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27 October 2014 @ 11:11 pm
LJ Idol Season Nine: "Apple Don't Fall"  
Apple Don't Fall
lj idol season nine | week 26 | 830 words
Crabs in a barrel

x-x-x-x-x

"You ain't never gonna be nothin'."

Pa rails at me, all greasy-undershirt, stink, and liquor. Pa ain't nothin', neither.

The shack we live in is broken boards and dirt, on his Daddy's Daddy's land. It ain't no farm, but for a pair of apple trees out back. The earth is rock-ridden and mean, not giving up more than an old shithouse hole and a well. The land ain't good for nothin' but shelter.

Ma up and left us when I was hardly more'n seven. I barely remember her. Pa says it was 'cause of me, 'cause I was trouble. I told him I'd be good, but it must've been too late, 'cause she didn't come back. It's been just Pa and me ever since.

Used to be, Pa worked—or says he did. Now he sits around the house and drinks, and jaws on about wanting a color teevee 'stead of the old black and white one. Most of our money goes for liquor, so I cain't see that happening. I say ours, but I mean mine. Pa took me outta school when I was twelve, said his back was done with workin' and it was my turn now. I didn't care much for school anyway, though this ain't exactly better.

Most days, I come home to an empty whiskey bottle on the floor and Pa yellin' at me.

"Where the hell you been, boy?"

"I's workin'."

"Shoulda been here five minutes ago. You think I cain't tell time?"

"No, Pa."

"I better see supper on the table afore six, or you know what'll happen."

The belt. Or his fist, maybe. Either way, it ain't good.

I rattle around the kitchen, find cheese and eggs in the fridge. Still cold—damn fridge ain't died yet, but it's goin'. I fix up fried-egg sandwiches for the both of us, and open a can of peaches. "Supper's ready."

Pa comes in, looks at what's there. Might get a beating if he don't like what he sees. Cain't do much about it, with him drinkin' away most of our money and eatin' the rest of what I buy durin' the day. Pa grunts, and sits down to eat. I guess he'll let this one pass.

After supper, I do the dishes real slow, hopin' he'll pass out soon enough. Pa gets ornery when he's drinkin', which is pretty near always. I keep my distance the best I can.

I finish up, and step into the front room. Pa's there, just watchin' me. "You're just like her, you know. Every worthless bone in your body. You and your ma ain't no use to nobody."

He talks like this most nights, but that still don't make it any easier to hear. "Yes, Pa."

Pa shakes his head and turns away. "Shoulda kilt you when I had the chance…"

I go out and sit on the porch, maybe for hours, 'til I hear Pa's snores and know he's out.

He's still sleepin' it off in his armchair when I get up in the morning. I go quiet-like, so's I don't wake him. Pa's always madder than heck before he's had few.

Work is about the same as always. I ain't much for talkin', and you cain't hardly hear anything over the saws and drill presses anyway. People are friendly enough, though. Jimmy stops me afore I leave, asks do I wanna go out for a beer with the rest of 'em. I wish I could, but Pa'll be waitin'. I thank him, and head on home.

"Late again," Pa says as I walk in the door. His eyes are powerful red and he's up out of his chair, so I know he's worse off than usual. "Talkin' to one of them town whores, I bet."

"No, Pa," I say.

"Don't you 'Pa' me, you sumbitch little shit!" Pa cracks me a good one across the chin, and keeps goin' at me with both fists.

I raise my arms up in front of me. "Pa!"

"Shoulda took you out and dumped you in a ditch when your Ma left," he says, aimin' a kick at my knee.

"Goddamn it, Pa!" I punch him right in the face, first time I ever hit him back. He just gets madder, and so do I. I keep beatin' on him and beatin' on him 'til he's down on the floor, and then I slug the side of his face so hard, it whips his head around.

Then Pa's quiet for once. And he ain't movin'. I shake out my hand and just look at him.

Pa's eyes are staring off at the wall, nothin' inside 'em, and that's when I know he's gone.

I get up slowly, him lyin' there and bleedin' onto the rug. I sit myself down in his armchair, and after a minute, I pick up the bottle of whiskey next to it and help myself to a drink.

Pa ain't never gonna drag me down again.


--/--



If you liked this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

 
 
 
kick_galvanic, zagzagael, skull_theatrebleodswean on October 28th, 2014 10:15 pm (UTC)
Brava! Another vernacular piece from you and it just sounds so right! Sad for your fellow who can't break the vicious circle, but this works well!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 29th, 2014 05:16 am (UTC)
This struck me as one of the more typical situations this prompt describes: people who have very little and have already given up on themselves, who then project their limitations onto someone else.

