(This is a writing challenge from my Red Dress Club: One character has to be laughing and the other crying.)
“This tongue’s loaded with buckshot. And I’ll be damned if it ain’t aimed right at you.” Kate slapped her thigh and laughed at her own remark.
“The trigger is cocked,” she continued. “Ya better run before I take out my teeth!” Another spasm of laughter overtook her.
Annie, Kate’s youngest sister by fifteen years, didn’t move. She pocketed her hands as tears tumbled down her cheeks. “He needed my help,” she said. “This one really got me, Kate.”
“He needed your help? You’re a mess. What kinda shape is he in?”
Annie swiped her nostril with the back of her hand.
Kate saw the bruises, “You look like you’ve been loaded rough and bagged with gravel.”
Annie’s silence caused Kate to finally soften. She touched Annie’s shoulder. Annie flinched and stepped back. “I need a shower…not your smart-ass remarks. Quit bloody laughin’!”
Kate shook her head. “I can’t believe you. Let’s head up to the house. You can clean up and I’ll fix us a drink. Quit sniffling and don’t look beat up. People around here don’t need confirmation that my family’s crazy.”
Kate trundled up the rise and made her way to the stone steps that Johnny had placed in the hillside. Annie followed, carefully fighting a limp.
After Annie showered, she came into the kitchen wearing Kate’s old red, stringy bathrobe. Two small glasses, each one a third full, waited beside the bottle of Scotch. Kate stirred the stew on the stove and turned to the island that held their drinks. They each picked up a glass, clinked a cursory toast and shared the golden cure for cowardice. Neither one really wanted to cover this ground again.
Kate spoke first. “When you gonna get tired of this?”
“As long as Paulie and I love each other, I have to live with Johnny.”
“You know Johnny will never forget Paulie. He’s loved her from the day he set eyes on her. No other woman has ever rocked him this much,” Kate examined a cut in Annie’s forehead and continued, “He cannot accept the fact that she is gay. For God’s sake, they were like a pair of rabbits for weeks. What does that say?”
“Paulie told me that if she wasn’t gay, she would be in love with Johnny. She hoped to be bi, but she’s gay. I know it broke his heart, Kate. God, he’s my nephew. I know his soul. He could have any woman around here.”
“She’s carrying his child, for God’s sake, Annie! What does that do for you? Your lover is carrying your nephew’s baby!”
“Paulie and I have discussed this thoroughly. After denying our sexuality and our attraction for each other, we’re finally together. We’re finally being honest about ourselves.” Annie poured another double for each of them.
“The reason Paulie is keeping the baby is because of our love. This baby is part of my flesh and blood. It’s equally precious to both of us. That decision is made, Kate. It’s final.”
“Then you have to leave Johnny alone, Annie. Stop expecting him to join your pipe dream of a happy little threesome. You’ve broken his heart, too, ya know.”
“Why does he always call me then? Why does he call this rotten aunt every time he gets himself stinking drunk and fighting with goons?”
“Who else does he know with a black belt in Karate? No more rescuing, Annie. It’s done. I’m his mother and I’m telling you to leave him alone. There. How’s that for buckshot in yer butt?”
What a multitude of subjects this addresses, Amy! Digging deep into family issues is the one that strikes me first! I had to read it twice to get the moment and to understand the confusion and pain that can come from each of the character’s and the learning paths they are on. Of course, the forgotten character as we all address our choices are the lovely children brought into situations like this. Makes me feel for the little one brought into this situation. Not once was the child’s welfare brought up in this conversation between sisters and it seems everyone should be addressing the effect all this may have on the child. Then the issue of answering violence with violence! Oh my! Co-dependency, gender issues, and a multitude of negative energy encircles the new life created. All written in how many words? Gutsy “short” addressing family secrets! PHEW!!!!
The family theme is getting it in the ear! This challenge had to be 600 words or less with the combination of a joke and tears. Phew…
Some very odd family dynamics going on here, Amy. 😉
Kate will be both “mother” and great aunt to the child. And Johnny will be both father and cousin to the baby.
You’d think they would need more than a thimbleful of scotch to deal with those issues.
You have me in stitches, Nancy. This was a toughie – 600 words, joke/tears together, etc. Thanks for your humous response!
You write dialogue so well… that is something I’m working on. Great story!
Thanks, HisBell. I really love dialogue. I enjoy the challenge of putting the punch in words. Think that’s why I respect poets so much – they have to be lean.
Oh wow! This is a fine piece of reading, it’s the framework for a fine novel. I really want more.
Thanks, Cin. Wonder if I ever will be moved to do a novel. It’s a great release to let characters show us the way. These writing exercises do that for me, but these characters are starting to ‘hang around’. I may have to get them all in a room where they can duke it out with each other!
Wow…what a story.
Thanks, Charles. It could be no longer than 3 minutes when read aloud.
