Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Lesson

"I hate you."  Melanie stood in the doorway of her sister's room, her fists clenched.  "You sold Mary Jane."

"Your heart is too tender, little girl,"  Caroline turned away from her mirror to glare, then returned to her makeup application. She just did not have time to explain to her sister yet again, and she was running late. It was payday, and many of the miners would be spending their money at Elvira's tonight. She carefully applied the red with a lip brush.  Satisfied, she moved over to the bed to pick up her new dress, purchased with the money from the sale of their last horse.

"Look, Melanie," Caroline tried a kinder approach.  "One day you will understand that this is how it has to be."

"You're lying!" Melanie crossed her arms, her voice rising.  "Mama says lying is a sin! Mama says that you're a whore! Being a whore is a sin! Mama says that you're going to go to hell for fornic--"

Caroline had had enough.

"Grow up, girl!" She grabbed her sister by the arm and shook her, her teeth clenched. "And don't you let Mama manipulate you with all that bible thumpin', neither! We need money and Mama knows it. Mama is a damned drunk who won't work a day, and she knows that, too.  Ain't nobody going to help us pay for this house or put the food on the table outta the goodness of their hearts, and it's high time you realized that!"

Caroline let go of a crying Melanie.  She could see the marks of her hand on her sister's arm, but she steeled herself against hugging Melanie and soothing her tears.  There could be no more of that. Caroline closed her eyes and prayed for the strength to do what needed to be done. Until tomorrow, anyway.  She finished dressing and picked up her purse. Melanie shrank away. Caroline crushed the hurt feelings underneath her heel as she walked out the door.

The prompt is the third definition of the word MANIPULATE.


  1. So much got crushed between those girls in that moment. I had to admire Caroline's fortitude all the while wincing for both lost childhoods.

  2. I love this. Not because of what she was doing, but because all to often we have to do things that others will never understand to survive.

  3. Trying to shake sense into people, yeah, I know that feeling. She's a trooper, this Caroline. And I loved her crushing her feelings under her heel!

  4. More, more...I want to read more!

  5. This is an amazing piece! There is so much tension, so much left unspoken and yet plain to see. You have done an excellent job showing us the story rather than telling.

  6. Very intense! Reality can be so harsh, and it sounds like Caroline realizes that.

  7. Fantastic -an array of emotions so well depicted-the harsh reality,the pain,the hurt ,the helplessness and finally the older sister's stance,"I have to be cruel to be kind"-well done,once again!

  8. I love the ambiguity here. It makes it feel so real.

  9. This is a great story, so raw and full-on. Brill write. Thanks for linking up this week!


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