This short story, “The Calling,” was submitted by a young writer who has asked for feedback and is happy to share that feedback with a bigger audience. I will not be correcting grammar and spelling, just the telling of the story. However, I should point out that this writer has put a space after quotation marks and that is incorrect. There are no spaces required between quotation marks and the words or punctuation marks contained within them. – Laura
- the title works
” Child, you are being impossible!” Mrs. Kenwig was pacing the room and wringing her hands, “ Mr. Roswell is a very fine man and is to inherit his father’s estate. With a husband like that your father and I should have no more worries.” Mrs. Kenwig then sat down on the chaise and began to sob. Mr. Kenwig picked up where she left off. - I like how this story starts with conflict and the characters in action.
“ Charlotte, it is not only the provision of your mother and me we are thinking of, at ten thousand a year Mr. Roswell will be able to give you everything we ever wanted for you and more.” - paragraph break here Charlotte’s constant refusal of suitors was beginning to distress her parents. But how could she marry any man of good fortune simply to provide for her family without any regard for her affections and his. She knew what it was like to love a man and be loved in return. The men that called on her and proposed at any opportunity did not want a wife to love and cherish; they wanted a pretty bauble to hang on their arm so they might parade around and boast of their prize. Mr. Fitzwilliam Roswell; like all the other men, thought their great wealth could buy them anything they wanted, even a human being. Everyone had a price.
“ I do not love Mr. Roswell.” Charlotte declared, “ I could never marry a man I do not love.” – the reader already knows this from the previous paragraph – I would shorten the narration and reveal this info in the dialogue
“ Humph. Love.” Mrs. Kenwig sneered, “ How can one in our situation speak of love? You are a dowry-less girl from a family with no connections and I say that you will marry as well as you can. ‘Love’ will come in time. It’s a good thing that Mr. Thatch fellow got typhoid when he did or I suppose you would’ve run off with the beggar.” - start new paragraph At the mention of Edward’s name Charlotte experienced an intense pain in her heart before turning to her mother in anger.
- this is starting to feel like talking heads, can we have some action added or a setting?
“ Edward was not a beggar. The man I loved was a good, and hardworking man. A man who loved me and is worth more than ten of the insufferable heartless men you bring to me by the dozens. It is only for duty towards you and father that I do not wish with all my heart to have died alongside Edward!” - start new paragraph Mrs. Kenwig had grown accustomed to Charlotte’s angry and sorrowful outbursts over the six months it had been since Edward Thatch died. Every time her daughter flew into one of her passionate speeches about ‘love’ Mrs. Kenwig would calmly try to rationalize with her. - show me don’t tell me
“ Dear, one cannot eat love. Love doesn’t buy you a house, care for your family, clothe your children, or buy you pretty things. That is why one needs money. And when one is as pretty as you she must do the best she can.”
“ Mother you do not understand, there is so much more.” Charlotte saw there was no point in trying to explain to her mother. She bid her parents good night and retired to her bedchambers.
The next morning Charlotte awoke to her mother excitedly rummaging through her closet.
“What’s going on mother?” Charlotte inquired.
“ Oh my goodness! Charlotte the most marvelous thing has happened. You were quite right to refuse Mr. Roswell, he is a mere pauper when compared to Mr. Brown.”
“ Mr. Brown?”
“ Yes, dear. Mr. Brown, being an older man, is already rather established and has twenty-five thousand a year! And he has requested that you come to dinner tonight. It is my understanding that he is quite fond of you.”
“ Fond of me? I’ve never even met the man.”
“Don’t be so petty Charlotte, he is the patron of the church. It seems that he saw you there and was very impressed. He wants you to come to dinner tonight. Oh, to think if he should propose!” Mrs. Kenwig continued hustling and bustling about, comparing dresses, shoes and the sort.
“ I’m not going mother.” Mrs. Kenwig stopped what she was doing - what is she doing? and turned to meet her daughter’s gaze. She began to walk towards her.
- I like this exchange
“ I told you that you will do the best you can and I am sure that Mr. Jack Brown is the best you can do and I say you will go.”
