"Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish."~John Jakes

Friday, February 11, 2011

Red Writing Hood: No Way Out

     I could never have imagined that it could ever happen to me. I was a good girl, raised to uphold Christian values, to think before I acted, and that I am ultimately responsible for my own actions and to live my life accordingly. What I had not accounted for was the surge of delicious freedom that I would feel the moment I walked away from that house for good.

     "I want you to know that your father and I don't condone this at all. We think you are making a HUGE mistake. Don't call us when the bottom falls out from underneath you. I don't care what that man says. It is impossible to make $300 a day legally. Remember I told you that, but I have a feeling you won't need to hear an 'I told you so' when it happens." My mother said the last time I saw her.

     Now, her words play over and over again in my head.

     After all, I don't have anything else to do but think right now. These four white cement walls, the solitary steel bunk with the paper thin mattresses, the toilet that was placed close enough to the locked steel door to allow for little privacy kept my free soaring soul captive and my mind a whirlwind of memories of things best forgotten. Things like this quote from the mouth of my mother. The bitterness of her words bounce off the white walls and down to the cold floor, where I slept every night in the overcrowded cell. I would have given anything for a spot on the bunk, away from the sewage smells that clung to the floor, but my two roommates frightened me, so I suffered in silence, miles from home, completely and utterly alone.

     I had no one to blame but myself for the predicament I find myself in. I'm the one who made the decision to run off to Chicago chasing a shifty rainbow on a get rich quick scheme. From the moment I arrived in the Windy City, I was rushed around before I could ever get a full appreciation for the beautiful city I would call home for the next year. A beautiful city I would feel trapped in, doing what I needed to do just to survive, never making enough to escape, though I made enough to keep my boss in a posh five star hotel suite.

     My coworker was friendly enough until I became better than she was. A classy white girl, dressed to the nines, is going to get less attention in a fancy store than a poorly dressed black girl any day of the week. Popping off those little white sensors and sliding them in the pockets of the extra garments I carried into the fitting rooms was a breeze. Sliding those gorgeous garments into the bag I walked in with was even easier. My dreams grew as a large as my hauls were, but the money he promised never came.

     There were days I didn't even eat, yet still I continued to walk into these stores, all over the city, pulling thousands of dollars in merchandise within eight hours time on a daily basis. His belly grew fatter while mine grew smaller. His wallet expanded, yet my pockets remained empty. My success meant he would kill me before he ever let me go. I was trapped. I saw no way out.

     Then the whole world shifted.

This post is a part of a Red Dress Club writing prompt. We had a beginning and an ending, and we had to fill in the middle, all while staying within 600 words.

Critique is welcome and wanted.

--Stephanie, AKA The Drama Mama


  1. Wow I was so thinking something else the whole time! This was great!

  2. Stephanie... this was really something. I enjoyed the part where she enters the city, her co-worker bit and all that... I wonder how she will end up...

  3. So so good...I totally thought she was going to be hooking or selling drugs. I love that you went a different way. So clever.

  4. I agree with previous comments, I loved the twist! I hope you continue the story!

  5. I am intrigued by the plot here.

    I would love to crawl inside of her head a bit more and understand why she left home under those circumstances. It might also be interesting to open the story with your character in prison (3rd paragraph) and then bring her back to her memories of home.

    The imagery of the cell had me.

  6. Whew not a prostitute! Tell me more, why did her world shift, not fair to make it a cliffhanger!
    Thank you for stopping by last week, I look forward to getting to know you better!

  7. What a snapshot of reality! Was she stealing merchandise? I'm glad her world shifted!...:)JP

  8. Wow -- enjoyed this alot. Pretty strong writing - I was totally engaged in her story. Your description of the cell was so vivid -- loved your word choice. Her journey downward was clear. Makes me want to know how she overcomes. Or does she? Good stuff!

  9. Totally unexpected direction. I was thinking drugs or prostitution, but this...I need to hear now she was caught.

    Great pacing and amazing story.

    (Visiting from TRDC.)

  10. I really like this line "The bitterness of her words bounce off the white walls and down to the cold floor"

    The ending came very suddenly. I want to know how her world shifted. Obviously, she is in jail but how did she get there?

  11. I thought it was so interesting that you used the final line as cliff hanger! I wanted her to stop thinking about her mother only because her mother would be glad that she was.

  12. I was wondering why you changed your background picture to Chicago! LOL Really interesting story. I knew, of course, from the beginning that things would not turn out well for her. You'll need to keep this going so we can learn more!

  13. Great story. I love the shoplifting ring instead of overdone prostitution. Like everyone else said, the description of the cell was fantastic. I want more of this girl.

  14. I love that you were able to tell so much of the story but still leave so much room to grow. I like how you started at the end and came full circle with it. Great job!

  15. You did well! You really took me right into that cell.

  16. Wow, don't leave me hanging, what happens to this poor girl next??? Great job.

  17. Definitely a story where you want to know the prequel.

    How did she get here?

    That would be a good read....back to how it all began. No one envisions this as a life for themselves, but how does it slowly happen?

    Wouldn't that be interesting? I think the slow process or descent would be very interesting.

    Perfectly told. No cliches, and I like that.

  18. I really felt her wish that she had listened to her mother and the desperation of now being stuck behind bars.
    I too was waiting for a prostitution spin, but I like you went in this direction. The mention of her coworker made me wonder if she played any part in the girl getting caught. Jealousy and all that you know.

  19. The story is good, I like it.

    The biggest suggestion for you is to watch your tense shifting. You bounce between present and past tenses.

    'After all, I don't have anything else to do but think right now.' and 'I had no one to blame but myself for the predicament I find myself in.' are the two offenders. The remainder of the story is in past tense.

    I understand what you are trying to convey, but it is noticeable (and, unfortunately, difficult to correct.)

    Other than that, good job!

  20. I so enjoyed reading this piece, I'll be honest tough, at first I thought she was a prostitute.. but a thief is way better, way better! well done. what happens to her after?

  21. The description of that cell is so real to me. I am intrigued by her line of work.

    I also want to know more about why she ran away in the first place.

    Nice, Stephanie. Well done.

  22. You certainly wrote enough to pique our interest in her story. And I could the coldness of that cell.
    Well done.

  23. I love how you did not go with the obvious. Love!

  24. Oh I think you should continue this! I really wanted to know what shifted. Gripping stuff.


Leave me some critique and help me grow as a writer. I love me some readers and their comments!