Daily Challenge: Fiction

Note: This is from last week’s Weekly challenge. The prompt provided this photo, and asked for a story of 1,000 words or more, to explain the subject. Life with kids home, and guests got in the way, but I wanted to post it anyway. This is a work of fiction.

Daily Challenge photo

Daily Challenge photo

Jaycee sat on the sofa, afraid to move. She could hear the man talking to her mama, his voice hissing angrily through the wall. She tried to ignore Mama’s whimpers, but it scared Jaycee, even though she’d heard her make these sounds before—usually late at night, or after her daddy came by, or her older brother came home, smelling sour. Mama cried through the wall, but never in front of Jaycee.

She ran her fingers along the Hello Kitty on her jeans, tracing the perfect, white face of her happy friend. Kitty smiled, her pink ribbon held perfectly in place as she rode her bicycle along Jaycee’s leg. The deep rumble of the man’s voice came through the wall and made Jaycee’s stomach turn and wiggle. Her fingers moved along the lines of the applique and she wished she had a bike too, so she could ride away and not hear the voices through the wall. Quentin, two floors down, had a bright blue bike, but Mama always told Jaycee that bikes cost too much money; the bus was quicker and safer. So, they rode the city bus nearly everywhere they couldn’t walk. But if she had a bike, Jaycee thought, she’d ride down the block and away from the wall, and the voices.

The sun came through the window and made green and yellow stripes on Jaycee’s arm. The picture that Mama taped to the window— the one Jaycee made with Miss Nina in art class the week before, filtered the sunlight through the carefully glued pieces of crinkled tissue paper. Jaycee had come home proud, and excited, the day she made it.

“This is a mighty fine picture!” Mama crooned, “Picture like this needs to be seen.”

Mama pulled two thin pieces of Scotch tape from the roll in the kitchen drawer, and put the picture in the window, so everyone could see. Jaycee smiled, remembering how nice it was to see her mother tape that paper in their window. She loved the way the light came through the paper, and changed the chair, or the wall, or Hello Kitty.

“Listen you fucking bitch—”

Jaycee put her fingers in her ears, and wiggled them. The man’s deep voice came in and out as she stared at Hello Kitty and the yellow and green stripes. If she leaned back, and moved her leg, the yellow light moved across Kitty’s face; and, if she moved a little further, Kitty’s face turned green. Jaycee did this a few times, watching the Hello Kitty change colors— ignoring the argument in the other room. It was hard to move her leg and wiggled her fingers at the same time, so she stopped moving and tried instead to focus on plugging her ears as tightly as possible.

The muffled voices grew louder and louder despite her efforts to plug out the sound. When something suddenly crashed into the wall, Jaycee jumped off the sofa and ran to the front door and waited, her heart racing, and hoping her Mama would come out and make their lunch, and tell her things were okay. Instead, it was suddenly very quiet. Jaycee stood silent, too, her hand on the doorknob— afraid to move, or even breathe. Her Mama had warned her to never leave their apartment without a grown-up, and she hesitated, afraid to break the rules, but terrified of the silence. She waited a moment longer, and then turned the knob, slowly, trying not to make a sound. The warm metal in her hand, creaked and Jaycee froze, waiting for Mama to come out and scold her.  But the room stayed quiet and she slipped out the door.

There were no other neighbors around and Jaycee waited, not sure where to go.  Missus Lewis worked in the store down the street; her windows were dark. Mama always went to Missus Lewis when she needed someone to watch Jaycee, so she could run to the Jewel grocery store, or stop at the bottle store. Kids weren’t allowed in the bottle store; that’s what her brother told her. Jaycee snuck down the first few steps, and no one came out to stop her. She went down another flight, and another, hugging the wall, one step at a time, until she was at the street level. The big metal fence that surrounded their buildings, stood in front of her. Jaycee had never been this far from her own apartment, without her Mama, or some other adult, and she hesitated. But her stomach was still churning and she was afraid to go back home. The quiet was worse than the yelling; she left the stairs and went through the gate, headed toward the store to find Missus Lewis. Missus Lewis always knew what to do.

Jaycee had walked this way to the bus, nearly every day, but never alone; and, now she tried to look brave and as she made her way to the store. She could smell french fries and greasy food from the restaurant a block down; she heard the loud music coming from the bottle store. She saw three of her brother’s friends, as she walked briskly down the street, but no one else seemed to recognize her or say hello.

The store was busy, several people in line and a man she didn’t know working the register. She waited near the chips, hoping to see Missus Lewis. The Man watched her.

“Hey, you— where’s your mama? You plannin’ to buy somethin’?”

Jaycee didn’t answer, afraid to say that Mama was at home, quiet in that room; that she just wanted Missus Lewis to help. The man scared her. She darted out the door and back to the street, this time heading toward the bus stop. Maybe she would see someone she knew there.

At the corner, Jaycee froze. The bus stop was across the street. Mama told her to never, ever cross the street without a hand. She’d already broken one big rule, and was sure to get the wood spoon; crossing the road would mean no cartoons for a week. She considered going back, and then she saw it. In the lot just down the block, with a chain fence around it, was Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, on a bright yellow carousel.  She looked once more up the block and back again, and then walked over to the empty lot. Her small hands wrapped around the metal gate; the colorful animals invited her in.

No one was there; just the animals— still and quiet.

Jaycee slipped through the gap in the fence, and walked over to the carousel. The sounds of the street faded and she sat down, beside the beautiful, white horse. There she waited, for someone to find her.

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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8 Responses to Daily Challenge: Fiction

  1. VERY nice, Dawn!!!! Alicia

    Date: Tue, 3 Sep 2013 15:15:33 +0000 To: lishdonn@hotmail.com


  2. Kavita Joshi says:

    awesome post..thanks for sharing dear


  3. Another great story from a photo prompt! This one reminds me a little of the novel you’ve been writing (or at least what you’ve read to us) in terms of a child being exposed to more than they ought to be. Very thought provoking.


    • Interesting take Jolene… I saw the character as older, and just stuck in life holding on to her memories, tied up in the memory box. It’s so interesting to see how others interpret what you write! Thanks for your comment; much appreciated!


  4. Pingback: Daily Challenge: Fiction | LAB


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