Amy, you are very effective at building up tension, making the reader wonder what the heck is going on and then unloading it. This is well-written.
Thanks, Victoria. Very much!
Interesting story, Amy. Quite the twist. Hope you’re going to keep working it.
Thanks, Kath. Hope you are surviving the weather. If you need a break, whip out here to the Coast!
Issues that pop up so often you told the story really well.
The understanding mother being protective of her blood at the same time.
The mark of a good mother
Very nicely written
Thanks, Richard. The pull of loyalties – motherhood takes precedence.
Amy, so glad I finally made it over here. Wouldn’t want to have missed this compelling story. And I agree with Cindy (up there in the comments wings somewhere) that it has the makings of a novel. Any aspirations toward such? Well, I’m a believer.
Thanks also, for popping over to my TRDC offering.
I very much enjoyed yours!
Welcome, Terri – so glad you came. Thanks for your comments – the publishing world makes me cringe and shiver. But I love to write and am highly grateful for the blogging world. How else would we share all this stuff that demands the light of day?
Uh huh……perhaps it can be read outloud in three minutes or less–but I’m telling ya, I required more than three minutes to figure out who was what to whom. LOL But I’m kinda daft like that!
Yikes, what a fine mess!
It may not be you, Mel. It may have been too obscure. I had to squeeze lots out to keep to the 3 minutes! I admire you for hanging in! If I have to work too hard to figure out what’s going on, I hear the clock ticking and move on. So thanks, dear woman!
Good Lord that was 600 hundreds action and information packed words. What a great job telling a great deal in very little time. I loved that there was not one two two major twists and the line: People around here don’t need confirmation that my family’s crazy.
Thanks, Jennifer. This was a real challenge for me! I had only the first comment as a start and let the characters unfold. Fun, but lots of re-writes and honing down.
No, it wasn’t too obscure. It was intriguing, though. I did pause to reread a few sentences, but I think that’s good. They were well worth rereading! This is awesome work for a terribly difficult assignment. I’m curious, did you have it sort of plotted out before you began writing or did you just jump in and let your characters lead the way?
Wow. It’s my first visit to your site and now I want to spend some time savoring! BTW: thanks for sharing your thoughts about my Social Networking post.
Welcome, Linda. As I just mentioned to Jennifer, I had only the first line – the characters came out on their own. I find when I write, if I think I have a plot, it seldom ends up being what I initially imagined. However, I love all the surprises that come with the writing process. I’ll be over visiting you more as well.
I love the way kate talks, and I like that she has a soft side. What a bizarro family dynamic, though! And definitely a unique twist!
Thanks for popping in, Cheryl. Yah, I sorta imagine Kate in a pair of coveralls for some reason! She’s got a big bark and a lot of heart to go with it.
I was not expecting that last bit. This was fantastic. I love the back and forth between the sisters and the love that shines through the toughness.
Mandy, thank you. That tough old Kate is really a marshmallow, isn’t she? Your story held a great surprise, as well – that fabulously corny joke was perfect. I voted, but couldn’t leave a comment. I really liked it.
Yes, you do write dialogue very well. Love the tongue’s buckshot and all you were able to glean from that!
Thank you, Ruth. Time to get back to some contemplation. 🙂
I think this is the most unique story I’ve read so far from the prompt. And so complex! How you managed to tell us all that in under 600 words is quite amazing!
Thank you, Elizabeth, for your feedback. Seems you are writing about the very subject you love! I was born when my mom was 38 – to a woman who knew herself, was consistent, reliable and full of wisdom. She was my childhood internet. She was not physical, but she could have won many events at the Brain Olympics. In other words, what a start I was given. 😀
It took a second read to really get the relationships straight, but man did you pack a lot into a small space.
I’d love to read an expanded version, to hear what you’ve had to say when you don’t have a word count restricting you.
Thanks, CDG – most times when I read your submissions, I feel the same way. I have to pry myself away from the characters.
Amy, you have such a fabulous imagination. What a story! The think is that convoluted and complicated relationships like this do exist. One aches for the children.
Well done … as always … when is your collection of short stories scheduled to be published???!!!
One does ache for the children, Jamie. What a soul opener to learn that some person, after making a great contribution to humanity, had to come through this type of dysfunction.
Publishing? – urg! What about the dysfunctionality (new word?) of that process?
There’s always self-pub. 🙂 Hugs! Have a great week, Amy.
I will make this commitment – there is one self-publishing “guru” who is offering guidance with material that is of a spiritual nature. He’s promoted by Neale Walsh – “Conversations with God” . I will look further into that and make inquiries. Funny – it’s just not been a big priority. But perhaps this is not about me – 😀
Oh wow! Very well done!
Thanks, Tokeloshe. It was fun!
Definitely a novel knocking around in there, Amy! 😀
Oh no! But, but, but… I’m nervous when you say things like that. You-who-are-the-encourager.