My 2010 NaNoWriMo entry is a story entitled “A Mother’s Heart” and varies a good deal from P&P canon, but I believe it’s a modern tale (if a bit of a tear-jerker) that many of you will enjoy.

After several years of working together, my dearest McBeta has decided to stop editing for others period. She is a published writer in her own right and between family obligations and her own deadlines has found it increasingly difficult to meet timely goals for others. When I finish A Mother’s Heart, I will be looking for a new Beta. I am not looking for a repeat of OoR where the story grew by leaps and bounds after NaNo was over. Reservations was originally 90,000 words at the end of last November and at last count it was well over 200,000 (and still growing) and that is why it’s been slower (especially lately) to post. I fully intend to turn over Heart in it’s entirety for editing when complete and then we’ll go from there.

So, OoR is still coming. We’re heading into the later portion of the story and things will start moving faster from here. As quickly as I get chapters back from McBeta, you’ll get them. In the meantime, please take a look at the prologue to A Mother’s Heart and let me know what you think.

-Thanks! -Jen aka michchick

 

A Mother’s Heart

 

For my Uncle Dennis, God rest his soul.

And for Kristen, Cheryl & Carla and all the others who are born with ‘broken’ hearts.

 

Prologue

 Labor Day, September 1992

From the backseat of his parent’s car, a sullen eleven-year-old William Darcy asked, “Why do I have to be nice to her? She’s so weird.” Before his parents could address their churlish son, he continued, “And her lips are blue!”

Exasperated, yet again, with his son, George Darcy begged his wife, “Anne, please talk to your son. I’ve tried but he only seems to listen to you!”

Anne Darcy, who was blessed with patience that would make any saint jealous, turned to address her pouty child. “Now William, Lizzy can’t help that her lips are blue any more than you can help that your hair is curly or your eyes are brown. The poor dear has a bad heart and because her circulation, or the way that her blood moves through her body, is poor because of something called cyanosis. She’s not weird at all- she just has a broken heart.”

William had at least listened. “Sounds pretty weird to me. If her heart’s broken, can’t she just get a new one?”

Anne shook her head. “It’s not that easy William. Hearts are not exactly sold in stores, are they?”

Unable to recall ever seeing one, William said, “I guess not. They should try Hammacher Schlemmer. They sell everything at Hammacher Schlemmer.”

George corrected his son. “That’s just being absurd, William. While they do seem to have almost anything you could want, there are some things that even money can’t buy.”

William, even at eleven, knew his family to be wealthier than most. “I bet we could.”

While George and Anne sought to not spoil their son, they had been unable to get their respective families to adhere to their wishes. “Anne, your son needs to have a few things explained to him and I just can’t!”

Anne Darcy sighed and began trying to make William understand. For the rest of the ride to the Bennet’s, Anne made clear that there were some things that all the money in the world could not buy.

~*~

Upon arriving at the Bennet’s home, the Darcys were greeted by a jolly looking man wearing an apron smeared with barbecue sauce. “George! Damn, it’s good to see you!”

The men shook hands. “It’s good to see you too Steven.”

“Anne,” said Steven Bennet, “it’s really been too long. Frankie will be thrilled to see you.”

“I’ve missed her too. And all of you as well,” she said.

“And where could William be?” asked Steven while looking right at the boy. He made a show of looking in the car and said, “I thought for sure you’d bring your son with you… but I don’t see him anywhere!”

William cleared his throat. “I’m right here Mr. Bennet. It’s me, William.”

With a wink to George he said, “That can’t be! George is this right? He’s not a little boy anymore at all! No, this here’s a proud, young man!”

William knew Mr. Bennet was being ridiculous, but he didn’t mind at all. Of all the people that he had to see because of his father’s business, he liked Mr. Bennet best of the lot. Standing as tall and proud as he could, he said, “I’m eleven now, sir. I’m starting sixth grade this week.”

“And how shall you like it? Are you a good student?”

“I like school alright, I guess. I get straight A’s, sir.”

Steven put his hand on William’s shoulder and smiled. “Very like my little Lizzy. She’s very bright and I think that you’ll get on well with her once you get to know her.”

Despite being certain that he would never under any circumstances ever like the blue-lipped girl, he answered, “Yes, sir.”

“Excellent!” said Steven. “Well then, shall we go and catch up with the rest of the party? Everyone’s out back.”

Steven Bennet had known George Darcy since their days together at Harvard. It had taken George years to finally convince his dear friend to come and head his company’s IT division, but persistence had paid off at last. Once Steven had given in and decided to join Pembertech, he relocated his family from New York to California.

Each of the Bennets had taken the move very differently. For Frankie Bennet, she had come home. Having grown up in the Bay area as a girl, she was ecstatic to be closer to her extended family and old childhood friends. The rest of the family each took the move differently.

