Pocketful of Taconite


It was the opening and closing of her fists that got to me. As if Mrs. Johnson thought she could grab her son by his torn shirttails and yank him out of the afterlife all of a piece again.

“Jimmy jumped into a train.” Her eyes were wide and staring. Her hands clenched and released empty air.

LouAnne Henderson traced concentric circles around Mrs. Johnson's back, ever smaller, smaller, until there was just a dot in the middle before she worked her way back out again. I glanced at Stu.

“Jimmy jumped into a train,” Mrs. Johnson said again. The words were hard enough to hear in the first telling. I couldn't bear to hear them again.

Stu sidled up to me. “They found his cowboy boots sitting neat and pretty beside the tracks, almost as if he'd stepped out of 'em afore he jumped.”

I nodded. “Probly he did. He was right proud of them boots, bragging about them near every chance he got.”


Stu put his foot up on the stretcher of the chair and leaned towards me. “I remember how Jimmy use to to put his ear down against the rail of those selfsame tracks to listen for the tell-tale rumble of an oncoming train.”

I nodded. “His mother worried about him. She'd stand stand at her kitchen window, watching for him to come home, a pocketful of taconite for his slingshot.”

Stu sighed. “A boy's treasures are simple and cheap.”

“But not a mother's.”

“Jimmy was Mrs. Johnson's treasure, sure as sure. Jimmy use to tell his momma, 'that old train ain't gonna' hurt me.' Then she'd shake him hard, like to snap off his neck and tell him, 'you be sure that it don't.'”

“Why do you think...?”

Stu blinked back tears and turned away. “Best not dwell on it, Duane.”

I nodded and thought of my two kids waiting for me back at home. “Yeah. You're probly right, Stu.”

This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was Dwell.

Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Pocketful of Taconite

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pocketful of Taconite


It was the opening and closing of her fists that got to me. As if Mrs. Johnson thought she could grab her son by his torn shirttails and yank him out of the afterlife all of a piece again.

“Jimmy jumped into a train.” Her eyes were wide and staring. Her hands clenched and released empty air.

LouAnne Henderson traced concentric circles around Mrs. Johnson's back, ever smaller, smaller, until there was just a dot in the middle before she worked her way back out again. I glanced at Stu.

“Jimmy jumped into a train,” Mrs. Johnson said again. The words were hard enough to hear in the first telling. I couldn't bear to hear them again.

Stu sidled up to me. “They found his cowboy boots sitting neat and pretty beside the tracks, almost as if he'd stepped out of 'em afore he jumped.”

I nodded. “Probly he did. He was right proud of them boots, bragging about them near every chance he got.”


Stu put his foot up on the stretcher of the chair and leaned towards me. “I remember how Jimmy use to to put his ear down against the rail of those selfsame tracks to listen for the tell-tale rumble of an oncoming train.”

I nodded. “His mother worried about him. She'd stand stand at her kitchen window, watching for him to come home, a pocketful of taconite for his slingshot.”

Stu sighed. “A boy's treasures are simple and cheap.”

“But not a mother's.”

“Jimmy was Mrs. Johnson's treasure, sure as sure. Jimmy use to tell his momma, 'that old train ain't gonna' hurt me.' Then she'd shake him hard, like to snap off his neck and tell him, 'you be sure that it don't.'”

“Why do you think...?”

Stu blinked back tears and turned away. “Best not dwell on it, Duane.”

I nodded and thought of my two kids waiting for me back at home. “Yeah. You're probly right, Stu.”

This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was Dwell.

Labels: ,

20 Comments:

At February 11, 2013 at 3:54 PM , OpenID tenwordstory said...

So, he took off his boots first... Was it suicide or was he just careless, or delusional? I wonder.

 
At February 11, 2013 at 4:02 PM , Blogger Paul Worthington said...

