I am in a Meet-Up group that does Free Writing exercises. This one was from Feb 2012, a 20 minute writing session with the following prompt:
“Wanda had probably gone three miles before she realized the box had fallen off the back of the truck…
(This one is more fun if you read it out loud with a back-country twang.)
“The sun’s in my eyes, I can’t see a damn thing.” Wanda coughed through the dust and cigarette smoke that filled the truck cab. “You look back there and make sure she’s still there.”
Buddy Junior spit a wad out the old Ford’s window, looked at his Ma and grunted as he leaned out the window towards the rusty bed of the truck.
The passing air was strong enough to make the sweat on his face feel almost cool. ‘What a hell of a day’ he thought to himself. He woke to his Ma fussing, once again, with her Ma. Gran had been living with them for about ten months now and it felt like ten years. A day didn’t go by that the two were bitchin’ and bickerin’ at each other.
“You’ll all be sorry someday,” Gran spit at us reminding us all the time how ungrateful we are. “You’re all just a bunch of worthless trouble and I’ll be happy when I’m done with you.”
Lord, we hated it when she started ragging on us like that. It felt like this little piece of hell on earth was going to go on forever.
Elizabeth Ann sat in the middle of the truck seat. Two blank eyes, one empty body just staring at the dirt road and keeping all silent in herself. She had taken Gran’s moving in the hardest. Being the old woman’s namesake, it was a reputation and burden that no one would want to bear.
She’d come to my room the other night a’crying about how she feared growing up and being a spite-filled, ugly-mouthed, mean-spirited, lonely old dried up hag of a bitchy-woman, like Gran.
“Liz Ann, you don’t have to be like either one of them, just be you. You got more going for you that all of us together.”
Going back to her room, she said “I doubt it, but thanks anyway Junior.”
The days drug on and I could see Liz Ann’s life ebbing away like a river tide, but this water never completely came back. Liz Ann was going somewhere far away, fading slowly.
Then this morning, she just snapped. Gran started in with that whole tirade about how worthless we are and how much better she’d be without the whole lot of us and that someday “You’ll all git what’s a comin’ to ya!” Well, Liz Ann obviously had enough. She was frying the bacon when Gran said “and you, you little useless piece of nothin’, you can’t even make bacon without burning it.” Next thing we know, Gran’s on the floor, the cast iron skillet beside her with the bacon sizzling out in the grease on the linoleum floor.
Well, we put Gran in that big old wood box and Ma and I promised Liz Ann that we’d take care of this and we wiped the sweat from our brows shoving that box onto the back of the truck. Heading down the road I wondered what Ma’s plan was, but knew better than to ask.
We all sat there sort of stunned. Backtracked and we looked back at the last corner we just rounded and saw through the shadows created by the overhanging trees and the setting sun the last corner of the wood box as it sunk into backwoods’ brackish, snake and creepy thing invested waters.
“Well,” Liz Ann spoke for the first time since this morning “More ‘en likely, she had that comin’.”