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May Story Chat: “Nailing It” by Anne Stormont

Welcome to Story Chat

Friends, I want to welcome both YOU and this month’s author, Anne Stormont, to Story Chat. This month’s Story Chat, a “family drama” that never seems to end between a mother and daughter.

When you’re done be sure to click on Anne’s links to read .

“Nailing It”

by Anne Stormont

“Stop it,” Evie begged. She looked at the pile of dirty dishes – her mother’s best china. Mother had insisted that everyone should come back to the house for tea, insisted on the good cups and saucers.

“Should have done them last night,” her mother repeated. “I said, didn’t I? But, oh no, too lazy for that––or too drunk.”

“Drunk?” Evie said. “You know I don’t drink.”

“Oh, really? I wasn’t cold in my grave yesterday and you were at it.”

“One whisky, Mother, at your wake – to warm me up. It was bloody freezing at the cemetery.”

“Swearing and drinking. No self-control, just like your father.”

‘Here we go,’ Evie thought. She knew nothing could stop her mother – not even being dead. 

Her mother’s voice continued. “No wonder Derek left you. Typical of you, messing up a good marriage to a decent, respectable man.”

“I left him, Mother, because he hit me – the Reverend Derek hit me.”

“I never saw any marks.” 

“I hid them – I hid them from everybody.”

“You probably drove him to it, with your simpering ways. He was a good, god-fearing man. He wouldn’t have meant to hurt you.”

“He put me in hospital!”

Evie could hear her mother tut, could see her vinegary pout.

“He took you on when no other man would. You with your wanton ways. You always did need a tight rein – even then you strayed.

A bleak laugh mixed with the bile in Evie’s throat. 

 “It was no laughing matter,” her mother said. “It was sinful, disgraceful.”

“I was eighteen. I was in love. I––”

“You were eighteen and pregnant. Disgusting little slut.” 

Evie imagined the stiff clawed hands reaching out of the coffin, felt her mother’s grip on her wrist. She recoiled, breathed against the nausea, tried to slam the lid down – but her mother was still too strong for her. 

“It’s just as well your father was already dead. The embarrassment would have killed him.”

Evie thought of her beloved father, saw his lovely smile as he scooped her up and sat her on his red motor-cycle. He’d died thirty years ago when she was ten – left the house one day and never came back. Eva felt suddenly bold. “You killed Daddy. Broke him with your cruel words.” 

Her mother didn’t answer. 

 “And you killed my baby.” 

Evie dared to think she’d silenced her mother’s ghost.

But then, the voice returned, “It wasn’t a baby. It was a shameful liability. I arranged to have it dealt with quickly and discreetly.”

 “Shut up!” Evie slammed her hands down on the worktop. One arm curled around the unwashed crockery and swept it onto the stone floor. “Leave me alone!”

Evie gasped, drenched with the shock of unfamiliar emotions – rage, passion and joy – the sheer unrestrained joy of being alive. The coffin lid had closed.

Evie’s father had ensured that the house would pass to Evie on her mother’s death. The dark, Victorian villa in Edinburgh reeked of her mother, and selling it felt like the first nail in her mother’s coffin.

The local church was the sole beneficiary of her mother’s money. When the minister called to thank her she told Evie that the money would be split between the local women’s refuge and a church support programme for teenage mothers. “Well, that’s two more nails in the bitch’s coffin,” Evie had said, laughing.

A few weeks later, on a sunny Saturday morning in Inverness, she was on her way home from a walk in her local park. It was then that she saw it. It glinted in the sunshine as if it was winking at her. She crossed the forecourt of the motor-cycle dealership to have a closer look. It was sleek and red with chrome trims. She ran her hand along its seat, caught the scent of leather and oil, squeezed the grips on the handlebars.

“Beautiful, isn’t she?”

Evie looked round. A man stood beside her. He looked about Evie’s age and was dressed in overalls. He extended his hand. “Ted,” he said. “Ted Roberts, owner of this establishment.”

“Evie,” she replied, shaking his hand. “Yes she is beautiful and I’d like to buy her.”

Ted smiled and Evie noticed that it was a lovely, warm, open smile. “Right,” he said. “Well, that’s the easiest sale I’ve ever made! Come inside and we’ll do the paperwork.”

“Do you want it delivered or will you come and collect it?” Ted asked, when they’d concluded the deal.

“I’ll need it delivered. I don’t have a licence – yet.”