Hi Kelly,

I found your writings on your Tumblr, and I really enjoyed River of Regret. I scrolled down some more, only to find more wonderful short stories, especially Path and The Gap Between the Stiches. I'm currently reading The Loneliness right now, and I'm having a great time. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing your writing.

-Paul (worthingtonbooks.tumblr.com)

 
At February 11, 2013 at 4:35 PM , Blogger Bee said...

I love the dialect here -- well done!

 
At February 11, 2013 at 11:16 PM , Blogger Atreyee said...

Nothing worse than losing a child-sad tale,well written.

 
At February 12, 2013 at 9:51 AM , Anonymous Annabelle said...

That detail about the opening and closing fists got to me too -- put me on edge the second the passage started. The little physical details here are just great.

 
At February 12, 2013 at 10:10 AM , Blogger Tara R. said...

I'm taken with the detail of LuAnn tracing circles... that seems like something a woman of my mother's generation would do as a sign of comfort. You writing draws the reader into a scene. I always feel like I am right there watching it unfold.

 
At February 12, 2013 at 12:37 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

I grew up surrounded by train tracks. They often attracted boys to play around them. The lure of the big engines I guess. I remember one time my momma going after my little brother when she found out he had snuck off to play by them. It was a lesson he didn't soon forget.

 
At February 12, 2013 at 3:03 PM , Anonymous injaynesworld said...

The idea of the boots standing there neatly by the side of the tracks -- what an image. A sad and haunting piece beautifully constructed.

 
At February 12, 2013 at 3:51 PM , OpenID joe2poetry said...

That was very well done. Thank you.

 
At February 12, 2013 at 4:04 PM , Blogger Banker Chick said...

You did a wonderful job of catching the dialect of simple folks. I could hear the voice of folks I know. I have patted peoples backs in circles, when trying to comfort. It is very real.
You left a comment on my post that indicated you thought it was written by Sandra(?) With so many posts on Trifecta, I imagine this would be an easy thing to do. I appreciate the compliment anyway. Thank you.

 
At February 12, 2013 at 4:11 PM , OpenID humantriumphant said...

you've left me with so many 'what ifs' swirling through my head. He's obviously recognized by his boots...and he's obviously felt safe by the tracks his entire life...and his mama obviously hasn't liked him there...and...well, see what I mean? Wonderful pull for the title.

 
At February 12, 2013 at 7:34 PM , OpenID jannatwrites said...

I like the dialect of this story...I'm not from the south, but I heard a bit of a drawl as I read :) I feel awful for his mom. Losing a child would be devastating.

 
At February 13, 2013 at 8:37 AM , Blogger Draug said...

That image of the boots...It's almost unsettling, as if they were waiting for their owner to return...

 
At February 13, 2013 at 1:04 PM , Blogger Bo said...

This is really good. I love your use of emotions.

 
At February 13, 2013 at 2:45 PM , Anonymous steph said...

As others have said - the image of the boots is haunting. And your dialog is terrific. I love the opening with the idea of his mother yanking him out of the afterlife all of a piece again. Just great.

 
At February 13, 2013 at 3:45 PM , Blogger The Bloody Munchkin said...

I was really moved by this one, mostly for imagery of Mrs. Johnson pulling him by his shirt tales as if to bring him back to his body. Quite a stirring visual. Well done.

 
At February 13, 2013 at 5:39 PM , OpenID lucidedit said...

This is a great piece of writing! Love the way you tell the story through dialogue. And I love your visuals - the boots on the platform, the way she's clenching and unclenching her hands - well done!

 
At February 13, 2013 at 10:12 PM , Anonymous Trifecta said...

Good lord, woman. You wrote the hell out of that.

 
At February 14, 2013 at 4:30 AM , Blogger kymm said...

Dialogues are rocking this week! You really put across the tragedies that are left behind.

 
At February 14, 2013 at 5:38 AM , Anonymous Latitudes of a Day said...

As always, this is terrific. I so enjoy reading your pieces. I like the way you tell your stories.

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home