Lacey

As she curled up in the tree, the branches wrapped around her like large arms, sheltering her from the night. It’s where she came to relax, to hide, to feel safe. This is where he would meet her, where he taught her what love is, where he made love to her the very first time. She closed her eyes and let the memory wash over her.

Their first kiss, his lips were so gentle and tentative. With such tenderness he laid her back into the curve of the branches; as if they were made to cradle their bodies together. He lay with her, hands caressing her flesh as he bared it to the night air. The bark of the tree was soft, like lying back against cotton sheets on a sturdy bed. The smell of fall filled the air around them, the tree still full of leaves that had just begun to change with the season. She never knew another like him, so tender, so full of warmth and emotion.

The memory left her with warmth inside of her that turned icy as she remembered all that had happened since that night. Her father had found them as they came out of the woods just before dawn, hand in hand. The cold fury breathed through him like the winds before the storm. He brought his rifle up and sighted down it, leveled straight at her lover’s heart. She stepped with a boldness that belied her torn heart between the man who reared her and her true love.

“Lacey Meredith Connor, you betrayed me, you are a disgrace.” She flinched as her father spat the venomous words at her. Kevin placed a hand on her shoulder as if to give her strength. With a flash her father lowered the rifle and backhanded Lacey across the face so hard she flew off her feet. Stunned, he had never struck her before, the pain seared through her cheek and mouth. Just as Kevin went to bend to her aid, her father shoved the muzzle of the gun under his chin. “I think you’ve had enough manhandling my daughter boy.”

The memory continued in slow motion. She sat up and wiped the blood from her mouth. As her father spat more venom and insults at them, he brought Kevin to kneel facing her, hands laced behind his head. He brought a piece of barbed wire that was hooked to his belt. As she watched helpless to stop it, her father wrapped the wire around Kevin’s throat. As if realizing what was about to happen, Kevin looked at her and said, “Lacey, I love you” and the rest was cut off as her father pulled the wire tight against his neck and dragged it across, shredding open his throat.

The blood pumped out of his throat, staining her hands and clothes red as she caught her lover as he fell forward. Cradling his dead body, she looked at her father with tears in her eyes. There was nothing left of the man that had raised her with tenderness, years of laughter and lessons. The man before her was mad as he picked his rifle back up and walked towards her. She turned and ran as fast as her legs would carry her. The first shot missed her by mere inches and she ran harder back towards the woods hoping to lose him before she shared the same fate as her beloved. The last thing she heard was her father screaming, “Whore, you’ve killed us all!” Another shot and there was silence behind her.

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4 thoughts on “Lacey

  1. I see your growth in this piece, Beth. You did a nice job on most fronts with this vignette, and the imagery, particularly in the opening portion, is well-portrayed.

    This piece seems to flow a little more smoothly than others I’ve seen from you. And I like the amount of coverage you’re getting out of a low word count. All very good points.

    Couple of problems with this, though.

    First, the opening and closing are so dichotomous from one another they don’t really make sense. Part of the problem is there’s no indication of the passage of time. The only reference we have is “all that had happened since that night,” which tells the reader nothing. The idea of it being a memory is fine, but the amount of time between the murder and the tree-sitting isn’t given, and that’s going to leave problems for your readers.

    To fix it, I recommend adding something to indicate time passage in the opening somewhere. “She remembered that fateful day, so many years ago …”; something like that to shore up the time issue.

    Second, I don’t know if something so horrible could leave a warm memory as described in the beginning. I know what you’re going for here — the jarring of the reader from warm, loving memory of virginity lost to a true love to the harsh, brutal memory of the murder/suicide — but it’s human nature to tie the two together in memory. So it’s tough to do this successfully. Hard to convince a reader she can smile and sigh with the memory of her lover on that day and dissociate it from the father’s execution of him.

    Third, I think because this is a memory, the reader wants to have the vignette come back around to the present. You really shouldn’t end this in the past, in the memory. It really should be brought forward to the present again. That will give a sense of completion to the scene.

    Finally, I noted the use of “as” for conjoining clauses quite a bit through this one. This is okay once, or maybe twice (preferably once in a piece this short), but doing it over and over creates a repetitiveness which annoys the reader. Let me see if I can find an example or two to help highlight what I mean.

    This is the final paragraph:

    The blood pumped out of his throat, staining her hands and clothes red as she caught her lover as he fell forward. Cradling his dead body, she looked at her father with tears in her eyes. There was nothing left of the man that had raised her with tenderness, years of laughter and lessons. The man before her was mad as he picked his rifle back up and walked towards her. She turned and ran as fast as her legs would carry her. The first shot missed her by mere inches and she ran harder back towards the woods hoping to lose him before she shared the same fate as her beloved. The last thing she heard was her father screaming, “Whore, you’ve killed us all!” Another shot and there was silence behind her.

    As you can see, there are a LOT of instances of “as” just in this one paragraph. Restructuring the sentences helps a lot; shorter sentences might help too.

    All that being said, let me reiterate how good a job you did with this. Since I started following your blog, this shows growth. That’s a good thing, especially in the short amount of time we’re talking about. And you’re handling this with better facility than before; the scene flows better than others, has a more suiting chronology (except for the time frame issues mentioned).

    Overall, a very good bit of growth, a nice bit of writing, and, I think, some signs which can encourage you and propel you forward. You’re getting better! And practice will make that even more true. So keep up the good work!

    (BTW, if this sort of evaluation is inappropriate in your comments, please feel free to delete it and let me know so I don’t do it again. Thanks!)

    • Oh no, your feedback is always welcome, here or email, I’m not shy about the fact that I’m still a learning in progress project. 🙂 I was thinking about making this a weekly sort of post… Lacey’s Legacy sort of thing. Something for me to work on, keeping the same characters and sort of …. line I guess. Something familiar as I learn further.

      Your words are always welcome and so kind. I thank you for not only reading me, but taking the time to post comments.

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