YAFF Muse: Long Ride Home

15 Sep

Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read.  Enjoy!

Photo by: phypet

Long Ride Home

By: R.M.Gilbert

Leaning, with my elbows against side the viaduct, I peered out at the old neighborhood. The rundown apartment I shared with Mom. The train tracks below, where I played chicken with the subway. But nothing felt like home more than the maple tree at the far end of the road. My haven whenever Mom had a fight with one of her guys.

I inhaled the stale air, thick with the scent of rust and moldy wood. Who knew one breath would bring back the past?

The clatter of alcohol bottles echoed in my mind. I put my hands over my ears, but the cli-clank of glass got louder. And the neighborhood before me turned fuzzy like an out of focus lens.

Music blared from a boombox on the floor next to the coffee table, competing with the screams of my baby brother. Mom’s by the door. A guy stands next to her. Long greasy hair stringing past his shoulders, a scar on his right cheek and a bum eye.

“I’ll give you a half ounce, for five minutes alone with your daughter,” the man said. He dangled a small bag full of white powder under Mom’s nose. She probably thought I was too busy making the baby a bottle to hear, but I heard everything. And this guy was not going to lay a finger on me. Not one.

I watched the door closely for any signs he might push his way in. Mom’s feet shifted as she twists to glance at me in the kitchen. With the rear of her hand, she wiped her nose. Her nostrils flared and beamed bright red against the pale of her skin. The consideration in her drugged gaze was all the indication I needed to go to my special spot.

Slipping from the kitchen, I edged the wall of the living room. And while they negotiated I sneaked to mine and my brother’s room.  His tiny hands reached. Not for me, but for the bottle. I wondered if Mom fed him while I was at school. I pushed the bottle into his mouth, kissed his tear covered cheek then laid him back in the crib.

“Someday I’ll take you from all of this,” I said and turned to the window, knowing that was an awfully big promise for a twelve year old to make.

I sighed, taking one last peek at the crib before I shimmied down a vent pipe. The rusted metal scraped like gravel on the way down. But scratched hands were nothing compared to a mutilated spirit. The tips of my toes touched down and with the earth beneath me, sirens wailing around me, I raced to the end of our road, climbed to the highest spot I dared to climb in my tree and waited.

Waited for the sun to come up.

Waited for Mom to pass out.

Waited for the men to leave.

Waited for the five o’clock train to tell me it was safe to go back to my brother.

I listened for the train now, but instead…

“Are you okay?”

My eyes refocused and I glanced at the hand grasping mine; the fingers aren’t as tiny as they were then. “Yeah,” I whispered.

“Is that the train you took me out on?”

I searched the commuter cars, long deserted on the tracks, their graphitized walls.

“That’s not the one.” I shook my head. “Ours went the other direction. Downtown. To the police station.”

“Hey kids,” Aunt Pauline called from the end of the viaduct. “It’s getting late and you still need to eat and shower.”

Off in the distance I heard a screech on the rails. I squeezed my brother’s hand thankful for the five o’clock train.

©2010, September 15, rmg.

This weeks muse was written last second. My baby girl turned 12 yesterday so I wanted to portray a story of a girl the same age. But a close look at the picture this week and everything in the neighborhood looked broken down, so I put a 12 year old there and asked myself: What would her life be like? How would she survive? Who would be there with her? Where would she find an escape if not in something bad?

In the end, the answers would heartbreaking and yet a relief at the same time. She’s  courageous, a survivor, and a savior.

Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Cambria Dillon

Mindy Buchanan

Rebekah L. Purdy

Vanessa Barger

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8 Responses to “YAFF Muse: Long Ride Home”

  1. Vanessa Barger September 15, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Love the emotion you’ve put into this, and the strength you gave your character. She didn’t stay and put up with it, she found the courage to make something new for herself and her sibling. Beautiful story!

  2. Cambria Dillon September 15, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    This was great. Gritty. The girl seemed older than 12 IMO, but then again, I guess you probably do grow up tremendously fast — too fast — in an environment like hers. Heart-breaking to know there are lots of kids that live that kind of life.
    Happy belated bday to your daughter! (Mine turns 2 tomorrow. Yikes.)

  3. Rebekah L Purdy September 15, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    Rachel,
    I think you really got to the heart of the story on this one. And I like how the girl reflected back–the way she looked at the tree. It’s sad because you know that there are kids living like this, but it was nice to see your character get her happy ending.

  4. Min September 15, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    As I am every week, I’m impressed. Seriously impressed. You have a true gift for connecting your reader to your character. Really excellent story lady. :)

  5. Classy Career Girl September 17, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    Welcome back to blog world! Glad to have you back and glad you got some good writing done:) Happy Birthday to your daughter. That is so sweet that you can use your children as inspiration for your writing!

  6. Adrienne September 18, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    This was a great read! I’m sad there are sweet ones out there that really do live this life. :(

  7. R.M.Gilbert September 20, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    Vanessa Barger wrote:

    Love the emotion you’ve put into this, and the strength you gave your character.

    Showing her as someone strong enough to go, even at that age was important to me. Thanks Vanessa, for stopping by.

    Cambria Dillon wrote:

    This was great. Gritty. The girl seemed older than 12 IMO, but then again, I guess you probably do grow up tremendously fast — too fast — in an environment like hers….

    Thanks Cambria, I’ll let her know. And yes, they grow very fast. I wondered if it was too old for 12 too, but then I thought of the situation. She’s taking care of her baby brother, going to school and escaping a hellish existence. There’s a maturity that seemed important to portray. Thanks for commenting, it’s always appreciated.

    Rebekah L Purdy wrote:

    Rachel,
    I think you really got to the heart of the story on this one. And I like how the girl reflected back–the way she looked at the tree. It’s sad because you know that there are kids living like this…

    It’s very sad to know there are children subjected to this lifestyle. I think that’s why it was so important to show a child who was able to rise above it. But also that she found a ‘healthy out’ (in the tree). Sometimes it’s those small things that save us. Thanks for dropping by, Rebekah.

  8. R.M.Gilbert September 20, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    Min wrote:

    As I am every week, I’m impressed. Seriously impressed. You have a true gift for connecting your reader to your character…

    Appreciate that Min, I believe making characters that readers can relate to is often one aspect that challenges an author. (among others) But, I’m glad to know you connect with that characters I put on the page. Hopefully it means I’m one step closer to sharing them with others.

    Classy Career Girl wrote:

    …That is so sweet that you can use your children as inspiration for your writing!

    Thanks for stopping by. And the warm welcome back from a long summer. To be honest, I find a lot of inspiration from the kids I come into contact with, but also from reading, sitting in traffic, going to the mall, even grocery shopping. There’s times I’ve watched C-Span and have been inspired. Weird, I know. I think it’s looking around you constantly wondering ‘what if’ and ‘how would’. Really, there’s a lot to help with the creative juices. Sort of like these pictures. Often times, I’m not sure where they’ll take me, but once I get there I’m always surprised. :)

    Adrienne wrote:

    This was a great read! I’m sad there are sweet ones out there that really do live this life…

    I agree, Adrienne. It’s truly heartbreaking. Maybe someday we’ll live in a world without this kind of suffering. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting.

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