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20 April 2014 @ 11:34 pm
LJ Idol Season Nine: "Family Superstitions"  
Family Superstitions
lj idol season nine | week six | 491 words
Step On A Crack

x-x-x-x-x

Never look at the shadows in the corners, Mama used to say. Don't stare into the eyes of strangers, or set your name out on the wind.

Don't help the evil of this world find you.

Mama lost a sister when she was just nine. The two of them were walking to the store one day when Hattie just stopped, her feet statue-still on the sidewalk as she stared at the face of a man coming the other way. "He had the greenest eyes," Hattie told my Mama later. "They just kept winding around inside my head so's I couldn't move."

That night after supper, Hattie took ill. She had a fever hot as the woodstove in the kitchen, and skin gone dull and ashy-gray. Her daddy went to fetch the doctor, but there was no medicine that could save her.

"He's calling to me," Hattie whispered, when my Mama drew close and held her hand so Hattie wouldn't be afraid. "Don't you hear him?"

Hattie never saw morning. She was only eight years old, and no one ever could say what had taken her. That was when Mama learned to be afraid.

A neighbor man from one street over was the next to fall victim. He always kept to himself, hardly ever left the house more than once a week. One day, he just walked into the river and kept on walking. The postman saw him as he drove by: "Taking up swimming now, Ed?" But the man didn't answer, he just walked on in until the current took him.

That postman, he retired a month later.

Mama's daddy took a trip to the big city, and never did come back. The police found his truck near the rail yard, said he might've just run off.

My Mama cried a lifetime before she was even ten.

She learned, she said. She learned to be careful, to slip around the edges of a crowd and to keep her curiosity from betraying her. I used to wonder how she ever met Daddy with a set of rules like that. Daddy said it was a little strange, having Mama come up alongside him and talk with him friendly as anything, but never look at him. She was a pretty one, he said, and after a few weeks she wasn't quite so shy. I guess by then, he wasn't a stranger anymore.

I haven't forgotten a single one of those stories she told me. I'm a grown man of thirty years now, but I hold Mama's words inside me as I move through this city of lost souls. I keep to the well-lit places and my eyes never linger on the faces of people I don't know.

At times it is lonely, but I haven't worked out a solution for that. One day I may share my name (my secrets) with another, but not just yet.

You never know what else might be listening.

-/-




This week's voting is only open to therealljidol community members, but I encourage you to join and find lots of great stories...and possibly consider home-gaming or coming in during Second-Chance Idol!

 
 
 
ecosopherecosopher on April 21st, 2014 08:10 am (UTC)
This has such an engaging voice. I can really imagine how this continues.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 06:06 am (UTC)
Thank you! I had thought about taking a 'bye' this week, but the style of the voice was too interesting not to write. I wanted to see where it would go!
(no subject) - ecosopher on April 22nd, 2014 06:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 06:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on April 21st, 2014 11:32 am (UTC)
I like the eerie + southern tone in this. AW
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 06:07 am (UTC)
:D I'm glad you caught the southern tone as well. I was hoping that would come through without being too heavily wielded.
elledangerelledanger on April 21st, 2014 12:18 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this; peppering a world where the uncanny is real in a way that's not really spoken of. I'm not sure whether our narrator has the gift or what, but I am curious, that's for sure.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 06:12 am (UTC)
I would say that the narrator's mother heard stories growing up... and found that all those warnings she'd heard had something to them after all. :O

Normally, we would call those old wives' tales, and assume they're ridiculous. Having them actually be true? So much more intriguing!
waltzmatildahwaltzmatildah on April 21st, 2014 01:15 pm (UTC)
I really loved the narrator's voice in this.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 06:13 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! That was what drew me to write it-- that was a voice worth exploring. :)
kick_galvanic, zagzagael, skull_theatrebleodswean on April 21st, 2014 02:47 pm (UTC)
Creepy and delightfully rendered so! Nice work.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 06:13 am (UTC)
Yay on all counts! Thank you. :D
Es'kaeska818 on April 21st, 2014 10:40 pm (UTC)
I want to see more of this! :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 05:36 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm glad you enjoyed this unsettling little universe. :D
cindytsuki_no_bara on April 22nd, 2014 02:34 am (UTC)
this is creepy and kind of folklore-ish and i really, really like it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 05:37 pm (UTC)
That's the exact combination I was going for-- the sense that this is someone's lore, lore you've never heard before but which carries a lot of weight in this narrator's life.
Jennkickthehobbit on April 22nd, 2014 05:28 am (UTC)
This is creepy and fantastic—you really manage to convey the superstition and the reasoning behind it well, and in such a short piece—I'm mad jealous!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 05:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'd hoped the combination of the feeling and the background would make it clear to the reader-- in short order-- why these rules so dominate the narrator's life. :D
i_17bingoi_17bingo on April 22nd, 2014 07:22 am (UTC)
Don't help the evil of this world find you.

This line made chills start climbing up my back, and the haven't stopped since.

This piece deserves to be read by an old man with a quivering voice, who sits alone in a bar, muttering to himself.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 10:00 pm (UTC)
The idea of terrible, unknown things out there _waiting_ is really unsettling, and if you don't know exactly what they are... worse!
favoritebeanfavoritebean on April 22nd, 2014 08:22 am (UTC)
Oh, so creepy! This beats any slenderman stories I've read.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 22nd, 2014 10:00 pm (UTC)
Yay! Thank you. :D
Teo Sayseternal_ot on April 22nd, 2014 01:11 pm (UTC)
Ah! I like the voice of the narrator.."You never know what else might be listening." - Hands down spooky. Good job!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 23rd, 2014 06:47 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! The spookiness was such a driving force in wanting to write this, especially with such unusual fears in the narrator's past.
ViolaConspiracyviolaconspiracy on April 22nd, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC)
This does have a really great tone- it's matter-of-fact, and maybe a little creepier because the character has accepted that otherworldly dangers are a fact that must be lived with.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 23rd, 2014 06:48 am (UTC)
There's a sense that the narrator-- through his mother-- knows about dangers the rest of the world does not even see, and yet is still afraid of falling prey to them. That creates its own uneasiness, I think, a sense of, "Well, what am _I_ missing, then?"
solstice_singer on April 22nd, 2014 05:28 pm (UTC)
An excellent entry! Superstition can be a powerful thing.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 23rd, 2014 06:49 am (UTC)
Superstition is so much worse if it seems to have been validated. How do you ever rest easy when you're sure that what you're afraid of is real?
rayasorayaso on April 22nd, 2014 06:33 pm (UTC)
One of the many things I liked about this is that you managed to create a whole world in a short story using sparse but very suggestive and evocative narration/dialogue. Excellent, as always.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 23rd, 2014 06:49 am (UTC)
:D Thank you! I sure enjoyed working through it.
A Karmic Sandbox: French Maidkarmasoup on April 22nd, 2014 11:13 pm (UTC)
For some reason I'm hearing this in a Louisiana accent. But I totally dig it!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 23rd, 2014 06:50 am (UTC)
There is meant to be an implied small-town Southern tone to it, so it seems as if that is coming across!