The eldest Bennet offspring, Jane, was such a sweet and amiable girl that she was just happy to be anywhere she so happened to be. At thirteen, with long honey-colored hair, blue eyes and skin which easily bronzed, Jane very much looked like she was born to be a California girl. At nine, Lindsey Bennet was a toe-headed terror who cried and whined every waking moment that she’d been forced against her will to leave all her friends and how life would never be the same. And then there was ten-year-old Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Bennet was just grateful that she was still alive.

Born with several serious congenitive heart issues, the Bennets had been told very early and often that every day that little Lizzy had was a gift. She had already undergone several open-heart surgeries and had been on the UNOS list for several years. Frequent doctor’s visits, hyberbaric oxygen treatments and more medications than she could count were the keys to her survival until the right heart became available.

Aside from her pallid complexion and blue lips, Lizzy was a beautiful girl. Her large, deep blue eyes always seemed to shine especially bright and she was rarely without a mischievous grin upon her face. Since she could not exert herself physically like other children her age, Lizzy had buried herself in books and consequently was found to be very wise for so young a person.

Lizzy was sitting on a garden swing in the backyard reading The Secret Garden, just content to be sitting in the fresh air and sunshine, when she overheard some boys.

“So are you going to join in any of the games today Will? Or are you going to be as boring as always?”

Without looking up from her book, Lizzy recognized the boy who’d just spoke as Charlie Bingley. Charlie was almost thirteen and lived next door. Jane thought he was really cute, but it would be social suicide to admit you liked a boy in a younger grade.

“Games? Those are for babies. I don’t think so.”

Lizzy smiled. She’d know that stuck-up brat William Darcy anywhere.

There weren’t a lot of kids in their age range at these events. Most of the other kids were in high school or diapers, which left very few options for anyone to hang out with.

“Will, trust me on this. The grown-ups are going to make all the kids play this year. Don’t you realize what this means?”

Lizzy had to hold the book closer to her face to hide her smirk. Charlie was so easy to figure out!

William had to admit he didn’t. “No, I guess I don’t. What do you mean?”

“Girls, you idiot! It means we can be paired up with girls! And have you looked at some of these girls? They are hot! Imagine being tied up with Jenna Long or Kate Gould for the three-legged race?”

“Jenna and Kate are in high school! I think you’re the idiot Charlie! Those girls won’t want anything to do with a seventh grade moron like you.”

“Okay, I give you that. Jenna and Kate are way out there, but I may actually get a shot at Jane Bennet today!”

“Somehow, I doubt that.”

“Oh, do you? Did you wanna make a bet on it?”

“You’re really very stupid, aren’t you? No, I don’t want to make a bet, no I don’t want to be paired off with a girl and no, I don’t want to play any baby games. All I want to do is go home and be left alone!”

“Fine! If you want to be left alone… then go and be alone, like Lizzy.”

“Like Lizzy? Please don’t compare me to that weird girl! She doesn’t even hardly go outside! Did you see her at the pool last week? She’s got all sorts of scars and stuff. What kind of blue-lipped freak is she anyways?”

Although she had a frail heart, Elizabeth Bennet had thick skin. William’s rude and insensitive remarks were nothing she hadn’t heard before. Closing her book, she walked right up to the two boys and, directly addressing William, said, “I’m the Modern Prometheus.”

Not understanding why weird-girl was speaking to him at all, or even what she’d said, William asked, “Excuse me?”

With that toothy lop-sided grin of hers that he hated, she answered, “You asked what kind of freak I am and so I’m telling you that I’m the Modern Prometheus. There’s your answer. Now you boys have fun with the baby games! Oh, and good luck with the girls!” She giggled as she walked away to return to the house. 

William was dumbfounded. “Weird girl is laughing at me! No one laughs at me!”

Now Charlie was laughing too. “Yeah they do. They just do it behind your back. Now let’s go find some girls.”

~*~

The Pembertech Labor Day Company Picnic was in full swing and everyone, even William, seemed to be having fun. The band had just begun playing when someone came running from the house in search of Steven Bennet.

Maggie, their housekeeper, was out of breath from running.

Having never known Maggie to run for anything, Steven grew afraid. “What’s this about Maggie? What’s wrong? Is it Lizzy?”

At last, Maggie could speak. “Yes Mr. Bennet, it’s about Miss Lizzy. UNOS is on the phone!”

Creative Commons License
A Mother’s Heart by michchick AKA Jennifer Hickling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

So… Chapter one then opens up six years later in 1998 and we go from there. The story is firmly outlined and while it’s very sad and seemingly hopeless in a few parts, I believe in the end this will be one of my favorite things that I’ve written.

Thank you, as always, for your kindness and support!

-Jen aka michchick

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