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Words Unsaid by Jason Warden

October 28, 2010

This week I am swapping blogs with Zombie Master and fellow #fridayflash writer, Jason Warden. Jason and I joined #fridayflash a week apart and are now critique partners and friends. You can find my #fridayflash, “Invasion” (my first zombie story ever) over at Jason’s blog this week.

Photo by Owl Sisters Photography
Words Unsaid by Jason Warden
(c) 2010 Jason Warden All Rights Reserved

We always fail. Either our parents when we’re born because we’re not cute enough, we have bad skin, we don’t EVER sleep, or we won’t ham it up for the camera like they always pictured.

If somehow, despite our falls and dances with death, we make it to school age without our parents giving us away, we then do our best to let down our friends and our teachers. Kindergarten is the only year we’ll ever be perfect to anyone. It’s then we make our first BFF, and somehow he or she cannot see the faults that others have or will grow to see and hate in us. After that first year, we make a new BFF, and maybe the new one sticks for a while, but the old one now sees what our parents, our teachers, even our siblings see every day, that we’re just another disappointment.

Then we discover boys don’t have the cooties we all thought they did. Behold the prophecies of MASH and the infinite swirl that will decide which of the cretins will be ours, and how many beautiful, non-disappointing children they will give us. In our minds, we are already making crosses on park benches with the initials of our TLA, and writing the phone numbers of his ex-girlfriends, maybe even our ex-BFF, on the walls of the gazebos with the eternal wisdom of “For a good time call…”

We do it for love. For love and for forever, because we know our hearts, and they would never lead us astray. We tell ourselves that, even as another of the bastards catches our eye. It’s then we once again disappoint our love, ourselves, and our parents all over again.

At least that’s how it happened for me.

“That son-of-a-Bitch,” my father said when I told them.

Mother didn’t say a word, she never did. I watched her, not quite meeting her eyes as her face reddened, and she tried to push her palm through her face and into the back of her head. I knew she was thinking about how she would tell the bridge club, her family… the church, and all at once, I was not just ashamed, I was angry.

“It’s not Tommy’s.”

My father only stared at me. His disbelief became scorn. I tried to be mad at him, but I never quite dared.

“I didn’t raise no whore.”

No, of course you didn’t Dad. I’m just a girl, a girl who failed you over and over. Maybe if you’d told me what I was supposed to do, maybe if you’d had time to talk, to be parents. Maybe if you’d been there to help me when I told him “I’m not ready”. Maybe if I’d trusted you instead of fearing you, maybe then everything would be different, better.

I didn’t say any of that; instead, I went to my room. I called Tommy and told him. The next day he beat up Steve in the alley behind the school. That was a month before Steve and I were married at the courthouse. He wore his father’s sport coat and a fading yellow bruise; I wore a simple white sundress, and bloodshot eyes.

His parents’ house was large, warm and inviting, but not to me. We stayed anyway, and waited for our beautiful child who would never come.

It was the doctor’s visit the week before delivery, and I knew when he walked into the room. I may have only been sixteen, but the look of disappointment on his face was familiar. He was dead, dead and probably already decaying inside my child’s womb, and still, I had to deliver. Did I say my tears were exhausted? I didn’t know the meaning of pain before that day. I held my dead child and cried what had to be rivers of tears until they took him away and left me scared, alone and once again, a disappointment to everyone.

We never really talked about it. I hope wherever Steve is now, he doesn’t blame himself. I couldn’t, and didn’t expect him to stick around. He said he wanted to, but we both knew better.

Mother asked me to come home. A week after I did, Dad moved out.

She said she was sorry today, but she didn’t say why.

“If you need to talk…”

I don’t know what I’ll say, but I don’t want to disappoint her anymore. I hope she still loves me.

Jason is the Creator and Editor of ShadowCast Audio Anthology. A site dedicated to bringing you the best dark fiction via podcast. ShadowCast Audio holds a weekly #FridayFlash Deathmatch where two #fridayflash horror stories go head-to-head and your vote decides the winner. And check out their brand new forums.

In addition, Jason posts #fridayflash fiction each week on his blog Jason Warden’s Experimental Muse. A few of my favorites include “First Person Negative” and “Hooks” or you can peruse his collection of zombie stories. He’s on Twitter at @ShadowCastAudio and @JasonDWarden.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2010 12:52 PM

    The unsaid has almost always much more consequences than all words we say. I feel so sorry for this girl!

  2. Misty permalink
    October 28, 2010 1:30 PM

    Wow is right! Really well done. I felt so bad for her. The fear part struck me. Not that I can relate, but it made sense and I could feel her pain. Great job! Glad I could lend a picture again. 🙂

  3. Deanna Schrayer permalink
    October 28, 2010 1:40 PM

    There is so very much honesty in this Jason. It’s sad how true this situation is for countless kids. Very well written.

