It’s Always Something

Momma said I was a freak. She didn’t want to let me in the house. I don’t know if it was the blue hair, or the piercings. Maybe it was still the issue of my boyfriend. She didn’t know what to make of a man who wears makeup.

Pa just shook his head and opened the door. He had long ago given up on trying to make sense of his strange little girl. “Want some tea?”

“Nah, I just stopped by for a minute.”

He ushered me into the kitchen. Momma sat at the table chopping potatoes. She didn’t look up, but she did shift her chair so she wouldn’t knock my elbow when I sat down. Pa poured himself a glass of iced tea and waited.

I fiddled with the potato peeler, running my thumb along the blades. “I just came by… well, me and Vinnie broke up.” I snuck a glance at Momma. Her face lit up briefly, then shuttered again. She finished chopping and reached for another potato.

I took a breath. “I was thinking… maybe, I could come with you to church tomorrow? Stay for dinner after?”

Momma dropped her potato with a thud. It rolled toward the edge of the table, but I caught it and handed it back. Momma looked at it for a moment before taking it. She set it down on the table, carefully, like it was porcelain.

It’s always something, Pa used to say. I stopped going to church when I was fourteen. Momma tried to insist, but Pa held her back. “It’s always something with her,” he told her. “If it ain’t this, it’ll be something else. Let her be.”

“Okay, then,” said Momma. “You want to stay here tonight?”

I nodded, a lump in my throat.

That night, in the dark of my old room, I opened my fist. For a few seconds I let the eerie blue flame dance on my palm. It’s always something, I thought, and closed my hand.

This post was made in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge prompt:

FREAK (noun)

1 a : a sudden and odd or seemingly pointless idea or turn of the mind
b : a seemingly capricious action or event
2 archaic : a whimsical quality or disposition
3 : one that is markedly unusual or abnormal

24 responses to “It’s Always Something

  1. here is what I’m learning as the mom of young people who love to be dressed as Harry Potter or Scrooge or Willy Wonka as much as they love being themselves. Yes, it’s always going to be something and I may not always understand, but I know in this moment, I will always love, I will always do my best to accept, empathize, look past the blue hair and the blue flames.

    this was really beautiful Christine.


  2. I liked the unexpected pop of fantasy in this at the end. Well played.


  3. Your writing in itself is amazingly good prose. It flows so well. The magical blue flame will lead her somewhere.


  4. The details here are so telling and exquisite . Bravo.


  5. I like the little details like when the mom dropped the potato with a thud, then set it down like it was porcelain. I could really envision this scene.


  6. I felt as if I had walked in the door behind her and saw/felt the whole scene unfold. The delicate detail at the end was like a flourished underline. Very nicely done!


  7. She seems like an interesting character!


  8. Sometimes parents just don’t get it. They should be more appreciative of their daughter’s uniqueness. She seems like a good kid who wants to do right by her parents while still being herself!

    Thank you for linking up!


  9. kdillmanjones

    I really loved every part of this: the writing, the characters, the interesting spin on the mundane, the bit of fantasy that slips in. Really great!


  10. i love the way the characters and their reactions were so perfectly portrayed…and the blue flame!

    “She set it down on the table, carefully, like it was porcelain.”
    It’s things like this that make stories so real.


  11. Always something, indeed! Loved the ‘tough’ love aspect of the family dynamic. Everyone has their roles, and easily slips into the routine. A well worn path, with a twist!


  12. Very cool. You built this up well, and then took it in a very unexpected direction. I really liked that. Outstanding.


  13. Really poignant scene with details that make it so real. The setup is so visual, that the blue flame leapt out at me in that final detail. I could feel the flame myself. Really beautiful piece.


  14. TheImaginator

    I wondered why she was returning home and asking to go to church etc, the blue flame in the palm explained it all. Good stuff.


  15. Stunned. The details of the mother’s face shuttering, the potato she inspects after it’s dropped, the blue flame. Must have more.


  16. Unfair. You drop the premise of another good story without finishing the one you’ve started. ~sigh~ It’s like having several good books open at the same time and not knowing which to read first.


  17. I can’t tell you how much I loved this little story. I’ve always been convinced, for as long as I can remember, that there was always something hiding under the surface of everything and that magic was everywhere. Up, freaks ;P


  18. Fantastic ending, and good luck with the anthology! I love that story.


    • I had to de-fictionalization the original version of Fireworks for that anthology submission! I’m glad you like this one. It was fun to write, and came to me in a flash.


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