Quiet

Quiet

A Story by Brinleigh Bailey
"

First Place Winner of "The Door Was Unlocked" prompt contest.

"

               The door was unlocked.  Turning the handle, Dylan looked over his shoulder at me.  "Quiet," he mouthed.  I nodded vigorously and waited as he slowly opened the door, pushing it open inch by inch.  Footsteps sounded through the staircase behind us, sending the butterflies in my stomach to a frenzy. 

 

              "Hurry, Dylan," I whispered harshly under my breath, nudging his shoulder with my hand.  He glared at me out of anger, but no harsh look could hide the fear that was crystal clear in his big blue eyes.  I heard him suck in a breath before he pushed the door completely open.

 

              "You can't hide from me in my own damn house!"  Dylan grabbed my arm and pulled me into the room just as the man climbing the staircase reached the top.  Our father.  I had opened my mouth to say something when Dylan slapped his hand over my lips.  He was whispering something in my ear, but I couldn't hear him over the sound of my heart beating wildly in my chest. 

 

              Slowly he began to back up, hand still secured tightly over my mouth, my back firm against his chest.  It's only when I had calmed that I heard what he was whispering so softly in my ear.  "It's going to be okay, it's going to be okay," he soothed me with endless reassurances.  But I wasn't so sure. 

 

              This wasn't the first time our father had frightened us to the point of hiding.  Our childhood up to this point was belt-buckles and backhands.  Ten years, thirteen for Dylan, of being treated like the gum stuck to the bottom of his work boots. 

 

              Until now, we had never had a plan.  When our father raised his hand to us, we ran.  We were often split up and found one-on-one where our father would punish us for the mistakes we had made that afternoon. 

 

              Often my father wanted me alone.  To himself.  There in the dark he would remove his trousers, cover my mouth, and make me wish I was never born.  It was in moments like these when I wished so desperately for my mother.  Deep down, beneath the resentment and anger, I am happy she was able to escape the hand of my father; I only wish she would have taken us along with her. 

 

              I could hear his work boots in the hallway, the tread sticking against the hardwood flooring.  I could feel Dylan's heart thumping against my back, his breath on my neck.  "Where are you worthless pieces of-" my father's voice cut out and I heard him begin to chuckle.  "Gotcha."

 

              Squinting my eyes shut, I did what Dylan taught me to do in a situation like this one.  "He's trying to fake you out.  He doesn't really know where you are.  Right now he wants to you be scared.  He wants you to mess up.  To scream," his voice echoed in the back of my head as I began to count.  1, 2, 3, my hands were shaking at my sides.  3, 4, 5, I was unconsciously holding my breath as to not make a sound.  My chest swelled with air, I didn't dare breathe. 

 

              "Picture yourself somewhere far away from here," Dylan's voice soothed me silently.  "Remember when mom took us to the beach?  Think of that day."  My breath began to trickle from my lips, slowly and silently.  I was somewhere else.  The sand was beneath my toes, the balmy air against my skin. 

 

              My father's work boots halted in front of the closet door.  I could feel his hand hovering over the handle.  Dylan's grip over my mouth tightened unconsciously, and he tilted his head just the slightest bit forward.  "I love you."  He breathed it so softly that I wasn't sure if I had imagined it or not. 

 

              A glass bottle hit the floor and shattered, clear liquid seeping into the rotted floorboards and under the closet door where it soaked the tips of my socks.  I immediately recognized the stench, often on my father's breath. 

 

              Dear God, please. Please kill me.

 

              I heard my father's hand settle on the cold metal of the doorknob and I flinched.  To our dismay, the door was unlocked. 


© 2016 Brinleigh Bailey



Author's Note

Brinleigh Bailey
This story was for a contest in which the only rule was that it began with "The door was unlocked..." It did not have to end with the phrase, that it just how I chose to end it. Reviews would be greatly appreciated, and if any flaws or typos are found, please let me know. As soon as I get some constructive feedback, I will enter it into the contest. Thanks!