  4. October 28, 2010 2:45 PM

    What a perfectly told story. The voice and character are so real that I’d completely believe you if you said it was true-to-life, but then again you’re a guy. Amazing story.

  5. Dawn Marie permalink
    October 28, 2010 2:57 PM

    I had tears reading this. Sad – but it can be true. Well written!

  6. October 28, 2010 4:13 PM

    For a male, it’s extremely well written from a female POV. Sad story told well and definitely gained my sympathy for the girl in the hearbreaking way you wrote it. It could be any girl, any where and you’ve delivered it well. Very good story.

  7. October 28, 2010 5:17 PM

    You really captured the female voice and POV so well; poor kid. What a sad life …

  8. October 28, 2010 6:01 PM

    Powerful. Such a miserable life for a young girl who had to grow up fast. I think her mom does still love her. So it’s a hopeful ending. 🙂

  9. October 28, 2010 6:07 PM

    Dark and depressing. Leaves lingering doubts about self-worth.
    Good job, Jason!

  10. October 28, 2010 7:11 PM

    Powerful piece. I am totally in this girl’s head, and totally empathetic. Peace…

  11. October 28, 2010 8:26 PM

    Nice of you to share your blog again, Danni. You’re very social with your #fridayflash space.

    Not sure if you’re looking for feedback, Jason. If not, please disregard this. Certainly you’ve got enough praise above and more to come. But I couldn’t get into the piece. The statements up front simply aren’t universally true – parents aren’t all turned off because of any of those things, in fact, most parents expect and put up with those things. “fail” isn’t even close to the right word for the tribulations. Unlike Linda, that outlandishness shuts me off from empathy. If you went straight to the plot, cutting out or truncating the early paragraphs, you could frame some of the commentary as reflection on her exact experiences and give them resonance. If you really want her to complain about how we fail, feed us that line while we’re seeing her experience, rather than as a prologue. Or it might be that this just isn’t my thing. If that’s the case then this feedback’s useless, and I apologize.

  12. October 28, 2010 9:49 PM

    Thanks for all the great comments and feedback. First, I guess most of you know this isn’t my normal thing, but it seemed to work so i just went with it. John, I always appreciate your comments and i’m not in the least upset about what you said. I do think however perhaps you misinterpretted my intentions. I wasn’t trying to paint a picture of the everyday family. I have 3 of my own, two little girls and a boy, and I, like you, don’t feel this way at all, ever, but these kinds of people are out there. The last thing I want is people thinking i think this is the universal attitude among parents. This is just the story of one girl, and the parents she never got to know, or knew well enough to know she couldn’t go to them. If there is any moral, which i typically shy away from blatantly putting out there, it’s “don’t make your kids figure life out on their own.” Again, thanks John, really i appreciate it. It’s not often we get to hear the things we really need to, and it takes guts to give feedback that’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I’ll just work a bit harder on the next one 🙂

  13. October 29, 2010 12:59 AM

    Crikey, but that was bleak! Very well written, and I really like the voice of your MC.

  14. October 29, 2010 8:04 AM

    Well written, and an excellent story! Sad that this girl feels that the world runs this way.

  15. October 29, 2010 10:26 AM

    Poignant and unfortunately realistic for a small minority. I think you did a great job of getting inside this character’s head.

  16. October 29, 2010 12:14 PM

    Tough yarn. I especially enjoyed the transitions between the boys and the stillborn child. Nicely done.

  17. October 29, 2010 12:25 PM

    Thanks guys!

    • October 29, 2010 7:12 PM

      It’s a great story, Jason. Thanks for letting me host it. And thank you for hosting my zombie debut. 🙂

  18. October 29, 2010 1:29 PM

    This touched a nerve with me. The things left unsaid are often more damaging than things things brough out into the open. It was sad, but I like to think there’s a glimmer of hope at the end.

  19. Tiffany permalink
    October 29, 2010 8:04 PM

    Families. Sheesh. Well written, sad and too often the reality. Enjoyed your story.

  20. October 30, 2010 8:38 AM

    Very depressing story- probably because it’s so true for so many people – but very well written.

  21. February 17, 2011 7:43 AM

    Yes, there are families like that. Parents too selfish or too programmed to tell their kids “good job” every once in a while, then wonder what the kid did wrong. (Not their fault. Ever.) Where the did said, “I didn’t raise no whore,” he could have put the period after “didn’t.” He didn’t raise her. He didn’t do his duty by her. He didn’t even care beyond the perceived ding to his own reputation.

    You captured that mindset very well, and the wreckage it can leave with the next generation.

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