“Okay,” said Ted, smiling again. “No problem.” 

Evie thought how she liked his smile, liked how Ted appeared neither mocking nor judgemental.

“Or I could keep it here – until you’re ready to drive it away yourself.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t ask you to do that.”

“Please, I want to. You can visit the bike whenever you like. Actually, I hope you will – that way I know I’ll see you again.”

Evie laughed. “Okay, then I’ll leave it here.” 

“Happy?” Ted asked, slipping his arm around Evie and smiling his gorgeous smile. 

“Oh, yes,” she replied, kissing him on the mouth. 

It was a year to the day since they’d met. It was wet and windy, and they had the top deck of the cross-channel ferry to themselves. Their motor bikes were stowed below. They planned to spend their honeymoon biking down through France and Spain.

Ted took her in his arms, pushed her windswept hair back from her face, and kissed her long and slow.

“I’m so glad we decided to do this.” Evie said a little while later, still standing in her husband’s embrace. “It’ll be so lovely just taking our time, doing whatever we fancy…”

“And what might you fancy?” Ted grinned.

“You, Mr Roberts – you.” Evie said, smiling back.

Ted laughed. “You’re a wanton hussy. Do you know that?”

“Yes, I am. I am!” Evie raised her arms in the air. “Wanton and proud of it!” she called to the gulls circling overheard. Ted laughed again. Evie looked at him. She’d never felt so happy.

And that was the final nail in her mother’s coffin.  

Anne Stormont Biography

Anne Stormont is a Scot and is the author of four contemporary romantic novels – one is a standalone and the other three make up the Skye series. The books are all second-chance romances where the main characters may be older but are certainly no wiser. She has also published one children’s novel under the name of her alter-ego Anne McAlpine. 

Although she has lived in Scotland all her life, Anne is well travelled having visited every continent except Antarctica.

She began making up stories as a child to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult with a busy life as a mother and teacher, it took her a long time and a bit of a dramatic wake-up call for her to get that first book written. Anne is currently writing a new novel set in the Scottish Borders.

When she’s not writing Anne enjoys reading – a lot –  yoga, walking and gardening. She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and spending precious time with her friends and family. 

You can connect online with Anne and find out more about her books and writing life at the following places:

Now it’s your turn.

Don’t be shy. Say what you are thinking and respond to the others taking part in Story Chat. You have two weeks to come back again and again before the summary post.

Evie gasped, drenched with the shock of unfamiliar emotions – rage, passion and joy – the sheer unrestrained joy of being alive. The coffin lid had closed.

Anne Stormont – “Nailing It”
  • What do you think caused this turning point?
  • Why did her mother have such a strong hold on Evie?
  • Have you ever had to claw your way out of a relationship?

The local church was the sole beneficiary of her mother’s money.

 Anne Stormont “Nailing It”

Why do you think Evie felt the way she did when she heard this news?

WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE ABOUT “Nailing IT?”

71 replies »

