Tag Archive | prompt: carryontuesday

Carry On Tuesday: Walking away

This is a weird one, from Carry on Tuesday and http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/writingexercises/ss/pictures.htm – prompt “And that is how I remember them”

And that is how I remember them, standing by the highway, he fussing over the tire, pretending he knew what was going on, she posing, as she liked to do, Mama’s little drama queen.

If it strikes you as odd that I can talk about them like that, the daughter I bore out of my own body, the man whose bed I shared for all the years after her birth, then remember: that moment, standing there on the desert highway, is the last time I saw either of them. I took a snapshot and told them I would walk to the nearest gas station and call for help.

To my credit, if you’re willing to credit anything to a woman who walks away from such things, I did call for help. Then I kept walking.

I hadn’t meant to. I’d meant to do exactly what I’d said when I’d headed out: call, then head back to the car and, maybe, salvage our vacation.

Call it the straw that broke the camel’s back, if you want – not the tire, these things happen, but his helpless uselessness staring at it, her prim and proper put-out expression, so much like her father. There was no helping, of course. I could have fixed the tire. I could have … well, I don’t know what I could have done for her. I’ve never known how she came out that spoilt, despite all my admittedly-amateur attempts as child-rearing. She was always his little princess; I could do nothing about her. But I could have fixed the tire.

It was his snappish defense of his inadequate male pride that did it. I called the tow truck, bought a bottle of water and a straw hat from the gas station, and took out as much money as the credit card and ATM would let me advance. I dropped my purse in the bathroom garbage can and headed south.

Statistics tell me thousands, maybe millions of people vanish every year. I don’t know if it’s true; I’ve never talked about it with anyone, not in so many words, and no-one has ever told me, flat out, that they had walked away from their life. But I know that our little town gets more than its share of paperless drifters, sunburnt and close-lipped, just like I was. I do for them what was done for me, help them find a job, help them move along, and don’t ask any more questions than I have to.

I never ask if they look back, if they wonder how their families are doing without them; I wouldn’t want to be asked about it myself. It might make me wonder how he felt, if he ever knew I’d abandoned him with another man’s bastard, or how she felt, if she knew her tantrums had finally driven her mother away. It might make me wonder if they missed me at all, or if I was truly the cuckoo in the nest, and not her.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/20049.html. You can comment here or there.

Carry On Tuesday Short Story: “Children’s Hour” #weblit

Children’s Hour

It wasn’t universally recognized, of course. On a colony like Roan Oak, you were lucky to get people to generally acknowledge the direction the sun rose from every morning; you couldn’t normally get more than twenty-five out of any hundred people to agree on what year it was, and often a marriage group couldn’t settle on a last name so they all used something different. But the Children’s Hour was more regularly recognized than most “actual” holidays were, and, possibly, more enjoyed.

It was certainly louder than anything but the Spring-has-come festivals, a cacophonous clatter that echoed from one end of the settlements to the other. For, in that time when the sun had begun to set but there was still light out, across all the scattered villages, miners and carters, teachers and shopkeepers, farmers and craftspeople all put down their work and went outside.

And all of them, the gruffest miner, the sternest teacher, the most curmudgeonly shopkeeper, every single one of them, (of those who took part, of course, because there would always be some who did not participate), they all played. The brought out the balls, big and small, the bats and the nets, the mittens in winter and the sprinklers in summer, the toy trucks and the dolls, and, for an hour as the sun sank below the horizon of their new world, grown men and women acted like children for just a little while.

The children, too, played, of course, most of them enjoying seeing their parents and mentors acting silly, “acting like children,” (the children would say they were acting nothing of the sort, but they’d mostly learned not to disillusion their elders, and, by the time they, themselves, were grown-ups, almost all of them forgot that particular complaint).

Some said a teacher had started the trend, wanting to connect her students and their parents; some, a doctor, who wanted people to be more healthy, to be more active outside of repetitive work. A few, who were the closest to right and the least often listened to, murmured that it had been a miner, who just wanted an excuse to kick the ball around after work.

The miner’s wives, both of them grey with age by now, smiled to themselves, and kicked the bases into place for a Children’s Hour game of baseball.

For Carry On Tuesday; today’s prompt was:

    the first verse of Longfellow’s poem The Children’s Hour
    Between the dark and the daylight
    When the night is beginning to lower
    Comes a pause in the day’s occupations
    That is known as the Children’s Hour

This story takes place in the same place as my flash fiction The Colony, sponsor for $15