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29 January 2016 @ 02:13 pm
LJ Idol Friends & Rivals: "Such Treasure"  
Such Treasure
idol friend and rivals | week 7 | 1000 words
This is a gift, it comes with a price, who is the lamb and who is the knife?

x-x-x-x-x

They met the summer Eli came back from the war, just two weeks after Jenny moved to Waynesboro to live with her aunt and uncle.

Jenny was seventeen, too young to live alone, and Eli was twenty—too changed to live at home, but stuck there all the same. Jenny was out walking just for a change of scenery and Eli was wandering the streets because he couldn't sit still. Their paths crossed at the drugstore on 4th and Main, Eli's hand on Jenny's as they both reached for the door.

"Oh!" Jenny said. "I'm sorry!"

"My fault," Eli said. "I don't think I've seen you around here before."

Jenny smiled. "I just moved here. I finally had a chance to get out of the house."

Eli laughed. "I know what you mean. I'm only going inside this store 'cause I have nothing better to do. I'm Eli, by the way."

"Jenny."

"Are you busy right now, Jenny? Could I buy you a soda?"

"I believe I'd like that," Jenny said, and the two of them went inside.

They sat at the counter and talked the afternoon away. Jenny had never really met a soldier before, and Eli had never met anyone half so pretty as Jenny. He asked her to go to the movies with him the next night, and she agreed.

A week later, they were inseparable.

They went for walks together, often through town or by the river. They was a place along the shore where they liked to swim, next to an old covered bridge on an abandoned road. Jenny would bring a picnic lunch, and sometimes invited her young cousins along. She'd never had brothers or sisters, but she was grateful for the family she did have, now that her parents were gone.

Come September, Eli had a job and Jenny was busy with school, so they mostly saw each other nights and weekends. They left messages for each other near their swimming spot, surprises to ease their time apart.

Under a stone beneath the bridge by the river lay a necklace with a locket in the shape of a heart.

~*~

Eli and Jenny got married once she turned eighteen. Her aunt and uncle thought her too young, and perhaps she was, but the decision was hers alone. She and Eli lived with his family while she finished school. Jenny counted the weeks until graduation, when she could look for work and they could afford a place of their own. Eli visited rental houses and apartments the whole month of June.

Under a stone beneath the bridge by the river lay a key.

~*~

Their first apartment was nothing fancy, but it was theirs, just the two of them. Jenny no longer worried that she might have to move in with other relatives if times got hard. She sewed curtains and put wildflowers in jelly jars. Sometimes she even forgot to wonder whether her parents would have been pleased about how her life turned out.

Over the next two years, Eli went from being an apprentice to a journeyman, and he and Jenny were able to move into a nicer apartment. They still left things for each other in their secret place—a new pocketknife, a pressed flower, a love note or two.

Under a stone beneath the bridge by the river lay a plastic rattle.

~*~

They named the baby Sally, and Jenny sang to her and took her in a stroller for walks out in the sun. Sally was a cheerful, curious baby, such a joy that Jenny never minded those rare times she cried or fussed. The baby grew into a happy, busy toddler, and then a sweet, clever little girl.

Jenny had thought there might be brothers and sisters for Sally, but Eli wasn't home as often as he used to be. He spent weeknights out with friends, coming home drunk long after Sally was in bed, and he always seemed to be busy on the weekends.

"Got a game to watch at Harry's," he would say, or "This engine rebuild's taking longer than we thought."

Jenny ached with loneliness at those words, hardly daring to say anything after too many of Eli's painful dismissals: "Why are you such a nag, Jenny? Christ—you used to be fun."

It had been years since she'd found anything in their special spot under the bridge. She'd left a lucky coin for Eli that sat there a full eight months before he'd discovered it.

When Sally started school, Jenny went back to work. The emptiness of the house during the day was too much for her, and her part-time job at Dr. Fine's office meant she could still pick up Sally after school. She even made a few friends. It was a relief to have other adults she could talk to, people who wouldn't judge her like her relatives had.

Eli didn't seem to care one way or the other what Jenny did.

He was still gone more often than not, and sometimes came home smelling like some other woman's perfume. Jenny gave up trying to figure out just whose it might be.

One Friday afternoon she came home to an eviction notice taped to the front door. After she put Sally to bed, she quietly counted up all the money she'd set aside over the past few years.

She had a friend from the office who was looking for a roommate, and had asked Jenny several times—knowing that Sally was part of the deal.

In the morning, Eli was still gone from the night before, but maybe that was for the best. Jenny packed boxes and suitcases for her and Sally, and wrote Eli a letter. She put their things in the car and left the letter on the scratched-up kitchen table.

Maybe Eli would check their usual hiding spot before coming home, but it didn’t seem likely. None of that mattered anymore.

Under a stone beneath the bridge by the river lay Jenny's ring.

--/--


I am part of a team this week, where votes for the team as a whole matter! Please vote for any entries you enjoy from my Weird Sisters team, any other teams, and the standalone "Rivals" group. All stories are here...

