Author’s Note: Hi! First Western! It’s kinda cliché but I let myself off with cliches when it’s my first time. And I finally broke the first person curse! The female main character...not so much. This is based on the song Blown Away by Carrie Underwood. I took a lyric (“There’s not enough rain in Oklahoma to wash the sins out of that house”) from it too, so hopefully Reedsy doesn’t take it down...the way she sings that line us just so satisfying and I’m not sure why. I hope you enjoy this because I’m really proud of it! I’ve been in a Western genre, country music, mood lately and I don’t know why…I mean I was in a science fiction mood last week so I guess I switch genres each week. This was really fun to do!
By Ana Govindasamy
Trigger Warnings/Disclaimers: Domestic Violence, Alcohol Abuse, Bullying & Tornadoes.
Miss Annie Jones wanted her father dead.
Ever since the death of Martha Elizabeth Jones, she had wanted nothing more than for her father to disappear off the face of the earth. Him and his stupid whiskey.
Her life was...dismal to say the least. And it was no secret. In a small town like this, rumours spread like fire on thatch. But there were some secrets not even the oldest of wives could catch wind of.
To the rest of this town, Annie’s mother had died from a fever. Brought on from heatstroke. Only the two remaining members of the Jones family knew the true way she had died.
It haunted the both of them.
For Benny Jones he would drown it beneath the amber sea in his glass. When the cup drained, it would just flood again with the same acrid liquid, higher this time. Ironic, that. The very thing that played the key part in the death of his wife was the thing he used to forget it.
Then he would collapse. It was inevitable. Happened every night. 9 PM exactly.
For Annie Jones it’d be buried beneath days of school work. Suffocate in chalk dust. That was her escape. She’d spend days hunched over her desk, working hard on every assignment.
Sure, she was bullied. Sure, it hit harder for her than it would for the other kids. Sure, everyone knew about her and her father.
She would’ve liked to stay in that quaint, brick, schoolhouse forever. She tried one day. It ended in blood. Blood, tears and bruises from the kids waiting for her outside the school gates. But she soon learned to rush out. Past the bullies. Past the teachers who would whisper about her. Past the pitying housewives.
“There ain’t enough rain in Oklahoma to wash the sins out of that damned house.” The whispers would always reach her ears. Because, since that day, she’d learnt to always be vigilant. To keep her poker face. She lived by this advice. The tears had stopped forming after the first month.
She’d run as fast as she could in her skirt, kicking up reddened dust, skin searing from the heat. She’d run out of the schoolyard and to the churchyard’s cemetery.
She’d sit there, at the grave marked Martha Elizabeth Jones. To tell her mama about school. About what the bullies did that day. She’d sit there, beneath the limited shelter of the dry, twisted, bare tree. She’d sit and do what she did best. Schoolwork.
As well as serving as her metaphorical escape, she was clinging to the hope it’d be her ticket out of this town. She could get a job.
But deep down, she knew it was a fantasy.
The most she could do as a girl would be a teacher.
She’d sit there til it came 6PM. Then, she’d pick herself up to go do her paper round.
She might’ve been a girl, but she was so desperate for the money, she’d gotten the job. The one and only time rumours ever did her any good.
She delivered the papers on her stolen bike. There was no way in hell she could afford one by herself.
Even now, she had to keep the money in a jam jar beneath her bed to stop her father from spending it on his whiskey.
Living on the salary of a paperboy, while dealing with school wasn’t a great life.
Picking up the bundle of newspapers, a headline caught her eye.
Tornado To Hit Oklahoma
It might not have been the most dramatic, or catchiest headline. But it was enough to send the town into panic.
Annie included. Maybe not her father. But definitely her. Panic and something else. It made her feel powerful. Like sweet revenge was dancing on the tip of her tongue.
That night, she knelt at the side of her sweet-whiskey-scented bed, hands clasped. “Blow it down. Sweep this damned house off it’s foundations. Smash every whiskey bottle into dust. I don’t care if you take me with you. Just as long as he comes too. Just don’t let him become an angel like mama. I don’t never want him near her ever.” She prayed.
And she slipped into bed. She had her plan. She’d asked for His forgiveness. Even if He didn’t listen, she vowed to act on her promise.
So, the next day, when she peeked outside to see windows boarded up and doors barred, instead of feeling fearful she was excited.
It was coming.
She padded down through the house to see her papa passed out on the couch. His whiskey bottle had fallen from his hand and soaking its deadly contents into the ground.
She smirked at this pitiful sight as she silently shut and bolted the cellar’s trapdoor above her.
For the rest of this town, they were taking shelter.
For Miss Jones, she was getting her sweet, cold revenge.
Above her, the wind howled. Like Benny the day before Martha Jones’ death. It was all screaming and shattering. Windows by today’s twister. Everything else by him. Annie lay there, paralysed. She heard it all. Whether she was intended to or not.
That evening, it was tears, makeup and headscarves. No amount of cheap pharmacy makeup could cover that bruise. Like a full moon at midnight, it stood out on her mother’s skin.
Til’ he came home the next day. She was weakened. He was aggravated. All it took was one push, one strike. And that’s what happened.
This time, Annie saw it all. Sitting at the table, doing her work. Then it happened. The door slamming. Her father’s taunts. Her mother’s pleas.
They were falling again, as bruise-blue and blood-red lightning cracked across the sky like her mother’s voice. Sirens wailed like Annie did the day she watched her mother die. Rain splashed like her father’s whiskey. Thunder growled like her bullies. Bone-white clouds gathered together and whispered like the town did every day. Wind whistled like Annie’s bike as she whizzed through the very town that had estranged her and her father. The storm brewed as quick as the rumours swelled.
But through her furious tears, she smiled a devilish smile, knowing she’d at least done something.
Because the town’s words were right.
There wasn’t enough rain in all of Oklahoma, in the all of the United States, in all of the world, to free her house of its sins.
But there was enough hatred in Annie’s heart.