Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Short Story: Why Me? Part I

So this is a short story that I was just inspired to write while travelling across country in the van today. This is just part one of what will most likely be a three part story. I hope you enjoy it. Remember it's not over yet, this is just the beginning.

Why Me? Part I

My consciousness swam up from the murky depths of sleep, from the world of dreams. It had been a good dream, one about flying through the clouds. Wind whipping through my hair. My arms spread wide. The glorious freedom of soaring.

Morning light pulsed behind my eyelids, and I slowly pulled them open. The sight that greeted me was the same as always. The small, crowded room with its white walls. Various items of clothing lay all across the floor, here and there a book was mixed in. The only furniture in the room was the cot I was sleeping on, and the identical bed that my brother was laying on next to me. Nothing could be seen of his body, as he had the sheets pulled up over his head.

The light that had woken me came in through a lone, plain window that adorned the wall across from my bed. I inhaled deeply through my nose, searching for the smell I knew would be there. I love the smell of the hazelnut coffee that my dad brews at home on Saturday mornings. It's my favorite part of the week, waking up to that bitter fragrance.

“Good morning my dear brother!” I cried cheerily as I threw back my sheets. For some reason I couldn't explain I felt overwhelmingly happy today. I was generally a happy person, but today even more so than usual. Maybe it was because of the amazing dream I had had, or maybe it was from the anticipation of the coffee, or most likely it was a combination of both.

“Morn' sis.” Came my brother's muffled voice from beneath his bedclothes.

I leapt from my bed and swung my door wide, rushing into the kitchen. My dad was sitting at the table which was one of the room's few furnishings. He was reading the newspaper, but looked up when I entered and smiled. I swooped down and kissed him lightly on the cheek.

“It's a beautiful morning.” he said.

“Yes daddy.” I said.

Next I ran up behind my mom and put my arms around her. “Morning mommy.” I said.

“Morning dear.” she said. She was standing at the kitchen's only counter, which contained the stove, and the house's sole sink. We didn't have an oven.

Mom was making pancakes, just like she did every Saturday.

I took the pitcher from the cabinet under the sink, filled it with water from the tap, and set it on the table while throwing myself into an empty seat.

My brother emerged from our bedroom blinking his sleepy eyes, shuffling his feet, and yawning widely. His rather dirty hair was standing on end, he wore a shirt that was too big for him, and a pair of faded, raggedy jeans. Giving me a pat on the head, he sat down in the chair next to me. “Coffee ready?” he asked.

“Yep, just now.” my dad answered, putting down his paper and getting out the mugs. “Why so tired son?” asked dad with curiosity.

“He stayed up late reading romance novels.” I accused, poking him in the arm.

“It was a mystery story.” he said irritably, crossing his arms across his chest.

I smiled at him. “I was just teasing, brother. I know, I know, you would never read a romance novel.”

We were interrupted by Mom descending on us with a large plate full of pancakes in one hand, and a jar of peanut butter in the other. We always ate pancakes with peanut butter, because we couldn't afford both peanut butter and syrup, and peanut butter was more useful on an every day basis. The only reason we could afford pancakes and hazelnut coffee was just because we only had them once a week, and never had treats any other time, ever.

We didn't even have individual plates to eat our pancakes off of. We would each take turns lathering a pancake with peanut butter, and then we would just use our fingers to shovel it into our mouths.

For several long minutes we too busy chowing down pancakes and gulping mug fulls of delicious coffee to talk. Gradually, as our eating slowed down, we started to talk again.

“What you two planning to do today?” asked Dad after a gulp of coffee.

“I was going to go to the library, see if I can find some good reads.” my brother said unsurprisingly. We spent half our time at the library. We were voracious readers and couldn't afford our own books so we were constantly borrowing books.

“And you daughter?” asked Dad, looking at me over the top of his mug.

“I was going to go biking for awhile.” I said. Our family owned one beaten down bicycle between us. We had found it luckily in the junkyard one day.

“Can you maybe get some more milk on your way back, beautiful daughter?” asked Mom. “We're almost out.”

“Of course.” I said, flashing her a smile. “Since you're going to the library, can you take back my two Stephen King books that I'm finished with?” I asked my brother.

“Yeah of course, anything for you sis.” said my brother, giving me a wide smile. We're a pretty smiley family, we love each other, and even though we're as poor as it gets, we're as happy as any family you'll find anywhere. My dad always says “We better be happy with each other, because it's all we got.” We've always been sure to listen to him.

After I had thrown on some clothes and gotten the couple of bucks from my dad that I needed for the milk, I went outside and took my bike from its spot leaning against the wall of our house and rolled it onto the road. My brother was already waiting there, the books he was returning under his arm.

He smiled at me. I always thought that his smile was like seeing the sun rising in the east early in the morning. It was a beautiful sight.

“You going to come on over to the library later today?” he asked.

“Yeah, but after I have a good long ride, and then I'll need to drop off the milk at home, but I'll eventually get there.”

“You promise?”

“Of course.” I said, smiling at him.

He gave me a quick hug. “Love ya sis.”

“Love you too brother.”

We headed in our separate directions: my brother to the library, me to the road that lead through the center of town.

I biked a good three hours. I loved biking. It was one of the few things that I could do and forgot about everything else. The only other escape was reading, or just being lost in blissful conversation with my brother. We were each others best friends. We were each others only friends. We were both blissfully happy in each others company. There was no tearing us apart. The bond we shared could never, ever be broken.

I entered the super market that we always used. We had found that it had the very best prices, and for us every cent counted. I walked over to where the milk was, pulling out a gallon jug of 2%.

Suddenly the door to the store burst open. Two men burst in, both holding guns. “Hit the floor!” one yelled.

I wasn't stupid; I hit the floor.

The two men emptied the cash register, but they didn't stop there. They demanded that everyone empty their pockets and give them everything. Of course I gave up the few cents I had on me, but they weren't satisfied with that.

“That can't be all you have missy.” said the man who had shouted originally. “You have to have more.”

“I don't, I promise, my family is dead poor.” I was shaking in fear. I was on my feet now, at their demand, and standing face to face with them.

“Well if you don't, you'll have to pay in something else then, won't you?” said the second man, making a grab at me.

I screamed, and turned and ran. There was a loud bang, a burst of pain, and the next thing I knew I was laying on the floor. The last thought that crossed my mind before my vision went black was, I promised my brother I would meet him at the library, what will he think when I don't show up?


  1. Thani, I think this is my favorite thing I've read of yours. I REALLY like it. Good descriptions, great character development, and wonderful use of 'showing not telling'. Also, I see you've taken Steven King up on the "so-and-so said" rule. Or have you gotten to that part yet? Anyway, very nicely done.