We heard her scream first. Spanking the cleft concrete before ricocheting off rusted gutters and tin lampposts, the sound traveled much too far. Most on porches, those not, came. Some stood, others sat, but all watched the off-white partition in which the scream stemmed.
She was running. Masked by shadows of early eve, her face sodden and eyes wet, mouth twisted and body tight. Many called, but she only ran. Then, they came. Louder than she screamed, there were five. They cursed and chirped, but mostly, they laughed. Actions exposed by the girl’s recent cry, yet still, they laughed. Law was informed, but did not come: a normality here. With eyes on the five, something needed be done.
A sitting man spoke, “You boys need to move on.” The other eyes agreed.
“What,” one of five shouted.
The sitting man stood, “Cut the noise, or move on…” The five laughed, harder, as one of them stepped to the fence separating he and the once-sitting man.
“We’re not going anywhere,” the boy said.
“You’re not?” the man’s eyes narrowed.
“Nope…What you going to do about it?” the boy whispered tauntingly with gesture of jeer.
This was a dangerous question, I thought, for one may regret learning another’s answer. The once- sitting man, now pacing the porch, stared at the barking boy as he turned. The man’s taut jaw twisted into a wicked grin only the eyes nearest to him recognized. He stepped from the porch as the boy stepped to the chirping five and walked to his vehicle. His strides soundless, concealed by the wind’s dead moan. The man pulled it from the trunk, then rested it beneath his shirt. The five did not see him, and with the wind as accomplice, they did not hear him either. The man was half way across when they noticed, too late. The once-sitting man had firm grip of it beneath his top.
The boy prepared to bark, but the man clenched his throat first. He forced the boy onto a gate, revealing the jagged blade edge once cloaked in thin polyester. The four stood in frosted fear, as the man pressed the weapon to the pulsating green of the boy’s carotid artery. The man’s eyes grew blazingly wide and shone brighter than the waking glints unveiling from under the blue, not yet black, sky.
Panicked, the boy grabbed hold of the blade against his neck and attempted to push it away. The once-sitting man was too strong, and the more the boy pushed, the further he carved his palms into the blade’s edge. Slicing flesh and nearing bone, the man’s weapon and boy’s hands melded into a single, unnerved entity.
When more red than silver neared the boy’s neck, two standing eyes restrained the once-sitting man. They echoed, “Get out of here.”
With tears and gashes, the boy did. The man handed the bloody blade to his wife; she cleaned it and handed it to me. “Hide it in a place it will never be found,” she whispered. I did.
Few hours passed when the once barking boy returned with the law. His gashes wrapped in compress, he stood silent. The eyes and now standing man watched the law probe the boy about his assailant. Past pockets of prodded pavement and withered walkway wedges, the boy and the man made contact. It was the truest look either had had at the other. Short but testy, the boy looked away first. When asked if any witnessed the crime, the eyes did not respond, and when asked if he could identify his attacker, the boy, too, did not respond. As instructed, the once-barking boy moved on, and the standing man, restfully, took to his seat.
I still hear her scream when gazing upon the off-white divide she ran from, and hope she found her way; home. The boy’s silence, eyes’ falsified blindness, and the truth behind the happenings beyond the partition, remain unclear. But, through primal encounter, no longer do I wonder why the again-sitting man kept a machete concealed in the trunk of his vehicle. Nor, do I wonder why, I will forever keep it hidden.
Morgan, this is a great story. You have serious talent. This was serious reading and it kept me in wonder…
I hope you keep this up and see where it takes you.
Morgan – Unreal detail and beautiful imagery. I really enjoyed reading it.
okay I’ll try again………I liked the descriptive quality of the situation,it made the setting as clear as necessary……I had to read it a couple of times but I think I get it, I can relate to what the man sitting on the porch was feeling,for some reason mabe peer presure young men cannot just walk away from some situations, and the man grew up in a different time when confrontations were not an option if you were of a young age,” back in my day” and chances are the streets were the form of justice that would be swifter than any cop car……and somehow fairer, The fact that the young man would not identify the man sort of confirms the street justice idea, perhaps the whole thing would be over there…….or the young man won’t be young forever and then the man would get his…according to the natural order of street justice….I love your use of words how it allows me the reader to figure things out for myself……kinda looking at an abstract painting and making it make sense thanks for the opportunity to look into your mind.ps sat hi to daddy for me xo
Nicely done Morgan! A suspenseful and gripping story that reads like poetry, highlighting your masterful use of the English language. I like the way you gave us no real answers, leaving the readers to form their own conclusions and to ask themselves what would they have done had they been any of the characters involved. This, in my opinion, has the hallmark of a great story and I look forward to reading more of your work in the near future.