The sad part is how very often they succeed in destroying other people's futures.
cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on October 29th, 2014 01:26 am (UTC)
this is really harsh, but really good. the voice is super clear and the ending, depressing as it is, really fit.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 29th, 2014 05:17 am (UTC)
It's a darker approach than I usually take, but it was definitely the story that wanted to be told for this prompt-- right down to the tragic ending of becoming the thing you tried to avoid.
Teo Sayseternal_ot on October 29th, 2014 06:20 am (UTC)
Powerful!...and fits the prompt really well.. you did well with the use of language ...makes it authentic..Poor lad..but he couldn't help himself in any other way, could he?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 29th, 2014 06:30 am (UTC)
He was almost doomed to destroy his father unless his father destroyed him first, but now his fate is sealed in a way he never would have chosen. He just doesn't realize it yet.
i_17bingoi_17bingo on October 29th, 2014 11:55 am (UTC)
The earth is rock-ridden and mean, not giving up more than an old shithouse hole and a well.

I was pretty much hooked on the piece at this line, but damn, was it brutal. Well-written and true, but brutal.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 29th, 2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
I'm hoping people aren't put off by that. The prompt led me right to those whose own parents make sure their kids suffer the brunt of all their own failures and disappointments.

This is too many people's story, over time, a sad reality not to be ignored.

Thanks for reading on your week off!
rayasorayaso on October 29th, 2014 08:26 pm (UTC)
You have such a wonderful ear for writing regional dialects, and I loved the progression up to the ending. How you come up with these great ideas for stories mystifies me!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 29th, 2014 11:56 pm (UTC)
I was hoping to surprise you and everyone else with this one, since it's so different from my usual style and subject.

I'm just hoping people think it's a good story, even if they don't know what to say about it.
mamas_minionmamas_minion on October 30th, 2014 01:58 am (UTC)
I feel bad for the narrator, but this has wonderful flow to it and it draws you in.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 06:21 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'd really wanted to capture a clear image of these two and one of the more tragic ways this prompt occurs in reality.
Ellisonellison on October 30th, 2014 03:32 am (UTC)
This was really well done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 06:22 am (UTC)
Thank you! I know it's a hearbreaking situation, but I hope the truth of it comes across despite how much we'd like to flinch away from this kind of situation.
(no subject) - ellison on October 30th, 2014 09:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 06:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
A Karmic Sandbox: Camo Teddykarmasoup on October 30th, 2014 04:49 am (UTC)
I'm glad he finally found his courage, and I am glad that when he ended it, it was unplanned, unexpected, and self defense, though it tugged on my heartstrings a bit that he went straight to the bottle. This is a rough life.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 06:34 am (UTC)
This poor guy was always a good person, which would have made it harder to defend himself against his father. In the end, what happened was an accident-- and was in self-defense, as it would have been at any time over the years.

But now that it's happened... his future is even more limited than it might have been before. :(
Jemima Paulerjem0000000 on October 30th, 2014 09:33 am (UTC)
Aw, poor kid.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC)
I know. I wish he didn't have so much company. What a horrible way to grow up. :(
uncawesuncawes on October 30th, 2014 09:41 am (UTC)
Ouch!
Dragged me in from the get go and didn't let up to the end
I guess the real surprise is it took that long to fight back.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 06:52 pm (UTC)
When someone is in the thick of abuse, and raised with fear and comes to believe they really ARE that worthless, it is much harder for them ever to fight back or leave than we would logically expect.

Any time they actually do is a huge victory, though the outcome here will make the future very hard for this young man--just in a different way from before.
(no subject) - dmousey on October 30th, 2014 07:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
☾witches on October 30th, 2014 03:09 pm (UTC)
oh man this is amazing and so realistic.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I was really going for the realism of both characters, and how trapped you can get when anyone (but especially a parent) treats you this way.
(no subject) - witches on October 30th, 2014 07:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
dmouseydmousey on October 30th, 2014 05:19 pm (UTC)
Whoa... took me back to childhood a bit. Although Mouse had it easier. I was riveted to the page! I adore the way you pen these stories. Thanks for inking this one! :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 06:56 pm (UTC)
I was afraid this might be a little familiar, from a few things you've written, and I'm glad it wasn't quite this bad. Alcoholic and abusive are terrible on their own, but when you combine them into the same person, the effect can be near-nuclear.
(no subject) - dmousey on October 30th, 2014 07:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
whipchickwhipchick on October 30th, 2014 06:05 pm (UTC)
Whew - what a powerful voice!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 06:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's definitely not my usual, but really worth trying out, I thought.
suesniffsgluesuesniffsglue on October 30th, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC)
I really liked the ending. It shows this cycle so well, and it's such a real thing--I see it every single day with my work. Great job!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 07:53 pm (UTC)
This must be so hard to witness-- harders still to live, but to hope to help people in this situation and see how the fact of it makes it just that much harder for them to get free of it... that takes a strong spirit!
Elizabethwatching_ships on October 30th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
I love this SO much. You've nailed the language. Great work!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on October 30th, 2014 07:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! The language made it a little harder to write, but at the same time helped me to visualize the characters and their setting much better. ;)