?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Snake

« previous entry | next entry »
Jul. 1st, 2012 | 04:29 pm

This story is also available as a voice post.
__________________________________________________________




Daddy was real particular about having the yard raked. He come home at the end of the day, yard had to be raked, no footprints, no holes, no castles, no puddles, just raked. 

So me and Jonathan are playing Barbies, over by the spigot where there’s a mud patch and Barbie can escape from the pit of quicksand, and Mamma hollers out, “it’s four-thirty!” which means rake the yard and put away the Barbies and come get cleaned up so Daddy comes home to shining faces ‘stead of mud-babies. I’m four, Jonathan’s seven, and I start picking up and he starts raking and he hits a rock and tosses it over to the side where I’m bending over to get a pink plastic high heel and he pegs me right in the head. I start crying, lump starts swelling, Jonathan’s trying to shush me and pick up the Barbies and keep an eye out for the Nova with the one yellow fender and he gets this idea that he’s going to bite off the lump on my forehead. 

“Hold still, Lakin,” but his teeth hurt worse than the lump and we’re getting all muddy ‘cause I’m squirming to get away. We roll over, wiping out a section we’ve already raked, Jonathan’s mad ‘cause now he’ll have to do that over so he puts his hand over my mouth so Mamma won’t hear me screaming and takes a big bite, Barbies are everywhere, legs and arms and great big breasts and Ken with his molded plastic underwear, and from down the street we hear the Nova rounding the corner, the muffler bouncing off the rut at the end of the block, and we both freeze.

There’s Barbies—Jonathan’s not allowed to play with Barbies. There’s the lump—it’s the size of a twenty-five-cent gumball, with red, angry teeth marks all around it, and I’m crying. The only thing shining on our faces is snot. And there’s the yard— still got a big hole on one side, a mud puddle on the other. We might as well put up a sign, Trailer Trash Lives Here, because the yard’s not even half raked. 

Daddy pulls into the driveway, gets out of the Nova, sees the yard. Sees us crying—now Jonathan’s started ‘cause he’s scared what Daddy’s gonna do, and I’ve stopped, ‘cause I’m scared what Daddy’s gonna do. Sees the Barbies and the mud puddle and the yard all messy, all trailer trash, all plain-dirt-yard ‘stead of we-care-about-our-house, poor-doesn’t-make-us-mud-babies, nice-raked-yard. Daddy takes two steps towards us and stops dead. 

“Get in the car.”  Real soft.

We’re frozen. He’s going to put us in the car and drop us off in another city, not even a cookie in my pocket to lay a trail and find our way home again. 

“Get into the car right now both of you.”

His eyes are like dimes, small and shiny and hard. He’s not even looking at us but I know if he turns those eyes on us we will both die on the spot, bury us under the spigot, stick a Barbie by my head and Daddy and Mamma can finally have some grown-up time.

We climb in, and as we get behind him he backs up and without even looking shuts the door softly which is worse than if he slammed it. We do not fight over who has what side of the car.

Shiny dime-eyes on the yard, the unraked yard, with holes and mud puddles and Barbies where Jonathan’s gonna-be-a-faggot-hand has dropped them, Daddy walks sideways to the side of the trailer, gets the shovel, the big square-blade shovel that we are not allowed to play with. We have been so bad that he is going to bury us alive. Still looking at the yard, he walks back to the pile of Barbies, half in the yard, half in the brush at the edge of the yard where our dirt lot meets the field it’s next to, raises the shovel high above his head—he’s going to kill Barbie first, then us, and bury us all in the same hole—and slams the wicked, shining edge into the ground.

And then he breathes out and bends over and picks up the headless body of a five-foot copperhead, curled up by the stump behind us while we were wrestling over the lump on my head. 

Daddy drops the body on the front step where it collapses into a limp brown pile, picks up the snake head with the shovel and dumps it in the trash. Comes over to the Nova, opens the door, scoops us both up—we’re muddy Daddy, we’re muddy and dirty and snotty and Lakin has a big lump on her head—and hugs us both until we wiggle to get down. 





whipchick still loves Pikeville, Kentucky.

Link | Leave a comment | Share

Comments {28}

blahblahblah, whatever

(no subject)

from: kathrynrose
date: Jul. 1st, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
Link

Ok, I love everything about this. The ending made me tear up when I read it, then I listened to it and it reminds me so much of This American Life on NPR, you should send it to them.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 4th, 2012 02:18 am (UTC)
Link

Thank you! One of my "Special Life Things" list (I refuse to call it a bucket list :) ) is to have a piece on TAL!

Reply | Parent | Thread

beldarzfixon

(no subject)

from: beldarzfixon
date: Jul. 1st, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC)
Link

Got so wrapped up in the story that I had forgotten its title, so the climax caught me by surprise. Having grown up in copperhead country, I can see this happening. Glad all turned out well -- mud and all.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 4th, 2012 02:18 am (UTC)
Link

Thanks! Glad to hear you got wrapped up :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

unmowngrass

(no subject)

from: unmowngrass
date: Jul. 1st, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
Link

What a tension-builder! You capture the voice of the child so well, the "I'm four, Jonathan's seven" bit is almost unnecessary... but still, well done :-)

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 4th, 2012 02:18 am (UTC)
Link

Thanks! I'll take another look at that part - might be a place to edit :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

(no subject)

from: halfshellvenus
date: Jul. 5th, 2012 06:49 am (UTC)
Link

Actually, I thought that came off pretty naturally, and because the little girl is the narrator I would otherwise have assumed that she's the older child and then gotten confused when it turned out otherwise.

