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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write something in the YOUNG ADULT or TEEN genre (06/07/07)

TITLE: Ice Baby
By Ann Grover


Pain shrieked through Tori’s body, crimson-red and blistering, and she arched against its raging persistence. Voices reverberated inside her skull, like shattering glass, relentlessly splintering into meaningless sounds.

“Tori, push.” A hazy shape leaned over Tori, but Tori moaned and struck at it, annoyed and irritated. “You need to help.”

Tori sank back into near unconsciousness again, shutting out the lights, the drone of the conversation, the rasp of her own breathing. Oh, that she could will her own breathing to stop. Darkness overwhelmed her, drowned her, giving her sweet respite from the burning torment.

But it was not to last. Another wave of agony seized her in its grasp, a steady pulsing force, as if coercing her very life blood from her.

“Tori.” The hazy shape again, intruding. “You must push now. It’s time.”

The seething fire was at the centre of Tori’s being, writhing, splitting her in half. She poured the little strength she had into extinguishing the blaze, pressing against the heat. She slumped against the pillow, hair sodden, skin drenched.

“Keep it up, girl.”

Another pain crested, and Tori groaned as flames devoured her insides.

“Make it stop.”

“I’m sorry, Tori. Just a few more.”

Grinding, gnawing, and finally, “Almost here, Tori. You’re doing fine.”

The tiny baby girl was pulled from Tori’s exhausted body, blood and vernix shrouding her small form. Ominously silent, she was quickly taken to the corner of the room.

Tori raised her head, and for a brief second, she saw the little girl. “Cry, baby.”

A few mewling whimpers, and the baby gave a pathetic wail; then, she fell silent again.

“Can I see her?”

“No, Tori, I’m sorry.” The nurse stood between Tori and the people suctioning and cleaning up the newborn.

At that, Tori succumbed to oblivion, letting herself fall into velvety blackness.

By morning, memories of the delivery had faded to nothing more than a bad dream. Tori’s head was still clouded from pain, coming down from her last hit, smoked just before she went into labour, and needing another one right away. She rubbed her temples. Tori knew the deal. Clean up or no baby.

There was a soft knock on the door.

“The doctor will be in to check you, and then you’ll probably be discharged.” Tori was not in the mood for the case worker’s cheerful motherliness. One hit, just one hit. “I have some papers for you to sign.”

The bright paper hurt Tori’s eyes, and she held the pen weakly. “What’s this for?”

“I believe you were informed during your pregnancy that if your baby tested positive for methamphetamine exposure in the womb, she would be taken from you at birth.”

Tori pushed the paper back and forth.

“Your baby will be placed in a good home until you’re clean.”

One hit, then I’ll start the program.

“Can I see her?”

“You know the answer, Tori.”

Tori rolled her eyes. Who cares, anyway? She fidgeted with the pen.

“She’s a beautiful little girl. Worth getting your life together for. Remember we talked about the rehab centre?”


Tori was bored and already getting anxious. She tapped the pen on the hospital table. Let’s get going.

“Are you ready now? You understand everything?”

And then, as Tori started to scrawl her name, she saw in her mind’s eye the glimpse she’d had of her baby daughter before she’d been hustled out of Tori’s sight. A few strands of dark hair, long fingers, the infant cry. Tears loomed.


“Shut up. Here’s your stupid papers.” Tori scribbled her name across the bottom of each sheet and shoved them at the case worker. When she finished, she stood at the window, not seeing the lilacs and daffodils and the manicured lawns.

“I’ll be in touch.”

Tori didn’t answer.

Her friends were glad to see her. And what better way to celebrate her return without her encumbrance than with a hit. No testing to worry about, at least not yet. She could just enjoy her smoke. But as Tori inhaled the fumes, she felt a twinge of pain, as if the small body were once again struggling to be released from hers. And just before the high engulfed her, she heard a newborn cry.

But just one more hit.

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Member Comments
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Marilee Alvey06/14/07
A chilling recount of an all too often occurance. It's amazing the power that drugs hold over people. They become more important than everything else. Good job of showing us without copping out into a pat ending.
Dee Yoder 06/14/07
Very good and realistic story. I like how you gave a glimmer of the main character's conscience showing through her need for drugs, and the sad reality of the addiction over-shadowing her mother's heart.
Janice Cartwright06/15/07
A vivid description of phycical pain involved in birthing a child and sad emptiness when there is no baby to fill the arms making up for any agony experienced. True as per previous commment you didn't cop out, but the optimist, idealist in me caught sight of a tiny seedling of hope planted by the case worker. You know a story succeeded when a reader feels like praying for a character!
Debbie OConnor06/16/07
Brilliant writing. Your descriptions were very real and painful to read.

I would think that it would be motivating for an addict to get to see their baby from a distance or get a photo or something. I would assume they might eventually.

The tug of war between drugs and love. The end was very realistic.
Lynda Schultz 06/16/07
Wow! Excellent title, great description, deep feeling, and a compelling, disturbing glimpse into a world where so many live — and die. Great job.
Joanne Sher 06/18/07
Absolutely chilling. My heart ached for both the girl and the baby. You moved me to pray for others in this situation. I don't think a fictional (I hope!) story has ever done that for me. That's how powerful I found this. Wow.
Jan Ackerson 06/18/07
Oh, Ann--this tears my heart out! Such powerful, powerful writing...teens absolutely love reading raw truth like this.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/18/07
What an appropriate title for this powerful teen story. It makes the reader long to see another ending.
Victoria Weathers06/18/07
You have captured the inner wrestling between good and evil in a very profound way. I could picture the entire scene in my mind.

Great job.
Leigh MacKelvey06/19/07
Your descriptions of labour are vivid and real. Again, I liked the non-pat ending. many entires I've read this week don't have the happy ending and I've found them all leaving my soul breathless.
Jacquelyn Horne06/20/07
So sad, yet probably so true in many cases. Somehow, we need to reach the young. Maybe this article will help.
Kristen Hester06/20/07
Oh,the hell of addiction is so vividly portrayed here. Wow! Great writing.
Sara Harricharan 06/20/07
Wow. I could so feel for her. She's trapped in a cycle she wants but likes and thinks she hates. It's a nice emotional triangle. You captured some good images here, some classic and some heart-breaking. Excellent writing.
Julie Arduini06/20/07
Perfect title and ending. I know the safe way would have been to have her hear the baby and want to enter rehab, a situation we all pray for, but sometimes this is the reality, and you wrote it tragically, but so well.
valerie chambers07/01/07
Excellent title and story just AWESOME. Honestly you are one of the absolute best authors that I have ever read.