45 comments

Drama Fiction

He walked in a stranger, walked out something else. We asked him to stay because that’s what you do, that’s what you say- please stay. Please eat our food and drink our milk.

He walked in a stranger, we made him something else. He was bleak, ash, the grounds stuck in the bottom of an iced coffee pitcher. We were what the back of the door hears after someone’s gone and left their sad behind.

He walked in a stranger, bright and early with the sun we only admired when it set, expected things he knew we were going to give. Because that’s what you do, you say please eat. Please let us watch you eat and ask for more.

We should have left him a stranger, let him burden the back of some other spindle-chair with the heavy of his work jacket. Not that he had a job. Not that he worked. He made up stories with lips that lied and ate our food when we let him even though we knew he lied.

I speak for all of us, we should have left him a stranger. I don’t know what we thought we saw in his shoulders hunched, hiding even from the trees. Why we kept him when his made the biggest prints of all our shoes. When there was only one man stronger, and he was gone most of the time. Bringing home the bread, as they say. Bread that he ate. Because that’s what you do, you say please eat our bread. Please enjoy this spindle-chair with only three legs because it was our grandmother’s and we loved her.

We weren’t supposed to grumble, but we all did, I know. I speak for all of us. We should have left him a stranger. But we didn’t. Three legs became two and our chair wouldn’t stand anymore. We confronted him about it because that’s what you do. Ask why the leg’s broken and the seat’s on the floor and accept the lies that come from lips you know can lie. Agree it was probably an accident. Admit alongside the ash that there were never flames.

He took another chair, and that’s when he quit his role as Stranger. Opened up over pie we gave him and milk that went with the pie because we said so. We knew we’d waited for that, so we said nothing until he was finished. With the pie, his speech, and the milk. All of it. He told us dates, when he was born, about the sad, sad place he’d learned to love; how it was ripped out from under him. I know we all wished we could bundle him up in the tablecloth, promise there’d always be milk and good pie with the crisp crust edges he seemed to like.

His boots went on the mat and that’s when we knew he’d quit his role as Stranger. Some of us traded tall glasses for small ones because that’s what you do. You say please drink more milk; we always have more for you. Please pour more milk, we can always drink other things. We found a glass in pieces under the table, but we dismissed it when his eyebrows curled up in the middle and shook hands. Glad it isn’t the porcelain; glad it wasn’t the porcelain. We always have more. We didn’t have more.

When he talked in rough, stranger syllables we set our hand on his arm, talked under the table saying things like ‘we’ll help you’, and ‘we don’t care what they think’. When our cousin put her hand on his arm we smiled and smiled and offered more milk to the both of them. We saluted the union with our grandmother’s quilt, sharing with him the stories like we’d shared the spindle-chair’s legs. This square came from this dress, these happy smiles from this piece of skirt. He took it all in like he took in the milk, and we drowned our curdled smiles in the must-smells when we found the squares were squares again trailed across the floor.

He lost his stranger status when he met our cousin at the church in the suit we’d bought for him, his boots replaced with our best ones. We stowed their smiling faces in our small attic when he had no money and our uncle lived far, far away. He seemed to like the space; he liked her well enough. He did his face in a smile when she did her hair in a French style and descended the stairs in the milk-colored gown that had been our grandmother’s. We didn’t need excuses when that was ruined because that’s what you do. You leave some things unsaid and some questions unasked.

When there was no more milk in the jar, we sold his stranger status as a good workman. We put a hand on his arm, said this one is strong. These can do work. We saluted his back with a dishrag, saying this is a change. Change can be good. When he was laid off we held his face in our hands, promising justice to the unjust. Listened to limp pink lips lag behind truths he didn’t try to keep hidden. I speak for us all: we grumbled, but we didn’t show it.

Another month went by, and he wasn’t a stranger. We made our grumbles like apple seeds we kept close to the core, feeding him the fruit raw when there wasn’t pie anymore. We smiled over floral-pattered memories and made new ones with the man who’d destroyed them, showing him without words that all was forgiven. Here are our stories, this was our grandmother’s table. Please eat more bread, its all we have left. Please sit in our chairs, we have seven left.

When we woke to the smell of smoke, we wished he was a stranger. We opened our eyes in the dark and made use of our noses, noting the screams that were absent. Noting the bread we must have left too long in the oven, and the even breaths of the family in the next room. We got up to follow the smell and found the table in flames; the walls covered in orange tissue paper. Crinkling, floating down into ash like the grounds stuck in the bottom of our coffee pitcher.

There was no bread in the oven or the breadbox. He was gone when we ran out of the house, hands shaking like baby birds as we gathered each worried face against us to be sure they were safe. Our sighs sang relief when we didn't have to ask him to leave.

We should have left him a stranger.


June 03, 2021 21:46

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45 comments

Melody Frost
05:04 Jun 25, 2021

The story is really nice.

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H L Mc Quaid
08:48 Jun 07, 2021

Very well done. Unique, compelling, memorable.

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Amelia Bowen
12:52 Jun 07, 2021

Thank you!!:)

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Zz Entwistle
17:12 Jul 12, 2021

This is such a compelling and well-written story, and the symbolism and poetic feel throughout is amazing!

