Spilled blood

A story comes onto the radio, a young woman with a high
pitched but gravely voice.  The
rising inflexion, the voice of anxiety perhaps, until she tells us, the
listeners –  me sitting in my car
driving on auto-pilot – she has problems with her trachea.
‘If I get to know someone, after a few meetings, I might
tell them,’ she says. ‘And the best way to tell them, the only way to tell
them, is the straightforward one: My mother cut my throat.’
Different voices cut in.  The girl’s father tells of the days before the cutting, how
he had not noticed that his wife had been praying more than usual.
The voice over then tells the story:  The day of the event, an October day in
Queensland in the late 1980s when the mother of two-year-old Susannah had been
hearing voices.
She was inspired by a quote from the bible, when God
ordered Isaac to make a sacrifice of his son.
And so this mother laid out her two year old daughter on a
sheep skin rug on the bench.  
She put on the oven.  She
sterilized knives and when the voices took over she went to her daughter, who
had put up her hands to fend off the blade, and proceeded to cut her  throat.
My mind reels to take in this information, to imagine the
The mother held her daughter for some forty minutes until
her daughter had turned blue.  The
voices told the mother then to put her child into the oven, but part of this
mother’s reason must have prevailed, the voice over tells us.
The mother struggled against the command to put her
daughter in the oven.  Then she rang
the police station nearby.
‘I’ve done something bad,’ she said.  ‘I’ve cut my daughter’s throat.’
The police came right away.
Next we cut to the surgeon, a country surgeon, who managed
to operate on and save Susannah.    He had her transferred to the main Brisbane
‘People tell me that I am strong and brave, that I am a
marvel,’ the girl tells us.  ‘It’s
only now as an adult that I can look back on it.  
‘I can see myself there on the bench, on the lambswool
rug.  As if I can look at myself.  I can still see the blue stitches in my fingers where the
knife cut when I tried to fend it off. 
But I have most trouble with my mother today, not so much that she did
this thing, but that she will not talk about it.  She never talks about it and she has not said she was
The story jags its way into my consciousness.  I take it over.  All these questions I want to ask.
The girl goes on to tell us the listeners, how she does
not see herself as particularly strong, but she has a belief that given she has
survived then she must be here for a reason.  there must be some purpose.
And my hackles go up.  This stuff of being here for a reason.
The family were Seventh Day Adventists, firm believers,
but something else must have happened in that mother’s mind to cause her to
want to make this ultimate sacrifice.
The father breaks down on the radio when he describes the
sight of his daughter in the hospital, a two year old in a nappy with tubes
coming out of her neck. 
He tells us how it was when he went back home, that a
friend had come along to help him to clean up. 
The friend broke down and the father had to comfort him.
‘Who’d have thought there could be so much blood,’ the
father says.  And my imagination
kicks in all over again.  

8 thoughts on “Spilled blood”

  1. There must have been a reason …

    This reminds me of the "miracle baby" – the one survivor of the plane crash that kills 200. That the baby survived was a Miracle!!! Some miracle.

    Incredible story about the throat-cutting. There must have been a reason … Really?

  2. What an incredibly sad story! Fiction, or fact? (That's not clear from your post.)

    This, following on reading a report in a medical journal, saying that people with mental illness rarely commit crimes.

    Bear shakes his head. More than once.

    Blessings and Bear hugs, Elizabeth!

  3. It reads like an actual event, or so it seems to me. It's so terrible and shocking, but it is believable, especially when crazy religious nutters are involved.

    So very sad when we hear children being slaughtered by a parent, especially the mother. One can feel sorry and disgusted at the same time for the people who commit such horrific murders of their own kids.

    Just yesterday there was a report of a mother in New Malden, Surrey in England who has been arrested for killing her THREE young children. I doubt if any religious claptrap was the cause of this woman's actions. The three youngsters were thought to be suffering from a terminal condition called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), and were not expected to live beyond their childhood years.

    Perhaps the mother couldn't bear to see her lovely young children slowly die of this horrible disease and thus put an end to all of it. Whatever the reason I can only feel so sorry for her and her husband, who was away on holiday with their older daughter at the time.

    If there IS a god (which I am sure there is NOT) this 'god' is the real villain!

  4. Let me play devil’s advocate. Why are we here? It’s a question we all ask, those of us whose mothers have cut our throats and those who’ve been lucky enough never to face that. Am I here for a reason? The Adventists don’t believe in predestination (although they do believe in divine foreknowledge of events—there is a difference) and as that’s the case they accept that Man is born with free will. When I started thinking about the character of Destiny in my first two novels I basically made him a bookie; he talks about odds all the time. Even we humans can make educated guesses based on previous experience. There are few things in this life that are a cert.

