Morning Flight

via Daily Prompt: Gate

As quickly as she could after the scalding water caused the ancient pipes to start their rhythmic clanging, Jeriko scrubbed her face and armpits before shutting off the water.  The pipes gave a long, loud squeal of protest, and she held her breath, listening for any sound of movement from the den just outside the thin bathroom door.  All she could hear was the thud-thud of her own heart as it tried to beat its way out of her chest.  After a minute, she wrung the washrag out over her head, tamped down her sleep-mussed hair, and finger-combed it into some semblance of order.  She painted on some lip gloss, plucked a few stray eyebrow hairs, and applied some deodorant before shouldering her backpack, wincing as the straps rubbed her bruised biceps.  Grabbing her mother’s long-defunct curling iron with her right hand, she locked eyes with her mirror image and steeled herself for the short but fraught journey from bathroom to front door.

Jeriko opened the rusty-hinged bathroom door quickly to reduce the duration of its squeal then stood silent and quaking, breath held and eyeing the couch bed between her and escape.  Momma and last night’s bar find, a bad-tempered brawler named John Mark, both still lay immobile in a tangle of sheets and shed clothes, apparently in the same positions they’d been in a few minutes before.  If it weren’t for the gentle rise and fall of their chests, they would almost look dead.  Like most of Momma’s boyfriends, Jeriko wished John Mark was.

As she surveyed the debris strewn across the narrow path to the front door, marking the exact position of every empty bottle and crumpled beer can, Jeriko’s left hand brushed the sore spots on her right arm where John Mark’s huge paw had gripped her as he shook her back and forth when she tried to push him away after he had begun slapping her Momma.  He had pulled Jeriko close then, close enough that his sickly sweet and whiskey-reeking breath made her gag, and hissed, “You little bitch, you try that shit again, and when I get done with your whore of a Momma over there, I’ll do you next.” He licked her nose then manhandled her into her room and kicked the door shut, and she sobbed herself to sleep with her pillows pressed firmly to her ears.

Now she stared at the ill-framed door limned by the golden sunrise light and visualized silently walking to it without kicking, stepping on, or tripping over any of the empties littering her path.  She took a deep breath, half raised the curling iron and, eyes firmly on John Mark’s inert form, walked confidently toward the door, opened it, and walked down the three rotting wooden steps to the gravel path leading to the gate.  The door banged shut behind her and she dropped the curling iron and began to run, breathing in great gulps of the cool and liberating morning air.

The fence on both sides of the gate had been gone for years, but instead of going around it, she stopped, lifted the latch, opened the gate, stepped through, and closed it firmly.  She turned and began the long walk toward the next 8 hours of freedom.

Denny McBride

Friday, July 21, 2017

41 thoughts on “Morning Flight

  1. Denny,

    First, thank you again for inviting me personally to read this story. It is a great honor to be hand picked by an author, to read their work. I am deeply humbled.

    This short story was beautifully written. You gave detail allowing the reader to feel there in the moment. Your character was well developed in the short time you had allowing us (the readers) to connect and feel empathy for her plight and then cheer when she successfully completed the task of making it out of the gate unnoticed.

    I have only two questions for you, 1) When can we see a sequel? Maybe make it a weekly story? I want to know more. lol And 2) Of all of her mother’s boyfriends, Jeriko wished John Mark was. —>? was what? I am dying to know the end of that sentence?

    Very well done. It is a shame you have not written fiction in over 20 years. You are good. Please keep writing.

    Tonya

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tonya, you honor and humble me. I have been thinking about Jeriko and similar characters for quite some time now, so I expect to write more about her and them. And of all her Momma’s boyfriend’s, Jeriko wishes John Mark was _unique_. Alas, there are many others like him…

      Thank you so much for the encouragement, and I am eager to see what you post next!

      Take care, be well, and happy defleaing!

      Denny

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Denny

    That’s a strong piece. Thanks for pointing me in its direction. It’s compact and tells us plenty in a very short space. Are you considering writing for a YA audience? This would be well suited to them because the language, style, and ideas are not too complicated and highly relatable for mid-teens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for taking the time to read and provide treasured feedback, Jay. I have considered aiming for a YA audience mainly because I have a near-12-year-old daughter who reads at a 12th-grade level.

      Comments like yours and from Bloggers like you are the fuel that will keep my motor revving.

      Take care, be well, and happy writing!

      Denny

      Like

  3. It’s a good story, feels like it could be the start of a longer story as well. I do like the fact that even if it is a very short story you feel like you get a glimpse into Jeriko’s world. Keep up the good work 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice piece! Just my opinion, but I’d try and separate your description a bit more; use a different sentence rather than linking lengthy descriptions together unless the tempo picks up. If you link too many together it seems like things are happening really fast, so I’d try and save that for a stressful situation or a flashback where the memories are intentionally close to being jumbled.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I quite enjoyed this Denny! Immediately my imagination formed the bathroom, the girl, the den she stepped into, the couple on the couch and her struggle to get to the front door. It’s the perfect length for a prologue to a drama. Novel or shortstory there is heaps of potential for a gripping tale of a troubled adolescent trying to make it through those teen years. 👏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Actress! I’m grateful you took the time to read and respond and humbled by your affirmation. I’ve been thinking about Jeriko, her people, and her environment for several years and have gone back and forth wondering whether to attempt short stories or a novel. Of course, either would require much more free time than I currently have!