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Amelia Bowen
17:18 Jul 12, 2021

Thank you!

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Andrea Magee
09:18 Jul 12, 2021

Good read!

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Amelia Bowen
14:15 Jul 12, 2021

Thx!

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Babika Goel
07:03 Jun 20, 2021

Nice read. Unique sing song style. Loved it

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Amelia Bowen
14:45 Jun 20, 2021

Thx:)

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Julia Seaton
16:12 Jun 17, 2021

Wow—a powerful story told with just enough detail… I love the lyricism of your tone.

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Amelia Bowen
16:32 Jun 17, 2021

Thank you so much:)

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Tommie Michele
04:37 Jun 16, 2021

Awesome story! Loved the symbolism, especially with the milk, and there was a poetic quality to the description that I found really intriguing (description is something that I'm trying to work on). Keep it up!

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Amelia Bowen
17:26 Jun 16, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Austin Diaz
19:17 Jun 09, 2021

Such a wonderfully strange and haunting story. My only (very minor) quibble is the one mention of the iced coffee pitcher in the second paragraph. It made me, throughout the rest of the story, unsure as to what time the story was in as this small detail seemed to conflict with spindle chair and quilt for the union and such. Towards the end of the story it's just "coffee pitcher". It could be that I don't realise how old ice coffee is...thanks for the story, really enjoyed reading it.

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Amelia Bowen
19:31 Jun 09, 2021

That is something I didn't notice- thank you so much for pointing that out:) I don't know when ppl would've been drinking iced coffee either but I can see what you're saying. Thank you for commenting! (I will change the wording if it will let me edit it this late)

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Ella Carter
02:01 Jun 09, 2021

This is one spectacular story. I am inspired!!

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Amelia Bowen
02:02 Jun 09, 2021

ty:))

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Claire Lewis
01:12 Jun 09, 2021

I really enjoyed the repetition, the use of the food and the chairs to show what a strain this guest was on everyone else. It’s almost terse, but in a good way, with lots of unique imagery and powerful language. Nicely done!

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Amelia Bowen
01:22 Jun 09, 2021

Thank you so much!! That means a lot:)

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Aditi Kulkarni
21:19 Jun 08, 2021

I loved your story, it was very good to read & indeed very unique! If you don't mind... I have some feedback; in some places, maybe you could add commas to separate parts since it gets mixed up for the audience & they won't be able to understand exactly what it is... Excellent text!

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Amelia Bowen
21:20 Jun 08, 2021

Thank you! I will absolutely add commas, thank you for pointing that out:)

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Aditi Kulkarni
21:22 Jun 08, 2021

No worries...

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Aditi Kulkarni
21:22 Jun 08, 2021

No worries...

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Aditi Kulkarni
21:22 Jun 08, 2021

No worries...

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Zahra Naazir
13:09 Jun 08, 2021

Wow this was an amazing read 👏👏

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Amelia Bowen
15:19 Jun 08, 2021

Thank you so much! I worried initially about including so much repetition in the beginning, but I may experiment some more with that. Thank you for your feedback!

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Anna Harris
07:30 Jun 08, 2021

Really liked this, Amelia. Well done.

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Amelia Bowen
15:16 Jun 08, 2021

Thank you:)

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Ruth Porritt
04:46 Jun 08, 2021

This story has a poetic quality to it, and I very much enjoyed reading this tale. You have a very clear voice as a writer, and the quality of the description is outstanding. Can't wait to read more, Ruth P.

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Amelia Bowen
15:12 Jun 08, 2021

Thank you so much! That is one thing i'm experimenting with at the moment- style of writing/different voices.

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Ruth Porritt
04:53 Jun 09, 2021

Wonderful! It feels so good to try new things. (I always find it's hard to do, but it's so healthy for my brain.) Don't you love it when trying something new comes out amazingly? Catch you later, Ruth

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Amelia Bowen
13:35 Jun 09, 2021

That is the best feeling XD

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Jay Luuu
02:57 Jun 07, 2021

I have to say that this was one of the more rare unique stories that I've read. You used the bread symbolism(?) was it? or metaphors? I always had trouble in that aspect of writing. But nonetheless, you nailed using them. I like how it kinda related to a flock of sheep letting in a wolf into their pack. I'd give it an 8/10. Very creative! Keep writing! —JLU

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Amelia Bowen
12:51 Jun 07, 2021

Thank you so much!

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20:30 Jun 05, 2021

Very poetic story! I loved how it takes its readers on a journey. Nice work.

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Amelia Bowen
20:32 Jun 05, 2021

Thank you so much:) its kind of a new writing style ive been trying out, so im glad to hear you like it!

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Maddy Writes
01:48 Jun 04, 2021

BEAUTIFUL STORY!!! ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!! ALSO THANK YOU SO SO SO VERY MUCH FOR LIKING MY STORY "Concerning Harry". THAT MEANS SO MUCH TO ME!! BETS OF LUCK TO YOU IN THE CONTEST, AND MAY YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!! :) :) :) :) :) :3

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Amelia Bowen
01:57 Jun 04, 2021

Thank you! Best of luck to you, as well!! I hope you also have a great day:)

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Maddy Writes
02:22 Jun 04, 2021

OF COURSE!! You too <3 :)

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