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Tiaras and Trucks

Friday, December 9, 2011

Scents of Iron and Pine

The doorbell rang, a tinny version of his college fight song drowning out their ragged breathing as their eyes locked.

She tilted her head slightly, trying not to wince.

He nodded, almost imperceptibly; she was the only one who would have noticed his jaw spasmodically clenching.

With permission tensely granted, the balance of power shifted. He reluctantly offered his hand to her, but she looked away and pushed herself to her feet on her own, willing away the blackness dancing in front of her eyes.

Years of practice propelled her forward in a straight line, and despite the dizziness that threatened to buckle her knees, she took a moment to pray their daughter was listening to headphones.

Her smile automatic, she wiped trails of mascara from beneath her eyes and opened the door. A lush wreath wafted pine into the foyer.

“Lottie, how are you?” she breathed musically into the space over her elderly neighbors head, the sky grey and heavy on the horizon.

Probing eyes searched her face.

“I brought over my cookies,” Lottie began, paper thin lips faltering as they tried to smile.

“Thank you so much, Lottie. Garrett always looks forward to your Madelaines.”

Knotted hands passed a festive tin over the threshold, warmly pressing against her hand. “Dear? You look tired; I hope everything’s all right.”

She forced her eyes to lie, “Just the holiday schedule running us ragged, I’m afraid.”

Self-consciously, she smoothed her hair, fingers brushing a sticky patch at the back and folding themselves into a loose fist to hide the tell-tale stain from Lottie’s rheumy, worried eyes.

In the next room, Garrett methodically dabbed at a red smear on the wall, marking his wife’s height.

Four eyes pleaded with each other in front of a holiday wreath as snow began to fall.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
the prompt:
Use the holidays to inspire a piece beginning with "The doorbell rang" and ending with "snow began to fall."

Labels:

55 Comments:

  • At December 9, 2011 at 7:40 AM , Anonymous Ratz said...

    Oh dear Lord. This is so so intense and raw. I so feel for her. Well written. 

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 9:13 AM , Anonymous jesterqueen1 said...

    I like that. I felt so helpless as Lottie handed over the cookies. I had to go back and completely re-read the first paragraph. I understood they were fighting by the middle. But I only realized she was being beaten at the sticky patch. And the last line was like a nail in her coffin. My kind of holiday story!!

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 9:59 AM , Anonymous idiosyncraticeye said...

    So nasty but you wrote it beautifully, I really felt for her.  Interesting how she has no name either.  :)

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 10:34 AM , Anonymous Melanie Pennington said...

    Wonderful piece. Tough stuff. I had you at "the balance of power shifted", but I really liked the way you guided us through it. Chilling!

    Thanks for your comment on my post. It is a continuation of my life story of abuse. This event actually happened just as I wrote it, although I don't think there was snow that day. My parents are not the physical abusers, but they've contributed through neglect and emotional abuse. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 10:39 AM , Anonymous Lexy3587 said...

    gave me chills!  A terrible version of the holidays, but unfortunately true for some. 

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 10:45 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I know :(  It makes me sad that it is a reality for so many people.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 10:46 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I'm sorry to read that your parents contributed to the abuse you suffered, as well as continued to cause you more pain.  Good for you for standing up for yourself (and your son) the way you did.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 10:47 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you so much.  She hasn't told me her name, yet.  I don't know why that is, but hopefully the pronoun usage didn't hinder the clarity of the story.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 10:53 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you!  I did leave it intentionally vague at the beginning, but I hope it wasn't too obscure.  I'm glad you liked it.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 10:53 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you!  I feel for her, too.  I haven't quite figured her out yet, and I'm not sure it's a place I want to visit right now ;)

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 10:59 AM , Anonymous Kir said...

    oh my god Angie...Wow. I can't comment yet...my heart is pounding so hard. I'll be back, I promise to come back, but right now, I can't. this was amazing, BTW, so realistic, too realistic......

    xooxo
    wow!

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 11:01 AM , Anonymous Adventures in Alyssaland said...

    I want more.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 11:01 AM , Anonymous jesterqueen1 said...

    No not at all! It was a good kind of 'had to go back and re-read'. It made me feel like maybe I could be the neighbor hearing something, not really sure what, wanting to go see if things are OK, manufacturing some excuse to ring the doorbell, and then seeing this rumpled woman and knowing only then that I was right, and that the knowlege didn't make me any less powerless.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 11:03 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    What is it that makes me take such a possibly happy prompt and go all dark side on it? 

    xo

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 11:04 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Maybe...I'm not sure I'm comfortable exploring this story much further.  We shall see...

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 11:05 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I am so very happy that you felt that way about the neighbor.  That's exactly what I was aiming for, and I breathed a sigh of relief, honestly, when I read that you "got" that out of it.  Thank you!!!

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 11:08 AM , Anonymous Adventures in Alyssaland said...

    It is a little uncomfortable.  

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 11:20 AM , Anonymous Valerie said...

    This was so amazingly written.  My jaw was actually clenched while I read it. 

    And this line-
    "In the next room, Garrett methodically dabbed at a red smear on the wall, marking his wife’s height."

    It is so brilliant in its chilling description of what has just happened!

    Very well done!

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 11:26 AM , Anonymous Kristina said...

    Oh my goodness. This was absolutely incredible. You "played" us perfectly - I wasn't sure where it was going (I thought at first maybe it was an intimate moment) and I was tense the whole time. My favorite line was this - "In the next room, Garrett methodically dabbed at a red smear on the wall, marking his wife’s height." - was so chilling.
    Really, really well done.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 12:49 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you!  I'm glad that the tension came through; Garrett scares me!