 
 
 
adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on January 29th, 2016 10:22 pm (UTC)
I like how these vignettes came full-circle. Sad story but beautifully expressed. AW
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 30th, 2016 07:50 pm (UTC)
So many relationships that end badly have beautiful beginnings, and the promise is borne out for so long... until it becomes hopeless. The saddest part is how hard it is to know which way things will go.
her brain is crowded and tastes like sex!thistle_verse on January 30th, 2016 01:51 am (UTC)
Jenny was seventeen, too young to live alone, and Eli was twenty—too changed to live at home, but stuck there all the same.

I really liked this line. I felt like it said a lot.

I like the pattern of your vignettes, too, and how you used small details to really ground and make the whole thing ring both true and poignant.

Great piece!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 30th, 2016 07:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That final line drove the whole piece for me--once I thought of it, I knew the story I wanted to tell and how to tie it together.

But showing the bright beginnings (with hints of how it could go wrong) and then transititioning toward something that needed to end... that was the challenge!
cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on January 30th, 2016 06:33 am (UTC)
this is so sad, but it moves so smoothly that the ending feels inevitable. i love the repetition of the things under the rock.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 30th, 2016 08:13 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it felt smooth to you! I wanted the end to come naturally, while the same time showing that the two people involved would not have seen it coming at the beginning-- the way most failed relationships go, really.

And the person who has been expected to put up with the terrible way things turned out leaves a gift that is not a gift, but a declaration of her refusal to abide that situation any longer.
Teo Sayseternal_ot on January 30th, 2016 08:52 am (UTC)
I loved the secret stone surprise..gave it an element (that special something) which is unique for the said couple..a very evocative piece.Well written!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 30th, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you! The surprises were a nice way to tie in gifts until the one that finally wasn't-- rejection rather than love, and a long time coming.
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on January 30th, 2016 02:26 pm (UTC)
Such a sad story, well told.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 30th, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
kick_galvanic, zagzagael, skull_theatrebleodswean on January 30th, 2016 04:20 pm (UTC)
Nice fairytale cadence here! Good job keeping the vignettes mirroring one another!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 31st, 2016 10:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I don't often use repeated themes, but when they shift over time, they can reflect the story in a really concise way. What once was a place for gifts of showing love becomes a message of finality-- all the more appropriate for what was lost.
kick_galvanic, zagzagael, skull_theatrebleodswean on January 31st, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
It's a great technique and you used it well.
whipchickwhipchick on January 30th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)
That last line bitch-slapped me in the heart. Love the thread of the stone by the river through this - the coin for eight months was another great detail.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 31st, 2016 10:29 pm (UTC)
I'm glad the last line struck you, even though by then you knew things were ending for Eli and Jenny. There's a finality to making a statement like that which shows that Jenny has made a decision that is not up for debate.
Ellisonellison on January 31st, 2016 03:13 am (UTC)
I loved the things left under the bridge for one another. So beautifully told, and so sad. Well done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 31st, 2016 10:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

The secret exchange of gifts and messages is such a beautiful thing to have at the beginning of a relationship, and such a stark reminder of its death when it has died away to nothing.
rayasorayaso on January 31st, 2016 04:16 pm (UTC)
I love this, especially the way the bridge mirrored the relationship. I am glad that Jenny was able to escape. It was so very mournful.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 1st, 2016 12:18 am (UTC)
It's so sad to have a relationship start so well and then die so irreversibly, especially to have one partner just stop caring about any part of the marriage or family. Had that started sooner, they might not have had a child, but because of that child I doubt Jenny would regret her marrige. Just how long she had to stay in it.
Raised by Wolvessinnamongirl on January 31st, 2016 10:13 pm (UTC)
This is very poignant and sad, very well written. Thank you for writing it!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 1st, 2016 12:19 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it! This could be so many people's relationships. Most of them are not as clearly doomed from the start as they eventually become, and people go in with the best of hopes and intentions. It's sad when it doesn't stay that way.
Raised by Wolvessinnamongirl on February 1st, 2016 12:38 am (UTC)
"people go in with the best of hopes and intentions. It's sad when it doesn't stay that way."

Cue my waterworks! Yeah, it is sad when it doesn't stay that way. Hopefully people learn from each relationship and can make the next one better, but it sucks when one ends.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 1st, 2016 12:43 am (UTC)
I'm not a religious person at all, so I don't believe in fate. But I can truly say that if you like where you've arrived, it's hard to fully regret the bumps along the way. You would have wound up some other place had they not happened. My relationships were few and usually one-sided until I met my husband, but that was the only one that really counted! The same was true for my mother, who married at 36 and had my dad with her for 52 more years even with that late start. :)
Raised by Wolvessinnamongirl on February 1st, 2016 12:54 am (UTC)
I really appreciate this comment; I'm having an existential angst type moment lately - I'm about to turn 36 and have made huge strides as a person, but with a relationship just ending, that I had a lot of hope for, I was feeling discouraged, for real. I'm really glad to hear about your mother and father having what some might consider a "late start" and having so many years together. Thank you very much for that.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 1st, 2016 01:00 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm sorry you're going through this. I know the timing is hard, too, especially moreso for women.

