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September 16, 2010

This story is part of my series on the Seven Deadly Sins.
Also posted: Wrath, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Pride

Photo Prompt by Jens Kuhn
severe apathy; insufficiency of love; failure to utilize one’s talents*

Heather snubbed out the cigarette and leaned her head against the brick. Breathing in the crisp night air she relaxed; more comfortable in the shadows of the stoop than upstairs in her own apartment. Feet shuffled and low voices carried down the narrow alley. The last stragglers from the bar usually spilled out in the opposite direction, headed toward the main street to catch cabs, but every now and then an impatient couple would find their way to this end looking for some quick privacy.

“Mmm…this looks good,” a woman said.

“Just a little more, baby,” answered a male voice.

The woman giggled and followed the man farther from the safety of the street.

It was a familiar coaxing, Heather had heard it used by countless drunks who’d slithered their dates into the shadows past her door. She pulled her feet in from the stoop as they stumbled around the curve; not that there was much chance of them noticing her in their drunken and lustful state.

The woman was walking sideways, kissing his neck as his hands roamed her body.

“Come here, baby.”

The man pulled her into a stoop a few feet behind Heather. She knew without looking that they’d stopped at one-eighty-four; it was boarded up, a guarantee of no interruption.

After a few moments, the woman’s voice broke through the moans. “Let’s go back.”

“In a minute, baby, just give me a little taste.”

“I’m serious. I want to go.” Her voice was suddenly sober, spooked.

Heather heard shuffling and the woman yelled, “Let me go!” Then a slap echoed from the alcove.

A scream was cut off by another smack.

“Stupid bitch.”

Then the whirring of a zipper.

Heather’s cell phone hung heavy in her pocket as she shifted to a more comfortable position. It wasn’t long before the alley fell silent.

The man finally stumbled by, heading back to the street.

The woman groaned behind her.

Heather flicked her lighter and lit another cigarette.


27 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2010 12:31 PM

    Eerie, well crafted story. Nicely done!

  2. September 16, 2010 1:04 PM

    Dark and depressing! I usually associate sloth with slovenly…this was an interesting new perspective.

  3. September 16, 2010 1:15 PM

    Definitely a different perspective on sloth. Very disturbing and, considering that’s what you were probably going for, well done 🙂

  4. September 16, 2010 1:29 PM

    I always thought of sloth as just being laziness but this puts a whole new perspective on it. Probably your darkest one yet!

  5. Deanna Schrayer permalink
    September 16, 2010 2:44 PM

    I agree with the others – this is a much more interesting take on sloth than just “plain ole’ laziness”. I’ve enjoyed this whole series, but this one most. Fantastically told Danielle.

  6. September 16, 2010 2:56 PM

    I had to reread it because it wasn’t what I was expecting for sloth. The second read (especially after the definition sunk in my brain) was excellent. Well crafted, and a good take on it. Different but good.

  7. September 16, 2010 5:56 PM

    So good, and very disturbing. She’s as much a sociopath as the guy is.

    Excellent tale!

  8. September 16, 2010 8:23 PM

    Lust meets Sloth.

    “Baby, you awake?”

    “Not tonight. I got a shift in the morning.”

    “But baby…”


    Heh. Sorry! Yours was definitely more unnerving.

  9. September 16, 2010 10:44 PM

    As others have said, interesting spin on the traditional interpretation of sloth, but very accurate in it’s way. Especially in the modern sense, apathy kills.

  10. September 17, 2010 6:43 AM

    Great detail of the phone in her pocket. How did I miss the others in this series? I’m off to catch up.

  11. Ian permalink
    September 17, 2010 8:13 AM

    Again, I read your work and react. Excellent stuff. Thanks so much for sharing your gift.


  12. September 17, 2010 8:19 AM

    My favorite so far.

  13. September 17, 2010 8:44 AM

    Thank you for all the great comments. I read up on each of the sins to make sure I got to the heart of why each one made the list of the deadliest and sloth seems to be the most misunderstood. I’m glad you are all enjoying the series so far.

  14. Kelly permalink
    September 17, 2010 9:09 AM

    Wow Danni. The idea that someone could be so apathetic sends chills down my spine. Well done.

  15. September 17, 2010 9:27 AM

    Another brilliant piece Danni! I loved this interpretation of sloth, and again you’ve invoked a reaction that can only be described as shock. I’m really enjoying the series. 🙂

  16. September 17, 2010 3:37 PM

    Excellent and disturbing. Not what I’d figure for ‘sloth’, but perhaps the modern definition that includes ‘ennui’, ‘apathy’, and ‘narcissism’. Very well-played and told. Peace…

  17. Travis King permalink
    September 17, 2010 7:04 PM

    As others have said, it’s not what I typically think of when I think sloth. But such apathy should definitely be included among the most heinous sins. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “So much attention is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and cruelty and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little attention is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in the long run can have a more devastating effect.”

    Given the definition you start out with, this is a very poignant and effective commentary on the sin. You’ve done a wonderful job here, Danielle.

  18. September 17, 2010 7:19 PM

    This is very disturbing and unfortunately very true in many circumstances. I wouldn’t read this and think sloth automatically, but I see what you’re saying. I’m not sure it’s sloth as much as indifference, which is just as bad. Of course sometimes you don’t know what to do. Last week a friend and I tried to help a woman who we thought was being assaulted in a parking lot and she walked away from us and toward the guy. He kept following her around harassing her, but anyone who offered help, and there were quite a few of us, she resisted.

  19. September 17, 2010 10:17 PM

    You made me think (never a bad thing). A friend and I were just talking about apathy and the reluctance of people to get involved when they see crimes being committed against another. I never thought of it as sloth but I can see it now. Excellent, as usual.

  20. September 18, 2010 11:28 AM

    Pretty harsh and apathetic, almost delighting in the inaction. A sharp piece.

  21. September 19, 2010 6:23 AM

    A sobering and disturbing story, Danielle. Has me thinking about that incident years ago in NYC when the woman was attacked outside an apartement and a lot of people heard, but nobody called the police. A sad tale, indeed.

  22. September 19, 2010 12:34 PM

    Interesting take on sloth – very apathetic

  23. Michelle Muto permalink
    September 19, 2010 1:29 PM

    Another well-written piece. I could totally see the scenes. Sadly, it seems stuff like this goes on far too much in real life, doesn’t it?

  24. September 20, 2010 8:03 AM

    Very disturbing and thought provoking. Well done.

  25. September 21, 2010 11:38 AM

    So gritty and dark. Great take on sloth. 🙂

  26. Helena permalink
    October 5, 2010 2:45 AM

    Excellent story! Heather’s disregard of that other woman is frightening. There is too little moral courage in this world…

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