Zillah sat at the table holding an old pack of letters in her hands. She continued to trace every indention on the now yellowing papers listening to a crackling fire that was lit in the room till she heard two people pull out chairs.
"You said you considered our proposition?" She heard her mother say.
Zillah nodded looking directly in both of their eyes. "I have." Never tearing her eyes away she opened her mouth again. “You can keep your f---ing offer and both of you can go straight to h-ll.”
Her mother sucked in a breath and her father looked angry. “Don’t use that tone with us.” Her father growled.
“You left me with Aunt Azalea and Uncle Jael for ten years.” Her voice was low and dangerous. “And only sent five letters.”
Her father snorted. “We were busy.”
“Five Letters.” She repeated with a growl.
“What were we supposed to do?” Her mother had the audacity to look innocent. “Not take the opportunity? Zillah, we explained to you how it was a once in a lifetime opportunity!”
Zillah felt her begin hands shake at their responses. Her mom was making it sound like she was being a child. “Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion, but I don’t feel like I am.”
Her father scoffed.
“Did you know your sister had a son?” She snapped angrily, glaring at her father. “Of course.” Her father responded. “His name is Aidrin, he’s about three isn’t he?”
“No.” Zillah growled. “His name is Aiman and he is eight. Did you know he almost died from a heart disease? Did you know that your sister almost spent every night for a month crying herself to sleep for her child? Did you know that her husband spent many nights staying up trying to tell his kid that he’s going to be alright? Where were you then?” She felt tears begin to well up in her eyes as she let all the words she had never said out. “They actually talk to their kid. Let him know that he’s loved.”
Her father let out an angry huff. “My sister and her soft ideas have gotten to you, haven’t they?”
“Don’t talk about her like that! Aunt Azalea and Uncle Jael have been more parents to me than either of you ever have.” Zillah hissed standing up, knocking back her chair slamming her hand on the table. “Do you know how many nights I spent awake wondering if I was the reason you left and didn’t take me?” Zillah’s voice was reaching louder volumes, seeming hysterical. The tears had left her eyes and began to spill and stream down her face making everything else blurry. “The nights I spent thinking I was worthless as sent letter after letter after letter to you! I spent so much of my life waiting for you to come with an offer like this. I spent so much of my life blaming myself that I wasn’t good enough for you!” She laughed bitterly and sank back into her chair.
Neither of her parents spoke. The only sound in the room was that of the fire.
Zillah saw the yellow envelopes on the table that were now scattered. She took a deep breath and wiped the tears from her face.
“Ten years.” She said quietly, staring at the envelopes. “Ten years and you only sent me five letters. I saved those letters.” Zillah finally looked up giving her parents a hard stare. “I considered your proposition to go and live with you.” She picked up the letters and walked over to the fire and tossed them in. The letters began to shrivel up and burn a fierce red. She gave her parents one more look. “I’m done wasting my life on you.” She began to walk to the opening, pausing for a moment but not looking back. “Thank you.”
“For what?” Her mother asked, still shocked.
“Aunt Azalea, Uncle Jael and Aiman are the best family I could ever wish for.” She said. “Goodbye.” Zillah stepped through and slammed it shut.
She slowly walked back to her Aunt and Uncle’s house. There was a feeling of exhilaration. A feeling of freedom. She would never regret spitting right in their faces after such a long wait. Once she finally returned to her home she saw her Uncle sitting down and her aunt pacing.
“I’m back.” She said quietly.
Her aunt stopped pacing and looked at her with relief. “You had me worried. Where did you go?” Aunt Azalea asked quietly.
“I went to go talk to my parents.” She said quietly. Her aunt's face dropped. “Oh honey.” Her aunt wrapped her in a hug.
Zillah had thought that she had no more tears. Unlike the tears with her parents, these were calmly going down her face as she clung to her aunt. “I told them to burn.” She said with a laugh. “Are you proud of me Uncle?”
“Always.” He chuckled gruffly. “Aiman has been moping you better go talk to him. I don’t think I can stand another minute of it.”
Zillah nodded holding her aunt for a few more seconds before laughing. “I’ll go talk to him.”
And tell him dinner is ready.” Her aunt said warmly with a glimmer in her eye. “I made both of your favorites.”
Zillah liked her lips, kapunta sounded wonderful right now. Zillah went upstairs and found Aiman slumped against the wall looking sullen with his head hidden between his knees. Zillah slid down onto the wooden floor next to him. “Hey.”
“Hey.” He mumbled back to her through his knees. “Are you coming to say goodbye?”
“Then why are you here?” He asked, the sound still muffled. He finally picked his head up out of his knees to glare at her. “You told me you were going to your parents.” Zillah saw that his eyes were almost as red and puffy as hers were. “Who said I was leaving?” She asked coyly.
Zillah could see the gears in Aiman’s head working. “But…”
“I went to tell them that I refused.” She said quietly. “You're not going to get rid of me just yet.”
Surprising her Aiman pulled her into a tight hug. “I’m really glad that you're staying.”
“Me too.” Zillah said squeezing her cousin tightly. She let go ruffling his hair. “Now come on, your Mom is making kapunta.”
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Hi Sunday (great name). Reedsy asked me to review, so here goes. I currently have 'show don't tell' at the forefront of my mind, and I wonder if her father saying "Don't use that tone with us!" would show his anger and remove the need for some text saying he was angry. In some cases, I don't think you need the adverbs, I can feel from the story how it is being said and from the back and forth who is talking. There is the odd, aunt not Aunt but it would be picked up with more time/edits. The story - matches the theme and I like how it wa...
Hi Micheal (I like your name as well), Thank you very much for all of the advice. I have some trouble with the 2+2 and am trying to work on that, if you have any advice on what to describe and what to leave out I would very much enjoy that. I will assuredly attempt to use more adverbs. Description in action scenes (and everything pretty much) has always been a weak point of mine. I'm ecstatic that you enjoyed the story. Best of luck to you, Sunday.
Hi Sunday, got your story from the critique circle email. I really liked this. There's a pretty long list of terrible parents in fiction, but these two seem like they top that list. I'd be very curious to know just what the hell they were so busy with that they managed one letter every two years, but I'm sure it wouldn't justify it. If you are open for some friendly critique, the story could be a little shorter. The 'climax' if you like is when the protagonist throws the letters in the fire and leaves, but there's still a long way to go be...
Thank you so much for replying! I very much want helpful critique and have taken yours to heart. I did think the climax should have ended with the letters and I definitely should have dragged it out. Zillah deserved much longer for that moment in her life. As for where Zillahs parents were, I believe they were part of the Onorud (a type of police I have created, but it is a much more revered position) and given a really high up job in a far off place. By all acounts, taking Zillah with them would have been easy, but taking care of a child?...
Glad I could help! Any chance you'll get a read of my last piece? I'd be keen to hear your thoughts if you get time.
I loved your story. The emotion, Mwah! Brilliant! And your mother? ... She actually seemed like she would be a decent person if weren't for the y'know, cult. But she was still a terrible person. Best of luck!