  1. Reblogged this on Put it in Writing and commented:
    I was delighted to be invited by writer and blogger Marsha Ingrao to share one of my short stories as part of the story chat feature on her blog. Below is Marsha’s post where you can read my story. I hope you enjoy. And many thanks to Marsha.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved it! I could see and hear Evie’s controlling mother… until I read that she wasn’t actually present. Still, Evie was under her influence, reaching out from the grave to continue her domination.
    It was good to follow Evie’s recovery, from the first thought of rebellion prompted by her lost father to the act of rebellion that closes the coffin. We enjoy hearing of the nails that keep it down – the spiteful disinheriting of her daughter which is turned against her wishes – and the new life that buries the old witch for good. I particularly liked that the final nail in her mother’s coffin was to revel in the freedom to be wanton – the term originally hurled by her mother as a condemnation.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s been lovely to read all the comments that people have taken the time to post here. Thank you, all. This story was originally double the length it is here but I edited it down to fit the brief for story chat. This wasn’t easy but it was also good for me and the story as I had to pare it down to just the essentials. I know the topics of the death and of an abusive parent are rather dark but essentially this story wasn’t about the mother and actually her death for Evie, her daughter was a positive thing. However, I was concerned it might be considered too dark for what in the end is really a romantic and hopeful tale. I hope I got the balance right. I’m also thinking of using the character of Evie in a romantic novel where I can explore more of her past and her future with a character like Ted. In the story above Evie is forty but I wonder if I’ll stick to that or make her a bit younger, or older … If younger then maybe she could have a child of her own. Maybe her mother and her would get to reach some sort of reconciliation before the mother’s death but the effects of the past wouldn’t be forgotten by Evie. But whatever her story would be a romantic one with a happy ending because that’s what I do 🙂 Please feel free to share your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a great introspective, mindful comment, Anne. One of the things that I’ve learned from Charli Mills is to trim a story down to 99 words, then further down to 9 then back up to 99 then on to the real thing. In the Story Chat Summary, the first thing I do is to parse it down to 99 words. I tried 9 words for a while. That is really difficult, but it makes you choose what is really important. What I love about Story Chat is how deep it takes our thinking about the story and then about life. I think the balance is right, but in a short story an awful lot happened to Evie: teen age pregnancy when that wasn’t acceptable, a horrible mother, a horrible first husband who beat her and on and on. Poor Evie. Which one or two of the horrible things affected her the most? I think the overarching idea was how unsympathetic her mother was. All the other things she treated as incidental and they were also pretty huge. The mother’s response all pointed to her lack of sympathy. Why was she so mean? Was she just a narcissist? Was their a secret about the daughter that the daughter didn’t find out until after mom was gone? Was there any redeeming trait in Mom. How did other people react to Mom? Was the daughter hiding something or being overly reactive? Lots of ways this could go in a longer story. I’m so glad you shared it with us, Anne. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As soon as I knew that Evie’s mother was dead and that she was hearing her voice in her head, mental health problems came to mind. Probably because I recently listened to a radio show about people who hear voices in their head and how it’s often connected to mental health. It makes me wonder if Ted is indeed a lucky man having married Evie? And (according to her mother’s voice) hadn’t she strayed from a marriage once before? Whist I condemn violence of any kind, is that why Reverend Derek had hit her when he found out that Evie had been unfaithful?
    Looks like I’m going down a different path here and thinking Evie is beating herself up for the person she really is.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh my, Hugh, you are going down a different path, but it opens up a new perspective. Great discussion. Personally, I don’t think there is ever a reason for a spouse to hit another spouse unless they are defending themselves or preventing the spouse from harming someone else. We don’t know what is happening with her and the Rev. But to be sure someone in a longer story might side with him or even the mother. I will have to re-read, but was Evie unfaithful to him. I thought she had a baby when she was a teen – either rape or promiscuity, I’m not sure which, but that was before the Rev. Rape, pregnancy, having to give up the baby all of those issues around teen pregnancy is enough to cause mental issues for Evie. The Rev. might have come along because he thought she would be easy to control and that led to abuse.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had to go back and reread the story after reading your comment, Marsha. The reason why I still think she was unfaithful to the Reverend is this line in the story –

        You always did need a tight rein – even then, you strayed.

        It comes straight after the discussion about the marriage to him. To me, it’s referring to Evie straying during that marriage. Of course, I could be wrong, but that’s how I read it. But that’s what this feature is for and is all about – the discussion of what we think is going on. I still feel rather sorry for Ted.

        Liked by 2 people

        • You are the perfect story chatter, Hugh. This is what I love!

          I took that sentence in the context of the entire quote.

          “”He took you on when no other man would. You with your wanton ways. You always did need a tight rein – even then you strayed.”

          I think Evie’s mom was talking about HER tight rein. “You always did need a tight rein.” That reference could go back to her babyhood. She had kept a tight rein on her daughter ALL her life and even so she got pregnant. (Of course, she was looking for love.)

          You could be right, but that’s my take on it. Granted Evie might have been a complainer “simpering” because that’s what her mother accused her of doing that drove him to hit her. She whined or whimpered, he got irritated and hit. But who cares, he was the only one who would take her. She had no self-esteem and her mother probably pushed her towards him.

          If you want to get really nitty gritty. I think he didn’t want to have sex. I think her mother subconsciously knew that. He was so outwardly self-respectable that her mother thought he would cure her from WANTING sex. This man was too busy, to God-fearing, or had no desire or ability. She needed it, asked for it, simpering. He didn’t want to have sex. She kept pestering him. He got mad and hit her. By this time she’s 40. It doesn’t sound like she’d been married too long. It’s a long ways from 18 to 40. Was she married to him from age 19 to age 40. If so that’s 20 miserable years. Or did she come back after having her baby and sleep around for several years- a more likely scenario.

