Thursday, May 16, 2013

Broken Chopsticks (WoE #20 Orphan and Pianist challenge)

Have five challenges really passed me by? I'm so sorry. I've been neck-deep in the self-publishing world, prepping for The Trouble With Henry's little big debut. And Write On Edge has been speaking about me, as in the inactivity that takes root in creativity with a vengeance. Like the garden in the backyard, it's time to weed.

Sooo, this week we have the word "orphan" and a sketch of hands at piano keys.

Cracking knuckles.

Blank screen.

Here we go.

I give the following in response:  Broken Chopsticks

Rubble lined the plot where her home once stood. Tendrils of smoke and ash danced with earth and brick, framing forgotten memories with no future. Sofie clutched a scrapbook to her chest in attempt to shield her heart, to preserve her fragile innocence, to keep her wits from fracturing under the weight of the end. It was an unbearable struggle, and useless. She survived, but to what end?

Her mother made waffles in the kitchen every morning, but Sofie couldn’t remember ever eating them. The scent of butter coated everything and white cabinets yellowed at daybreak. Her father poured syrup…no, not syrup. Something darker, richer... Molasses. Her father poured molasses in methodical squares, with the precision of a little boy coloring inside of lines in a book, frowning if the darkness overflowed onto the plate. And she would, what? Sofie wiped the memory away as it slipped through her eyelids, leaving her cheeks cold and damp.

“It’s not good for us to be standing here.” Tiko was born with a voice of reason. His parents were divorced several times over. He was an orphan, too, but the kind that comes from neglect and a couple bottles of $10 scotch. “Not if we’re still going to make Amarillo.”

“I just can’t believe it’s all gone.” Her ankle twisted as she balance-beamed towards the remnants of the back porch. “It’s all gone and I don’t know what waffles taste like.”

He folded his arms. “We came a hundred miles out of our way for waffles? Sofie, we could’ve just stopped at IHOP.”

She leaped across some bricks and recovered from a shaky landing. Her voice stuck in her throat. “It made sense at the time.”

“You’re crying.” Tiko scratched his temple. “Why are you crying?”

“Because I can’t remember any of it, Tiko.” The scrapbook escaped her grasp and scattered memory fragments across the broken earth. She cursed as she bent to collect the pictures. Frustration fought the images, creasing and dog-earing scrap in her hands.

He stooped to help, gripping her hands until she had control again. “Is she your mother? She was a looker.”

Sofie concentrated on the face in her hands. The photograph showed signs of improper storage and acid erosion. She cringed. Her memory was the same, darkened edges, acid-bleached faces, like she came from a long line of Amish dolls. “I wish I could say for certain it was. But honestly, it could be my aunt, or my grandmother.”

“Stop it, Sofie.”

“Stop what?” She shoved her past back into the book.

“Stop…this. Take a deep breath and embrace what you have, not what you lost.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You’re not…”

“I’m not.” He sighed. “My grandmother was a concert pianist. You know what I remember? Nothing but thin, spindly fingers fighting arthritis to play chopsticks.” He helped her stand and brushed dirt from her jeans. “It’s not fair. I get it. But this isn’t going to fix it.”

Sofie exhaled. “Amarillo.”



  1. What a tough situation. I hope they work it out. It sounds like they are lucky to have each other. LM x

    1. Thanks! We should all be so lucky, I think, to have a friend that will pull us through like this.

      Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  2. How soft and sad and quiet this scene was, the dialogue too.

    Tiko was a nice balance to Sofie's ethereal quality, but not jarring at all, as if he cared enough about her to be quiet in this moment, even as he tells her hard truths and drags her forward.


    1. Thanks! I'm glad the scene captured that dynamic. I like flawed characters, but I want them to be symbiotic. Tiko and Sofie are brand new characters for me...We'll see where they go.

      I hope you enjoyed your visit. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  3. Tough love in the *right* way - not an excuse for ignorance and being uncaring, but as a way to help someone past a difficult point. You show it so well, thank you.

    1. Thanks! Speak of the devil, I'm on your post right now. It's a difficult love to portray in 500 words and still have room for story, so I'm happy that the scene worked.

      I hope you've enjoyed your stay. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  4. Beautiful writing from beginning to end-I loved this story! You certainly have a way with words:)

    1. Thanks! I'll accept that as a win then. Yea!

      I'm happy you loved your visit. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  5. This is my favorite line:

    “It’s all gone and I don’t know what waffles taste like.”

    in part because I think that's what we are all scared of losing, the little memories and the connections that make up our current existence.

    Great job showing her pain and the way he is helping her through it.

    1. Thanks! I know we all, myself included, take little things for granted, and we don't necessarily realize we're doing it. It's these things we find the most painful when they're gone. I'm glad I was able to tap into that pain convincingly.

      I hope you enjoyed your stay. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!