WOE: Core

The last time he visited it had been early fall, the first of the cooler days, and as usual, Ma Alwright had been sitting in her rocker, feet on the railing, watching the world go by.  As he climbed the increasingly rickety steps to the porch, he passed the steady line of apple cores balanced on the rail by her feet.  Always apples.  She’d been surprised to see him yet graceful and he had felt no embarrassment.  When she decided to make them coffee and started easing herself out of the chair, it was his turn to feel surprised.  Somewhere along the way, Ma Alwright had aged and despite her remonstrances, he took her arm, further surprised, and shaken too, by the thin, papery skin and weak limb, and helped her up.  He didn’t say anything.

Now it was spring, still cool, and he hadn’t made it back.  As he left the last time, he’d told himself that he would visit more often but that’s what he always did as he got into his car and drove away.  But he’d quickly forget his self-promises and time would continue on by.

As he climbed the porch steps this morning, it was the absent apple cores he noticed first, and felt deeply, the news becoming a sudden, fierce reality.  The rocker was abandoned too now, forlorn.  He hurried inside and was going to the stairs when he noticed the open door to the back room.  He paused on the threshold, briefly wondering when she had stopped using the bedroom above, respectfully holding back as he would have done when he was a boy.

The young doctor, a newcomer in the town, was with her still.  A good-hearted fellow who had taken to calling on Mrs Alwright on his rounds, just neighbourly like.  It was the doctor who had been the one to find her.  Fortunately.  Goodness knows how long it would have been before one of the children had visited.

The doctor looked up:

“I’m glad you could come,” then added “she passed peacefully.”

He nodded, still shuffling awkwardly in the doorway, guilt overwhelming him.  As he had grown older, he realised more deeply how much maybe that she had given up, how life maybe hadn’t gone to her plan when first she had to raise her siblings who had later flown the nest without a second glance then she’d taken in the unruly brood that his own siblings were.  Life hadn’t exactly been kind to Ma Alwright but she’d been the centre of their world, a comforting stability, and her passing was incomprehensible, he was totally shaken to the core.


This piece is for Red Writing Hood who asked us for 450 words (441!) exploring ‘core’.  Core has many meanings and as an amateur logophile, I worked in apple cores, the idea of something or someone being indispensable and/or central and the idiom ‘shaken to the core’.  Friendly concrit always welcomed!

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood


22 thoughts on “WOE: Core

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  1. This really underscores something that so many of us go through. This line in particular got to me, “felt deeply, the news becoming a sudden, fierce reality”. I think we often get bad news but we don’t process it right away.

    This was lovely and sad.

    1. Thank you for reading through and highlighting something in particular, it’s fascinating to hear from readers what affects them personally and what they think works. It’s so very hard to see one’s own piece from the outside! Thanks again. :)

  2. Lovely images. The apple cores were a fantastic touch. A few spots seemed to have some rushed phrasing, like a word is missing from the sentence. (Could also be that it’s nearly midnight in California at time of reading) ie: “She’d been surprised to see him yet graceful and he had felt no embarrassment.”

    Also: “Now it was spring, still cool, and he hadn’t made it back.” Except he was back, climbing the steps to see the railing void of apples. I think maybe “It was spring before he made it back. The weather was still cool as if nothing had changed.” I know you must have had word limit frustration with this amazing story, like there’s so much more you wanted to say.

    My favorite (favourite) description is: “…by the thin, papery skin and weak limb” (My mom has this arm, I’ve felt this and it’s bloody perfect.

    Amazing, touching story and a great take on the prompt!

    1. I think the second sentence could do with something like a ‘before now’ or maybe another ‘yet’. I like your sentence construction too. I do find it hard to keep within the word limits and as such, have to be fairly brutal. Thank you for taking the time to point these things out. :)

  3. I really how you give us her life before you show her death. It helps us to truly feel his guilt. It’s difficult with the 450 word limit, but I might try to show the seasons instead of telling us– “Now it was spring” could instead incorporate something only found in/associated with spring. Look forward to reading your work in the future!

    1. Yeah but with the 450 words I’m seriously limited! It would be definitely worth reviewing the structure in a longer piece, especially if I got it up to 2nd draft. Thank you very much for visiting. :)

  4. I love how you worked in the multiple definitions of the word core. I think the piece was down to earth and easy to relate to. The only thing I would change (thanks to an earlier WOE post) is maybe rework so you don’t use quite so many adverbs. That being said, I do have to say I love how you gave life to some of the inanimate objects in the piece.

    1. I know I use a lot of describing and I guess that it’s not really fashionable or good practice anymore. I’ll keep an eye on my usage from now on! Thank you very much for pointing this out. :)

  5. That was simply beautiful. I loved the foreshadowing in the early paragraphs. It was obvious that she wasn’t going to be with us, or that she would be drastically diminished in some way, by the end. I also really felt the son’s pain at her passing. He hadn’t expected to lose her. He was still getting used to the thin skin and the loss of strength.

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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