‘Writing Family History’ is the course I am currently studying.  We are being encouraged to write concisely and, so far, assignments have had a maximum word count of just 250 words.  We are also learning about turning names, dates and facts from the census, birth certificates and other documents we discover in our research into flesh and blood; trying to get a feel for, and understand, the person involved.   So, for this week’s assignment, I challenged myself to do some creative writing in an attempt to capture  my husband,  John’s great grandmother as a young woman….


The driver pulls on the reins and the horses slow to a stop outside a double storey building with an upstairs veranda. The blue paint is peeling and the building is in need of repair.

“This is it,” my mother puts her hand on my arm gently.  My stomach sinks. I had always dreamed of coming to Sydney, but not like this.

We alight from the carriage onto the street, muddy from the constant stream of horse vans and the occasional motor car.  I hold onto my mother whose face is pale. Tears sting my eyes.

“It will be fine dear.  I will be staying close-by.”

As we approach the front door, we are confronted by a sign and I drop my head in shame.  Inside a plump woman in a nurse’s uniform greets us.  My mother gives my name, in hushed tones.

“How old are you dear?” the nurse asks me.

“Seventeen,” my mother answers for me, “she was born in December 1893.”

“And how far gone is she?”

I start to cry. I can’t believe I am standing here in a Mission Home in the city, miles from our home.

“Hush now,” my mother scolds but gently.

I’m scared. I know I have to live here for the next six months.  Mother says she will raise the baby as her own.  No-one will ever know.  But I’m scared.  I don’t know how to have a baby.  I don’t know what the future holds. I’m just so scared.