Part of the process of writing a novel involves creating your characters and getting to know them as if they aren’t just fictional beings on a piece of paper. To do this, I’ve created my protagonist and created a lifeline for her. In this case, my protagonist is called Caia. One of the major life events for her was her mother’s death on her 8th birthday. Although this scene won’t be in the novel, writing it has allowed me to get to know my character more and develop a more realistic sense of how to write her.

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“Wake up Cee-Cee! Looks like the birthday bear has been and left someone a huge pile of presents.” Caia’s mum gently pushed back her daughter’s hair as her tiny eyelids fluttered open.

“Presents…?” Caia responded after letting out a yawn.

Her mum responded with a big smile and a simple nod of the head. With that, Caia swung back her covers and bolted towards the stairs, barely hearing her mum’s warning of not running down the stairs.

“Watch it, you little brat!” screamed Evander as she pushed past her older brother in a desperate attempt to reach her presents.

Just as she was about to pounce, a tall, dark figure appeared looming over her, blocking her from what she spent the last 10 seconds trying to reach. As her still sleepy eyes began adjusting to the giant silhouette in front of her, she was lifted what felt like 50 feet in the air by a mysterious force. She screamed.

“Not so fast, my little wallaby.”

“Daddy!” she protested.

“No presents until tea time, we wait for Mummy to finish work.”

Clearly confused, Caia did her best worm impression and tried to wiggle out of her father’s arms. Evander walked past sniggering. Her mum rushed into the room with one arm in her coat as the other trailed off behind her back.

“Sorry Cee-Cee, mummy’s late for work. I’ll get home as quick as I can, ok?” Moments later, the front door was slamming and a car engine was heard revving before speeding away. Caia, now on her feet, stuck her lower lip out as it began to quiver. Evander slammed his hands over his ears and closed his eyes just as Caia let out an almighty, ear piercing scream.

“We’ll have none of that today, you only have to wait a couple hours, sit down and do some drawing… you know drawing is magic and makes time go super quick.” her dad insisted as he put down her favourite colouring pencils in front of her.

She sniffed and reluctantly sat on the floor and spent the next two hours drawing her favourite ‘My Little Pony’ characters.

THUMP THUMP THUMP! Caia’s head lifted so quickly, nobody else had a chance to react to the loud knocking on the door. For a second, she became an Olympic athlete and sprinted for the door. She swung the door open with a huge smile of her face expecting her mum to be standing there with an extra present to add to her already overflowing pile. Instead, she saw two men wearing blue with letters embroidered on their hats. P-O-L-I-C-E. She spelt the word out in her head; she was eight, not stupid; she knew exactly what it said. Too shocked and frightened to move, Caia stood as still as a statue and continued to stare at the men. Just before the two policemen could speak, her father put his hand on her shoulder.

“Can I help you, officers?”

“Are you Harry Herastall?” replied the taller officer.

“I am, what’s all this about?”

“Can we come in? I’m afraid there’s been an accident involving your wife.”

The next few minutes didn’t seem real. Caia had clung to her dad the whole time, listening to the officers, despite being told to go play with her brother. Caia could hear the ticking of the clock louder and clearer than ever. The voices around her were muffled and everything seemed so much bigger than her. She thought she would be bigger when she turned eight, but she had never felt smaller in her life. Her mind seemed to focus properly again just as the taller officer finished his sentence.

“…she’s dead.”

Caia had run to her room milliseconds later, thoughts and memories rushing through her head of her mum. Was it her fault? If it wasn’t her birthday, would this have happened? Was she rushing to get back for her? Thoughts just kept invading her brain – thoughts eight year old little girls shouldn’t have to be thinking.

Caia stopped dead in her tracks when she entered her bedroom, her eyes transfixed on a small wrapped box in the middle of her bed. She wiped her eyes and picked up the box. A small note was attached: To my Cee-Cee, A special present for you to open in secret. Don’t tell Daddy. I love you. Mummy xx

Caia struggled to read some of the words, the writing was clearly rushed and a little above her normal reading level. This is why she was late for work, she thought. She ripped at the corner of the box and threw the wrapping paper behind her as she went. She looked down at what she was holding; she and her mum’s last ever secret.

Drawing pencils.

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Your feedback would be very much welcomed and appreciated.

Published by Lucy Scoble