Sunday, January 10, 2010

Entry #104

First Kill
by Catrina Joos

Benita hid in the tall grass. Twenty feet away, an Eastern cottontail feasted on tender shoots. The shadow of a turkey-vulture skimmed across the clearing.

Benita was good at hiding. At lunch, she hid in the bathroom. During recess, she hid, scrunched knees-to-chin, in the damp dirt beneath the jungle-gym. After school, she hid in the woods until the big kids were gone. She hid her scrapes and bruises from her father, along with the notes her teacher sent home.

Benita aimed her Ruger bolt-action rifle and pretended the bunny was one of her father's empties. Her index finger touched the trigger; the rabbit hopped, the illusion evaporated.

Benita tried again. Rabbit stew. Like her mother used to make, only it wasn't. No one knew the secret ingredient now.

A blanket for Sophia; but it was summer and dolls didn't really get cold.

Closing her eyes, Benita thought about Lilly-Rose, with her long hair pulled back with butterfly barrettes. Lilly-Rose, whose nails were "Chick-Flick Cherry" red, not black with dirt. Lilly-Rose, whose mother left her love notes in her lunch-bag and would never send her to school with a jar of peanut-butter, a loaf of bread and no knife. Lilly-Rose, who told secrets on the jungle-gym that were not hers to tell. Lilly-Rose, who watched Sid, a fifth-grader, hold Benita face-down in swamp water just to prove that the feeling was not mutual.

Lilly-Rose with a red rose blooming from her gaping chest.

The Ruger fired.


wrath999 said...

Wow, excellent stuff here

Anonymous said...

Very well written. It wasn't until "... the feeling was not mutual," that I thought of what Benita was aiming for. --JR

pjd said...

Cold and dark, with a lot of anger under the surface. Well written. I love the details and how you've shown us the girl's mind so clearly. The backstory is woven in masterfully.

Craig said...

A lot of built up anger in one so young. You've gotten into the skin of the chracter and told us her story.

lena said...

One can perfectly sense all the anger and what all she has in her mind. Loved everything about this story. Excellent writing :)

Bernita said...

You can imagine my double-take on her name!
Really superior characterization and story flow.

Scribblers Inc said...

my ears are still ringin...way to go!! :D

Mithun Mukherjee

maybe genius said...

Dark and troubling, but beautifully executed!

kashers said...

Excellent characterization and back story. A powerful psychological piece that can't fail to make an impact. Well crafted and subtly delivered.

Kartik said...

Oh my, this was really disturbing! It's amazing how much anger is summoned and can't be bottled up.

Aniket said...

Excellent.... excellent writing. I just hope I have not said this more than 5 times already, but surely one of my favourites. Great narration and storytelling. Thank you for giving us such a treat to read.

laughingwolf said...

bang on, catrina :)

JaneyV said...

Catrina - Benitas pain and anger is so palpable it's almost painful to read. You have contained so much in these few words it's impossible for me to tell you everything I find praiseworthy - except to say that it is perfect.

Wonderful wonderful writing.

austere said...

Didn't see this coming.
Very vivid.

Laurel said...


The pace and details are perfect and I like the succinct explanation of how Lily-Rose comes to be the concentrated object of Benita's frustration.

This was crushing.

Tara said...

This was incredibly well written. You managed so much story in so few words. Amazing.

Four Dinners said...

Poor girl...well...Lily-Rose too...but poor girl.

So much anger and hate in one so young.

Very emotional and emotive writing.

Excellent I think.

catvibe said...

Oh childhood can be SO painful. This is excellently expressed, so much anger, hurt and jealously here. Very sad. Well written.

McKoala said...

This is a haunting one; you've conjured up a great atmosphere.

Terri said...

Wow. Intense stuff - this makes for compelling reading; quite an achievement in so few words.

Chris Eldin said...

Ditto Aniket. This one will stay with me for a long time. You've captured the feeling of being bullied, and the helplessness of not having support at home, and the slow but almost inevitable conclusion. Very well written.

Harper said...

yeah, take that Lily-Rose...what Benita can't have she'll steal from others...chilling, Carrie-like (except who needs psychokinesis when you got a bolt-action rifle and only one target in sight) and beautifully written...ain't language a pip? I suppose if we ever realized its full power, we'd be more inhibited in its use....

Cat said...

Thank you for all your kind comments. I am so pleased that people have enjoyed this piece.

I do wish to clarify something, given the fact that many people seem to think there was a loss of human life.

The only victim here is the rabbit.

Perhaps a better ending:

"Lilly-Rose with a red rose blooming from her gaping chest.

The Ruger fired. Benita opened her eyes; the rabbit lay crumpled on the ground. High above the turkey vultures gathered, circled patiently."

I thought I had made it clear that the only way Benita can take out the rabbit (it's her first kill, after all) is by imagining it's Lilly-Rose. That's why Lilly-Rose is bleeding before the riffle goes off and why Benita closes her eyes so she doesn't realize that she's shooting at the rabbit and not at Lilly-Rose. (Whether or not she takes out Lily-Rose at school is a story for another day.)

It's interesting to see how other people interpret the story, and I will strive to do better in my next submission.

Thank you so much for your kind commentary. I really do appreciate the time everyone's taken to comment. =)

Tessa said...

Compelling and very well written - definitely on my top ten list! Brava!

Anonymous said...

my caveat

Something I Would Keep

Something I Might Tweak

Dear Entrants #1-105,

I have read your pieces so that I can fairly participate in the Readers' Choice vote. (I read all of them through last week, before I started commenting.) I will be coming back around to offer my keep/tweak comment, but I didn't want anyone to snark.

Aerin (#236)

BTW, it's perfectly fine if you still want to snark, but this way you can choose a more appropriate subject, like the Golden Globes or those wretched Old Navy dummies.