Small Impressions


Get lost,” her mother spat. “I have company coming over.”

Cassidy stared out the rain-streaked window. “Where should I go?”

I don't care. Take a walk. A long walk.”

Cassidy watched her mother lean into the mirror and apply her lipstick. “When should I come back?”

Her mother blotted her lips on a folded tissue. “Your father wanted children, not me.”

Father died.” Cassidy chewed on the sleeve of her sweater.

And left you behind.” Her mother shook her head. “Look at that sleeve. Disgusting.”

The doorbell rang.

Scat.”

Cassidy let herself out the back door and stepped from the porch. She wove through the yard, picking weeds, pretending they were flowers. An oak tree stood tall in the rain, refusing to relinquish its leaves to autumn. Cassidy sat beneath it and leaned against the trunk. She picked up an acorn; examined its smooth and waxy surface before pushing the point of it into her index finger and studying the impression left behind. Everywhere she looked, there were discarded acorn hats, which she fitted onto her fingers to make a family of ten. She smiled. Everyone in this family loved everyone else. Nobody had strange men come over to spend an afternoon.

She saw a robin on the ground, dead. Its black eyes stared. Its yellow feet grasped at emptiness. She rose and sneaked into the house; tiptoed to her bedroom. There was a truffle box in the back of her closet. Her mother's last boyfriend had brought it over, presenting it with an awkward little bow. Her mother had eaten them on the spot, all six, before telling her boyfriend to leave.

She'd told Cassidy through her tears that she thought he was the one; thought he'd hidden away an engagement ring inside one of the truffles.

Now, Cassidy brought out the box, inhaled its sweet scent and headed back outside. She lifted the bird into the box and set on the lid. She used a flat rock to dig away at the soft moss that grew beneath the oak. The rain grew heavier and Cassidy continued to dig until she had a hole deep enough; wide enough to accommodate the cardboard coffin.

She tucked the box into the ground and studied it. She felt she ought to say something important. Was anyone watching? She looked around the yard and cleared her throat. “I'm sorry, bird.” Then, feeling the sentiment was less than adequate, she launched into the prayer her father had taught her as he lay dying last summer. She thought of the clean white sheets tucked around her father's frail body. She filled the hole with muddied dirt and patted the sodden moss back into place.

Again, she leaned against the base of the tree. Her body left only a small impression in the soft and mossy dirt.

Hours later, the boyfriend woke. “Where's your daughter?”

Cassidy's mother shrugged. “I told her to take a long walk.” Then she laughed and rolled onto her side.



For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Wendryn gave me this prompt: I like long walks, especially when they're taken by people who annoy me. - Fred Allen. I gave SAM this prompt: You just kicked over the photographer's light. What now?

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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Small Impressions

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Small Impressions


Get lost,” her mother spat. “I have company coming over.”

Cassidy stared out the rain-streaked window. “Where should I go?”

I don't care. Take a walk. A long walk.”

Cassidy watched her mother lean into the mirror and apply her lipstick. “When should I come back?”

Her mother blotted her lips on a folded tissue. “Your father wanted children, not me.”

Father died.” Cassidy chewed on the sleeve of her sweater.

And left you behind.” Her mother shook her head. “Look at that sleeve. Disgusting.”

The doorbell rang.

Scat.”

Cassidy let herself out the back door and stepped from the porch. She wove through the yard, picking weeds, pretending they were flowers. An oak tree stood tall in the rain, refusing to relinquish its leaves to autumn. Cassidy sat beneath it and leaned against the trunk. She picked up an acorn; examined its smooth and waxy surface before pushing the point of it into her index finger and studying the impression left behind. Everywhere she looked, there were discarded acorn hats, which she fitted onto her fingers to make a family of ten. She smiled. Everyone in this family loved everyone else. Nobody had strange men come over to spend an afternoon.

She saw a robin on the ground, dead. Its black eyes stared. Its yellow feet grasped at emptiness. She rose and sneaked into the house; tiptoed to her bedroom. There was a truffle box in the back of her closet. Her mother's last boyfriend had brought it over, presenting it with an awkward little bow. Her mother had eaten them on the spot, all six, before telling her boyfriend to leave.

She'd told Cassidy through her tears that she thought he was the one; thought he'd hidden away an engagement ring inside one of the truffles.

Now, Cassidy brought out the box, inhaled its sweet scent and headed back outside. She lifted the bird into the box and set on the lid. She used a flat rock to dig away at the soft moss that grew beneath the oak. The rain grew heavier and Cassidy continued to dig until she had a hole deep enough; wide enough to accommodate the cardboard coffin.

She tucked the box into the ground and studied it. She felt she ought to say something important. Was anyone watching? She looked around the yard and cleared her throat. “I'm sorry, bird.” Then, feeling the sentiment was less than adequate, she launched into the prayer her father had taught her as he lay dying last summer. She thought of the clean white sheets tucked around her father's frail body. She filled the hole with muddied dirt and patted the sodden moss back into place.

Again, she leaned against the base of the tree. Her body left only a small impression in the soft and mossy dirt.

Hours later, the boyfriend woke. “Where's your daughter?”

Cassidy's mother shrugged. “I told her to take a long walk.” Then she laughed and rolled onto her side.



For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Wendryn gave me this prompt: I like long walks, especially when they're taken by people who annoy me. - Fred Allen. I gave SAM this prompt: You just kicked over the photographer's light. What now?

Labels: ,

8 Comments:

At October 9, 2012 at 12:25 PM , Anonymous LollapaloosaBiduous69 said...

*!http://j.mp/PcSGyR

 
At October 9, 2012 at 1:27 PM , Anonymous Carrie said...

it's a sad story of an abandoned child. Cassidy doesn't have much of a life before her.

My only issue is with the ending. The jump from her sitting under the tree to the boyfriend waking up seemed too sudden. The connection between the two wasn't really there. I think you either need to remove those last lines or flesh out the boyfriend a bit. Why does he, unlike the others, care where she is?

 
At October 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM , Anonymous jaum said...

Cassidy sounds like a great kid.. and anyone who would treat her this way is less than pathetic. I tend to agree with Carrie (below) in that I would rather the story end with Cassidy (no suggestions so It's easy for me to say) but taking the story back to the boyfriend and the mother....? They don't deserve the ink. Your discriptions of Cassidy and the things she is doing to occupy her time are marvelous. Great word pictures.

 
At October 9, 2012 at 2:25 PM , Anonymous :) said...

I agree that the transition was abrupt, but I like how you returned to the mother. In fact, I think you could even add more to the ending. In the beginning, the mother seems inhumanly shallow. I think the piece would be more emotive if you fleshed out her character by making her more relatable and realistic. But I liked it!

 
At October 10, 2012 at 5:25 AM , Anonymous Eric Storch said...

This is terribly heart-breaking. Which is what you were going for, so well done on that. However, I have to agree with the others who left comments - jumping back to the mother really pulls the reader out of the emotional state you put them in with a sharp jerk and it doesn't work. Maybe Cassidy can reiterate the "long walk" theme of the prompt to a neighboring child?

 
At October 10, 2012 at 6:46 PM , Anonymous Meum said...

Wow, pretty dark for you.

 
At October 16, 2012 at 1:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I kind of like the ending. I do think it should be fleshed out more. Great work!

 
At October 16, 2012 at 5:03 PM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Small Impressions":

I kind of like the ending. I do think it should be fleshed out more. Great work!

 

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