“ I tell you I will not go!” Charlotte yelled as she leapt out of the bed.
“ Silence you selfish child!” Mrs. Kenwig struck Charlottes cheek. “ You will go and when Mr. Brown proposes you will accept. Do I make myself quite clear?”
“ Quite, mother.” - need Charlotte’s reaction here and a paragraph break Mrs. Kenwig dramatically gathered her skirts and left the room. Charlotte laid on her bed and wept.
- need to indicate major scene change here * * *
“ Thank you Mr. Brown, for a wonderful dinner. Goodbye Mr. Brown, Miss Charlotte.” The last of Mr. Brown’s dinner guests were departing, leaving Charlotte and Mr. Brown alone in the parlour. Charlotte had spent the whole evening making small talk about frivolous topics just as every ‘proper’ young lady did. She missed the days when she and Edward would spend the day talking about life, and love, and other topics deeper than the weather, dress shops and, gossip. Mr. Brown asked her to “please, sit down” as he pointed to two chairs.
“ Miss Charlotte, I was hoping we would get some time alone for, you see, I have something I should like to ask you.” Mr. Brown attempted to hold Charlotte’s hand but Charlotte quickly folded them and placed them on her lap.
“ I am a man of great fortune. I have a large house, a great amount of servants, and the means to have anything I’d like in life. But to make my success and happiness complete I now need a wife. Do you know whom I have chosen to be my wife?”
“ Miss Bray?” Charlotte asked nervously. Mr. Brown began to laugh.
“ No, darling. You. For you far surpass all the other ladies in beauty and I have chosen you to be my bride.” Charlotte began to stammer and move away from him, but Mr. Brown would not stop.
“I know of your family’s situation, but I am willing to look past your inferiority Charlotte. You will be mistress of my grand household, your family can live here too, and we will be very happy.”
“ But Mr. Brown, you forget I have given you no answer.”
“ Then say yes.” Mr. Brown demanded.
“ I … I cannot accept you.” Charlotte timidly stated.
“ What do you mean you cannot accept me?”
“ I will not marry a man I do not love.”
“ Love.” Mr. Brown spat, “ I am offering you everything any woman could ever want, how dare you refuse me!” Mr. Brown’s blood was beginning to rush o his face. - good action and conflict
“ Mr. Brown, I will not marry you.” Charlotte stood up to leave. Mr. Brown jumped from his chair and stood in her way.
“ I have not said you could leave. I will get what I want.” Mr. Brown grabbed Charlotte, pulled her towards him and began kissing her. Charlotte struggled beneath his weight until she was free and ran to the door. As she left she heard Mr. Brown cursing.
“ You’ll be sorry you tramp!” He yelled as she ran down the road.
Charlotte didn’t know where to go. Her parents would force her to marry Mr. Brown, whom she could never love, she had no other relatives in London, and the only man she’d ever loved was dead. Charlotte walked for blocks as the snow softly fell onto the dark cobblestone road. Charlotte began to cry. She had never been so alone in the world.
“ God,” she sobbed, “ What is to become of me. What do you want me to do?” She stopped walking and looked up at the sky, “Help me.” She whispered. There then came a sound from behind her. Hauntingly beautiful music that sounded familiar. It sounded as if she had heard it every day of her life but only now understood that it had always been meant for her. She turned round to see where the music was coming from. It was coming from the church. The tall spires and painted windows of St. Mark’s Cathedral loomed ahead of her and she was so bound to walk up the steps and through the doors that there seemed no earthly power that could constrain her. As she entered and walked down the aisle she saw where the music was coming from. As she watched the procession of nuns ardently singing their praise and adoration to the Creator she knew this is what she was always meant to be. She tearfully fell in behind the procession and prepared her heart to do the work for which she was created. - break this paragraph up into smaller chunks
More Feedback: This is a great little story. Well told with lots of action and dialogue. The title fits beautifully. One thing I would do to foreshadow the ending is have her parents say something like “it’s your calling to be a wife” earlier in the story.