On my Honor

The telephone rang. Four jangles, then it stopped. For a minute, the room was quiet, then the phone buzzed again. Lucia heard it plainly. But she did not disturb her black shirt or lift her black jeans from the seat. Black, she sat still.  When the machine again went silent, another caller kicked to voicemail, Lucia turned her head to watch the front door.

She held her sisters in her hands, Jeanine in the left, Tina in the right.

Jeanine, nine, saluted. Above her green Girl Scout uniform, her arm lay bare in the glare of too bright sun. Tina wore a bikini and held a beer. Her exposed wrist flesh seemed far more vulgar to Lucia than the way her breasts threatened to explode out of the stringy top.

Lucia brought the pictures together and took them apart again. She put Tina on top and touched her slick mouth. Then she reversed them, Jeanine above, Tina below. She tapped the forehead Jeanine was using for her salute. She looked back at the door.

Three quick raps against the steel, and Lucia stood. She put her sisters on her coffee table, then picked Jeanine up again, leaving Tina alone with her beer in photographic forever. Lucia collected her suitcase and let herself out. In the empty house, the phone rang to life once more.

Her brother-in-law took her bag. “Are you ready to bring her home?” She followed Kallum down the walk to his waiting car.

He shrugged. “I don’t know what to do if it happens again.”

“You’ll have me. Between the two of us, she won’t ever be alone. Not even in the bathroom. Especially not in the bathroom. It won’t happen again.”

They got in the car, and Lucia rested Jeanine’s picture on the center console. Kallum touched his wife’s forehead, just as Lucia had touched it earlier. He turned the ignition, then the wheel. They drove together towards the life they already held stretched between them.


We’re painting those red doors BLACK this week at Trifecta

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Laura gave me this prompt: I wanted my life to start – but in those rare moments when it seemed like something might actually change, panic shot through me.’ –Curtis Sittenfeld.

I gave Michael this prompt: Cold air blew in from the front of the house, and I knew before I went into the kitchen that the door had been open all night.



About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


On my Honor — 36 Comments

  1. I had to read it again to really follow it. Then I remembered your previous piece with the suicide and I made the connection.

    Black indeed
    Hop over and visit Carrie’s recent post OverheardMy Profile

  2. What a beautiful and terrible emotional portrait of Lucia. I love how you took your time with all the little motions – you put us in her head without actually telling us what she was thinking. Brilliant!
    Hop over and visit Christine’s recent post Cinders Like ScalesMy Profile

  3. Once again, I am in awe of how you do not waste one word. You write with a surgical precision that I am envious of.

    I admit, I was also confused about the wrist thing, but got it when they mentioned the bathroom.
    Hop over and visit Eric Storch’s recent post The Reluctant CorpseMy Profile

    • Glad that came through! It’s also a followup piece to Trifecta from two weeks ago, but I didn’t link back because I wanted it to stand on its own.

    • You’re absolutely right – the question becomes whether she can regain her mental health to the point that she won’t do it again once Lucia goes home, Kallum goes back to work, and she’s on her own again.

  4. I’m so glad she didn’t die. I made the connection further down. I remember reading this a few weeks ago. Great continuation.

  5. I loved her behavior with the photos, touching them, putting them one on top of the other. I wondered about the wrist, and then got it when you mentioned the bathroom. The details are superb – the girl scout uniform, the bikini and a beer. Nicely done.
    Hop over and visit Stephanie B. (@B4Steph)’s recent post Who are We?My Profile

    • Yay! I was actually thinking about your piece with the Dad and how you told the whole fucking story with that ONE word. It’s a technique I’ve been toying with, and I felt like you gave me a real key with your story.

  6. I’m starting to think I should’ve had a much stronger drink in front of me for the reading of these Trifecta submissions. (Which is not an insult, in any way.) Yes, not in the bathroom. Definitely not in the bathroom.

    Thanks for linking up.
    Hop over and visit Trifecta’s recent post Trifecta: Week Forty-SevenMy Profile

  7. Very nice! A bit confused as to whether Tina died and she’s worried about Jeanine following in her footsteps or if Tina’s was a failed attempt? Either way it was entertaining. 🙂
    Hop over and visit Flippa Bird’s recent post 25 More Years.My Profile

  8. Pingback: On What Saved Jeanine - Jester Queen

  9. Pingback: Weekly Roundup: Oct 12-18, 2012 | scriptic.org

  10. Worried about Tina at the end. Will go read the previous one (hiding eyes behind fingers).