The difficulty with flash has always been the ability to convey a truth with resonance in a condensed body of work. Partitions embodies the benefits to such a form, where the idea behind the title transfers into every aspect of the story being told. There is divide in all actions taken, two sides (sometimes more) to every choice we make, differing perspectives to every circumstance. Where the antagonist and protagonist were named, the merging of the two identify a the constant that (should) troubles us all. Is there a time when ‘righteousness’ betrays us? When victim and perpetrator swap roles… Though only for a second, I cared for the barking boy in all his malice, and questioned the nature of the once sitting man. As I read, I believed this was done purposely, through control and chaos, I believed it was intended that we question the actions of all. By framing the story with the crying girl’s departure, and her memory, I was reminded that in any account, the voiceless are the victims. That after an account as eye opening as the one in Partitions, she is where the injustice lies – the one we can not afford to forget. With imagery that lit fire to the retelling, “The man’s eyes grew blazingly wide and shone brighter than the waking glints unveiling from under the blue, not yet black, sky” and truths that run deeper than a single read of the story can offer, I enjoyed the poetic brutality of this piece. There were very good reads in this ‘father figure’ edition of Hippo, this was one of them.
You have beautiful words.
Very well written. Good imaginery skills. Keep up the good work!
Barbara G The uniqueness of this story is in the telling. It is not an unusual situation where bad elements come into a neighborhood to wreak havoc and put people in fear, but the style that Ms. Christie uses to tell her story really accentuates this very tense interlude…short, punchy descriptions, deft phrases and phrasing that capture the jerkiness of the moment as well as the characters; I also love the metaphors that give depth and richness to the story, i.e. the way Ms. Christie uses animal sounds (chirping and barking) to describe the animalistic behavior of the boys and the use of eyes to represent the people. I particularly like the description of a once-sitting man who becomes the now-standing man to represent the fact that sitting is fine, but that there are times when one has to get up and stand for something. This is a good piece.
The vivid detail painted by Morgan in this story clearly puts the reader in the yard watching the events unfold. Every sequence of events is told in such as way as to insure the reader understands what eqach party to the events are feeling. The colorful story telling technique places the reader so near the danger, yet safely watching from a distance. A very moving story about good versus evil, and the often necessary steps to insure goodness prevails.
I’ve never been in
this situation, but writer Morgan Christie made me feel as if I had been there,
when the boy grabbed the knife I could feel the blade sliding through my
fingers and my heart started to race in anticipation of what was going to
happen next. I loved the animalistic satire as well as the vivid imagery of
this story. Great job Ms. Christie
I really enjoyed this story. I especially like how the villainous boys were described with animalistic words such as chirping and barking, it really showed how primitive those attackers were. I was glad to see that the man at the end wasn’t put in any trouble either. Perhaps his method was a little violent, but those boys needed to be taught a lesson.
You’ve told us a story in which we’re forced to question what’s right, and wrong. But you’ve also reminded the reader of an underlying truth; that is that of always having a choice. The man made a choice, as did the eyes and the boy, even the narrator. In the end, all must live with the choices they’ve made. This truth stands for us all in any decision we may make. A beautifully told story of grit, honesty, and ethics. Congratulations Morgan 🙂
Excellent short story. The perspective and lack of named characters really draws a reader into the story. Great read.
Very well written Morgan, chilling yet compelling story. I wanted more of it. This story has the making of a future blockbuster movie. Keep up the good work
If only more men stood up before there was trouble. Each time I read it I feel closer to the neighborhood, there, right there wanting to help her. Great job Morgan.
Loved this story, left me on edge of my seat waiting to read the next line. Good read Morgan. Looking forward to more from you in the near future.
This is a wonderful story that depicted right and wrong. There is an insinsuation that something very wrong took place between the screaming girl and the boys.The law was informed and did nothing, but the sitting man did.There are injustices in our society and this is just a very good example of it.By the law,the man was legally wrong but morally the man was right in my opinion. Very well written Morgan.
Awesome Read Morgan!!!! Wow the was Edgy and Witty at the same time. Loved the way the story moved around and keep reader wanting to follow the whole time. Very nice imagery.
Keep up the good work. Looking forward to the Next good read. I’m a fan….wher do I sign up for your fan club for up and coming writers and Can I have an autograph?
Charles M. Fishback
This is a great piece Morgan…well written. It kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what was going to happen next. If this is a sampling of what is yet to come from you, I can hardly wait.
Perceptive, challenging, and told with candour – brava.
Your story gave me chills, Morgan. There is palpable dramatic tension in short dialog and description of bloody confrontation. Keep on writing!
Terrific work, as always, Morgan! Congratulations!
Well written story Morgan! Great imagery and creativity. I really enjoyed it!
You tell a beautiful story in which everyone is right. And wrong.
So I have a few things to comment on. First off, I like what you’ve done with the format of the piece. It has an experimental tone, a merged form of non-fiction and poetry (a beautiful use of language in the retelling of a harsh reality), one that I enjoyed. The personification of the ‘eyes’ played so well in relation to ‘bystander’ effects and how it’s so easy to simply watch an injustice, versus stand (as the once sitting man did) and act! The use of the ‘once sitting man’ and ‘barking boy’ becoming a ‘single, unnerved entity’, was on point. This idea of blending right and wrong, and having the reader question what those two terms stand for when circumstances change. These are the true ‘Partitions’ all people are forced to face in understanding any truth about morality. You really give us something to think about with this short but punch-the-gutstory, wonderful piece Morgan!