The Humpty Dumpty Girl




I know it’s only been three weeks since I was left here, because Sammy showed me how to mark time. We were in the alleyway, the women gathering around us, waiting to see me gone.

‘Here,’ said Sammy, scratching the wall with a piece of coal. ‘Six lines down, one across makes a week. Like a gate.’

I said the words over and over as Da dragged me away, as the women looked on, shawled arms folded under smug smiles.

I have three gates scratched under my bed.

‘They’ll beat you with a cane ’til you’re black,’ Nell said when she caught me finishing the second gate.

Now she’s lying in a bed in the infirmary, head wrapped round in bandages – the Humpty Dumpty girl who fell off the wall. Matron asked me how it happened – sad faced, I shook my head and returned to my spindles.

Tonight, I’ll make another mark with my pocketknife. Perhaps tomorrow is the day Sammy will come to take me home.

If it is, I shall set a fire in the dropped threads, watch Matron and Nell and the clack-clack looms flame until there’s nothing but ash and the stench of burnt cotton.


For week ten of FFftPP. A very lovely, creepy photo that brought out the very worst in me.


28 thoughts on “The Humpty Dumpty Girl

  1. Ha! You just couldn’t resist having another go at that image Sonya posted, could you? I’m not surprised, and you made an excellent job of it.
    I’m glad the girl has a rebellios spirit – it may do her harm in some ways but I expect it’ll be the saving of her in the end, and she’ll live happily ever after on Planet Fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is a good photo! Not quite sure why the girl turned out slightly dangerous to know, but hey, she’s a survivor. She won’t be popular, but she’ll still be standing long after others have fallen. Thanks Jane 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I expect she’s just responding to her harsh surroundings. She’ll be in charge of the place in a few years time, and shell paint the place baby pink, and be like a mother to all those poor children – or not 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’d like to keep up with her progress – is that a possibilty?
        If you’re anything like me, the answer is no. I can’t count the number of characters I’ve left hanging with an empty promise to get back to them later, and complete their story…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It would be so much easier if we could be more single-minded – if our brains tucked away any new ideas in a box, and let us concentrate on what we were doing until it was complete – only then letting the best stored idea out…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a terrifyingly dark story, Lynn!
    I want to know more. Why did she beat up Nell when Nell told her they would beat her for marking time? I feel so sorry for her, and yet, her rage is frighteningly murderous. Alas, she’s not going to have a good future, if the story continues.
    A beautifully written, hauntingly narrated story.
    So glad that you stopped by my blog, and so glad to be able to make your online acquaintance!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Likewise! Thank you for your kind comments.
      I think the poor girl is angry at being rejected and sent to such a dark place away from home. She wants revenge on the world and Nell got in the way.
      The narrator is a fighter, so her future may not be rosy – but it is guaranteed.
      Thank you for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a tight little tale, quite hope-sapping and a snapshot of how so many lives were — and sadly may still be — lived. But great atmosphere and strong images, so powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Chris 🙂 I often think about all the millions of people who’ve lived before us, who had zero quality of life and merely worked to live with little else of joy or pleasure to their brief existences. And as you say, it’s still happening around the world today. Sobering thought and a prompt to count every blessing. Thank you again – you’re very kind 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Walt! I do love this flash fiction lark. Problem is, it’s so much easier than plotting a novel, it’s almost tempting to write little else – that way madness lies 🙂
      How’s your own book going?

      Liked by 1 person

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