Broken

in #31sentencecontest11 months ago


easter egg.png

An Easter Egg.
Not any Easter Egg.
The egg!
It called to them from the window of the shop they passed on the way to nursery.
Hello!
It was the most exquisite thing they had ever seen, a magical golden orb in a wicker basket, atop which sat a brood of fluffy yellow chicks.

As they gazed upon its magnificence, both were of one mind determined they would have it, and together they began to formulate a plan. It was one shilling ten. Their uncle had given them savings boxes for Christmas, placing in each a shiny new sixpence and a tiny key. They wore the keys on strings safely around their necks. The boxes they hid in the hot press behind the immersion, away from covetous eyes.

In addition to their uncle's shilling, they calculated they needed to earn a further ten pence. At four years old, Síle could already read well and charm many the ha'penny from a soft-hearted adult with an impromptu display of this impressive skill. She also got a thruppenny bit for finding old Mrs. Moran's cat. Seán, 3 years older, got tuppence from Mr. O'Reilly at the electrical shop for breaking down some cardboard boxes.
Each day their determination grew along with their stash. They shone up each coin and counted their total at least once a day. They imagined over the over how their mother's face would light up when they gave her the incredible egg on Easter morning. How proud their father would be. How their parents would hug them tight. How their father would take them in his arms like Mr. Moran when his kids ran to meet him from work.

With only a day left to go and just a penny short, Mr. Byrne came up trumps and broke his arm, giving Sean a penny to go for his messages. The two little ones could hardly contain their excitement as they raced home to fetch their money boxes and deposit the last coin ready for their purchase next day. They flew up the stairs and wrenched open the hot press. Trembling hands explored the space on either side of the tank coming up empty, frantically searching again, stopping simultaneously to touch their fingers to the keys around their necks.

Their hearts thumping wildly they ran to their mother, certain she'd discovered their secret, but already half-drunk she could only shake her head. Fearful of waking their father snoozing in his chair, they retreated to the kitchen, holding back tears for whinging was the most cardinal of sins. There they discovered their most precious possessions in the bin, smashed and empty.

Other than between the two kids who could never forget it, no mention was made of the incident.
It was many years later their father confessed to doing it in desperation for drink, saying he hoped he'd taught them a lesson; though what that lesson was he couldn't say.

Posted in response to @tristancarax's 31sentence contest which this time round has only 30 sentences!

The image is my own

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I was almost at the end of the piece, I could see the bottom of the page and my comment had already formed in my mind. That happens a lot, it is an involuntary response when I read something that resonates, inspires or intrigues me.

It WAS going to be...

Awww what a beautiful, quaint piece, so innocent and uplifting, timeless as though from a bygone era of a much simpler time. Hugely enjoyable, left me with a smile on my face and a slightly lighter heart...

Then came the sucker-punch!

Skillfully built up to, I did NOT see it coming, expertly done, ya got me.

BUT

I feared something in the timbre of the closing two lines felt like there was a glint of reality that I fear we may both be familiar with, from long, long ago.

I hope I am reading too much in to the tale...

There was a lot of ground covered in those 30 sentences, well done on weaving such a fine tale with such limited literary resources.

Oh and before I forget, wishing you and yours a magnificent 2020 from me and mine :)

What a lovely comment! I'm delighted you liked the story but not that you found a certain familiar reality in it. As you say, it was a long, long time ago. These days the kids would likely just call Childline or divorce their parents:)

It's sure good to see you back on Steemit and I wish you too a fine New Year.

#Love your comment @stevenwood and the progression of your thoughts (mirroring my own).
I was soooo captivated by these kids: at age 4, Síle could already read well and charm many the ha'penny from a soft-hearted adult and Seán, 3 years older, earns money doing odd jobs. These are like the Boxcar Kids. These are the world's best children!!! And then... then.... omg.... sucker punch is right. And like like stevenwood, I felt a ring of authenticity here. Please don't let this be a true story, but even if it didn't happen to you, it's happened to kids the world over... if not a drunken parent, a thieving cousin... No good deed goes unpunished**... and so we hope karma (or an afterlife) come to kick ^ss when good little children are passed over and the rewards go the wicked. -_-

Awesome story!

