Lessons

2 minute read

So, I’ve been reading my NaNoWriMo novel today and had a brainwave.

My ‘Haley’ story is post-apocalyptic zombie fare, but it’s peopled with some strong characters in a kind of ‘Scooby Gang’. I really want the reader to care about them as they face the insurmountable.

This week’s sideshow challenge made me think of giving them all similar backstory events and play out how’d they’d all deal. None of it may end up in the story, but it’s cool to think about.

The problem is, I haven’t screwed up the intestinal fortitude to finish any of the four scenes.

That said, here are the opening bits:

EDDIE

Every time I see a cat I remember the gallon pickle jar. The deformed kittens were hideous to look at but I couldn’t help but have a soft spot for the smallest. He was the only one with fur but had no eyes.

One by one, Dad plucked a hairless kitten into the water-filled jar and screwed the lid on.

“Watch, son, and learn,” he said as he flipped the jar upside down. “This is mercy.”

I watched the kitten swim to the surface only to find top and bottom reversed. It’d swim to the top again, over and over again until it stopped moving.

One by one, I watched this merciful drama unfold.

“Where is the eyeless wonder, Eddie?”

(Eddie successfully hides the kitten but it dies anyway, a wasting suffering death)

HALEY

I rarely remember any good times with my father, always bad things. Our mouser had kittens one day. They mewled and cried for their mother’s milk. She was dry and the kittens cried day and night.

Father made me gather them up in an apple basket and together we walked to the river, my little arms wrapped around my cargo.

It was the spring of the year and the water swift.

“Set the basket down here, Haley,”

(Haley’s big brother Ben intercedes and their father drowns)

JIMMY

Our house cat had kittens every year and every year, my mom and I would play nurse as she delivered.

The year after she died, I was left alone to deal with the birthing cat. My dad had to work late. Like always, he stopped by the bar for a few on his way home.

I loved my dad and it worked for us.

With towels spread out, I readied for the first kitten. I’d clean them up and have them ready for their mum.

The first baby came quietly. No meows. No screaming. It felt cold and looked blue. The second one arrived the same way. Still born.

I started to panic. “You can do this, Jimmy.”

(Only one kitten survives, but the mum bleeds out)

EUNICE

We had too many cats in the barn. No one could argue with that. The toms continuously fought for mates. Finally, Dad had enough.

“Let’s go, Eunice,” he said as he grabbed the rifle from behind the door. “Time to solve problems.”

(Eunice is made to shoot all the toms herself and she ain’t quite right after that)

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