Whiskey Breath

Whiskey Breath

June 27, 2012 Writing 14
Peeling Paint

The walls around Jade were literally crumbling down. It was the first time in many years she’d stepped foot in the lakeside cottage that ruined her life forever. When she’d left, the house was pristine. Her mother, at the demand of Jade’s paranoid father, scrubbed the walls, both tainted and clean, as if scrubbing could erase the blood that redecorated them.

Her father’s paranoia ultimately brought on the demise of the cottage. The daily drive never seemed to matter before, but that particular summer, as they passed the field of violets and twinkling fireflies, he snapped. Arguments ensued, gunshots rang out, and darkness fell. Jade raided the safe, taking only what she needed to start over, and walked away without a second glance, leaving the chaos of her actions behind her.

With each step Jade took through the cottage, memories loomed from the peeling paint, taunting her with visuals. She could feel the hotness of her father’s breath on the nape of her neck as he hovered over her correcting every wrong punctuation mark, every misspelled word, and criticizing her typing. Frustration built within her and she turned, not noticing her twin brother, his face bloodied and bruised, lingering in the corner behind them.

“How am I supposed to write if you keep distracting me?” Jade’s voice bounced from the demolished walls, echoing the memory in her head.

“You call this writing?” The hollow spaces between the walls jeered, the odor of whiskey permeating the air. Ghostly hands touched her shoulders, shoving her sideways, and she fell to the dirt-covered floor, just as she’d done that day. The only difference between then and now was the clean floor, the white walls, and the gun in her brother’s hand.

From her new position on the floor, if she leaned forward on her hands in just the right way, she could see it. It was a mystery to her how her mother had missed it all these years.  Perhaps it was because until now, a small table had taken permanent residence there. The cottage’s demolition had shaken the table away, revealing its secret–the lone witness left to testify the tragic events of that day. There, in that small space, the white paint remained, the red splatters the last evidence of what she had done.

As Jade’s eyes fixed on the spot, a yell bounced around her. Her brother jumped forward, pointing the gun at their father’s head. The sound of gunfire filled the room, and the two men scuffled. Before she could intervene, the gun changed hands, her father now aiming at her twin’s head. She kicked the back of her father’s knees, knocking him to the floor. The gun slid from his hand. She grabbed it, and aimed it at her father, now towering over her. Her brother pounced, his fist connecting with the side of her father’s head. Her father roared, wrestling her brother to the floor, and pounding on him. When her father turned his back to her, she closed her eyes and released the trigger three times in rapid succession.

The air was so quiet, Jade thought she’d gone deaf. A wet, sticky weight pinned her legs down. She opened her eyes. Her father sat on the floor, his back leaning against the far wall, blood oozing from a wound in his leg. Her brother lay across her legs, his lifeless eyes open, staring at her. Blood wept from two separate places on his chest, the largest pool settling under his heart.

The walls of the lakeside cottage she grew up in were crumbling around Jade, but the memories were as clear as if they just happened yesterday. The violets still took over the field beyond the windows. The blood still remained on the walls. Her father’s shadow still loomed over her, and the smell of gunpowder still hung in the air, even all these years later.


For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Diane gave me this prompt: The smell of gunpowder still hung in the air, even all these years later..

I gave Michael  this prompt: Grab a favorite book from your shelf. Open it to page 68 and count 7 lines. Add that line somewhere in your piece. Please share the book and the line in your required Scriptic text.

The picture at the beginning of the piece is the challenge issued by Studio 30+ this week (1 of 2).

Bloggy Moms Writer’s Workshop gave us 4 words (firefly, drive, violets, summer) and a setting: a lakeside cottage to write about in 750 words or less.

I welcome concrit. Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment.

Thanks for stopping in and reading!


14 Responses

  1. Carrie says:

    Okay, I must admit, I am a but confused as to what took place. Here goes: Jade argued with her abusive father, who went to strike her and her brother showed up with a gun. There was a struggle and jade ended up with the gun. She shot blindly at her father, wounding him but mistakenly killing her brother.

    Her mother was forced to clean the blood off the walls and jade left.

    Years later she returns and discovers her mother missed some blood? She feels the guilt again.

    Did I get that all right?

    If that is right, I’m not sure I get how that remaining bit of blood can serve as a witness? I found that reference confusing.

    Regardless, this was a nice bit of tension filled writing. Great job weaving all the prompts in.

    • SAM says:

      Yeah you got it. Perhaps the witness part is just me being “fancy”, but since you got that she suddenly felt the guilt, I’d say it was successful. In the same breath, it could probably work without that sweet line, too. LOL.

    • SAM says:

      now that i’m awake and have coherently read your comment, lol, i can give you a better answer to your witness question. its not the blood thats the witness, its the small table—in that if walls could talk sort of way. the table is the witness, and the blood is the evidence.

  2. Chelle says:

    This is a powerful story. I liked how you hinted at the tragedy in the beginning without revealing the chain of events.
    “The cottage’s demolition had shaken the table away, revealing its secret–the lone witness left to testify the tragic events of that day. There, in that small space, the white paint remained, the red splatters the last evidence of what she had done.”
    Love those 2 lines. We usually assume a witness is someone who can speak of the events but that’s not always the case, is it?

    • SAM says:

      Yes!! Everything around us is witness to the things we do and say. I gave a small object a little power here. Thanks for stopping in Chelle! I always love seeing your lovely face here.

  3. Powerful and haunting. Not what I was expecting since my own interpretation of the writing prompt was so whimsical. I love how we are all stirred in different ways on any given day~ Thanks for writing.

    • SAM says:

      I always find it amazing how different one prompt can be interpreted. Thanks for playing along this week. I will be by soon!

  4. becca112971 says:

    wow powerful

  5. danadampier says:

    A hauntingly great story! I love how the past was showing itself to her as she was in the crumbling present.

  6. Such a good story. Very haunting.

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