Friday, August 28, 2009

Eat Sensibly, Tom and Julie

"So. What are they doing?" Julie said.

Tom leaned out the open window. Julie rested on the roof, toes upturned to the dying summer twilight. "Mom looks like she's going to fall asleep at the table. She spilled her whiskey."

Dad's voice sliced up through the quiet air.

Acid words.

Light from the kitchen below fanned onto the lawn from the open window.

"Did she see you?" Julie said.

"Yeah, she saw me. But her eyes couldn't even focus. She could've been looking at Frank Sinatra. Or an ironing board."

Booze eyes. Julie's term for it.

"Good," she said. "So what did you get?"

"They're still in the kitchen." Tom huffed his weight up onto the sill. Julie slid over. "I couldn't risk much, obviously," he said.

"I know." Julie flipped a page of the book on her stomach. "It's fine. I'm not very hungry anyway."

"Here. I got us two oranges. I know they've been sitting a while. But I don't think they're spoiled."

Something crashed downstairs.

They both flinched.

Not clear if the offender was mom or dad.

"Mom's still got some fight in her," Tom said. That was good for them. As long as she could totter on feet, they would beat on each other. When mom went down for the count, dad would come looking for more.

Tom smiled. But dad was afraid of heights. He never set foot on the roof.

"What do you have there?" Tom said, stretching out on the shingles.

"Medical encyclopedia. Did you know there's pictures of sexual intercourse positions in here?"

"Yeah, I know."

Julie ran her finger along the page.

"I'll take that orange after all," she said.


Shadow said...

ouch, that's quite a painful piece...

McKoala said...

Neatly done. I like the pieces you do in a simpler style.

Aniket Thakkar said...

I've been watching back to back Criminal Minds lately. So I could picture it like a sad troubled family.

Its somewhat comforting to see them carrying each other through.

Chris Eldin said...

I liked this as well. Felt authentic, and captured that kind of dance familiar to dysfunctioning people.

PhilipH said...

Well written. More to follow??

Adisha said...

When the parents are dysfunctional, all the siblings have is each other ... sigh !!

Meghan said...

Another win.

Anonymous said...

Shadow, in some ways. Curiously bonding in others.

McKoala, this style is more reflective of my novel writing. A longer work can't be so dense.

Aniket, I'm fascinated by how pain and trauma can forge bonds between the people enduring them. A dangerous intensity, perhaps.

Chris, even though it might be apparent, I'm often practicing and exploring how to create potent scenes for novels. I want to convey a gripping sense of reality with few words.

PhilipH, I didn't conceive of this piece as a series. Just a glimpse. I'm glad if it pulls you, though. If it feels larger.

Adisha, I worry for these two, but in a way, I envy them also.

Meghan, thank you!!

PixieDust said...

This was a very touching narrative. You did an incredible job capturing the essence of how people survive such brutality. The casual banter is so realistic of people who've never known any different.


Sarah Hina said...

The pain is strangely normalized for them. Just another thing to grow around. It made me think of Flowers in the Attic.

The idea of eating the orange--something that sweet and potent--in the midst of such darkness was very inspired. There's still so much to discover for them.

And I love the orange under those night clouds. :)

the walking man said...

"Chris, even though it might be apparent, I'm often practicing and exploring how to create potent scenes for novels. I want to convey a gripping sense of reality with few words."

And in that you did accomplish your goal Jason.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Interesting sibling interaction as well as setting. These types of scenarios are what interest me.

Mona said...

Its sad, but things like that do happen. And for the children it becomes a 'normal' scene. It could make them anything, from insensitive, to strong. I hope its the later.

Its a pity, that parents would care so less for their children. Addictions can destroy families, and it is pathetic!

Jean said...

The children are stronger than the parents. And, wiser.
May they survive better.

Anonymous said...

PixieDust, thanks. :) There's a unique kind of intimacy in dark times.

Sarah, Flowers in the Attic is a very apt analogy. Maybe these kids are more comfortable in their control. More free. That dramatic sky is theirs.

Walking Man, thank you for saying so. Knowing what works is easily as important as knowing what doesn't.

JR, interesting places to step into, I agree.

Mona, I do wonder what they will cross into as adults. After the bonds of these times fade.

Jean, I wish they could leave now. They have a purity now.

Terri said...

It's amazing what people can survive and we get the feeling from this piece that these kids will be OK because they have each other... although maybe not... sexual deviants in the making...? ;-)
From the comfort of an armchair we may look on in horror and exclaim, "How Awful!" and yet they know no other life, to them this is normal. That is how people survive horrors. You have captured that well here.