#LOVE it!!!!!

Marvellous story telling @dierdyweirdy. Bless those young children for wanting to do something beautiful for their mother. 💗 Alcohol has ruined many a day and life.

That it has. I'm not a fan at all.
Thanks a lot for reading.

Aw, those poor kids. I want to adopt them! I can feel their heartache and my heart aches for them. I also know what it is like to hold back tears, in fear of being punished. Look who is now the Queen of the 31 sentence contest. I don't know how you do it and I admire you. : )

Ooh, queen, I dunno. The competition is fierce 'round these parts:)

That was such a beautiful story of love and devotion and hard work. They were children to admire. That lesson was a lesson that no child should have to learn so young. Sometimes the world educates children in a manner that is cruel. I loved the education on the money system I'm really not familiar with how all the denominations work. Excellent writing.

Thanks very much. I'm delighted you liked it.
Our money system was decimalised in the 1970s but until then we had the duodecimal system which used 12 as its base. It all seems so complex now; 12 pence = 1 shilling, 20 shillings = 1 pound.

Oh my, math is not my forte so I am afraid I'd do miserably with that system!

Oh, man. Pulling right on the heart strikes! Ouch. I feel for them.

What a f***ing prick, that father of theirs, stealing their hard-earned shillings. Geeze. I'm at a lose for words this makes me so angry that people do this out of teaching people lessons, and he didn't even know what it was! Arg...

This reminds me of the time that my father, of whom I went to live with for one year, took away my absolute favorite tape "Gun's N' Roses - Use Your Illusions 2." I was in 6th or 7th grade at the time. Even though I'd listened to it hundreds of time, he took it away. The lesson learned: don't sing out loud and don't tell him that I have another copy! hahaha

He was a bit of a prick alright, but as you say, from things like this we learn.
Thanks again for hosting this. I'm really enjoying it.

Ohhhh - (1) the story (more on that to come) and (2) the confiscated death-metal (heavy metal) tape. Reminds me of my sister Julie in 1974. Dad, who never understood song lyrics, inexplicably heard them one day, correctly.

Why don't we d-do it in the road...

He stomped into her room and grabbed The Beatles White Album, ready to shatter it.

"I paid ten dollars for that!"

He couldn't smash ten dollars.... this is the man whose arsenal of jokes included the "Pollock" who dropped a penny down the outhouse hole. Then he threw a dollar bill in and went after it. Because it wasn't worth the trouble and mess to go after just a penny...
(Dad take up to ten minutes to tell one joke. I cut to the chase. And nobody laughs.)
You had another copy - go Tristancarax!!!!

Somehow my @deirdyweirdy … I knew the story was true… My heart sunk heavily when I got to the part about the empty space behind the hot press; knowing who's hand had probably found it.

One of the haunting memories of our youth, when good dreams so quickly fade to tears at the hand of a calloused soul.

Ah sure I can't surprise you anymore. You know me too well!

:>)

Ah, my hunch was correct; others also felt this to be true; now, as a writer of fiction myself, and proponent of the motto that The truth is best told in the guise of fiction, I have to study this story to see HOW it is that the truth is so compellingly conveyed. I'm thinking the absence of emotional outbursts, the quiet, stoic resignation, speaks volumes. What is it though about the word choices that tells us THIS IS TRUE.... how does a writer convey the truth, even with names changed to protect the innocent guilty....

Quite an interesting story and well written. Congrats for your 1st place finish! Well deserved!

Thank you very kindly. I'm so glad you're entering too. I really like your writing.

First Place - indeed, you earned it!

I flatter myself, that I know brilliant writing when I read it. It's one of my few vanities. This is brilliant.
How do you do that within the constraints of this contest? It's almost as though the discipline forces you to focus and concentrate your creativity into the most exquisite, efficient nugget.
This piece did read like a 'true' story. All the more effective for that.
Hats off, resteemed. Also sharing on Twitter. The best of creative Steemit here.