          What we don’t know is what happened to the young man she loved and had gotten her pregnant when she was 18. Did he refuse to marry her. Did she even tell him or did her mother whisk her away leaving him behind hurt?

          There’s a lot of character development that can’t happen in a short story, but wow, you have made me dig deeper.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Having reread the story, I took “even then you strayed” as her mother, knowing that Evie strayed whilst married to the Reverend. And what I missed and got me thinking that Evie did stray was she jokingly agreeing that she is a wanton hussy when answering Ted’s question. But was that a joke, or for real? However, as Doug says in his comment, short stories often leave it up to the reader to decide what is going on.

            I’m still of the opinion that Evie may have some mental health problems. Her mother’s voice in her head went on for quite a long time the day after the funeral. There was a lot of details in her mother’s dialogue.
            However, had I not listened to that radio programme I spoke about in my first comment, maybe I would have gone down a different route? Sometimes, current events in our lives can determine where we go with stories when reading and watching them.

            Can you imagine if we were all sat around a table talking about this? It would make quite the debate.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I know. A sip of wine, a kind comment from someone, another sip, a real statement about the story from someone. Another sip, A wait a minute remark from someone, and then it begins. The huge difference with this is that the author gets to sit in on the conversations and say what he or she meant, and hear what others thought he or she might have meant. On a side note, I think we can substitute the word they for he and she even when its singular. I’m just not sure of it yet. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

    • Well,let’s think about that. We are given Evie’s take, her representation of her mother. Is that self serving rather than accurate..sure mother might be over protective and Evie increasingly resented that so created monster which would justify her antagonism. Mother is dead – how? Evie the poisoner? Now being hit isn’t ever justified nor taking away a child – was the child adopted or killed? Another ambiguity. Hughs mental health theory might have merit.if Evie has a borderline personality disorder when she would find.someone to blame.for her own.ills – teenage.pregnancy, foolish marriage to a wife beater. Now mother has gone,.she isn’t there to be blamed. So she continues her victim hood in her imagination. Until Ted turns up to be a flesh and blood substitute.
      Or we can take this at face value and glory in Evie’s escape from that passive aggressive harridan of a parent!! Whichever version is right we need to keep an eye on Ted…. seems a bit of a silver tongued chancer. The easiest sale comment suggests he’s aware she’s pretty flush if she can wander in, buy several 100 £££ of horsepower and not yet have a licence. Gold digger?

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Interesting debate! Even I don’t know all the answers. I hadn’t even thought of the questions! I didn’t meant to suggest Evie had been unfaithful – simply that she followed (or tried to ) follow her own path which wasn’t the one approved by her mother. As for the ‘simpering’ that was the mother/husband’s way of describing Evie expressing an opinion. I see Evie as standing up for herself rather than beating herself up. She’s replaying old conversations in her head – not because of any sort of mental illness as in ‘hearing voices’ but as a way of reflecting and having her say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh, okay, Anne, I took from the way I read the story that the voices in Evie’s head were real. That’s why I went down the mental health issues route. There was much detail in the mother’s dialogue, far more than I would have thought there would have been if Evie was just reflecting. Maybe my listening to a radio programme about mental health and hearing voices in the head drove me down that route? But that’s just some feedback from me. However, it’s a powerful and well-written story that took me down a different route. Even the way Evie joked and laughed at Ted’s question when on the cross-channel ferry had me asking if she was joking or laughing because Ted was on to her.
      Well done on a great story that has got us all talking and debating. That’s what exactly what ‘Story Chat’ is all about.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Well said, Hugh. And who knows, maybe there was a touch of mental illness. There is not such a stigma about suffering from mental issues as there was even 50 years ago. We go through times of stress, and it’s good to consult with a professional. Thanks for making this session what Story Chat is about. When we write, it’s very personal, and this takes the character into a new dimension where other things are possible. I think Anne has a lot to work with here, and can flesh out some of the other characters based on our conversations. I can hear some of our words turning into conversations between characters. Thanks again for everything you do, Hugh! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Great story, Anne, and very well written. If I was going to be as speculative as Hugh about Evie’s mental health I would be more likely to be thinking about Sibyl, the character Sally Field played back in the 70’s, and her evil mother, played by Joanne Woodward. But I’m not heading down that path; short stories need to stand on their own two feet, with us as readers accepting what we’ve been given on its own terms. To me it’s a story of a determined young woman, deserted by her loving father, abused by her husband and verbally tortured by a harridan mother but finding a way to desert them all in return. My only minor quibble is that I think there needs to be some break indicated after the first meeting with Ted; on first reading it seemed like they kissed when they first met at the bike shop.
    You are clearly a gifted writer, Anne, and although romance is not my normal tipple (being the ageing curmudgeon that I am) you deserve a wide audience and I wish you every success.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Doug. I enjoyed reading your thoughtful comments and your best wishes are appreciated. Yes, there is a scene break gap in the original word document exactly where you suggest it should be, but it disappeared in the WordPress format.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Anne,
        This is only my second visit to Marsh’s get-together and I’m so glad I came back around. Your story was a wonderful read. I loved the progressive discovery of how your scenes unfolded, the depth and hatred between mom and daughter and the satisfied hope that Evie finally gets some kind of break in life that was more than just a reciprocal dream of a wounded woman (I half expected Ted to be just in her imagination and was delighted to not find that to be true.)
        Okay, all that said, I do try to offer ideas for improvement or discussion, but Anne, you made this step tough!

