Born Bad

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Many say that murderers are made not born. I once subscribed to this view until Charmaine came into my life.

I was the midwife who attended her birth, which was at home. This was at the mother’s explicit request. The birth was a troubling one, causing much pain and trauma. We ran from birthing room to kitchen for towels, both to mop the poor woman’s brow and to swaddle the youngster when it finally arrived.

There was many a moment when I thought we would lose both mother and child. But we all persevered through the burdensome time. There were occasions when we felt certain the child simply did not want to be born and was clinging to the comfort of the womb rather than take the next step in life. We did all this to the sound of the foulest storm outside...clapping thunder and lightning cutting across a blackened sky.

When Charmaine was eventually born, she was the loveliest creature I had ever laid eyes on. She looked angelic as she lay sucking her thumb in her cradle, the lightest golden curl playing softly on her forehead.

But as I bundled this long awaited and much anticipated child in her swaddling clothes, I swear I saw a sly smile crease the new arrival’s rose shaped mouth. I caught her eyes as she prised them open sleepily and captured my glance.  My heart froze.

I swear evil looked at me through those black pupils.

Charmaine’s parents gave me the duty of caring for their daughter over the years. She was an impossible child to raise...always hiding and scaring the life out of me by appearing as though through a mist from behind a clump of trees or showing me the latest poor creature which had suffered at her hands ...a wingless fly or broken necked kitten.

I struggled to cope with this torment, but I always excused it by telling myself that children are naturally without feelings. I somewhat naively told myself that they acquire an understanding of other people’s feelings as they go through their own travails and out of sympathy become gentler and kinder. But as time went by she gave me no reason to believe this to be the case. In fact she delighted in tormenting me more and more, hiding my uniforms or stealing my combs so I could not appear as I should to my employer. Unable to tolerate this any longer, I left the McGantry’s employ and found a job at a teahouse positioned in a grand stately home.

As I made my goodbyes, I was surprised when Charmaine, all golden locks and frilly dress, flung her arms around me and burst into heartbroken tears. I cautiously put my arms around her heaving body and I heard her whisper in the cruellest way, “you are not allowed to leave me. I will hunt you down.”

She was just ten years old.

Shocked and shaking, I left the mansion where I had happily lived for eleven years.

Writing order: Lrennes (USA), Gabrielle Burt (NZ), Donna McTavish (NZ), Linda alley (Aus), Rosemary Wakelin (Aus), Ray Stone (Cyprus), Anna Zhigareva (Scot), Hemali Ajmera (India), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Neil Churches (Aus)


Thanks Angela I loved writing it actually. I think it might be something that took shape as I was reading Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'.
I think this is a new exciting direction for you and one that indicates a step into an area you have not been before. Don't we all get to a point and suddenly realise we just changed gear? You can't put your finger on it but all of a sudden something clicks and we know we have written something rather special. This preface has the magic ingredient that a lot of new writers find hard to discover. The ability to write a first page that draws the reader in and makes them want to read more. What makes it really good is that you don't have to wait for readers to tell you that - you know as soon as you read through it just before you publish it. Congrats Suraya. This is great.
Thanks Ray, you have described exactly how I felt about it and the process.
This is spine chilling - I know of true stories where a baby was seen to have evil inside them at birth and in later years have turned out to be killers. Suraya captures the shock, horror of an adult viewing this in a baby - it is unsettling, and rattles the inner cages - beautifully crafted and I support the others comments.
During my years teaching, i have encountered children who just don't feel right. Thankfully there were very, very few. This is scary stuff and as always so well written, Suraya... enough to chill me. Definitely booking a chapter.