RWH: Forbidden

Matilda put her finger to her lips and motioned for Delia to follow her. The two girls tip-toed down the hallway to the room with the closed door.

“What’s in there?” Delia whispered.

“Shhhh…” Matilda slowly eased the door open.

She motioned for Delia to step inside the dark room, and then she closed the door slowly behind them.

“It’s too dark.” Delia whispered. At that moment, Matilda flipped the light switch and the room was bathed in artificial light.

Delia looked around, disappointed to see they were standing in a home office that was much like her dad’s. A roll-top desk sat under the only window in the room, a layer of dust visible across the almost bare desktop. A bookshelf stacked and overflowing stood opposite the desk, one shelf noticeably bowed under the weight of the various books.

A smaller desk caught Delia’s eye. This one had all kinds of beautiful bottles on it, but it was also covered in dust. She saw a spiderweb stretched between the bottles and the mirror that stood behind them. A small stool sat in front of the desk.

“What’s this?”

“A beauty place. My mom would come here and make herself beautiful. See?” Matilda opened a lipstick and dragged it across her lips. She swiped it across Delia’s lips and the girls looked at themselves in the dirty mirror.

“What’s that one?” Delia pointed to a compact on the vanity. Matilda opened it and they saw small squares of various colors. Delia rubbed her finger in a dark green, “Oh!. It’s eyeshadow. My mommy wears this. But she doesn’t have so many colors.” She swiped her finger across her eyelids.

Matilda did the same with a deep purple shadow. The girls admired themselves in the mirror again and then Matilda went to the bookshelf.

“These are my mom’s books.” She said self-importantly. “You must never touch the books with the black covers.”


Matilda shrugged, “That’s what she always said.” She paused, “But my mom’s not here anymore…” Suddenly, she grabbed a spiral bound book with a black cover from the shelf and sat with it in front of her on the floor. Delia knelt down beside her. Matilda reached down and opened to the first page.


This piece was written as a part of my fictional work-in-progress, Finding Agnes. 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 Writing Hood prompt:  You have 450 words to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about the forbidden or the taboo. Keep in mind that those things aren’t necessarily the same for different people in different cultures — just like the concept of freedom. Feel free to explore what’s hidden in the center of that forbidden rose…but be careful of the thorns.

Photo Courtesy of Karin Dalziel. It has a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

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11 comments on “RWH: Forbidden”

  1. Lance

    This: “She paused, “But my mom’s not here anymore…”

    sounds like my kids. I love the innocence mixed with the “danger”. Very good write and easy read.

  2. AmyBeth Inverness

    I love that I could read this excerpt and still get a feel for it without reading the previous. This little glimpse held a big impact.

    When the girls enter the room, there’s just a mild sense of “Oh, they’re not allowed in that room.”
    But at the phrase “My mom would come here…” we suddenly realize that her mother is no longer around. That makes the sense of taboo much deeper.

    I read through twice, and can’t come up with anything for con-crit… excellent post!

  3. Mad Woman behind the Blog

    Aaah, the trouble two girls can get into.
    I love the room description, the cobwebs, the bowed shelf.
    And then the shrug… The next comment could have been so ominous, changing the feel of the whole piece but that shrug removed any dark cast. Interesting… there is story there, isn’t there?

  4. christina

    really love this whole scene. great imagery of the office without it being too detailed. and i love the interaction between the two girls. very spot on.

  5. angela

    I love that Matilda seems to have accepted Agnes’s leaving and thrived under her father’s care and love. I’m so interested in what she’s going to find…journals, sketches?

  6. shelton keys dunning

    Taboo for the room, forbidden for the make-up, and the black books…I think that needs a stronger word. You developed the scene so brilliantly. I give you two rounds of applause and a gooey chocolatey brownie. Well done!

  7. idiosyncratic eye

    I liked this a lot, especially the two characters and your descriptions. Grief and loss can generate all sorts of taboos and forbidden territory and whether that will be permanently respected or tipoed around is an interesting area to explore. I liked too the ominous feeling that you ended on, the opening of the book but I’d like to feel that this is a positive step for Matilda. 🙂

  8. ReticentWriter

    I haven’t read much of this story, but this works as a stand-alone, too. I have read enough to appreciate that Matilda seems to be doing well and also to wonder what she’s going to find in the forbidden books.

  9. cait

    And then…what happened?! 🙂 I found myself really wanting to know what she found in the “books with the black covers”. Definate feeling of forbidden here.

  10. Brianna

    Love it. I’m dying to know what happened. I can’t wait to read Finding Agnes in its entirety.

  11. Wisper

    Great piece! The sense of the forbidden is woven in well throughout the scene. And that you captured it from a child’s point of view is even better.

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