Magdalene Molly (Part 4)

This is Part 4 of a four-part story written for the 10th Daughter of Memory.

Magdalene Molly

Bridget drops the basket of wet clothes she is carrying toward the door to the yard.  She feels as though her insides are erupting. Beneath her skirt, her legs suddenly feel wet and she hears a faint splash.  She looks down to see a small puddle at her feet. 

Oh, no, I’m losin’ me baby, she thinks in panic.  Her Ma had lost three before their time came.  Not me too.

“Your babe is ready to be born, Bridget.  It’s time.”  Margaret, one of the other girls in the laundry, has left her station at the sink, and come to Bridget’s side.  “Come on with ye, lass.  I’ll take you to the birthin’ room.”

With Margaret walking beside her, holding her arm and whispering reassurances, Bridget walks slowly into the hall.  She has no sooner reached it than a pain sharp as a knife blade cuts her from the center of her back and around her belly to its far side.  She gasps loudly and doubles over, wondering if she has been sliced in two.

“Oh, Margaret, it hurts so much.  No one ever told me it would hurt so much.”

At that moment, Sister Nora turns the corner down hall and sees the two young women, one doubled over and falling to her knees, and the other struggling to hold her up.  She rushes to their side to help support Bridget.

“You labor has begun, child,” she says.  “You’ve no doubt plenty of time, bein’ as this is your first.  But let’s get you up to the birthin’ room.  Come along now.  Everythin’s goin’ to be fine.”


After what seems like an interminable trip, Bridget is settled into one of the beds upstairs.  She has never been in this room before.  Two of the beds are occupied by other girls.  As she looks on, a man she has never seen before comes in with Sister Agnes and Sister Clarice.  They surround the bed of one of the other girls, who is now screaming in pain, and draw a curtain.

Bridget listens to the activity behind the curtain for awhile and realizes that the man is a doctor.  She has been in the convent for five months and has never seen a doctor.  She’d thought that the nuns delivered the babies. 

The horrible screaming continues, but Bridget can no longer pay much attention to it.  Her pains have become more frequent, and as they have, they have become unbearable.  Soon enough, the only screaming she can hear is her own.

After hours of agony, she opens her eyes and sees Sister Nora at her side.  The nun lays a cool cloth on Bridget’s sweaty brow and gently takes her hand.  “It won’t be long now, Bridget Murphy.  I’ve sent for your young man.”

Her voice hoarse from screaming, Bridget strains to whisper a reply.  “Thank you, Sister.  May God bless ye for the goodness you have shown me and my baby.” 

“I lost my baby girl along with my future many years ago in the past, lass.  But I have always carried my daughter in my heart, and I imagined her to be just as you are.  You and your babe still have your futures ahead of you. I can do no less than offer you both a helpin’ hand into it.”  As she speaks, Sister Nora gives Bridget’s hand a reassuring squeeze. 

“Now get to work, girl.  You’ve a job to do.”


As if a curtain were drawing slowly back, light seeps into Bridget’s world.  The only things she is aware of besides the light are the sound of a baby’s lusty cry and the incredible pain she feels below her waist.  She opens her mouth to scream, but finds no voice.  She is too weak to make a sound.

The last thing she remembers is the squeeze of Sister Nora’s hand, and now she feels it again. 

“You’ve had yourself a wee lass, Bridget Murphy,” the nun whispers into Bridget’s ear, “and a strong young girl she is, too.”

A faint smile stretches Bridget’s parched lips, and she murmurs something in response.  Sister Nora leans down, putting her ear close to Bridget’s mouth, and says, “I didn’t hear you, darlin’.  What was that you said?”

“Her name is Molly.”


Sean sits on the bank of the river, watching a boat pass  He sees the fishermen aboard, milling around the deck readying their gear to fish once they’ve reached the open waters of the Irish Sea, but he doesn’t notice.  All his senses are focused on the grate beside him.   He smiles and thinks to himself, it won’t be long until I and my little family join Uncle Jimmy, who waits for us just down the road a bit.  And then we can begin our new life together.

The boat sounds its horn as it passes, and as the sound fades, Sean hears a tapping coming from the grate.  He jumps up and quickly pulls the grate aside.  He climbs down the ladder, nearly falling in his haste.

At the bottom, he sees Sister Nora standing with a swaddled babe in her arms.  He leans to peer into the darkness behind her, but there is no sign of Bridget.

“Sister?” he says, his voice raised in question.

The nun holds the little bundle out to him and he takes it into his arms.

“I’m so sorry, Sean.”

The meaning of what she is saying washes over him.  He stares at the nun, his eyes filling with tears.

“You must go now, Sean.  There will be time enough to grieve later.”  Sister Nora puts a hand on his back and urges him toward the ladder.

“Go.  Go.  This wee lass is dependin’ on you.  And oh, yes.  Bridget has named her Molly.”

The End


  1. I have this Eva Cassidy CD and love this song. I cried though that it doesn't apply to Bridget and Sean and their daughter. As if this whole phenomenon isn't sad enough, did she have to die? I had some hope because of Sr. Nora...

  2. ah bummer, that. really great beginning, and the twist in the middle was a surprise...not really sure how well it fits with the muse, but how about that, a 4 parter from Patti!

  3. Such a shame. They only closed the last asylum in 1996 and are still finding unmarked graves of poor women who died unnamed. Just one comment Patti, I'd prefer the dialogue in normal English, very hard to get the brogue right given a country with so many different dialects and accents. Was it biographical in any way?

  4. Hrm... lots of dangles I'm having issues with, but my wrist still hurts. Remind me later.

  5. Wow. You did an excellent job with this story Patti.

  6. Started at the beginning and read my way through each (excellent) section of this saga. The detail, story line and characters drew me right in and left me wanting more.

    You're a fierce advocate for the vulnerable and your strength actually glows right through this body of work.

    I really enjoyed this four-part story.

  7. Though sad, I liked the ending. Hopeful. This was a really good story, Patti, and I enjoyed the videos that partnered your writing.

  8. Good stuff here! Horribly sad ending, though. And I'm left wondering if she died, or if they just kept her prisoner...but you probably intended that. Nice, tight write, but I think you'd do very well fleshing it out a bit more if you wanted to. For example, maybe give us Sean's side of the story, too? What I'm trying to say is that it was over too fast ;-) You had me hook, line, and sinker with the young lovers, but then the pie/father surprise made me ache for the two of them even more. I want to know more about them! Great work. I'll have to come back and watch the videos when I have a bit more time.

  9. With a pain like that I just knew it wasn't going to end well for her.

  10. I'm not so sure she died, did she? A tear jerker none-the-less. -J

  11. Wow... I'll have to read through all four parts again, but I was really enjoying it - now I have to go back and reread. Agree with Baino on the dialect.


Thoughts? I would love to hear from you.