28 January 2010

"Unwanted" #Fridayflash



A brief span of mockery
thus defined their outlaw ways
tempted by love and lust drained
through the hole at the bottom of their fading hearts.
They held hands together every moment; clasping
fingers sensitive to learn
that the body is hopeful,
but only the soul perseveres. - "Unwanted" Carrie Clevenger


It'd snowballed, this gigantic mass of chaos. A subtle hint as to their futures as human beings. Bones lengthened, strengthened, and became brittle. Sherry was an aborted mother, lost and hungry, and hobbling on crutches.

They started on the corners. They had to fight for one, because the really good corners were someone else's. Someone bigger and meaner. Benji'd take off his hat at every red light and make his solemn march down the middle strip of median that served as their personal island and hell. An oasis in a shivering mechanical tundra inhabited by grumbling motorists in shiny Cadillacs and Hondas. Sherry watched as the last person in her life to care gave up his dignity for a few wadded up bills, presumably out of an estranged dusty corner in some attorney's pocketbook.

Her hair was silky. Some guy in a Lexus stopped Benji, asked him how long his wife's hair was. She'd grown it since she was in High School. Pretty long, he said. An offer was made. Certificate passed from soft manicured hand to Benji's trembling fingers. Benji went back and relayed the message.

The 'earnings' for that day equaled less than thirteen dollars. If he skipped a drink, she could eat a decent dinner.

The man offered two thousand dollars. Enough to live on for two months, if they stayed outdoors. One if they found a place to stay. Maybe he could get a job then. Maybe she could get better then.

Cold hurt unmended bone.

The man was supposed to come back for them after the day was through, before the night dropped the temperature to freezing and vagrants were systematically shoved off their precious corners at dusk by the police.

Gales of unchecked wind swirled up around them, and snowflakes cut on diagonal pathways. Benji held Sherry close and thought of hot cocoa and peanut butter sandwiches. He thought of the warmth that enveloped him when he walked inside his old place.

“He's not coming back,” He said and stood. Sherry looked up at him and took his hand. Her crutches in one hand, Benji supported Sherry's weight as they walked into the path of the waiting headlights.

27 comments:

Karen from Mentor said...

LOVE love love the poem at the beginning.

so amazing.

Karen :0)

Marisa Birns said...

Oh, what a tale of sad despair...and love.

Lovely descriptions throughout. Such as "Gales of unchecked wind swirled up around them, and snowflakes cut on diagonal pathways."

And: "...his solemn march down the middle strip of median that served as their personal island and hell."

Well done. Well done.

Laura Eno said...

Life can be so cruel as to not be worth fighting for. You showed the despair well.

Linda said...

Whoa. Post-apocalytpic feel to this, the 'new' economy taking root. Such futility. "Sherry was an aborted mother..." chills. Great stuff, per usual. Peace, Linda

shannon said...

Chilling. It's always worse when there is a glimmer of hope and then that's even stripped away. Well told tale!

windspirit-girl said...

The poem was amazing. But I also like the first line of the story: "It'd snowballed, this gigantic mass of chaos." Wow, what a wonderful way to begin a story, and the beautiful, heart-wrenching description throughout lived up both to the poetry at the beginning and the promise of exploration of this snowballed chaos. I agree with Linda about the post-apocalyptic feel. It adds an even greater level of depth and pathos to the story. Really enjoyed this. Thank you!

livloveslit said...

Your opening poem is beautiful and made me think of Bonnie & Clyde. Your story took me in a whole different direction. So heart-breaking and sensitively told. ~ Olivia

Sulci Collective said...

This reminded me of the hopelessness of Hubert Selby Junior (Last Exit To Brooklyn etc) no mean achievement as he is one of my favourite authors. Fantastically rich language.

marc nash

jodicleghorn said...

Hi Carrie,
Finally here to read some of your writing (talk about doing things backwards).

I too loved the poem (and I'm not of poetry) and the hope, mingled with desperation and the strive to hold onto the dignity of humanity.

What struck me most, how the cold doesn't allow broken bones to mend. I wondered if these guys were actually human at the start?

Awesome read.

Michelle said...

a sad story well told
I too loved the poem.

Amy J Taylor said...

I adored the poem at the beginning - I see it is where your true heart lies. And it makes the prose all the more poetic and moving for being preceded. A fine job here - and I will get around to perpetuating that lovely award! :)

Tony Noland said...

A stark and bleak scene here, Carrie. I felt the cold and the despair - well done.

elizabethditty said...

Wow, I think this turned even more heartbreaking since the version I read. It's still beautiful in its sorrow, though. Your couple reminds me a little of Fantine from "Les Misérables" if she were split into two characters. Beautiful work, as always.

pegjet said...

Such despair! I care about your characters. a mother aborted was a beautiful description.

Jen B said...

I like the beauty in this piece despite its despair. There are a lot of wonderful visual details and it suggests a much deeper world than you might think possible from a short story. Very well done.

Eric J. Krause said...

Very descriptive and sad. It was an excellent, well-told tale. Great job!

David Masters said...

Deeply sad and poignant ending. More poetry please.

Cascade Lily said...

Yes, I agree, the poem really set the tone for this bleak, cold tale. Very well done, as always Carrie.

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Eek, what a sad twist at the end. I feel so sorry for their life circumstance. You described it poetically. And, the poem was wonderful!

Well done!

~Tim said...

Very bleak. How wonderful that they still have each other though.

CJ Hodges MacFarlane said...

These two really tug at the heartstrings - beautiful bit of writing!

theothersideofdeanna said...

Astoundingly beautiful Carrie, but I've come to expect nothing less. "The cold hurt unmended bone." perfect.

Chris Chartrand said...

I wonder if the oncoming headlights belong to a certain Caddy. Amazingly cool piece as usual.

Draco Torre said...

Bold writing.

Dana said...

Your writing is so visceral. You get across the emotion of the situation so well!

Your flash is a treat each and every week. Although sometimes a bitter one.

G.P. Ching said...

Every time I read your writing, I learn something. The line "Gales of unchecked wind swirled up around them, and snowflakes cut on diagonal pathways." is a beautifully descriptive sentence but also carries the plot forward. It represents the craziness that their world has become, out of control. Hopelessness captured in under 1000 words.

Mark Kerstetter said...

"Sherry was an aborted mother" - love that phrase. Things can snowball much quicker than we'd care (or dare) to think.