It’s been a while, but I’m throwing my hat back in the ring and entering the Tipsy Lit writing contest this week. The rules are simple: each Monday the fine folks at Tipsy Lit post a writing prompt. Stories should be fiction, and not exceed 500 words. Writers have all week to write a story, and then are asked to post a link to their story on Friday. Polls open on Saturday. This is a contest folks! If you read my story and like it, please take a minute on Saturday and vote for it. There will be several entries, so vote for the one you like best. That said, I’m here hoping to win votes… so if you like this, please consider voting on Saturday. Polls open early Saturday and close 9pm EST. I saw the prompt today, and decided I’d give it a try again. If you haven’t checked out Tipsy Lit, you should! Erica Clay has done an amazing job of building a strong writing community, with regular guest bloggers, enthusiastic encouragement for all writers, and a very supportive environment. It’s one of my favorite places on the internet!
This week’s Prompt: write a scene in which a child must confront a wrong-doing adult.
Here’s my story, at 493 words:
The Prosecution Rests
Lizzie eyed her mother skeptically. She recognized the signs; the evidence was clear.
“You know, Mom, my teacher says that smoking is bad for you. Did you know it can kill you?”
Jennifer cleared her throat and avoided her nine-year old daughter’s serious expression.
“Lizzie, I don’t smoke. I know it’s bad for your health; I quit a long time ago.” She tried not to look at the girl’s furrowed brow. “Please stop worrying about me”
“Did you know that the stuff in cigarettes is really addictive, Mom? It’s like taking drugs!”
“Lizzie! Stop! I don’t smoke.”
Lizzie circled the kitchen island and put her arms around her mother’s waste, and Jennifer relaxed into the spontaneous cuddle.
One deep inhale confirmed her suspicions.
“Mom, did you know that when you smoke your lungs get all black and sticky? That’s how it kills you.”
Jennifer unknotted the tiny arms from her waste and reached up to the cabinet for a plate.
“How about a snack– you must be hungry after school?”
She reached for the cookies she’d made the day before, and avoided looking into her daughter’s eyes again.
“They get all sticky… and black… like when they pave the road… Mom?”
“Do you want one cookie or two? Did you and Hannah play at recess today? Her mom told me she was home sick yesterday, but she was feeling better today.”
“And then you get cancer and d–”
Jennifer twisted away from the determined face, and strong arms, and turned angrily.
“I don’t smoke! I quit a while ago– Why can’t you just drop this!”
Lizzie picked up a cookie and took a bite, not sure whether she should answer. She didn’t like when her mother’s voice got so loud.
“Well? Cat got your tongue now, missy?”
Lizzie swallowed the cookie with the water her mother had poured, and thought for a moment about cats eating children’s tongues. It didn’t seem likely.
“Mom, I know you smoke.”
She felt her feet take root in the floor, and she continued.
“I can smell it when I come in the house. It’s not as strong as it was when you used to smoke in the kitchen– before you promised you’d quit… but I can smell it on your clothes too.”
Jennifer looked away, anger dissipating in her guilt.
“And when you smoke, you always look nervous when I come home. I notice that too.” Lizzie watched her mother’s anxious expression. “And sometimes, I see ashes in the garden, when I go out in the yard.”
Jennifer felt her eyes burn; she wanted to just run out the door, and drive away for a while. The heat in her face rose, as her little girl stared her down.
“It’s really hard, Lizzie-bear. I’m trying, really. It’s just not that easy.”
Lizzie surrendered her post and stepped forward, putting her arms around her mother’s waste again.
“I just don’t want you to die, Mommy.”