Thursday, January 14, 2010

STARTING THE YEAR OFF RIGHT

Not even at the mid-point of January and I've already entered a contest. Whether I get a prize or not, I wrote a story based on a picture. I've used writing prompts, but pictures as inspiration has been tough for me. Check out the 235 entries at http://clarityofnight.blogspot.com/ Be sure to read entry #136 and look for some of my writing buddies, such as Timothy P. Remp, Thom Gabrukiewicz, Mike Solender, Mira, Christian Bell, Paul Brazill, Eric Beetner, Jodi MacArthur, John Wiswell, Angel Zapata, and probably a few others that I haven't found yet, but enjoy their words. Leave comments for any that you read! (Writers are comment whores.)

Okay, now for my double-duty 3WW and #fridayflash contribution:

HOMECOMING

"Where to?"

"Forty-two Trenton Street."

The rearview mirror revealed his raised eyebrows under the ball cap's brim. Teri ignored his look, reached for the door handle. Static shocked her fingertips. Stale sweat and old fried onions assaulted her nose. The meter's click jolted her. She shut her door. It had been a long time since she'd ridden in a cab. In any vehicle.

"Trenton Street, isn't that where—"

Teri interrupted the driver. "Don't know. I've been away."

Teri looked out the side window. She had escaped. Ess—caped. She savored the hiss between her teeth, the sibilant sounds fleeing her mouth just as she'd fled the compound.

"Miss, I drive by there every day—"

"I'm sure you do. Driving is your job, right? Just take me home, please."

Home. She hadn't used that word out loud or in her head for… two years? Three? Time was different at the commune. She'd called from the bus station, but her mother hadn't answered. Teri hoped her mother would be there when she arrived. The meter clicked again. Such a tiny sound, but she jumped again.

"How long have you been away?"

"Sir, it's been a rough… day." She'd almost said "life". The meter clicked. She started. Her stomach gurgled.

Brother Paul said his previous life as a dog trainer prepared him for his true calling. He used the clicker with zeal. Please Brother Paul, he'd click. Sometimes, her reward was food. Other times, her reward was to further please Brother Paul. The meter clicked. She shuddered. Despite herself, she drooled.

The cab passed the Circle K, turned the corner. Teri sat straighter, pressed her nose against the glass. Her eyes filled. How long ago had mom done that?

She shifted to see out the windshield. "When I was little and slept away, my mom would tie a yellow ribbon around the tree in our front yard. Corny, but we only had each other." The driver frowned. Teri explained, "You know, like the song—"

"Miss? Do you have anywhere else to go?"

Color caught her attention. "Yellow ribbons," Teri whispered around the lump.

The driver slowed the vehicle. Teri sagged against the back seat. She clamped her eyelids shut, against the tears, against the invasive black letters on the tattered yellow tape. They swathed the tree, the front door, the yard perimeter.

The driver's tone held pity. "Miss, do you have anywhere else to go?"

32 comments:

quin browne said...

okay, you brought us to a great place with this one... i loved the clicking of the meter setting off responses, the attempt of the driver to tell her something she didn't (and i think perhaps she felt) know, and the ending.

you can weave plots like nobodies business.

ThomG said...

A wonderful weave of past and present. Great dialogue. Tightly written, but great detail.
One thing tripped me: would the taxi driver use "gone?" I paused there.

pegjet said...

Thank you Thom. I fixed the 'gone' to 'away'. Does that work better? A couple other tweaks too, so hopefully, it works now.

I appreciate the comments.

ThomG said...

That works much better.

Tim Remp said...

Hi Peggy,
This is another wonderful piece. I enjoyed the dialog, vivid description and the hint “training” Teri underwent. I also enjoyed how in just a few hundred words, both characters had depth to them, certainly Teri but surprisingly the cab driver.

Bravo!

-Tim
http://timremp.blogspot.com/

Jantun said...

Great description of emotions and vivid scene painting. Well written!

Pia Savage said...

The last sentence. Wow. Very well told story of jumbled feelings. Related a bit too much

http://courtingdestiny.com

arcadianpoet said...

This is very well done, and although I enjoyed every word you wrote, I think I found so much more enjoyment and meaning in what you so carefully chose to leave out. I read this repeatedly and got something more out of it each time. Thank you for sharing it with us.

♥ Ash

Andy Sewina said...

Yeah, cleverly done, kept me going, kept me guessing, I wanted more!

Dee Martin said...

there was a weight throughout this piece. I knew from the beginning that it wouldn't end well but it drew me along hoping anyway...little flashes of what she was seeing and what she had endured, and then what she hoped to see but didn't.

John Wiswell said...

Like Quin, my favorite part was the clicking of the meter. I wasn't sure where it was going, and the Brother Paul stuff was disturbing and intriguing. Well done, Peggy! I hope she finds somewhere nice to go in a future piece.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Oooh, very creepy. Loved the clicking setting off the other reaction. And of course I am left wondering what happened to her mother. Good stuff!

Michael Solender said...

desolate and distant feel - been away so long byt still the pull. solid dialogue and telling. nice.

Jim_Wisneski said...

AWESOME AWESOME!!!!

I love it. Dialogue was great and the little details kept me reading and reading.

Nice job.

Jim

Marisa Birns said...

Very good storytelling. As many of the others, liked the Pavlovian aspect of the clicking meter.

Good balance between dialogue and narrative.

Well done.

Christian Bell said...

You start off with some excellent details in that first full paragraph and it rolls from there. The characters are well developed and the writing here is tight. We don’t need to know everything since you play your word economy to give us exactly what we do need. Excellent stuff.

David Masters said...

I agree with Janton - you paint the scene vividly and brilliantly.

I loved the Ess-, the sound of it. I like when writing has sound.

Laurita said...

Fabulous story, wonderfully woven. I enjoyed very much the things that were left unwritten. Great job on this.

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent. Descriptive, not overly so. Good dialog consistent with characters. The story line is a fine one, well crafted.

G.P. Ching said...

Her reaction to the clicking sent a chill up my spine. The yellow ribbons/police tape was moving. Very well written and perfectly paced.

Draco Torre said...

Great capture of the emotional tugging. The repeated question beats with the rhythm to the yellow ribbon.
-David G Shrock

austere said...

The meter click made me jump.
It echoes.
Fabulous.


and-- ty.

ganymeder said...

Great story. Loved how all the little details added up and filled in what had happened. I,too,loved the clicking and how she savored 'ssss'sound between her teeth. Nice work.

Diandra said...

Good story, many loose ends to tie up. Will keep the head busy fora while.

Laura Eno said...

Awesome...so much to ponder. Loved the details like the clicking sound. Left wondering how her mother died.

Linda said...

Fabu, Peggy. Both characters so well drawn, the details so perfect. Got me in the gut, this one... Peace, Linda

Tony Noland said...

The darkness here was tangible. Quite a broken person you've drawn here, and done it so well.

Al Bruno III said...

Great story! I love how you made Brother Paul a sinister character with just a few sentences...

Carrie said...

Brother Paul...eww. I recoiled at those few sentences, and the yellow ribbon she saw wasn't quite was she was hoping to find. Well done. A chilling tale. The ending was well served.

Eric J. Krause said...

Great description and emotion in this one. Good story!

skycycler said...

Glorious tight fiction. And so disturbing - Pavlov's dogs? Oh, this is very very good.

CJ Hodges MacFarlane said...

I could have sworn I commented on this days ago.. damn.

Excellent story - I loathe those clicker things and now have another good reason to not like them. I'm glad she got a kindly cab driver. Poor thing. Great job!