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Coming of Age Fiction Sad

Who’d you give up somethin’ you love for?

Better be clear about that. My family, not always sweet on havin’ me around, told me that they were givin’ me one more chance to make a right impression on my Ginny. That is my niece; that’s the only one I’d give up anythin’ for.

And who am I?

Not really important, is it? This ain’t A.A.

Nah, don’t worry about that. I gotta tell ya my story and maybe you will understand why this was so hard.

They say that every family has that one person who is just broken, or out of the loop; the whole black sheep thing is really true. And I can say that I knew this from a very young age.

My old man, long gone but never forgotten, was a wicked monster to us kids. Got myself beat a lot of times when he was hot between the ears; got it bad when I stepped out of line…or even when I thought that things were good. But what I noticed very early was how hard it was for my sister. Gabby and me, we were always covering each other in iodine, bandages and wiping our tears at the end of a day. She was younger than me, but seemed stronger than anyone I knew in life. And that was probably what made it so bad.

Mom…my mother. Her thing was worse. She was what ya call “passive aggressive” (heard that from a counselor and when he explained it, I said that was her). She must have heard the noises and the yelling from across the room. She must have seen the bruises and the cuts. She must have smelled that iodine and all that medicine. She knew that I was getting it; she knew that her daughter was getting even more of it. And she did nothing. Nothin’.

So, when dad passed, and mom could not do a thing to keep us together, we got shipped out to other relatives who barely cared. I was in high school, pretending that there was even a future for me in education (re-educating us, Gabby would say, whatever that meant). I had no friends, barely a family (new one just tolerated having me there), and no chance of a future.

But I did have the bottle…

You don’t really remember your first drink. I don’t give a damn what they say about that. All I remember is one “uncle” who told me to try it and “be a real man” (thanks, Uncle Jack). He was a truck driver, so I did not see a lot of him after my first taste. But I never forgot that lesson.

Don’t really remember how I got through school. I was a professional drunk by the time I got out. And remember Uncle Jack? He told me all about the truck driving course I could take and the money I could make if I smartened up and stayed clean. Those weeks were damn hard, but I did it.

Yeah, that was the first time. Ain’t the last.

Better explain what I had to do. Don’t have the time to dance around this.

Gabby, always tougher than me, got married, had a good life, and then had a baby. That was my Ginny, sweetest girl in the world. She was like a prayer I didn’t even know I had made. When she was born, the guy who knocked up my sis was long gone, so I decided that it was my job to be the role model for her. I was gonna be the one who would tell her what’s what and not let her think that she was gonna hafta hate all men for the rest of her days.

What a damn joke.

It all started one day when Ginny was just a little thing and my sis could not get her regular babysitter to come on over and take care of the kid. Now, I was lucky enough to be makin’ deliveries in town that week, and I was ready to be that responsible role model I talked about. And Gabby just stared hard at me and my promise. She had on her nursing uniform and was ready to step out of the door when she did that. No hesitation at all when she spoke.

“That’s my daughter in there. That is your niece in there. You unnerstan’…understand?”

That was all she said and all I needed to hear. She made it clear that if I made a mess, that was it. No more Ginny or Gabby; no more trying to make it as a family or be any kind of role model. 

And I messed it up.

Yeah, I always kept a bottle in the truck, but I still don’t understand why I kept it with me that day. Maybe I thought that if I stared it down, like it was some sort of idol, I could beat it. And that was possibly the dumbest thing for a drunk to do.

I was playin’ pretend with something that was too real.

And Ginny got hurt.

I still don’t know how she fell like that. I only had one hit of the whisky and she was right there in some sort of rolling set up that let her move around the room without going anywhere. And she still managed to get a scratch I could not stop.

My niece…

So, y’all know the rest of it. I got the screaming of a lifetime from my sister and the promise that I would never see my niece again. And she told me that she would call the police if I even tried to get in again.

Strange thing is that I am actually grateful about all this. You talked to her and she said that, as long as you guys were involved, I could see my Ginny again…

But it so damn hard.

One year of this…one year without a drink and all those tests and seein’ if I’m cheatin’ or trying something a little stronger. I think that I can do it, but man, this is just…

Yup, two more months and that will be it. 

Anything for my Ginny…

March 18, 2022 19:38

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10 comments

L.M. Lydon
18:31 Mar 26, 2022

Your POV character's voice is so strong: regretful but determined.

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Kendall Defoe
00:39 Mar 27, 2022

Sounds like my view of life... ;)

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Michał Przywara
02:27 Mar 25, 2022

Great story! The narrator's voice is really strong, and I like the details on how he falls back on his childhood drawl, "And she did nothing. Nothin’." while Gabby does the opposite, "You unnerstan’…understand?" I think this delivers heavy characterization.

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Kendall Defoe
04:27 Mar 25, 2022

I am glad someone noticed this (he is still stuck in his old world, and she is trying very hard to move on).

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Sharon Hancock
21:53 Mar 24, 2022

Very well written and hits home in a lot of ways. Great job!

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Kendall Defoe
22:16 Mar 24, 2022

Thanks!

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Palak Shah
17:54 Mar 19, 2022

This is a great story Kendall, I enjoyed reading it. Well done :)) Could you please read my latest story if possible? :)) Thanks :))

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Kendall Defoe
21:59 Mar 19, 2022

I will...and thanks!

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Riel Rosehill
09:00 Mar 19, 2022

Hi Kendall! Wow this is such a good story! The POV character's voice is so strong and distinct and I love how you gave us their backstory and his struggles with addiction after the traumas. It's a well written piece that feels every bit real and raw. Great work!

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Kendall Defoe
14:52 Mar 19, 2022

Thanks. I tried to cut straight to a simple voice in great pain. And I hope your opinion is contagious! 🤧

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