Sacrifices by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013


Hello Travelers,

This is a very short piece that I wrote for a contest once. I didn’t win, much to my disappointment, but I’m still pleased with it. Enjoy!

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The front door slams open, then shut, and I hear heavy, rapid footfalls going up stairs. Damn, I think, looking at the stove, turning the flame down low so that I don’t turn chicken cutlets into charcoal cutlets. I turn on the hot water so it blasts over the carving knife as I dart upstairs, moving past the empty couch that still bears the impression of our father, and find Sandra in her room.

“Hey, Sand,” I poke my head through the door. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” she chokes out as shimmering pearls roll down her cherubic fourteen-year-old cheeks and splash down on the rosary necklace our father gave her.

“There’s no lyin’ to me, Sand. Somethin’s up. Tell me?”

Giant amber eyes fix on me, trapping me like a mosquito. She jolts forward and wraps her arms around me.

“M-m-mommy’s gone to re-re-re…” I know this already, of course. I’m the one who talked our mother into it. But Sandra doesn’t need to know what I’ve done.

“Re what, kiddo?”

“Rehab,” she sobs, clutching me tighter. “Why would she do that? Why would she leave us all alone with Daddy?”

“Aw, Sand,” I pull away, looking into her eyes so she focuses on something immediate, something other than our mom. “Sometimes, people do crazy things for those they love. It might mean they have to go away for a while, but it doesn’t change how they feel about you. Things will be better this way, ok?”

She sniffs, nodding vigorously.

“Come on, I’ve got dinner goin’. Maybe you can recite your monologue for me while I get it settled? I always love hearing your perform.”

I don’t really want to hear it again, but hey, that’s what big brothers are for. I graduated last year, so I have plenty of time to do what I want. Well, I used to. I’m not going to have much more.

We make our way into the kitchen and she’s already half-way through a piece from A Streetcar Named Desire. She’s damn good. The girl’s Broadway-bound, even if she doesn’t know it yet. I hope I can go to her plays one day.

She’s just about done when I take the pie out of the oven. Her eyes shoot open as her nostrils flare, breaths coming in quick little bursts.

“Oh! Like Auntie Ruth’s!”

I grin and nod. She doesn’t need to know her aunt’s “secret recipe” is a store-bought mix. We spent a lot of long weekends at Aunt Ruth’s, and I’m not about to spoil those happy memories. An excited look spreads over her face, but it falls as she glances towards the door.

“Do you think Daddy will be home soon?”

No, no I don’t. “Maybe, but let’s eat. He… might be late.” A seat scrapes up to the table as I deliver a steaming plate to her.

“Do… do you think he’ll be angry again?” I’d gotten used to his volcanic temperance, but Sandra… she still had hope in her eyes, a touch of innocence in her mocha-colored face. If there’s one thing worth saving in this world, it’s whatever’s left of her childhood.

“I don’t know, Sand.” I try not to think about last night, when, for the umpteenth time, I cradled her head against my chest and covered her ears, or this morning, when I had to jump through hoops to keep her from seeing our mom’s bruises. I shake my head, jerking myself into the present, and point to her plate saying, “Eat your Brussels sprouts.”

She obliges, and I look at the cross above the doorway, wondering how God can say he loves all his children when, apparently, he has seven billion. My thinking is, once in a while, he misses somebody.

I hear a knock at the door, but I already know who it is. Motioning for Sandra to stay put, I walk to the door and open it.

“Evening, officers,” I say, keeping my solemn voice low.

“Mark Henderson?”

I nod. “Can I say goodbye to my sister?”

They nod, but follow me. Sandra’s watching from the kitchen doorway.

“What’s going on?”

“Sand, just… just listen. You’re gonna’ live with Aunt Ruth, I already packed your bags. This… this is for the best, ok?”

We hug, and she whimpers a bit as I pull away. I want to explain, but I can’t. Because sometimes, we do crazy things for the people we love, and she doesn’t need to know what I’ve done.

***

Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

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Write to Live


Hello, my wayward friends.

In my previous post, I linked a very insightful blog. I’ve enjoyed reading the author’s posts on many occasions, but couldn’t help but find myself thinking about his most recent series of comments.

To a certain extent, I agree with the notion that a writer must sacrifice his or her own life for writing. We writers are not social butterflies, we are creatures of shadow that cling to the walls and spy upon non-writers, preying upon their hopes and fears as kindle for the flame that drives our art. We wraiths float through the world, virtually unknown, wreaking our work in secret until someone, somewhere, lends an eye and an ear to what our hearts mandate we say.

Yet this is a fate we accept. Solitude and silence in exchange for passion. We sacrifice the world we live in to create our own. In empty rooms, where the fate of civilization is decided at the ghost-typing hands of a single individual, the writer creates life.

As Edgar Allen Poe once said, “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” Isn’t that what every writer strives for? To express the machinations of their minds with such precision  such distinction, that those whom we have never met can find our world as real as we do?

This is why Mark Twain is cited as a great writer- his characters were so real that, in reading, we find ourselves breathing the same air as Huck Finn. Similarly, H. P. Lovecraft crafted his mythos with such realistic exactitude that he reportedly spent some time reminding his readers that the gods he spoke of were not real. To this day, his fiction is so life-like, so real, that his work (and a vast array of Cthulhu-themed merchandise) is sold by the truckload each year.

Do I disagree with the notion that one must write OR live? No, of course not. I’ve spent many a day typing while my peers watched movies or played games.

But, in writing, have I lived more intensely and fully than they? I dare to say that I have.