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Scrivener123
March 5th, 2017, 09:05 AM
It's been awhile, but, I'm ready for punishment again. I would appreciate any feedback given. Warning! There is rough language and subject matter. Thank you.

We Serve Breakfast All Day.

“Just make it through the fucking day!”

The words hung in the air for a heartbeat or two. Then, as easily as gossamer, they were wiped away by some unseen hand. The man shook off the feeling that he had lost something important and went back to work. He sliced into the heart-shaped tomato and watched it bleed onto the counter. “I hate fucking tomatoes,” he said under his breath.

Well, perhaps hate wasn’t the right word. He thought about it and realized it was more of a mistrust of them. He knew it was odd, but there it was: he didn’t trust tomatoes. Everybody had his or her particular quirks, he thought reasonably. His weren’t any worse or crazier than others. He knew there was a reason for the mistrust, but couldn’t quite remember. Maybe he’d had a bad encounter with a tomato in grade school, he mused, and then laughed a little at the thought. He imagined a tomato taking his lunch money or stealing his chocolate milk during lunch break. He felt a sudden urge to stab the tomato Jason Voorhees style. But instead, he carefully slid a center slice of the tomato onto a plate.

“Where’s my breakfast?” the woman screamed from the table.

The man had absentmindedly lip-synced the woman’s words. It all seemed so familiar. He turned from the kitchen counter with the breakfast plate and headed for the table. The eggs were sunny-side up, as usual. There were exactly three pieces of bacon, and one slice of tomato. He had made sure that it wasn’t an end piece. He knew how much his wife hated end pieces. The bruises from that most recent lesson were still fresh.

“What the fuck am I going to do with you?” she asked, as he set the plate down in front of her. “I mean, really,” she continued, “what the fuck are you good for exactly?”

“Did I do something wrong, honey?” he asked, bracing for the storm.

“Did I do something wrong, honey?” she echoed, mockingly. “You know my new boss starts today. You know what kind of pressure I’m under. All I wanted was for my breakfast to be served on time. But I guess that’s too much to ask.”

The man nervously smoothed his hands on his apron. They felt sweaty. He took a quick look at the clock on the wall behind the stove. His wife had put it there to make sure he was always on schedule. He could see that he hadn’t been late. In fact he was about a minute early getting her breakfast on the table, but he knew better than to argue.

“I’m sorry,” he said, looking down at the floor nervously.

“Yeah… yeah. I guess you are,” she said as she pushed away from the table. Come ’ere!”

He hesitated, hovering between the consequences to any action, but quickly decided that it was best to go to her, instead of having her come to him.

“Take a look at those eggs. Do the whites seem a little runny to you,” she asked, with a cold voice that he had come to understand was prelude. He bent down to take a closer look at the eggs.

“I… I… can make some—”

He didn’t get to finish the sentence. She grabbed the back of his head with both hands and pushed his face into the eggs. She slid his head from side to side on the plate to make sure her point got across. The bacon, which had survived the initial assault, was now a cracked and crumbled mess on the plate. The tomato slice was still intact, but partially squished and hanging off one side of the dish.

“Now you look better. Your insides match your outside,” she said to him with satisfaction.

He stood up, sunny-side dripping from his face. He tried to make sure none of the plate’s contents had dripped onto his wife’s uniform, but he saw that it was too late.

“Now, look what you’ve done,” she said icily.

A blow caught him on the temple before he could even think. It sent him to the floor.

“I guess you’ll probably start crying now,” she sneered. “Maybe you should,” she said from above him. “It’ll probably improve your looks even more.” He looked up at her, waiting for another blow or a kick, but it didn’t come.

“I’m going upstairs to change my uniform. When I get back down here,” she said, “you’d better have this mess cleaned up, or there’ll be hell to pay.” She turned and headed for the stairs before turning back and adding, “And don’t wipe off your face until after I’ve made sure you’ve cleaned up properly. Besides, the new look suits you.”

He didn’t answer. He just went over to the sink to grab the sponge. He didn’t cry. He wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.

He wiped down the table, then slid the tomato entirely onto the plate and carried it over to the kitchen sink. He was about to scrape its remaining contents into the disposal with the knife he had used to slice the tomato earlier.

“Kill her,” someone said.

He looked around. No one else was in the room. His head was still spinning from the blow to his temple. He supposed that the blow (not to mention all of the ones that had come before) was enough to start him hearing things. Maybe it was the beginning of a type of madness, he thought. If it was, he welcomed it. At least it would take him off this merry-go-round, he thought. Merry-go-round? Such an odd way to describe it, he thought. But, it felt right. It felt… accurate. He brought himself back to the task at hand. His wife would be down any second.

“Kill her,” the voice said again, and then added, “Before she kills you.”

He looked around. All of a sudden, madness didn’t seem as appealing.

“I am losing my mind,” he said aloud.

“You’re not crazy. But, you have to act fast.”

He looked down at the plate in his hand. It was the tomato slice.

“Trust me,” it said, “you have to kill her, or she’ll kill you. You know I’m right.”

He stared at the tomato slice, but his mind was elsewhere. He was thinking of how right it would feel to kill her. It was what he should have done a long time ago. He looked down at his apron. It didn’t feel right. He didn’t feel right. He was a fighter. Why was he taking this abuse, especially from a woman, he thought. That last thought started a fire inside him. He dropped the plate into the sink. He could feel his grip tightening on the knife handle. This whole thing doesn’t feel right, he thought again. “Who the fuck does she think she is ordering me around like that?” he growled. “Who the fuck does she think she is?” He looked down and caught his reflection in the knife blade between smears of tomato blood. Was it blood, he wondered briefly? His reflection was laughing at him. The him that was reflected in the knife blade was somehow different. That him didn’t have the beaten, trampled-on look that he saw in the mirror everyday. He could hear his wife coming down the stairs. “I’ll show her what hell feels like,” he said under his breath, as his hand tightened even more on the knife handle.

“That mess better be cleaned up,” she yelled from the stairs, “or I’ll give you a real good reason to cry.”

He heard her reach the bottom of the stairs but didn’t turn around.

“Oh, you just made my fucking day! I’m gonna teach you a lesson today that you won’t soon forget.” He knew what was coming. She was predictable, if nothing else. He could hear the sound of her pulling off her belt off, and knew she was now wrapping the two ends around her fists.

He heard her coming up behind him. She was going to choke him with that belt. That was her way. The stupid bitch did it every time. So stupid, he thought. She should try something different. He didn’t stop to think why he knew that, or why he knew exactly when to spin around. He just did. The knife slid easily into her abdomen. It went in smoothly. He felt it twist downward a little after hitting a rib. But, she didn’t scream. She just disappeared. He heard laughter coming from the sink. He didn’t turn around. He knew it was the tomato, just like he knew the tomato wasn’t actually a tomato. It was his keeper, the one in charge of this place. He knew the name of the place, but didn’t like to say it… or think it. He knew everything now because there was always a moment of clarity before it all started again. He remembered all of the other times he had killed this wife and the time he had killed his real wife. During these moments, he was made to feel the pain he had caused throughout his life. He felt every attack physically, emotionally, and psychologically all at once. He felt them from the perspective of his wife and every other woman he’d every abused. And there had been quite a few. He doubled over in pain. It was only the anger he felt and the injustice of it all that kept him from falling to the floor. It wasn’t my fault, he yelled in his mind. Must I pay for one slip up forever?

“And ever,” the tomato said from the sink, in a distinctly clerical tone.

The man’s mouth moved on its own and said, “Amen,” in unison with the tomato. But he knew that wasn’t true. He knew that all he had to do was make it through the day just once without killing his wife, and he’d be free. And then, everything started to go dark.

The man closed his eyes tight and forced himself to remember: “Don’t trust the tomato. Don’t trust the tomato. Just make it through the day. Just make it through the fucking day!”

The man sliced into the heart-shaped tomato and watched it bleed onto the counter. He hated tomatoes.

Jack Semmes
March 10th, 2017, 06:14 PM
I like this story. Problems I see are all in your craft.


For example; Fifty five sentences begin with "He". He is used a total of ninety seven times.


"He sliced into the heart-shaped tomato and watched it bleed onto the counter."


Try "Blood seemed to spill onto the counter as his knife sliced the heart shaped tomato."


"That" is used twenty three times. Try removing every occurrence of "that". Your work will be easier to read.


"The" is used 137 times. "Show don't Tell". When "The" is used you are telling. Try to minimize it's usage.


Five sentences begin with "The". My personal opinion is no sentence should begin with "The" or "A"


Hopefully none of this cuts to deeply, but you asked. Good story.

Scrivener123
March 11th, 2017, 10:11 AM
Thank you so much for the great critique and advice. I've been waiting for at least one person to make a comment. Honest feedback is the only way I can make progress. I will absolutely use your suggestions! Thanks again.

Winston
March 11th, 2017, 10:14 PM
A good read.
I would consider setting the scene up a bit more before we get the MC internal dialogue. We all know what a diner looks like. Still, I would paint the picture for the reader.
I don't have a good view in my mind of what the characters look like as well. Some economically placed descriptions would help.
Good luck with this.

Scrivener123
March 12th, 2017, 04:32 AM
Winston,

Thank you for the taking the time to read my story and the advice. One of the challenges I usually have when writing is being too succinct. Fleshing out things a little more would definitely help. Someone I know recently offered similar advice. Thanks again.

RcM

Cave Troll
July 19th, 2017, 06:01 PM
I agree with Winston on the scene development.
The flow is a bit rough in spots, but not overly
terrible. The tone is a bit awkward at times, with
the 'talking tomato', as it comes off a bit more
humorous than chilling. But I think we can all agree
that the wife is a nasty woman.

Not sure what to really say beyond this. It was interesting.

wkiraly
July 30th, 2017, 04:46 AM
And I'm going to (respectfully) disagree with Winston, Jack and the Cave Troll! I'm not sure there's much at all I would want you to change. I LOVE the talking tomato. It is wonderfully absurd to be manipulated by a tomato and I am sure that this absurdity adds to his punishment deliciously (if you'll forgive my pun). And this absurdity is part of what makes this story so charming.

I really likes that it takes a few minutes to figure out what the heck is going on, I was completely intrigued by why this man would put up with this treatment and none of my theories were right which made your ultimate explanation all that much more fun.

I don't need description of the characters or the location, exactly what they look like here can be left up to the reader because it is not important, but your description of the sunny-side dripping from his face is spot on--that is description where it is needed.

Okay, I would change one thing--the title--because I, too, thought this was happening in a diner because of that title. Maybe the others wanted more description because it felt awkward picturing it happening in a diner when what clues there were in the text said it was the kitchen at home.

I like succinct. In less that 2000 words, you tell a memorable, complete, funny and slightly shocking tale. You ask me, you pretty much nailed this. I'm going to go looking for more of your work on this site.

Bill CK

Jan
August 6th, 2017, 07:37 PM
I laughed a little bit when I read this. This story is pretty out of the ordinary that's for sure!

Regarding critique: I'd love to know a little bit more about what the man his wife looks like. it's always good when you can see it all going on in your head at it is happening. As a writer it's easy to get the feeling that you know the scene of the story, because after all you're the one who wrote it. To me as a reader though, that is very different.

That's all. I enjoyed the story. I really did :wink:

Jay Greenstein
August 7th, 2017, 02:33 AM
You have a major advantage as you read. You start reading knowing what's going on. You know where we are, who's speaking and why—and why it matters, And you know whose skin we're wearing. So for you, the words evoke memories, images, and ideas that are stored in your mind. For the reader? The words evoke memories, images, and ideas that are stored in your mind. And since you're not there to explain...
“Just make it through the fucking day!”Someone unknown is thinking words prompted by unknown events—an effect of some event or situation—in an unknown place in time and space. The reader can't tell the age, gender, or the smallest thing about the speaker, who isn't given a name. Why would a reader care about someone unimportant enough that they don't have a name, a location, or anything that might make us care?

You have an unknown "he" claim to dislike tomatoes for unknown reason. I don't like olives. Are you glad I told you that? Of course not. But that's how happy your reader is to learn trivial and unimportant facts about your unknown characters.

It's not a matter of good or bad writing, it's that if you want your writing to be as readable as the pros people normally read you need to know what a pro knows.

In this you're explaining what you see happening in your mind. And you're doing that with the nonfiction writing skills we all learn in our school days (remember all the reports and how few stories we had to write?). Simply put, to write fiction you need to know the skills of writing fiction, and they were not touched on in our schooling. So hit the local library system's fiction writing section. It will be time well spent.