Friday, March 13, 2015

Indigo Blues

This is my very first time ever participating in the Use Your Words challenge. I think I'm going to have to keep this up. Despite what you're about to read, I had a lot of fun with this piece and with making the words fit together like a puzzle. So, this is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words were submitted by and are: 

Indigo ~ graphic ~ hindsight ~ fountain ~ thirst ~ under the bridge


Sometimes I feel
Like I don't have a partner
Sometimes I feel
Like my only friend
Is the city I live in
The city of angels
Lonely as I am
Together we cry…

She hears the song playing on a nearby radio and is immediately thrown back to the past in graphic, vivid detail. Her former husband loved this song, Under the Bridge. Every time it came on, he’d blare the radio until the speakers would nearly blow and (often drunkenly) belt the lyrics at the top of his lungs out of sync and off key. As annoying as it was especially when she was trapped in the car with him and thought surely he was going to rupture her ear drums with the higher pitched parts, this is one of her better memories of the man. Hearing this song makes her nostalgic for the good times, for the man she knew before the booze took over, before the pain, before she ended up here. When she remembered him singing along at impossible volumes to his favorite tunes, she was remembering what it was like to be loved and to love someone more than she ever thought possible.

In hindsight, she should have known that things weren’t good when he stopped turning the radio annoyingly loud and singing along, when he stopped telling her to listen to this motherfucker play during his favorite parts. When the music stopped giving him chill bumps, he stopped being himself. No one who loves music that much could ever turn it off like a light switch; no one could go from full on to nothing at all without it indicating a deeper problem. Somewhere along the way, though, that’s exactly what seemed to happen.

Surely, it must have been a slow progression, but it seemed to her to have happened all at once. One day he was the same old man she had loved since high school. One day he was a completely unrecognizable monster. It was impossible for her to pinpoint the exact moment the beast erupted from her husband’s skin in a Kafkaesque metamorphosis. But, that monster was all she had left one day--a human-like creature with a short temper, a penchant for violence, and an unquenchable thirst for alcohol. Music didn’t resonate with him anymore, and she became more or less a metaphorical and literal punching bag. Her own metamorphosis left her a shell of her former self covered in blacks and blues, scars both mental and physical, and an overall deflated quality that spoke volumes about her state of mind.

She looks down at the faded indigo jumpsuit she’s wearing with a frown on her face. The song she heard that took her back down the road to the past has long since faded, but her travels have yet to be over. Remembering the good times conjures memories of the bad as well which always leads her to think about why she’s here locked in this prison every day hustling to get a few stamps to write home and maybe for an occasional piece of candy. Being in prison blues didn’t do a thing to curb her sweet tooth.

Her mind is flooded with fuzzy Technicolor images of fights that ended with broken bones and shattered teeth, nights of name-calling and fear. No matter how hard she tried to forget the thrown ashtrays, the cigarettes stubbed out on her skin, the names hurled like daggers in her direction, those memories wouldn’t leave her. There was no point even attempting to forget the night that led her to where she’s standing right now, where she had been for years now, where she would spend the rest of her life. There was a big part of her that hoped she’d be able to erase it forever, but there was an even bigger part of her that felt the torture of these memories was the universe punishing her for what she did. Maybe her whole existence was meant as a punishment for transgressions in a past life. It sure fucking seemed that way.

She doesn’t even realize that she’s weeping openly, a no-no in this place, when she thinks back on that night. She had spent a couple hours in the kitchen putting together her recipe for shepherd’s pie, his favorite meal. It was his 43rd birthday. She wasn’t working and couldn’t afford a gift (not that she could have gone out to get him one without consequences) so she decided to make him his favorite for him to make up for what she couldn't buy. He was supposed to be at work that day. He was at work that day until he was canned for coming in hungover again. After that, who knows…but obviously he had been drinking. He came in stumbling and slurring hours after he should have been home with a huge fountain drink in one hand and a burger in the other. He seemed so jovial for once, laughing and joking around with her. And, after a few shared laughs, she let her guard down. Mistake.

“I don’t know why I bothered making this huge shepherd’s pie if you were just going to go get fast food, Tommy.”

That’s all it took. Just that one little sentence to set him off. He whirled around on her then and before she knew what happened, he had thrown the entire drink in her face before pelting her with the remainder of his burger. From the smell, he had definitely poured out the soda in favor of far more booze than mixer.

