Better than Bad

She rolls over to escape the piercing brightness of the early morning sun that has found a breach in the blinds.

“Damnit! It’s my day off! Get OFF me!”

Frustrated at the intrusion into her sleep, she thrashes, attempting to prevent full awake and the sheet winds around her arm and over her head. Laying she grasps at the filmy feathers of dreamy sleep with eyes firmly shut, Emma realizes it’s useless; she’s awake and pissed.

Relenting, she throws the covers off and swings her legs over the side of the bed. Standing up, she arches her back, reaching her arms above her head, with hands bent back; she squeezes up high on her tip toes and flexes her legs taught and yawns so deep it hurts. Light headed from the intense wake up stretch, she works her way to the kitchen to brew coffee knowing once the brew begins and the deep, comforting smell floats into her senses she might shake off her foul mood.

With a cup of coffee comfortingly sweetened with her favorite creamer she creeps her way to her reading corner but realizes last night she’d polished off her last library book. This means she has to endure the suffering of leaving home to get more books. The outside world is tense and uncomfortable so being ready was critical to the success.

Thankful she didn’t have to wear the grocery store’s green apron with the creepy apple emblazoned on it, Emma chooses her “outside in the world” armor. She slides into her favorite black skinny jeans, falling apart but comfortable in all the right places, and an oversized black hoodie with a large paisley fleur-de-lis, shadowy and grey batiked on the back. Old black Chuck Taylors finish the dark cloaked desire to be unapproachable and invisible. At the front door she closes her eyes, mouth tight, she inhales deeply, then twists the knob, exhales and mutters “Here we go” and steps outside to make the walk to the library.

With hood up and hands in the pocket, she glances up and down to avoid people who find it necessary to greet her even when she wears her Sir Lancelot suit of armor. Intent on watching the perils ahead, she crosses the alley and unexpectedly something crashes into her. She struggles to pull her clenched fists out of her jacket to catch her balance. Her feet criss-cross and trip over each other as she grabs at the kid who’s not watching his own path.

Stunned by the collision the boy peers up at Emma wide-eyed looking as if he’s wondering ‘should I fight or run?’ Then recognition washes relief over the fearful “O” of his face when he sees her.

“Oh hey Emma! Whatcha doin’?”

The initial bristles of annoyance are clipped off when she realizes it’s the boy whose family lives in the apartment upstairs from her.

Yanking her hood off, “God Jakey! Watch where you’re going!”

Over time, Jakey has become one of the few granted access to Emma’s comfort zone. With the careless ease allowed by being six, he persistently winnowed his way in, ignorant of her crippling shy fear of people and places.

Neglect, fear and harm keep the boy outside. For him, pain and peril exist at home. When he explodes out of the apartment, he is free and happy, gliding through the world grateful there is an outside to escape to. It’s liberation from the barbwire words and blunt pain his unemployed, red raging dad inflicts.

In spite of the jolt her face fans into a wide grin “The library, wanna come?”

Punching his fist up he shouts “YEAH!”

Putting her hand out he latches on eagerly, leaping in the air, heels bumping his butt with happy and anticipation of the treat Emma was sharing with him. Jakey loves reading (an escape within his walls) and he loves Emma’s wondrous reading. She builds a world around them with enthusiastic words. Her voice takes them on a journey of unabashed happiness and trudges through menacing valleys.

Together they head off. The day began bad. Then it turned a corner and now it’s better than good; it’s great!


Red Writing Hood – Happy Endings

This week’s prompt asked you to spread a little joy.

You were to write a piece where you or your character overcame a challenge and, even if it’s just for a moment, has a happy ending. We also asked you to surprise us – don’t go with the obvious.


6 comments on “Better than Bad

  1. marcialoyd says:

    Great writing! I love how you give such attention to detail. 🙂


  2. Mel says:

    I like your writing style; you are so descriptive. A bit of CONCRIT: you mixed your tenses a lot. Lines like this: “grasping at the filmy feathers of dreamy sleep” – beautiful!


    • debseeman says:

      Thanks for the CONCRIT. I reviewed the post and corrected most of the “ing’s” with “ed’s”. Some are left as I feel they explain ongoing action and not necessarily past tense (i.e. Emma’s reading style) I was rushing a bit to get the post added to Red WritingHood, and trying to work within the constraints of 700 words…LOL! Present tense often uses fewer words so I was “cheating”. My edits skate me in juuuuuust under the limit.


  3. Amanda says:

    Well done. The story left me yearning for more.


  4. […] speck in the portrait of Emma….  (More of Emma at – “Emma”  , “Better than Bad”  , and “Love and […]


  5. I’m really enjoying the development of Emma. I love that she can give some happiness to a young Jakey.


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