, above all, a survivor and quite selfless. First she killed the a-hole of a husband, no doubt saving her daughter much pain. Although her daughter went into “the system,” karma was good and the girl turned out fine. Then Myrtle, who could easily tip her hand to her daughter, refrains from doing so, in what I see as a truly unselfish act. Her bio daughter is happy, and that’s enough for Myrtle.

    Now, what’s in store? Intriguing write, J. Peace, Amy

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:34 PM

      Myrtle had made mistakes but she’s trying to learn from them, Amy. (Except when it comes to killing people with baseball bats…she repeated that one :)) I appreciate you stopping by to read and to share your opinion of how you see Myrtle.

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:41 PM

      She needs all the help she can get, TMW 🙂

  40. atrm61 May 9, 2013 / 9:01 PM

    There are so many things that I love about this piece Janna:-)First,the way you are unraveling the real,humane Myrtle ,with real emotions !Love that she is a keeper of secrets & she uses her facade to keep away people-wow!Great insight into human nature.

    “Of course, Darlene had closed her blinds, but the small opening in the slats on the left side revealed that Darlene watched, too. Myrtle raised her right hand and moved her arthritic fingers in a stiff wave. The opening closed.”This made me laugh-so cheeky-so Myrtle!This one is surely growing on me Janna-keep writing,my friend:-)

    • jannatwrites May 9, 2013 / 11:44 PM

      Your comment made me smile, Atreyee. You are very kind 🙂

      I was hoping that people would see beyond the initial intro of Myrtle as a busy-body (which has all kinds of negative connotations!) Yes, she is nosy, but she has her reasons. I’m glad you found humor in her waving…just her little acknowledgment to say, ‘yep, I saw you!’

    • jannatwrites May 15, 2013 / 9:17 PM

      Thanks so much for taking time to read it, Shayrisms!

        • jannatwrites May 15, 2013 / 11:23 PM

          I’m not sure why your comments keep going to my Spam folder – I’m glad you decide to comment anyway 🙂

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