My Review

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Featured Review

That was quite clever, ending the story with those words. You build the suspense up well, it was enjoyably dramatic. I wish the kids both have a nice plan. Um, now for some suggestions, in 'he glared at me out of anger' the 'out of anger' ain't needed or you could use 'he cast a glare of annoyance at me'. When I first read 'you can't hide in my own damn house' I thought it was Dylan who said it. So if you want you can make it clearer. 'Right now he wants to you be scared' there's a typo there. Overall, the scenes were sketched out well. Quite a nice work.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Omg this story is sad. I hate it when kids live with abusive parents. I love Dylan it is obvious he cared about his little sister/ brother and wants to protect her. Great job and keep up the great work :)

Posted 2 Years Ago


Again, critiquing on first read, as I usually do and with the hope that my comments will be helpful, constructive and encouraging. A dark and somber tale, I can't say that I "enjoyed" this piece. Having been a therapist and having treated abuse victims, it certainly affected me on a level that I don't like to re-visit. Having said that, I can recognize the merit in your piece and the fact that it reached me so deeply is a testament to your expertise.Now for a few specific comments: 1) "Turning the handle, Dylan looked over his shoulder at me." -- I know some doors have "handles" nowadays, but I think readers more readily think of 'turning the knob." 2) "Footsteps sounded through the staircase behind us, sending the butterflies in my stomach to a frenzy.
"Hurry, Dylan," I whispered harshly under my breath, nudging his shoulder with my hand. He glared at me out of anger, but no harsh look could hide the fear that was crystal clear in his big blue eyes. I heard him suck in a breath before he pushed the door completely open." I find this is confusing -- I'm not sure where they're coming from -- have they been elsewhere in the house and are moving from one room to the other to hide from their father? Also "footsteps" sound "on," probably not "through" a staircase; "crystal clear" is cliché, so perhaps some other descriptive word that conveys the nature of the color; I'd also delete "big" as also cliché. 3) ""It's going to be okay, it's going to be okay," he soothed me with endless reassurances." I would delete "endless" since they couldn't have been actually "endless" -- perhaps "repeated" 4) "Our childhood up to this point was belt-buckles and backhands." Really effective and concise way to describe an abusive childhood. 5) " I am happy she was able to escape the hand of my father; I only wish she would have taken us along with her.
I could hear his work boots in the hallway, the tread sticking against the hardwood flooring." There is a bit of a disruption in the flow here for me when you move from her reflections about her mother and back to the present -- I don't have any suggestions of how to resolve that nor whether it's necessary to do so; I'm just noting it as a reaction I had. Even so, I do like the explanation of where the mother was. Would it heighten the suspense if there were some suggestion of the mother's unexplained disappearance? As written, it just seems that she'd had enough and walked out one day which might be too glib and explanation since she was probably as abused and frightened of her husband as her children now are. 5) "Dylan's grip over my mouth tightened unconsciously." Here're you've changed POV -- just delete "unconsciously" and you'll be back on track 6) Early in the story, the pair enter a "room" which appears to be their hiding place; then later, they're in a "closet." I think "closet" is more effective but whichever you choose it should be consistent unless you explain how they got from the room earlier and then into the closet. Also, early on, you say that this time hiding from their father, they have a "plan" yet that is never articulated or even insinuated later in the story. Certainly just hiding in a closet couldn't be their plan. All of what I've noted are minor points. I like the story a lot and think that with a few adjustments, it will be an excellent piece. However, I'm not at all sure about the ending. It felt to me that either you were restricted by a word count for the contest or that you simply wanted to be finished (I do that sometimes and they always catch me here on Writerscafe). I don't have any suggestions about an ending (and I generally don't like the ones people suggest to me for my stories, though I appreciate their effort to be helpful). I think your Muse will serve you well and you'll figure out a way to strengthen this already strong story with a poignant ending. Thanks for sharing this.


Posted 2 Years Ago


These kind of stories really get to me. Reality is always much more twisted and darker than fiction. But, what I liked about the story was that Dylan had his sister, and the other way around. The kids weren´t alone, and they clearly cared for one another, and they also protected each other as much as they could. Since you´ve written it in the first person the impact of the story is quite strong. It leaves a mark.
As for the end...well, it makes your heart cringe with fear because you know what follows.
J

Posted 2 Years Ago


My heart raced through out the story. I had first hand experience of child abuse and troubled childhood so I could connect with it pretty well. The portrayal is quite realistic. Albeit the details have to be more tangible like who is where and what is happening. But I could sense the writer was herself overwhelmed while writing it, so I would suggest to revisit it after sometime and you clear the rough edges. I am glad that you wrote it.

