Taking Care

Buddy

Buddy

Today’s snippet’s inspired was inspired by the Daily Prompt, “When you’re unwell, do you allow others to take care of you, or do you prefer to soldier on alone? What does it take for you to ask for help?”

From the SoCNoC Project, “Sights on the Storm”

Taking Care

Vincent crossed his arms and waited for a response to his presence in the doorway. In the beginning, Dora responded with ‘bully bears,’ ‘outta here octopi’ and any other stuffed animal she could lob into the air, none of them making it past the foot of the bed.

Now she resembled her Aunt Heloise, sobered by pain, drunk on cough syrup. He didn’t have to mention the observation as he saw the increased ugliness from the young woman who professed profanities, called out curses and gestured germ-laced words he knew she learned too young.

“Dorinda Casey Russell, it isn’t too late for me to wash your hands with soap.”

Instead of a weak smile or short chuckle, the young woman stretched to her full length in bed, all the while holding up a middle finger to her father. Yes, this was his child he no longer saw eye-to-eye with whenever she stood straight.

“I’m fine,” she said. Vincent didn’t have to hear her to know it was a lie.

“Chicken soup with rice-.”

“Sendak? Seriously?” The sarcasm soared the more she was sore – that was a constant, be it cold or flu, migraines or measles.

The svelte man bit the inside of his cheek, curious if he had made it this hard on his parents when he was her age.  Then again, he was busy balancing classes, changing diapers and collecting records for the corner store he hoped to start. “You’d rather I throw ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul,’ your way,” he asked. “Or should I just find your gadget so you can plug in and tune out rather than sleep?”

“I’m going to work.” She turned on her side, eyes narrow to supposedly intimidate him, when they both knew it was to hide the pain.

“Told your boss ‘no’ and she agreed.” Vincent hated to see her suffer. If it was either of her brothers or Adele, Dorinda was right there to doctor them. Reverse the roles, however…  He didn’t think he taught her that – to be so stubborn. Then again, he could be wrong; he had that feeling too often lately.

He grabbed the cell phone from the nightstand before returning to the hallway. “You’re going to sleep.” His shoulders relaxed as her eyes closed and her breathing slowed.

They might get through this one yet.

 

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Watcher of the Watches

Time

Time

Today’s snippet is inspired by Mike Reverb’s 100-words or less challenge about diamonds and The One-Minute Writer challenge of the day about beginnings and endings.

There is an earlier germ of a story to this on the tablet, the prompts giving seed to the characters of Vincent and  Dorinda.

Watcher of the Watches

Vincent pressed his back against the wall; the black wooden clock’s back removed to reveal its treasures. He held up two glittering watches, not covered with diamonds, but the value of it priceless just the same.

“When she gets mad, be extra careful,” he told the girls clenching their stuffed animals while the yelling began in the kitchen below. “She wants these heirlooms; but they’re yours, when you get older.”

Adele grabbed a tiny scroll. “What’s this?”

Vincent smiled, taking the paper from his niece. “When the time comes, it will lead you to another treasure.”

 

(Today’s SoCNoC count – 500)

Pill or Proper Meal

Big Ol' Country Breakfast from Ellie's

Big Ol’ Country Breakfast from Ellie’s

Today’s short snippet is inspired by today’s Daily PromptIf you could get all the nutrition you needed in a day with a pill — no worrying about what to eat, no food preparation — would you do it?

“Why do you always pop a few extra pills whenever Aunt Heloise cooks, Grandpa,” Dorinda asked as she grabbed her jacket and wallet.

The elder Russell looked her in the eye, his brown eyes are sharp as ever. “It’s because she thinks she cooks I pop ’em,” he said. With a wink, he added, “A shot or two doesn’t hurt, either, but don’t tell your nana that.”

Dorinda shook her head. True, the smell of burnt toast and sound of sizzling eggs-turned-over-done was better than the smell of blood and the sound of breaking glass, to name the ‘calmer alternatives’ they’d seen. She and Adele always imagined Heloise as the skinnier, funnier Julia Child when they were little. It wasn’t until home ec that they really discovered the depths of Vincent’s passion for the culinary arts.

“You could always tell her you don’t need her to fix you guys anything. Just because she sobers up from the night before-.”

“You’ve lived in this house for how long? Go, grab your father and make a clean escape. Get a hearty country breakfast with an extra order of bacon and sausage for me, huh?”

The young woman laughed, aware that she’d probably have to swim double the laps or attend thrice the number of workouts just to burn off the calories; while her father wouldn’t even gain a pound.

Some things just weren’t fair.

(SoCNoC total today: 450)

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Endless Horizon

The Holiday

The Holiday

Inspired in part by today’s Daily PromptWhat’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?

“Seriously, Dad, what are you going to do, swim the entire time?”

Vincent smiled as he watched Dorinda continue talking, imagining the ‘argument’ he had seen from her several times before, the average length being a minute for every year of her age. Yes, she protested the beach, but it always ended the same way, with him coaxing her to come into the hotel room long after the sun had set.

