Red Writing Hood: Henry’s P.O.V.

New Playground

It didn’t surprise me one bit to find out that Agnes had been married before me.

What surprised me, was to find out that she was a mother.

I read David’s email several times, taking in the information he’d given and letting it simmer in my mind.

I had always wanted children. But Agnes told me she was infertile. She could never have children. I loved her, so I gave up on the prospect of fatherhood.

Once a week, we would take a long walk around a nearby park. After the walk, we would sit on a particular bench in the shade of a tree to rest. Agnes would sit cross-legged and bent over her sketchbook, while I would watch the children at the playground in front of us.

I watched those kids, playing and screaming and laughing, and I longed for one of my own. I wanted to swing someone up over my head in a widening arc as he squealed with excitement. I wanted to teach someone to play catch, ridge a bike, climb a tree. I wanted to raise  someone that would carry my name and work with me. I wanted an heir – someone to be my legacy.

As much as I loved Agnes, I knew in my bones that motherhood would not suit her. She did not admire children, could not handle their noise or their questions. When the curious ones would venture to our bench and ask to see her drawings, she would snatch her book close to her chest and tell them it was not good to talk to strangers.

No, I could not imagine my lovely wife as a mother. And now, it turns out, she had been one.

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This piece was written as a part of my fictional work-in-progress, Finding Agnes. I switched it up specifically for this prompt, trying to show Henry’s point of view. You can find more from Finding Agnes here.

Red Writing Hood is a weekly writing meme from the Write on Edge community. Constructive criticism is appreciated.

This week’s Red Riding Hood prompt: This week we’re going to play Victor/Victoria. If you typically write from the male perspective, switch it up to the female. And if you generally write female, go for the male. While this is going to be easiest for those writing fiction, if you’re writing memoir, share a memory from a brother/husband/father’s perspective. Keep it under 300 words.

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Photo credit to edenpictures. It has a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

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6 comments on “Red Writing Hood: Henry’s P.O.V.”

  1. angela

    I think this is interesting, in part because you’ve developed two characters who challenge society’s typical maternal/paternal mindsets.

    Something that would probably make this stronger is to take away some of the narrative and write some of it as action: them sitting on the bench, her shooing away a child. I think it would have added more dimension and made the final line even more powerful.

  2. barbara @ de rebus

    Great read – Although stereotypically not attributed to male’s I think your character’s desire for fatherhood rings true… Especially this little bit: “I wanted to raise someone that would carry my name and work with me. I wanted an heir – someone to be my legacy.” – that was intriguing. Maybe it is just the way guys think and I’ve never encountered it before, but I was surprised by the thought nonetheless!

    The opening was a little confusing:
    “It didn’t surprise me one bit to find out that Agnes had been married before me. / What surprised me, was to find out that she was a mother. / I read David’s email several times, taking in the information he’d given and letting it simmer in my mind.”

    Of course, I am not up to date on the story, so that could be why. I think if I knew he was reading an email first, it would have been easier to follow. Also, who is this Dave? He needs a little “the man I paid to follow my wife” tag 😉

    Overall, a great read!

  3. Wisper

    I love the intensity of this piece. There is so much wrapped up into those 300 words.

    I couldn’t quite decide if the POV was entirely male or not. At times it almost felt more like a female’s reaction, but not entirely. Then again, with the subject matter I’m not sure if my impression would still hold true, especially since I can’t put my finger on what I would change to try to emphasize the male POV more.

    Either way, I commend you on a strong, beautiful piece.

  4. AmyBeth Inverness

    I think I was lost because I haven’t read anything about Agnes before. I was almost halfway through before I realized it was a man’s POV. Beginning with the person comparing themselves directly to Agnes, I assumed the person in the comparison was the same gender as Agnes.

    Once I figured out it was a man, the last few paragraphs definitely fit the male POV quite well!

  5. Cameron

    I know plenty of guys who want kids, for all of those reasons and loads more, and I like how you handled it all internally – that right there is the malest (word? no…) part of it for me.

    There’s a teeny typo, “ridge a bike” is meant to be “ride a bike,” I assume.

    Oh Agnes, such a life you’re trailing behind you.

  6. shelton keys dunning

    but, but, but Agnes is right. Children shouldn’t talk to strangers. Especially an old couple who watches children in the park… (teasing)

    My brother would talk this way before the niece and nephew came along when he had a few too many. But he was also an English major in college and I guess might’ve been more verbose than most males. I enjoyed this even though I cringed for him. What a thing to discover eh?

    Well played!

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