Posted 2 Years Ago


you have written a pretty good story, i loved the ending... this is how one should end the story. perfect.

Posted 2 Years Ago


Hello Brinleigh,

The suspense was good, pulled my straight to the end of the story. I must agree with the praise below, but since you mean to enter a contest with this story and have asked for constructive feedback I still have quite a few suggestions for you, which you can use or ignore as you see fit.

1) The door was unlocked. Turning the handle, Dylan looked over his shoulder at me. -> how would you now the door is unlocked before turning the handle? It is the prompt for the story, I realize this, but it reads like some kind of statement here, a conclusion or realization after an action (for example 'turning the handle'). I have an out of the blue text suggestion: "The door was unlocked. It was slightly ajar. Dylan..."

2) but no harsh look could hide the fear that was crystal clear in his big blue eyes -> "no..could hide" and "crystal clear" are somehow meaning the same thing, try rewriting the sentence using only one of the two and your sentence will run smoother.

3) Our father. -> Of course I understand what you mean, but the sentence is lacking a verb, it could be a conscious style-choice to write it as such, but then it should at least be without a doubt textually what "our father" is referring to. Example: "He was our worst nightmare and a terrible man. Our father." Get it? But even then I would probably go for something like: "That man was our father."

4) There in the dark he would remove his trousers, cover my mouth, and make me wish I was never born. -> By not telling us exactly what happens in those awful situations, you are implying that something terrible happens. Implying, or leaving out something for the reader to figure out is something which I love both as a writer and reader. In this case the vivid image from the man removing his trousers says it all: this is a terrible and sick man, to a degree that words can not describe. Therefore I feel that you are actually weakening the image you imply by writing "make me wish I was never born". I would leave it out and connect the previous two parts of the setence using "and".

5) Right now he wants to you be scared. -> typo/wrong order "Right now he wants you to be scared.

6) 1, 2, 3, my hands were shaking at my sides. 3, 4, 5, -> Why count the number 3 twice? And also you might want to consider, writing out the numbers: "One. Two. Three." Or using commas.

7) holding my breath as to not make a sound. -> consider the order of words here, alternative: "holding my breath as not to make a sound."

8) My father's work boots halted in front of the closet door. -> They were hiding in the closet and now your telling me? I would have liked to know that earlier on. The suspense would have been even bigger if I had pictured the two of them in a closed the whole time! You might want to mention this sooner.

9) To our dismay, the door was unlocked. -> "dismay" sounds a bit weak compared to the previously described behavior of the father. AND it can not be a surprise to them that the closet was unlocked, for they entered it themselves and will probably know whether or not they had locked it. Next to that I have not yet encountered a closet that you can close from the inside.

10) Until now, we had never had a plan. -> This insinuates that this time, contrary to all other times, there WAS a plan. Which might give me as a reader some hope: will they make it out unharmed or not? So work out what the plan is, or don't mention it. Just say something like "When our father raised his hand, there was no time to make up a plan. We would just run."

I hope this helps to improve your story. And let me be clear: I have enjoyed reading it. Good luck!

Regards Sesame

@followsesame on Twitter
www.themagiccave.com

Posted 2 Years Ago


Brinleigh Bailey

2 Years Ago

Thank you for your review. Regarding 1) The door was unlocked, therefore he was turning the handle .. read more
Your writing is very professional and precise. I loved the feel of it and it did captivate emotions.

Posted 2 Years Ago


a disturbing piece (probably beecause of the children in it) but very well written. you maintained the suspense till the end.
good storytelling Brinleigh.

Posted 2 Years Ago


You create a terror filled situation. You create history and suspense. You held my attention to the last words. Thank you for sharing the outstanding story.
Coyote

Posted 2 Years Ago


Very suspenseful you captured my attention and held it there until the end. Very well written interesting topic but none the less a great read. Great Job!

Posted 2 Years Ago



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Added on May 28, 2015
Last Updated on February 2, 2016
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