In Stitched Smile Publications, we practice our craft often. This is our way of exercising the part of our brain that translates other worlds into “ink”. I call them “snippets” because my time is limited for my own writing so you may get a few words here and there as I take a break from major projects and works in progress. Please keep in mind, these are not edited. They are off-the-cuff and raw.
They were all sitting around the kitchen table for Corey’s birthday dinner. The scratching from under the door made it all the more awkward as did their best pretending not to hear it. The boy, who’d been working on a piece of tough steak for nearly five minutes, would stop chewing when the scratching started, then start again when it’d stop.
scratch, scratch, scratch…
Letting out a sigh, he hung his head down in defeat. Ground up meat still stuffed in one cheek, the boy stared down at his plate. Mashed potatoes stared back at him. Pushing his fork into them, he watched as the starchy vegetable oozed through the tines.
“Don’t play with your food, boy,” his father said. The pasty faced man never looked up from his plate to chastise his son.
It was his birthday today. He thought, if he was obedient enough Ma would let him listen to the old record player in the living room of their rickety home. Once in awhile, he’d be allowed to go out back to swing for a few minutes on the rusted swing. His mother, watching from the picture windows would whisper, “Don’t go too high, boy.”
Cory would nod respectfully, but once he started to pump his legs, the excitement of being out in the air coupled with the sensation of flying, it’d get away from him. Swinging as hard and as high as he could, he was free. The memory of the wind on his cheeks and the smell of the outside air pulled him in and swept him away … until it started again.
Scratch, scratch, scratch…
Still holding the bite of tough steak in his mouth, his throat constricted making it any attempt to swallow useless. Reaching for his glass, Corey took a big gulp of water to help wash it down.
Ma was watching him like a mother bird in silence, the lines of worry creasing her porcelain features. Leaning in toward him, Pa’s hand smacked down on the brittle wooden table sending a jolt through the both of them. Leaning back in her seat, Ma wiped her mouth with a napkin without a word.
Scratch, Scratch, Scratch!
Waiting until Pa finished the last bite of food on his plate, they all sat around the table in in painful silence. Whether they were finished or not, when Pa was done, they were done. It was just the way it was. Fixing her eyes on Pa’s hands, she waited for the cue. As soon as Pa rested his eating utensils on his napkin, Ma jumped out of her seat and collected them with his plate.
Tonight was different.
When Pa was done with his dinner, he lifted his bloodshot eyes and gazed at Cory’s mother. Using the tip of his knife, he used it to pick at his teeth, and sucking at them.
“G’on,” he said, “Get the boy his desert.”
Pa had a funny smile on his face that made Cory’s spine go soft. Ma tried to smile but Cory could see she was scared.