Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Three

Sophia is a quick learner. 

Her chubby little fingers are getting better at setting up the seven wobbly cheap red plastic bowling pins on the crumbling strip of front walkway separating halves of dried-up lawn.  Sophia’s mother watches from the front-porch vantage point of an old wooden chair, but her cigarette smoke veiled gaze is vacant.

Sophia claps her hands and squeals with glee as she puts the last pin carefully into place-and all of the pins remain standing.

Shut up Sophia!

Sophia’s mother groans, shifts uncomfortably on the hard wooden seat, flicking away ashes with one hand, while her other hand rests on her bulbously pregnant belly.

Brow crinkled with pint-sized concentration, Sophia stands at the base of the two concrete steps leading up to her mother’s chair, and rolls a heavy, regulation-sized basketball toward the pins.

Strike!

(Sophia doesn’t know the word yet-at least not in this sense, but she hoots an ear piercing hooray and chases the ball into the road to retrieve it.)

SOPHIA!  SHUT UP!

Sophia’s mother takes a long last drag on her cigarette, and throws the butt into a juniper bush planted too near the one-story white cracker-box house.

Over the course of the next 30 minutes, Sophia bowls a turkey.  And twice more she squeals with glee, only to hear the same guttural warning-now accompanied by the threat of a spanking.

Sophia is a quick learner.

When she gets the fourth strike, she makes no sound at all.

 

I realize this is a brutal change from my usual uplifting writing, but life for some children is brutally unfair.  This piece is based on real people.  And it makes me sick.

 

 

http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/

34 comments:

  1. Valerie, whether uplifting or piercing, your words always strike the middle of my heart. This excellent writing of a heartbreaking scene.

    With regards to the writing, your imagery is bang on: "...seven wobbly cheap red plastic bowling pins on the crumbling strip of front walkway."

    Although it is a difficult story, you've written it with compassion. Another wow!

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    1. Thanks Jo-Anne:) I'm trying hard to really "bleed on the paper" and this one was very hard for me to write! And just to let you know-I appreciate your thoughtful comments so much!!!

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  2. It is a difficult story, but sadly a reality for some. I wrote a similar piece once (along the same train of thought, anyhow), but didn't end up putting it on my blog. I've been thinking of you w/ back to school - hope you're doing alright!

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    1. Lisa-I'd love to read what you wrote some time. I hit publish and felt a little sick over the reality of what I'd written!

      I'm doing ok-it's been such a busy time I haven't had time to be too depressed:)

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  3. Some people just shouldn't be parents. :(

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    1. Melissa-that is so, so true! Sophia's parents win the hideous award hands down!

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  4. Makes me so sad to know this is based off a true story. It's true that some people have to live like this and it's just horrible. Poor Sophia :(

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    1. I agree Tammy! It makes me so sad to know that an innocent child has to have this kind of childhood!

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  5. I am glad you wrote this..I wrote a piece on abuse last week then chickened out and removed it. It was a reality for me and sadly it remains tabou to talk about it. I hope this was not about you, but if so I send a virtual hug your way.
    Pat

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    1. Patricia, thankfully this wasn't my growing up experience-but sadly there is a new family on my block and this is the way they treat their daughter. (I actually tamed down the dialog too!)

      Thanks for the hug-and I'm sending one back to you:)

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  6. ...'bulbously pregnant belly' sets you right down there, uncomfortably close to this mother. And yet Sophie is bubbly and ... resilient.
    Excellent play off each other.
    Bravo, Valerie!

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    1. Thanks Kymm! The actual little girl seems like a little ray of sunshine-always smiling and laughing. I don't understand how or why, but I'm thankful!

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  7. Oh this is unfortunately true and even if we think it is not we are burying our heads in the sand. Great writing. Hug B

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    1. Thanks B! This is the first time I've ever witnessed such treatment of a child. I just had to write about the way it is affecting me:)

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  8. Valerie, my heart is breaking for little Sophia--especially knowing this is based on a true story. :( It's a horrible reality and a hard read, but another example of your talent. Well done!

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    1. Thanks Ivy! I appreciate that I'm going to go lighter-hearted next time, I think:)

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  9. Wow, heartbreaking and very real. We've all seen this scene played out in one way or another, somewhere. I want to rescue the child after reading this just as I do when I see it out in the world. Nice opening, and then to bring it around again with the same ending - well done!

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    1. Thanks Steph! I wish I could rescue poor Sophia too. I hate to see kids taken from their parents, but in this case it seems like the obvious solution.

      I really appreciate your feedback on this!

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  10. Yes, a familiar sad scene. I think it says so much though, so good job with that.

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    1. Thanks Draug! I tried to do just that:)

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  11. And she has another child on the way? This makes my heart ache.
    Powerful writing. Thank you for linking up.

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    1. She does! Isn't that a sad reality? And not that another child is ever sad, but under such awful circumstances. It makes my heart ache too.

      Thanks, as always, for reading what I come up with for these thought provoking and challenging prompts:)

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  12. Poor Sophia. Even worse, a brother or sister will have to endure the crappy parenting. I so would like to think this didn't happen, but I know it does...all too often. I'm going to go hug my son now.

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    1. I agree Janna! Poor Sophia and her poor new brother or sister. I've tried hard to provide my daughter with the happiest of childhoods:)

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  13. Powerful writing. I kept picturing my daughters, especially my 7 year old. Well, both of them, my 11 year old and my 7 year old get excited and squeal. My 11 year old goes into fits of laughter before bed time, laughter that probably would have gotten me in trouble. I can't help laughing with her. Your story tears at the heart, the last line almost brought me to tears. I have heard mothers talk so harsh to their children, I have to walk off before I end up defending the child, and needing a defense attorney. Your story was greatly told. Just very sad for Sophia and provokes anger at her mother, having another baby. I know those people too. :(

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    1. Donetta, I agree! Children, being children, have to squeal and laugh and clap their little hands. I will never understand people who seem to hate their children-especially when they are simply discovering the joys of being young. It goes against every fiber of my being. And I'm with you on needing a defense attorney:) I have to admit to being a chicken though-the father in this case is big, and mean and really loud in a most vulgar way-and he scares me.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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  14. You talent never ceases to amaze me. I was captured and held by this line: on the crumbling strip of front walkway separating halves of dried-up lawn. So vivid.

    Honestly I thought this was going to end even more violently than it was. I'm sorry that this is a dynamic that you have to witness, that in itself is a heavy burden.

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    1. Thank you so much Jennifer! I just pray it doesn't take a more violent turn at some point. The dad is the scary one in the scenario. The other night he was in the middle of the street at 3 am-in a rage about something...

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  15. Valerie -- You did a superb job of making see Sophia and her joy of playing the game. I could picture her setting up the pins and her excitement of making a strike. She made me smile.

    Unfortunately, I could also picture the mother as your description was well done mainly because it wasn't over-done. What I mean is the mother didn't resort to physical abuse, but instead used her words as a powerful weapon against her child.

    I liked how you repeated the line, "Sophia is a quick learner." To me, that line set up the story. It gave me joy in the beginning, but pierced my heart when I got to the end. Well done Trifecta!

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    1. Sara, you are an absolute gem!! I appreciate your comment so much!! Thank you, my friend!!

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  16. Oh, man, this is a sad story. I love the way you repeat "Sophia was a fast learner" at the end - great foreshadowing.

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    1. Thanks so much! I appreciate it!! :)

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  17. I thought you were going to hit her with a car when she ran out into the road again, so, I found it a relatively happy ending. ;-)

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  18. No kidding David! I worry about that too! Thanks for reading!

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