        1) That first kiss was a tough transition. I was going to mention it and saw that someone beat me to it and that your context switch was somehow dropped. I’d like to ask what you used as a; what do they call that thing, often we see a centered “# # #” or one of my favorites for some types of writing an image of some kind. A flowing flourish for a Victorian romance or a little space ship for some space operas. That thing has a name but I don’t know it. I too wanted one where you said yours was deleted somehow. How could that happen?

        2) I’ve found that I both like to write and read stories that are mostly first person told by the story characters. Most of you story was told by Evie or her mom. Ted presented himself well enough, but I’d love to have heard more of how he managed to catch Evie’s wounded heart. You had one notable jump out to a narrator voice when the minister called to inform Evie how their share of the inheritance would be used. Could that paragraph not have been written using the minister’s actual words. It would have kept your readers “listening to your characters speak” as I like to say.

        3) I loved the scene which you so tightly captured with the line; “You, Mr Roberts – you.” but does your “Mr” need a period, as in “Mr.”? A tiny thing if I’m correct, but such is the type of improvements you’ve left us with.

        Closing on another note of praise, I loved the final jolt you gave us, or at least me. In your final scene, Ted calls her a “wanton hussy”. I thought for sure, Evie would not be able to take this remark as Ted intended but as a painful fresh injury taken right from the script of her mother’s love-less abuse. Her response instead of exploding the relationship instead became a huge piece of evidence of her escaping the battle scene between her and her ghost of a mom. You dropped me into a state of “Oh-no!” but instead let Evie step up and crush the unintended insult.

        Oh – I just found a number 4) Given what I said above about letting your characters tell the story, could not your (already powerful) ending of “She’d never felt so happy. [new paragragh] And that was the final nail in her mother’s coffin.” … could have been kept in Evies’ own words if rendered as some version of; ‘I’m so completely happy,’ she thought. ‘ This man is the perfect final nail for mom’s coffin.’

        Bravo Anne! Bravo!

        Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m going to jump back in here to say that I have found some of the commentary on Anne’s story disturbing on many levels. If you re-read the story and take it on it’s merits, I have difficulty understanding why anyone would think that Evie was doing anything other than escaping abusive relationships with both her mother and her ex-husband, which is the epitome of mental and emotional strength and rational behaviour. All of the half-baked Dr. Google theories on the state of her mental health seem to me to serve and rationalise her abuse by others, which is one of the most pernicious and undermining aspects of society’s treatment of abused women. As for heading down the track of Ted being a gold-digger or someone who has twigged to the fact that she is a mentally unbalanced manipulator, I shake my head in disbelief. This is clearly a romantic and positive tale, albeit arising from grim beginnings, and I encourage you, Anne, to keep it that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for weighing in again. I think if Anne expands her story into a full length novel some of the conversations in the mouths of the abusers would help to cement her position as she proves she’s not those things. Have you seen “Woman in the Window?” It’s a perfect example of being misunderstood. Anne is way too kind and sweet to ever come up with some of these accusations. But her character could now grapple with them, and Ted could help her. Thus proving his loyalty and clean motives.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I didn’t see the reviews, but it was interesting the way they wove her secrets in and out. It was a real shocker in the end, but she proved her sanity, which was a bit in question. I thought it was well worth wtching.

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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