Category Archives: historical

Short Story for Critique 015: Elenor Margaret Delaney by Heide Braley

Welcome to Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group and the fifteenth story on this blog. This 737-word piece is by Heide Braley.

Please do comment in the section below telling us what you liked about this story and, what if anything, the author could do to improve upon it. Thank you – it’s very much appreciated!

I do have some feedback but I’ve just included it (below the story) as links to the scans of my handwritten-notes so I can let others comment here without being influenced by me. 🙂

Elenor Margaret Delaney

Her friends called her Lenny, but her official name was Elenor Margaret Delaney. On the surface, she seemed like any other pretty teenager, living her life as it came, content with her friends and family. She was a great student in school, maintaining a strong B average over all her classes, an active contributor to the school newspaper, a player on the girls basketball team and well-liked by all. She never complained, her mother always said, but rather looked for solutions to conflicts in her life.

But she was fifteen, just fifteen when she died. She had no time to invent anything or write a hit song, write a famous novel, or become a special advocate for children’s rights or any such thing. It seems as though young Lenny died short of missing the mark, her short life wasted and cut short before her promising career had even started. Her classmates will grieve and then after a year or two will go on with their lives, barely remembering her as “that girl who died” in their high school. Some of her teachers might immortalize her as one of their best students in their graduation speeches, but her name will probably slip out of the public eye within just a year or two.

Was her life a waste? Did she have to be the one who died? According to the law of averages, she was a good girl and didn’t deserve to die – she was living by all the right rules. The night of her death was pretty common, a few teenagers hanging out at a friend’s house swimming in the above-ground pool and just having fun on the warm summer evening. They weren’t drinking or being obnoxious. The injury happened purely accidentally when Lenny dove into the pool and cracked her neck, leaving her paralyzed and unable to surface for air. It was no child’s fault that they didn’t notice her absence until it was too late and she was gone. Her sweet life was over before it even got started. Or was it?

Her parents, John and Mary-Jane Delaney were high school sweethearts that met at the age of fifteen in the small town of Blackstone, Idaho. Elenor was their first child, born when they were both just seventeen years old but they stubbornly determined to live a happy life together in spite of the warnings from their relatives. Little Lenny was the joy of their lives and she quickly became the focus of their home and the homes of her grandparents. She was a smiler and ready to hug any stranger that came her way. No pills could have given her parents the thrill and joy of living with such a happy child. Although they didn’t get to see her into adulthood, she certainly gave them the satisfaction of being successful parents.

Elenor had a brother, Michael, born when she was almost two years old and they became inseparable friends. She loved him without any of the jealousy that older siblings sometimes have and he learned to be happy from her example. She shared her toys with him and cried with him when he skinned his knees. It was as though she cared more about him than herself. He got to experience years of living with the best kind of sister that any guy could ask for.

Mr. and Mrs. Delaney, Sr. and Elenor’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wasden will never regret the times they got to watch Lenny grow from a precocious toddler to a loving little sister into a responsible teenager entering high school. They both received the satisfaction of seeing their children turn what could have been a heart break of a young relationship into a warm and friendly home. Their investments into their children had come to such a rewarding fulfillment that even the death of Lenny could not take that away. Even in her death, she left no one at fault and no blame to act as a cancer in their lives.

The list could go on of the folks in whose lives Lenny had a positive effect, but the point of this biography is that she did make a difference. Her life was not wasted just because she didn’t make it to the age of 70 or more. Elenor Margaret Delaney was my best friend, and I will always remember her and smile.


Thank you, Heide.

If you’d like to see my notes, click on the links below but please give your comments to Heide here first. That way you won’t be influenced by my feedback, and we can see if we think alike. Thank you.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHeide is a freelance writer who lives and writes from her home at the top of the Chesapeake Bay.

For the last five years, she enjoyed writing about various topics, focused mostly on home and garden issues in a commercial setting.

However, Heide is now an emerging writer in the short story market and finds it a far more creative and satisfying venture.


If you’d like to (family-friendly) submit your 5,000-word max stories for this blog, see the Submissions page.

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Thank you for reading this and we look forward to your comments.