In a nutshell, the story is made up of four parts of 200 words each.
I started this one, handed it off to Eden for part 2. She sent it back to me for part 3 and I returned it to her to write the conclusion. With no discussion of the story beforehand, the allure of this process is to discover how the other moves the story along.
It was fun and challenging, and we hope you enjoy reading it.
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Prompt: She may be young but she’s not stupid.
Parts 1 and 3 and title: Bill
Parts 2 and 4: Eden
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The Biter Bit
“She’ll be calling him Daddy next,” said Harry.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Anna wearily.
“Christ, you and your bloody clichés.”
When he snapped like that, Anna knew he was close to losing it completely. She continued to pick up more of their daughter’s scattered toys and stuff them into the teddy-bear-shaped bag. Her voice softened as her thoughts went back to the nursery where, singing Debbie’s favourite song, she’d tucked her in and watched lovingly as the little lips smiled and the sleepy eyes closed.
“And keep your voice down,” she said. “She’s only just dropped off.”
“I s’pose this is one of his bloody presents, too, is it?” said Harry, lobbing a fluffy animal of indeterminate species to land at Anna’s feet.
It was a familiar argument. Her pregnancy had seemed to suppress the tiresome jealousy that had spoiled so much of their time together but, in the three years since Debbie’s birth, he’d once more, with absolutely no justification, started to become suspicious of every contact she made. Today, the row was triggered by her telling him how Debbie had laughed at the postman who’d delivered a present from his friend Ronnie, their best man.
Anna had just finished eating when she heard the noise of keys. A moment later, the front door banged open. The keys fell to the floor, she heard cursing, and then the door slammed shut. She winced, finished her glass of wine and quietly set it down on the table.
Please, not tonight, she thought. I’m tired of this. Nevertheless, she steeled herself for a confrontation, thankful that Debbie rarely woke up when she finally fell asleep.
“Where the bloody hell are ya?” Her husband’s slurred words were angry. He stumbled into the dining room and leaned against the archway glaring at her.
“I’ve made a plate of food for you. It’s in the oven.”
He shuffled forward and pulled out a chair, falling into it. “Not hungry.”
“Fine.” Anna picked up her plate and stood up.
“Sit! I’m talking!”
She took a breath, slowly lowered herself back down. She was in no mood to fight, but she needed Harry to cool off. As she had suspected, he’d gone to the pub and had several pints too many. She smelled it on him, and it both disgusted and angered her.
How long was she going to keep doing this?
“Guess who I’ve been talking to,” said Harry, leaning back in his chair and stretching his feet out to rest them on the arm of the sofa beside him. He paused, scratched his chin, then continued, his tone hard, aggressive, “Karen”.
Anna frowned. What was this about?
“Karen? Karen Reilly? Our baby-sitter?”
“Know any other fucking Karens?”
Karen was seventeen at most. In the Autumn she’d be starting at Art College. Keep calm. Say nothing. He wasn’t expecting an answer.
He laughed, a throaty, drunken rumbling.
“ Ha! Fucking Karen. Good idea. That’s what we were talking about. Me fucking her. I get bugger-all from you nowadays. So why not? She’s up for it.”
This was absurd. Talk about clichés! Harry was a walking one.
Anna couldn’t resist reacting.
“She may be young but she’s not stupid. What d’you think her dad’s going to do if you try that?”
As he sat forward and brought his feet thumping down on the floor, the snarl in his voice frightened her.
“Who gives a shit? She’s up for it. She said so. I’m off. We’re leaving, the two of us. There’s bugger-all you or he can do about it.”
It was a rainy day when Anna met a girl on a park bench. The area was deserted save for the occasional jogger. Six months had passed since Harry’s rape conviction. His sentence hearing would be next month. There was little doubt he’d be locked up for the maximum term. Attempted rape of a minor was no small crime.
“How are you, Karen?” Anna sat down, placed her purse beside her.
“Good, thanks. Looking forward to going away to college.”
“Of course,” said Anna, “speaking of which …” She opened her purse, pulled out a small package. “Here’s the rest of what I owe you.”
The teenager took the envelope and stuck it in her pocket. “I trust you.”
Anna turned to face her. “For a fifteen year old, you’re scary smart. Convincing my husband you were … old enough was brilliant.”
Karen shrugged. “He was gullible… A bit of lipstick… That’s all it took.”
“You’re staying with your aunt when you go away?”
“Yes … can’t wait to leave my Mum and Dad. They never stop fighting. Next year, I’ll be old enough to live on my own.”
Anna smiled and stood up. “So glad we both got what we want.”
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Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment. All feedback, good or bad, is an opportunity to learn and improve!