Brother’s Keeper

NaNoWriMo is in full swing and I’m happy to announce that I’ve written 36,456 words so far. At my current pace, I’ll easily finish on time, but my book is almost certainly going to exceed the 50,000 word minimum goal by a good bit. The story is growing as I write, and I know when I’m done I’ll have nothing more than a foundation–a ‘shitty first draft‘–that I’ll have to rework and finesse if it’s to become a publishable novel. 

Still, I’m happy with the progress, as is Vye. It’s a wild ride, writing at this pace, but it’s fun.

For this week’s flash fiction, I’ve returned to a prompt from the 500 Club. The story is a simple one and I’m hardly the first to tell it, but I think it turned out well. Please feel free to give me your thoughts in the comments.

Here is the prompt:

Sometimes the best laid plans lay in ruin due to one simple mistake or happenstance. Write 500 words about that little mistake or happenstance.

Best of luck to all my fellow NaNoWriMo writers. I hope you’re enjoying the journey as much as I am. 

brother’s keeper

The rock dropped from his hand.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, he thought.

The sun was low in the afternoon sky. Around him stalks swayed in the breeze, the breath of God rolling over the land. He could smell the earth–the plants, the soil, the cedar trees at the edges of the field. This was his place. This had always been his place. Suddenly, it felt alien and a deep sadness gripped his heart.

At his feet lay the body. It wasn’t moving. He could see blood pooling around the head, the eyes rolled back. The tongue hung out of the mouth, lifeless. He had no word for what he was looking at. No way to categorize the sight. The wound was grievous. It didn’t surprise him that the body lay still, but questions hung about him in the air.

Would he wake? Would he heal? Would this be like so many other scrapes, cuts and bruises? Maybe he was only sleeping. Had it not been for the way his eyelids remained open he might have been able to believe that.

But the chest didn’t rise and fall. Without breath, he began to draw a terrible conclusion. Is it even possible, he asked himself, to destroy a person? To steal life? To undo what God had done?

From a few feet away, his dog whined. She watched him, and he realized she was afraid. He was afraid, too. He could not hide this, no matter how much he wanted to. In his mind, a desperation took seed and he wished it all away. The last day. The shame of embarrassment. The craving he’d felt for validation and acceptance. The jealousy. The anger that gave birth to rage.

He’d only wanted to talk. Between the two of them, he had hoped they could come to an understanding. There needn’t be a good one and a bad one. They were equals, or so they had always thought of themselves, even though he was older. He’d wanted to reaffirm that and restore his place.

His fingers curled into a fist as another wave of enmity washed over him. Silently, he cursed himself, the sky, the day, the field. A still, small voice in his head spoke then: This is what caused it, the voice said. Your own rage. 

Pain overcame wrath, and his fist fell open as the first tears dropped from his eyes.

“What have I done?” he asked the empty field. The stalks waved back and forth in response, like so many heads slowly shaking. He could feel their judgment. All of creation would mark him for what he was. The agony he felt in his heart threatened to unravel his mind and rob him of what sanity he had left.

“Come,” he said to the dog.

Turning from Abel’s body, Cain walked into the woods, hoping that God wouldn’t see his trail as he made his way into the shadows. But he knew he could not hide.