Posted by: Corri van de Stege | April 6, 2008

That summer…

Writing so many reviews and comments on other people’s writings and stories I shall once more open myself to your citicism.  Below is a very short story, the assignment was that it should include reference to music, a piece of clothing and a historical event.  Well, here it goes and I wonder what you think?


That summer she’d turned fifteen


That summer Anna is in between two lives, a momentous decision has been made and she pinches herself.  She has left her secondary school, the strict Calvinist one, got her diploma with high grades, a promising pupil.  In September she will start her pre-university diploma course with a non-calvinist large school in the provincial town, some 15 kilometres away.  They’re only Christian and she cannot believe her luck, is full of expectations, plotting how she will be able to slowly disentangle herself from the confines of the village community, find new friends, snog heathens.  The thrill of expectations is almost too much to bear and sometimes she can hardly breathe for fear of upsetting something in this fragile coming together of her different lifelines. 

            Anna does wonder how she can avoid coming across to her new friends as being backward, she has not got records of the Beatles, is not even allowed pictures of them on her bedroom wall, a room she shares with her older sister.  One of her brothers has got some copies of the latest issues of Music Express with black and white photo’s but he hides them, for fear of their father finding and destroying them.

            She hums, only in her head so that no one will hear Can’t buy me love, as she carefully folds her short skirt into her schoolbag, puts some of her books on top and snaps the two locks shut with a click.  She checks the little square mirror on top of the washbasin in the corner of the room.  She’s washed her hair, it smells clean and fresh and she decides that she looks ok.  She’s stuffed a lipstick in her pencil case with a comb. 

            Just going to Gemma to do some extra homework she says to her mother, who looks flustered, busy in the downstairs kitchen, and who looks at the clock as she comes in. 

            Gemma’s mother has said it’s alright for me to stay for tea, and it’s her brother’s birthday so I’ll be a bit late Anna adds.

            You’ve got to be back at half past nine, you know what your father said, her mother answers. 

            Anna grunts alright.

            Then the side door opens and her father comes in straight from the shop, attached to the house. 

            Can you come?  It’s really busy, clients are waiting to be served, he says to Anna’s mother.  Then, seeing Anna

            Where are you going? Cannot you help out?  Help your mother tidy the kitchen.

            She wishes she had been quicker, was out of the door.  He’ll be suspicious he’ll try to forbid her to go out, will say that she cannot have the good life and ignore all the things that need to be done.  That she has to be grateful, contribute.

            Homework, Anna says. At Gemma’s.

            Homework?   On a Saturday afternoon?  Besides, you’ve finished school.  Cannot be that urgent!

            I’m supposed to catch up with my maths and science for my new school.  I’m behind the others.  You said so yourself!  Anna says.

            Not on a Saturday, he says, and not when we are all this busy and you  are perfectly able to help out.  What’s that on the radio?

            He moves sideways to the old square black box that had been left on, crackling after he had listened to the one o’clock news, as he always does.  There’s a program about East Germany and how people have escaped by digging a tunnel to West Berlin.  Her father shakes his head. 

            Terrible.  Those Russians really have got a lot to answer for!

            At least some of them escaped, Anna thinks, unlike me.



  1. I find it agile and well written. As you progress in the writing it will be interesting to see how the life of this miserable girl evolves in a fanatic environment. How she will be able to challenge her father’s iron fist.

  2. I also notice the mother’s meekness to her husband. The world of women still at loggerheads with the other sex’s prerogatives.

  3. I find myself really interested in this story and wanting to find out what will happens to Anna, and why her father is so rigid and demanding, and why her mother is so meek…well, you can see I’m quite hooked!

    Your dialouge section is really good, and moves the story along so well. I think you could possibly rework the first two paragraphs so all that information gets revealed by the characters themselves rather than all explained in expositional style up front. More showing, less telling, as you wrote in your previous post.

    I want to read the rest of the story!

  4. Jose: yes, she will challenge of that you can be sure! Women’s lives come in many different guises and this is one of them, it could be anywhere, whatever the religion!
    ravenous reader: thank you for this really helpful comment – I am always in danger of wanting to tell too much. And I’m working on the rest as well..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: