Charley by Lou Freshwater

My house is on a dirt road that drops off on both sides into deep ditches that always have at least an inch of water in them. I live here with my mama. She has a mess of black hair and she always smells like she’s been soakin’ in spring. She goes to work at night. She works at a bar where the soldiers come when they get leave. We’ve been here near four years now. Since I was nine. Our house is tight and slanty. Long time ago, someone painted the wood blue and I never have been able to figure out why, cause now it looks like the place where the sky got washed away. It has one bedroom so I sleep in the livin’ room cause mama is tired after work and she needs her bed. It’s also cause sometimes she brings the soldiers home with her. They sometimes need a dose of home she says. But I wish they could get their dose somewhere else. When they are here, it makes me feel like I’m the only person in the world, like nothin’ is real. One night, I heard one of them singing to Mama, and when we get behind closed doors, she lets her hair hang down, and he kept goin’ on an on, so I took my pillow and I crawled under the couch and all the sudden I didn’t feel like I was alone anymore, and in that darkness everything felt real again.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Charley by Lou Freshwater

  1. Michie

    Oh me oh my! I loooooove this! And how I love this part: “It’s also cause sometimes she brings the soldiers home with her. They sometimes need a dose of home she says.” Mmmmmmm!

  2. Beautifully written, touching on the points that hit the heart. Nice, Lou.

  3. Very nice note of bittersweet! That washed out blue of the sky made me ache with Charley.

  4. Lovely details of the land and the sad home where this child is forced to live. Very good story!

  5. len kuntz

    great voice in this piece. loved “tight and slanty” and the washed out blue.

  6. Michelle

    Damn, girl, you paint such a complete picture in such a tight space. I love how you do that. “She always smells like she’s been soakin’ in spring” — that’s one of my favorites, as is “now it looks like the place where the sky got washed away.” Thanks for sharing your gift on our pages, Lou!

  7. John Riley

    Love this. Such a great voice and the details that are exactly right and so many great lines. Love that she can’t figure out why the wood was painted blue and that it’s the solider singing she can’t bear to hear instead of what we expect it to be. I’ll come back to this one.

  8. I love the description in this, and my favourite is this – “Our house is tight and slanty.” A bit like your prose!

  9. “in that darkness everything felt real again”…to close with such a thought & image. masterful. enjoyed this so much.

  10. slanty house paints such a picture – very real, very telling, very dear piece lou

  11. you paint a world in such a tight and slanty space. i know this girl, her sadness, her hope. peace…

  12. Lou

    I was gone for a few days and I came back to find all of these wonderful comments. I’m just overwhelmed by you all, thank you.

  13. Pingback: 52/250 theme: Threesome | Baby's Black Balloon

  14. Perfect voice in this.

  15. Oh, ‘Our house is tight and slanty’ describes this story perfectly.

  16. Love the tight POV, the spare evocative voice, the words are wonderful…LOVE IT!!!

  17. Pingback: Week #52 – Threesome | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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