I don't know what to say. I'm so chuffed. Thank you. I swear I could feel my head growing bigger with each sentence:)
Such positive reactions from all of my favourite Steemit writers. I'm overwhelmed.

@agmoore, I hope you're just as adept at recognizing your own brilliance. :) Too often, we sell ourselves short. I just read an entire book about the human tendency to judge by making comparisons, and that's part of the trouble.

Meanwhile, I'm still pondering how those final words convey so much. Words. Simple words.

  • holding back tears for whinging was the most cardinal of sins
  • no mention was made of the incident
  • Dad confessed, saying he hoped he'd taught them a lesson
  • what that lesson was he couldn't say.

Well, except whinging - we say "whining" - but oh, do I know how whining was not rewarded back in the day. My generation, it seems, has vowed to be more sympathetic, and I for one ended up with kids who got rewarded for complaining, and I created monsters (until they somehow outgrew it).

What makes this writing so compelling?

I'm thinking the narrator's apparent objectivity or stoicism.
No judgment is made: no accusation is leveled. No self-pity. No playing the victim card.
The pain is palpable. But even half a century later, there is no whining (whinging).
This belongs in some literary magazine or anthology - a wider audience than here at Steemit.
But how to get it published for a bigger audience....
@rhondak, are you here?

Ah, @carolkean, thanks for the compliment. Yeah, I am my harshest critic. But as time passes, I'm learning to let stuff go and just have fun.

I love your commentary on @deirdyweirdy's piece. Easy to lapse into self-pity when writing about a difficult past. But of course, that 's not the author's business. All the emotion has to come from the reader. We just poke and prod until we get a proper reaction :))

Fantastic my dear! Love this. Macabre, existential, cruel and beautiful. Those poor kids, like most of us their parents were in it for themselves and the substances that passed for friends in their lives. At least the kids had each other, you gave them that.

How much of this story did you envision before you started writing it? I'd just like to know. I'm not that happy with mine this week, but put it up anyway because I'd done a lot of work on it. I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to write at the beginning, and it went sideways from there. meh. So that's why I'm asking. Is this a freewrite of sorts?

Thanks a lot. It's a true story and thus a sort of freewrite I suppose. I wasn't sure about it at all so I'm delighted you like it.

It's really good. Crushing. I'm so sorry.

It's more than half a century ago so it has long lost its power to hurt. These days it's just something to write about.

You have a gold mine if you feel up to the task of writing more "truth in the guise of fiction," @deirdyweirdy. Who knew suffering could fee The Muse like this... your writing is first-rate, and along with @agmoore, I claim to know brilliance when I see it. Your Muse is working for you!!! Keep taking dictation from this part of your soul, this spirit, this impulse... I don't pretend to know what it is or how it works... but I recognize the results when I see them! Bravo! (And my heart aches for that little brother and sister.)

Thanks so much Carol. As you're likely aware, those muses can be fickle fellows though I do believe they feed better on anguish than contentment.
Your supportive words are much appreciated.

Great line: those fickle Muses feed better on anguish than contentment - so it seems!!! As ignorance is bliss, lack of inspiration to write may be a sign of contentment? I like to think so!
You get my vote of support no matter what. :)

I loved this story. Beautiful. How resilient are chilren. Innocent, but wise beyong their years some of them when faced with an unspoken reality.

Thanks for reading and I'm glad you liked it.

You have garnered support from the @bananafish community. We appreciate you're fine work and hope that you will continue to produce awesome content for us to feast our minds on.

Aw, thanks guys. Much appreciated.

Yeah... Such build-up and then such a letdown. Poor children.

I hope you didn't guess the ending this time;)

More importantly, I thought that I had a very good childhood and that lucky children often don't appreciate how good they have it take it for granted.

You were lucky indeed. There are some people who really shouldn't be parents.

Oh, very interesting deirdyweirdy, and this is another true story isn't it? But the uplifting part is the immaculate and exceptional original deirdyweirdy drawing, is it not? I mean, it pretty much outshines any sad feelings in the story!

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