She has replayed this moment in her mind over and over and over again. He had done so many things to her over the years that she had never quite been able to figure out what made her snap that night, what finally pushed her over the edge, but there’s no reasoning that makes total sense. She guesses now that in part it’s because she wasn’t much of a drinker at all. The reek of cheap bourbon in her face mixed with the ketchup sliding down her faded black tshirt after she’d worked so hard in the kitchen that afternoon followed by the sound of his booming laughter sent her into a rage she’d never felt before. He tottered off into the living room to pass out in his chair like he always did, but instead of getting cleaned up and letting it go like she’d done time and time before, she sat there stinking of booze and grease, seething.

This is where her memory gets tricky. She remembers standing in the kitchen and feeling that rage take over her whole body. She remembers gritting her teeth and finally wiping her face dry, but after that everything is a blank until she was standing over him covered in blood with the largest knife from her kitchen in hand.

She shudders there in her cell thinking back to him laying there lifeless. Her Tommy.

Her attorney tried to fight for her saying it was self-defense. She had been in the emergency room for falls and for “walking into doors” more times than she could count. The neighbors had called the police so many times when things had gotten really bad, on nights when she couldn’t stop screaming from the pain. She never filed charges though. She never admitted to the cops what Tommy was doing. Hell, she couldn’t even fully admit it to herself. This was the man she loved,after all, for her whole life. They’d been together since she was only 16.

But, the prosecutors contested self-defense. If she was really in danger, they said, she would have gotten out. If she was really being abused, she would have had the man thrown in jail. Why would anyone stay, they asked, if it was really as bad as her attorney made it sound. They painted her as a mooching nag that finally had enough when her husband was fired from yet another job and let him have it. The jury bought that version of things. Obviously, given her prison blues.

She stands there a moment longer, remembering. For a long time she was bitter about things, but that wasn’t going to change anything, so she learned to let it go like she used to let things slide with Tommy.

She loved that man—despite what she did. That’s what made her stay, part of the reason anyway. There was always a piece of her that could hear a song and remember the good times or look at him across the table and get a glimmer of the man he was before things changed.

That night, though… that night was the end of her hope. And, she guesses that spending the rest of her life in prison is better than the prison she was in.


Hope you enjoyed it. I've really been focusing more and more on my fiction lately. Be sure, too, to check out all the other bloggers who linked up today to see how everyone has interpreted their words. Thanks for reading!!                                 Baking In A Tornado                          Spatulas on Parade                        Stacy Sews and Schools                      The Bergham’s Life Chronicles                                   Battered Hope                    Eileen’s Perpetually Busy                             Someone Else’s Genius                    Confessions of a part-time working mom                            Southern Belle Charm                        Searching for Sanity                                  Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                             Climaxed                       Evil Joy Speaks


  1. Your fiction is mesmerizing. I'm so glad you joined in Use Your Words, I think the words can both be inspiring of a story and an added challenge for you. Hope you continue both the challenge and to amuse me with your fiction writing,

  2. WOW!! This is so powerful. You are an amazing writer. I was completely drawn in.

  3. For a UYW rookie you did pretty darn well! Wow, what a story!
    So what I'm wondering… why can't women walk out on guys like Tommy?
    PS: we're throwing a St. Patrick's Day party tomorrow night. I'm making shepherd's pie. You and your character are invited. And hubby better behave, hahaha!

    1. That's sort of the question I played with here. Why dont they? You know, my mom didn't even though my dad was a lot like Tommy. He isolated her financially amd socially. It took years of her hiding money from him to save enough for her to be able to move herself and my brother and I to an apartment and we still didnt have furniture. He also beat her down emotionally making her feel like she wasnt good enough for anyone. And he made her believe he would kill her if she left. Statistically, women are 75% more likely to be killed when leaving a violent partner than by staying.... but just like with this narrator and her husband, there was love and hope factored in that maybe he would stop the drinking and the drugs and the hurt and be the man she fell in love with again

  4. Jenniy I love and hate this piece. It's a beautiful talent of yours that you can paint the scene so damn realistically. But I hate it because this piece of fiction is a reality for too many people.

    Thank you for writing, for sharing, for starting conversation and giving me all the feels all off a few words.

    Glad you joined in for Use Your Words ❤

  5. We have such a talented group of women, this month is by far the best we've had. Great job and I really enjoyed your writing.

  6. Riveting. The injustice of it all angers me. It's a wonder women seek help at all, especially when they need to.

    Stop the violence!

  7. A great piece of writing that should make us all stop and think.