The beauty of the waves required no words, even as they played their ‘listen to the seashell’ games. He loved how her eyes twinkled, tiny fingers telling him what he was supposed to hear. From airplanes and boa constrictors to violins and xylophones, Dora’s imagination was endless. She could create as many stories as there were shells or sands on the shore, skipping barefoot along the way, dashing waves yet daring to wade.

He had his fears of Dora being swept away by the waves – a more concrete fear that replaced ones of a certain thief in the night trying to claim a child that was never theirs.  However, Vincent knew she’d keep far from the water, even now.

Those were the times he remembered as he saw her back reflected in the window. Every vacation began with a protest, accompanied by a waiting game that he always won, and ending with an itinerary she planned; the proposed ‘sand bucket list’ getting longer and more daring each time.

“I know, I know,” Dorinda muttered, grabbing the tattered travel bible from the bookcase, “the awesomeness of God’s creation, limitless as the horizon where water and sky meet, where the Son never sets.”

Vincent bit the inside of his cheek, lest he were caught laughing at her. The voice may have changed along with the height of the child, but the imagined tone remained the same. It was one of the small blessings he enjoyed, these long weekend escapes to the beach with her, just the two of them. He could never, would never grow tired of them.

(Today’s SoCNoC count: 733)

Snippet – Friday Firings

Dorinda Russell

Dorinda Russell

“Off to the firing range, Dora?”

Dorinda Russell’s shoulders fell, the handle of the gym bag now in her hand. There were times she swore her father’s father was out to get her. Her only saving grace was the fact that her own father-.

“It’s Friday, dear.” Nana said.”Firing range, again”

Dorinda gave a silent prayer, hoping her father didn’t read any of this. It was bad enough that he worried about her boxing. “Nana, you make it sound like I’m having an affair.”

“Forget I said anything, dear. Sweetheart, we’re going to be late for bingo.” The elder Russell couple left by the side door where their bridge friends waited in the car; their games routine delving towards squared numbers and colored ink dots for the evening.

She turned and saw her father leaning against the door frame, hands in his pockets. Dorinda didn’t want to have this conversation now. The fact he took a ‘silent stance’ of his own could be reassuring.

“It’s nothing to worry about, Dad,” she told him. “I’ve been going for a few weeks now and-.” She wanted him to respond, wanted to fight to justify her latest habit.

Instead, he sat down in the armchair, folded his hands over his knee and waited.

“Look, I traded in the boxing lessons for martial arts, so you can’t get mad at me,” she continued. True, his logic in why she should expand her disciplines didn’t amuse her at first, but he made valid points. “How I work out is my business.”

Vincent still remained silent.

“Swimming and running, those work for you. They bore me. Besides, only one comes in handy during a confrontation and-.”

“And one’s supposed to feel safer with a gun; a gun that can be turned and used against you,” he asked. “Given everything you share with the people you work with, why reach for a crass weapon now? Are you in trouble?”

Dorinda scoffed. The latter question was more fitting for Aunt Heloise. “Do you recommend me using a rock and sling?”

He shrugged. “Archery.”

“What’s the point?”

“The arrow.”

Dorinda stopped to think about it then laughed. “Dad, we both know what side of the fence you fall on, in terms of ‘fight or flight.’ I won’t join you.”

His brown eyes showed neither disapproval nor anger, even as her remark hit a sore subject she didn’t want known. He  left the room. Before she could get out the door, he signed, “Be careful, Ahab.”

 

(Today’s SoCNoC word count, 1,425)

June Jump

Kiwi Writers

Kiwi Writers

The new madness for this month: Kiwi Writers‘ “SocNoc!” Or, Southern Cross Novel Challenge. It’s the ‘south of the equator version of NaNoWriMo and has been going strong for over five years now.

So what will this month’s 50,000 word challenge focus on? The mysteries surrounding Dorinda and Vincent Russell – daughter and father who say a lot more in silence than the cacophony around them. Some ficlet/fragments have already been shared on the site, Tommia’s Tablet. Now to weave in the proper telling with the story, “Sights on the Storm.”

Today’s word count was a paltry (750 words). Nothing fitting for a decent segment yet, but here’s an introduction to the cast of characters:

Dorinda Russell

Dorinda Russell

Unlike her father, very outspoken, impulsively active and ready to throw the first punch without apologies. She knows the existence of her being, but refuses to forgive and forget, despite her grandparents’ best efforts.

Vincent Russell

Vincent Russell

“Voiceless Vince” during most of his years in school, Vincent is reflective, patient and willing to tip certain stereotypes on their side. Understanding the reasons for his daughter’s chosen career, he won’t stand in her way; however when someone threatens his only child’s safety, he’ll make himself heard.

They live in the suburbs of a college town, in the same house Vincent was raised in, whilst keeping a sane distance from his sister, Heloise and providing shelter for  his niece, Adele.

Heloise Russell

Heloise Russell

The older sibling who torments her younger brother as only a sister could. She has her demons to drown and a past that is forever present in the house she ran away from in the pursuit of a carefree future.

Adele Russell

Adele Russell

Practically Dorinda’s sister, Adele, like her cousin, was raised primarily by their grandparents stern hand. Having nothing in common with her mother and knowing nothing of her father, Adele does what she can to get by in the crazy world around her.