Reply | Parent | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 5th, 2012 11:36 am (UTC)
Link

Oooh, good point!

Reply | Parent | Thread

(Deleted comment)

notodette

(no subject)

from: notodette
date: Jul. 3rd, 2012 03:58 am (UTC)
Link

Exactly my thoughts! ESPECIALLY the forehead.

Reply | Parent | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 4th, 2012 02:19 am (UTC)
Link

Thanks :) This was based on a story told to me by someone else, and his brother really did try to bite off the lump!

Reply | Parent | Thread

Kristen

(no subject)

from: pixiebelle
date: Jul. 2nd, 2012 03:20 am (UTC)
Link

Ouch at the brother biting the lump. I remembered the title, and since I've recently dealt with a rattelsnake bite on my dog, that stayed in my mind as I read it.

I grew up in copperhead territory too, so snakes are all too familiar to me. Very well written though, an enjoyable story all around.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 4th, 2012 02:19 am (UTC)
Link

Thanks, glad you enjoyed!

Reply | Parent | Thread

(Deleted comment)

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 4th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
Link

Yeah, I'm not completely happy with the recording - I like reading it in person better!

It's tough to be upbeat - and cynically, I don't know if it "sells" around here :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

(no subject)

from: faerie_spark
date: Jul. 2nd, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
Link

This short story is fantastic. You're an amazing writer! *love*

always admire someone who can pull off a short story. Terrific!

Oh, and I could listen to you speak or read all day!

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 4th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
Link

Wow, thank you - what a marvelous compliment, you made my day :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

Myrna

(no subject)

from: myrna_bird
date: Jul. 2nd, 2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
Link

What a delightful story. I was imagining the goings-on with your excellent descriptions and the voice of the little girl. It was very real, how kids fear for their lives that they have disappointed their parents. I'll bet that dad had some tears in his eyes too after bring the kids to safety.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 4th, 2012 02:21 am (UTC)
Link

Thank you! I like to think he did, too :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

m_malcontent

(no subject)

from: m_malcontent
date: Jul. 4th, 2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
Link

I like everything you write...but the motivational stuff doesn't quite resonate with me to the level something like this does.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 5th, 2012 11:37 am (UTC)
Link

Thank you! Yeah, I've been trying to write in a variety of styles throughout the contest, and I'm discovering I like short fiction a lot more than I used to, so thank you for the encouragement :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

Kizzy

(no subject)

from: xo_kizzy_xo
date: Jul. 5th, 2012 12:20 am (UTC)
Link

I love the voice in this -- the rough and tumble, the the mud and flinging Barbie parts, the bite on the lump (eek!) What I also love is how you distilled everything into one tight package, which isn't easy, considering all the detail!

We have copperheads in the more woodsy area of my town, but I've yet to see one. I don't care to either :shudder:

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 5th, 2012 11:38 am (UTC)
Link

Thanks! I was surprised how short it was when I put it up :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

m strobel

(no subject)

from: mstrobel
date: Jul. 5th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
Link

Holy crap omg o.O

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 5th, 2012 11:38 am (UTC)
Link

Thanks for reading :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

(no subject)

from: halfshellvenus
date: Jul. 5th, 2012 06:47 am (UTC)
Link

Such a vivid story, and you really feel the children's fear of their angry, controlling father.

The ending is a wonderful surprise, and puts all of seemingly menacing soft voice/slow movements into a completely different perspective.

And yet... you always know the father is the snake, too. He might catch you unaware, in the act of simply being human, and there's always the possibility that his reaction will be lethal.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 5th, 2012 11:39 am (UTC)
Link

I'm really glad the story is functioning on all those levels for you, because that was absolutely my intention :) They wouldn't be so afraid of the dad if they didn't have a reason...

Reply | Parent | Thread

LiveJournal

No title

from: livejournal
date: Jul. 5th, 2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
Link

User pixiebelle referenced to your post from No title saying: [...] http://whipchick.livejournal.com/17988.html [...]

Reply | Thread

jonathon9

:)

from: jonathon9
date: Jul. 10th, 2012 11:44 am (UTC)
Link

Very cute short story that vividly painted pictures and evoked several emotions.

I agree, the pure text worked better than the voice recording. I might feel differently if I hadn't listened to this YT recording hours before listening to your story.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYZxVHLr1U8

This was a fun read. Thanks for sharing.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

Re: :)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 10th, 2012 01:16 pm (UTC)
Link

Thanks for reading! Yeah, for some reason the voice post doesn't translate well - it reads aloud very successfully, so there must be something about the in-person delivery that works better than the recording!

Reply | Parent | Thread