    I have very little time for those who take advantage of the fact that God works in mysterious ways—mysterious to us at least—and blame him for things that have nothing to do with him. I remember as a child hearing the hymn ‘I'll Be a Sunbeam’ (better known as ‘Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam’) and thinking even then how preposterous (and cruel) the concept was. The Mormons incidentally have a children's primary program which includes Sunbeams (a class for three-year-olds) and this is their theme song.

    Adam was born a perfect man. But what does that mean? In simple terms it means his natural inclination was to do what’s right (‘right’ being defined by God, e.g. you should not eat of a certain tree etc.) but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t choose of his own free will to do what was wrong. Likewise an imperfect person’s natural inclination is towards selfishness but that doesn’t mean he can’t be selfless. If Adam’s fall was predestined what does that say about God?

    Was the woman on the radio’s mother predestined to slit her daughter’s throat? Of course not. Being who we are we do like to look for reasons for things—actions precede consequences—but, and this was the big revelation in Milligan and Murphy, there are no reasons for unreasonable things. Was it reasonable that this mother try to sacrifice her daughter? No. Then why should there be a reason for her daughter’s survival? Or maybe ‘purpose’ is a better word here. Of course there was a reason she survived—her mother’s coming to her senses and the timely intervention of trained medical personnel—but none of that is a part of God’s plan. The girl has always been free to choose what she would make of her life once, like the rest of us, she wriggled her way out from under the control of her parents.

    God does have a plan, if, like the Adventists do, you accept the infallibility of Scripture but it’s a flexible plan and frequently he’s had to make adjustments to account for the humans he’s had to work around. Take, for example, the time the Israelites decided they wanted a king rather than continued to be guided by priests. How did that work out?

    I like the idea of free will. I’m not entirely convinced we have it. If I could truly choose the kind of life I was living right now there would be changes but I have to work around aspects of me that I have little or no control over, my mental and physical health, the effects of my upbringing (for ‘upbringing’ read conditioning—why else do you think I can rattle off all the above?) and what was passed onto me through my genes. Plus there’s the society I live in and the laws I have to—to a greater or lesser extent—live by. I wrote a wee poem about freedom once:

        The Enigma

        Where are you running to?

        Who are you running from?
        No one.

        Then what are you doing?

        Just running.

        7 April, 1996

    Of course, if the woman had read her Bible properly she’d’ve realised that Abraham’s testing was a set-up to get a point over. Child sacrifice was condemned by God. But then again she was clearly sick and although there will be answers as to why she did what she did don’t look for any reasons.

  5. What a horrible experience… There are so many horrible experiences caused by what is written taken literally, letting belief overpower reason and even instinct.
    There is something in us though that consumes such stories. I must say this consumed☺

  6. I don't understand any of it. But then again I have never been forced to test my boundaries.
    There is much discussion around domestic violence at present, a discussion long needed.
    Also infanticide and child murder.
    The only conclusion I have come to is that women kill their children to protect them but men kill their children for revenge.
    My other question is, why does religious influence predominate in people with mental health issues even tho they may not have come from a religious background?
    Is it actually the religion that effects them or the idea of a moral code?
    Karen C

  7. I live in Cleveland where those three girls were kept prisoner for a number of years. After they were rescued, one of the girls said it happened for a reason, and the reason it happened to her was so she could then dedicate her life to making sure it doesn't happen to anybody else. Sounds kind of like burning the village to save it, but then, as they say, God works in mysterious ways.

  8. Nothings impossible, but I am confident this story is not legitimate. And even if it's based on a true story, then it's leaving out significant details.

    It is extremely rare for a mother to harm the child intentionally compared to how often males harm children. I can't imagine the stress that pregnant women go through, you'd think that being the one who cannot weasel out of a pregnancy and being forced to be the one to deal with pregnancy, that females — all of them — would be treated like the life giving Queen Mothers they are

    However typically they are lied to and manipulated — and one in three violated — for sexual acts. Yet they are the ones who are shamed, blamed and dropped like a bad habit after rapes and or pregnancy

    It always baffles me when people attempt to link religion as being responsible for evil acts carried out in this world, when if anything could be actually overwhelmingly statistically linked as common thread, is that all of the worlds problems are caused by the actions of men

    Yet the public is always quick to inform me of numerous examples of female perpetrators. They cite every single one of the 5% of crimeinal acts carried out by women.

    The media ignores that 95% of crime is committed by males.

    They tell a story about a the man's religion or sexual orientation, they mention drugs or alcohol or any random detail and link it as the underlying reason. Overlooking the fact violent crime is almost exclusively linked to the male gender is an exercise choosing ignorance.

    Sure, this particular post you can link to religion, but what about the crimes that are not fictional?

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