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 12:50 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you!  It seems that line really resonated, and that makes me glad, despite the terrible subject matter.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 1:53 PM , Anonymous Venus Brighton said...

    Oh, so so sad!  Well-done, so very creepy and I feel so much for your female character!

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 1:57 PM , Anonymous betsy said...

    It took me a few minutes to be able to comment... the insight to an abused family is hard to take. And there's so much there in only 300 words. Lottie knows something is wrong, right? I was holding my breath hoping that something could be done. The story isn't over so this family could still get help, though I understand why you might not want to continue it!

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 2:07 PM , Anonymous Karen @ Time Crafted said...

    I had to go back and reread it, but once I understood what was happening, it made quite an impact.  What was happening is difficult on its own, but adding her daughter into the mix and hoping she didn't hear ground in the reality of it.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 2:10 PM , Anonymous Kristina said...

    Well, I think that even the most un-beautiful subjects can be written about beautifully and you did that here :)

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 2:55 PM , Anonymous Nicole Morgan said...

    Goosebumps .... 
    you really have this down with the pain, the silence, the pleading ....
    So sad, great piece Angela xxx

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 2:58 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I feel for her, too :(

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 2:59 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    There's a lot going on there, and I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle it right now.  It's definitely something I will have to think about working on more in the future.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 3:00 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Was it confusing or just a little unclear?  I was going for vague but understandable, and I worried a little that I got a little too far on the vague side?

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 3:04 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you so much.  Though I don't know why I didn't do a little happier of a response!

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 3:29 PM , Anonymous Jennifer said...

    Wow. This was stark and biting. You really captured this woman's ... captivity? I don't know if that is the right word, but she's just so conditioned to respond a certain way in her environment, and you show that very well. Powerful.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 4:35 PM , Anonymous Lorithatcher said...

    Perhaps you picked the dark, raw side of emotion to write about because it has such intensity and truth in it.

    favorites:
    the balance of power shifted
    marking his wife's height
    four eyes pleaded with each other

    A thought:
    "listening to headphones"
    I kept wanting to change it in my head to "listening to her music with headphones" or something like that.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 5:32 PM , Anonymous Cameron (CDG) said...

    Wow, Angela. That was intense, but so well done. It's easy to be heavy handed with violence, and too easy to reduce it to cliché, but this is neither.

    Shudder.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 6:02 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you.  Captivity is an interesting way of putting it; I hadn't thought of her that way, but it's thought-provoking to put it that way.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 6:02 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks for the suggestion.  "listening to headphones" is a little awkward.  I'll play around with it a little.  Thanks for the suggestion :)

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 6:04 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks Cam.  I never really know with something like this; it's outside of my realm of personal experience, so it's a combination of hearing other stories and imagination.  I'm glad it worked here, because I wouldn't want to seem disrespectful to the concept.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 11:17 PM , Anonymous Alison@Mommy is a Power Ranger said...

    Wow, this is so sad for all the characters-well, maybe not for Garrett.  You did a great job capturing the emotion and pain of the situation.

     
  • At December 9, 2011 at 11:33 PM , Anonymous TMW Hickman said...

    "He nodded, almost imperceptibly; she was the only one who would have noticed his jaw spasmodically clenching."That was very intense. I had a very emotional reaction to this piece.  Awesome!

     
  • At December 10, 2011 at 7:52 AM , Anonymous TLanceB said...

    I really related to this. The emotions and the imagery are perfectly choreographed.

    One of your finest peices, Angela

     
  • At December 10, 2011 at 8:47 AM , Anonymous Kelly said...

    Wow- one of your best pieces yet!!!

    The poor woman at the door...knowing, yet not wanting to pry...and the coldness of the wall marking...
    Very well done Angela.

     
  • At December 10, 2011 at 8:47 AM , Anonymous Kelly said...

    Oh, and the title? BRILLIANT!

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 4:13 AM , Anonymous Earlybird said...

    Had her headphones on? Was wearing her headphones? Was deafened by her headphones?

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 4:14 AM , Anonymous Earlybird said...

    I think it worked really well. Had me guessing as comprehension dawned on exactly what had happened.

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 4:19 AM , Anonymous Earlybird said...

    I liked the way it took me a little while to understand what was going on. The first (very good) real hint being the way he 'gave her permission'. The way so much is said with eyes at the beginning and then at the end of the piece.

    Just a tiny thing: maybe Madelaines is the American spelling but I think it should be Madeleines. 

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 11:57 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you!  I should have just googled it but guessed (incorrectly, obviously!)

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 11:58 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks Kelly (for both compliments!)  It's a little "darker" than I'm used to, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 11:58 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks Lance!  I'm working on it.

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 11:59 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you!  Emotional reactions are always a good thing.

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 11:59 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    No, not sad for him :(  Thank you so much.

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I'm glad that the little clues helped and that eventually it became clear.

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I'm thinking deafened is good.  Maybe something about blocking out the sound or tuning out the world.  I am still pondering :)

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you for that! 

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 1:45 PM , Anonymous Jodi said...

    My heart breaks for all victims of abuse.  It makes you want to scream at her, but that wouldn't help.

    A very powerful story.

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 3:21 PM , Anonymous Kateshrewsday said...

    I was right there in this exchange: tension and sadness and irrevocable decisions, all unspoken. Jodi is right: heartbreaking, and you write about it with such a light, subtle touch. Loved this.

     
  • At December 11, 2011 at 10:12 PM , Anonymous Elaine A. said...

    Wow, that last line.  It's like I want her to just collapse before her neighbor's feet and let it all out and end the horribleness!! 

    This was chilling and heart-wrenching Angela! Well done. 

    p.s. I've been reading but it's SO hard for me to read and comment a lot these days, so much going on... xo

     

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