My husband's parents married when his mother was 35, and she had all four children in the next 5 years (she wanted a big family and was in a hurry). She and her husband were really well suited to one another. For the two of us, the "late start" is actually what we think of as the norm. Marrying before about age 23 seems frightening young.

Good luck with this, and I'm happy you like where you've arrived personally. That makes such a huge difference in where you're ready to go.
Raised by Wolvessinnamongirl on February 1st, 2016 05:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah, there's a real element of "am I gonna have a kid before I start menopause?" 36 is a weird age.

And... I tend to forget 35/36 isn't late for people. Some people. My family tends to marry young - 15, 16, 18... so for them I'm a spinster. Like real deal, on the shelf, too late for me spinster.

So it's all weird. But, you know, I am in a good place generally, but I did find reading all your comments and observations about your family very encouraging.
prog_schlockprog_schlock on February 1st, 2016 11:35 am (UTC)
This was an interesting shade of sad - by the end, it was more of a dull, ancient sad than a big painful one. I mean that as a compliment - it ended so much better for Jenny and Sally than I feared that it might but the pain was there, just buried deep and quiet. There's so many ways to create "sad" than just "heartbreaking." I like the flavor (?) you created here.

This is the song I thought of:

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 2nd, 2016 12:14 am (UTC)
I know what you mean by that-- the end of that relationship isn't or a surprise, it's a long time coming. The grieving has already begun long before Jenny walks out the door.

I can see what made you think of that song! You've got quite a repertory of stuff to choose from. :)
dmousey: pic#125576541dmousey on February 1st, 2016 03:03 pm (UTC)
This happens so often it's become passe! Loved the stone idea! And good for Jenny, getting away. Peace and thanks for penning! ~~~D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 2nd, 2016 12:16 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm sorry it happens so often, because it's always tragic to have something that begins with so much hope and promise turn cold and sour. And yet, if you knew that's where it was headed, you probably wouldn't start the relationship to begin with. Hindsight is easier than foresight!
dee_aar2dee_aar2 on February 1st, 2016 05:51 pm (UTC)
I totally loved this one. The repetitive vignettes , the charm of mementos in the secret hiding place , the start of something special and the unavoidable end of it too after it ceased to be special. it is the story of a lot of relationships where people find it difficult to sustain the magic of the initial together time. Well Done with the unique presentation.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 2nd, 2016 12:18 am (UTC)
it is the story of a lot of relationships where people find it difficult to sustain the magic of the initial together time.
Oh, yes-- and so sad when someone's beautiful future instead becomes a flat, deadened reality.

I'm glad this worked well for you, as I know you understand how such things happen--I've seen hints of this theme in your own stories.
misfitmanor: Triumphantmisfitmanor on February 1st, 2016 07:17 pm (UTC)
This is so, so sad. It's amazing how love changes you. A couple years ago, I might have expected this is where this tale would have to end up, but I thought their love so timeless, I didn't see this coming until after Sally entered the picture... I guess being a newlywed gives one rose-colored glasses. SO disappointed in Eli. And that last line nearly broke my heart. Really well done with the gutwrench of this piece.

~karmasoup
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 2nd, 2016 12:24 am (UTC)
SO disappointed in Eli.
And sometimes it's an event like the arrival of a child, where someone who is prepared to be a lover is not prepared to be a parent-- it forces more responsibility on them, and forces growing up that one last little bit they perhaps never wanted to. Instead of stepping up, they deny and ignore, and wallow farther into childishness. I've seen it, and it's frustrating-- it seems as if they're capable of more, but they've chosen not to grow in that direction, and sometimes even regress a little. :(

Finding yourself and your child on the receiving end of that... I think the ache for the indifference shown to the child might even hurt worse than for what you've lost yourself. I feel so for Jenny, but I think she made the right decision in the end.

Thanks so much for reading, and for your heartfelt involvement in the story and comments. ♥
millysdaughter: rainbowmillysdaughter on February 1st, 2016 07:31 pm (UTC)
This tore my heart and made me cry
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 2nd, 2016 12:27 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so sorry. It pains me that real people live this kind of experience, but I've known a few of them. There is often a point where, looking back, you could say things were obviously hopeless.

But it is so rarely near the beginning. Which is exactly how people get trapped in a relationship that turns out like this.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting, though this was heartbreaking for you.
alycewilson: KFP 2015alycewilson on February 2nd, 2016 01:10 am (UTC)
Creative. I liked the concept of the secret hiding place.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 2nd, 2016 01:31 am (UTC)
That seemed like something young lovers might do, that would be special to them-- mostly because who would else would guess? But when things unravel, that kind of "extra" is one of the first things to go...