      I look forward to your next post.

      Take care, be well, and happy blogging,

      Denny

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the insightful comments, Bunny. I guess I was tapped in to the collective subconscious for a little while. I’m grateful that you took the time to read and respond with such affirmation. I’ll be looking for your next story!

      Take care, be well, and happy blogging,

      Denny

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Theceaslelessreaderwritesfiction. Enjoyed the read, do a very good job of building the world of the story so to speak. Dirtybudha touched on the descriptions which I see the point there, then again the situation warrants it maybe? Regardless, curious to see what you produce when you have more track, so to speak, keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Couple of critique points- how old is Jeriko? I’d rewrite the part about how she does her morning routine (doesn’t strike me like the right sequence of events unless she’s a very different sort of girl). Overall good.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was amazing. You allowed us as the readers to glance into a moment of this girl’s life and walk through it with her. Your use of intricate vocabulary is amazing and brought a deeper connection to me. This is beautiful. Keep up the amazing work! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Denny, great job!

    The first paragraph was gripping, leading me to dive into the next. Your story also elicit some pretty strong and uncomfortable feelings—outrage and sorrow. My only pause was with the sentence – “Like most of Momma’s boyfriends, Jeriko wished John Mark was.” Was what? Her momma’s boyfriend?

    Because of my issues with emotions and their feelings, I am not always at ease with dramatic portrayal. After years of drug and alcohol drowning of my emotional world, and the subsequent depression, which led me to deny and ignore a good deal of my feelings, I have made great strides over the last three or four years, but I am still learning to deal with my feelings attached to reality. Because of the dramatic portrayal in fiction, including television and movies, I have made a conscious decision not to engage with this part of experience. For some reason I become particularly upset over the portrayed meanness of some characters, such as John Mark. One day once I have come to be more comfortable and expressive of my own emotions perhaps I shall indulge more in fiction.

    Anyway, good job, especially if the goal, or one of them at least, is to elicit feelings in the reader.

    PS – I am pleased to see the amount of commentary your story has generated. I hope this encourages you to write more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Steven, and I’m sorry if the portrayal disturbed you. I now have a better understanding of why you currently avoid fiction.

      My response to the blogger who asked me the question, “Jeriko wishes John Mark were _____?” was: She wishes he were _unique_, but alas, he’s only one of many. Jeriko’s Momma tends to gravitate toward violent and abusive men.

      I am highly encouraged by the commentary and positive feedback I got for “Morning Flight.” One blogger even suggested a sequel, maybe a weekly post about Jeriko. I told her that I’ve been thinking about Jeriko, her people, and her environment for several years and have a strong desire to write about them. If I can find the time, I will try to post a weekly story fragment about them. In fact, one of them, a somewhat older man named Holt Jackson, has been buzzing around my thoughts all day and begging to be let out. Unfortunately, today’s one of my busiest days, so I may have to make him wait!

      Thank you for your always thoughtful comments, Steven. You also are one of the reasons I blog, and not a small one.

      Take care, be well, and happy writing,

      Denny

      Like

      1. Thank you for your understanding, Denny

        I now see the point to the sentence I had a question about. I did get the sense that Jeriko had many experiences with her momma’s abusive relationships.

        You know a lot of fiction was issued in serial form.

        I am glad that I have served to inspire you to write. If someone writes a book in the forest, and nobody reads it, it still means something. I know pretty corny.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I have to agree with what ‘Dirty’ said above. The story is solid, it keeps you in your seat wanting more, however your sentences in some cases are really long and off-putting. I had this problem as well in a few of my early works and have since made efforts to rectify it. After writing one sentence, stop and take a look at it. Can it be two sentences? Can some of the description you added in be its own sentence? Ask yourself that question and then act accordingly and I think you’ll see a huge improvement.

    Other than that, great story. I very much enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, James. I’m grateful for your advice and will try to take it to heart. I’m a Faulkner fan and personally admire long sentences. I failed to recognize that’s not so much admired by modern readers.

      Take care, be well, and happy writing,

      Denny

      Like

      1. I am not up on what constitutes good sentence structure in fiction, but in nonfiction I think it is important to complete a thought, and if requires a longer and more complex sentence structure than I prefer it in this form as opposed to breaking it up into sentences.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I really enjoyed this. The story was gripping and kept my interest until the very last sentence. I agree with the previous commenters – you painted a vivid picture in my mind with your words and I felt as if I was there. I’m excited to read more of your works!

    Like

    1. Thank you, LuAnne. That was the first short story I wrote when I finally resumed writing a couple of years ago. It’s one of a series in progress called Copperhead County and is loosely based on some of the people I’ve known and things I’ve seen as a PO. One of the series, “Riding High” is being published in this year’s edition of Tennessee’s Emerging Writers by Z Publishing, available later this year in print and ebook formats. “Riding High” was the first story to feature my favorite character, Colt Jackson, who seems to be a reader favorite as well. No need to fret about buying the book when it comes out, either, you can read the original story here:

      https://theceaselessreaderwrites.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/riding-high/

      I had to Bowdlerize it to get it accepted into Tennessee’s Emerging Writers. In my opinion, the original is truer and more powerful.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to offer such insightful comments!

      Like

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