Six Hundred and Seventy One Miles

June 29, 2010
By lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
3 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself." Anthony Burgess


“I’m not asking for much.”

A tear leaks from the corner of Mother’s eye. I avoid her gaze and stare at her wallet on the table instead. It is red with silver zippers, red like hugs and smiles, silver like laughter. I’d picked it out for her birthday three years ago.

“Why can’t you help me?”

“I... lost track of the time.” It is a sorry excuse, and I know it.

The phone rings. My eyes flicker to its flashing screen; Mother’s stay trained on my face, pleading.

“Charlie?” she says. The phone beeps as the loud speaker is turned on.

From six hundred and seventy one miles away, my father’s voice crackles into the room, tinny, unclear, down to business. “April, do you have the Triple A renewal code on you? The account is under your name and I can’t access it.”

“Yes,” my mother whispers. She fumbles with the red, the silver. It falls open, displaying long receipts and smooth credit cards: American Express, platinum, BUSINESS in all capital letters.

“April?” Father falters. He is always good at sensing these things. He is also good at turning away and pretending not to see at all. “Is everything... okay?”

“Yes,” Mother says again, but her voice is rising, rising from a whisper to a scream. “Yes, everything is fine like it always is, okay? Everything is fine like it has been for the past three years. The car is broken, your sister refuses to help me, but I was able to walk by myself. But I come home and...”

She stops. Her eyes snap at me. The refrigerator hums loudly next to her.

“It’s 10 o’ clock. Giselle has not eaten dinner yet.” My mother has not included herself in the sentence.

The lights are too bright. My eyes are glued to the purse. There is a tear in the red, a dent in the tarnished silver. Three years ago, it had been brand new.

“I thought...” Mother starts again, “I thought, even if there was no one else I could rely on... If only Giselle...” She breaks off. “I’m so alone.” Her voice breaks on the last word.

The refrigerator groans and quiets.

“Sorry. I’m sorry. Why don’t you eat first? Both of you.”

As always, my father guesses. He knows, but he doesn’t do anything, can’t do anything, not from so far away.

The phone is disconnected, just a simple touch of the button, and the silence stretches on for six hundred and seventy one miles.


The author's comments:
The premise is mostly true, but embellished a little and dramatized.

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This article has 20 comments.


lusis BRONZE said...
on Jul. 24 2010 at 2:38 pm
lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
3 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself." Anthony Burgess

Lol, I've been experimenting so sometimes people tell me I'm too vague, and other times they tell me I describe so much the meaning is lost >>

Still trying to find that balance, but being deep is a good thing! Thanks.


lusis BRONZE said...
on Jul. 24 2010 at 2:37 pm
lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
3 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself." Anthony Burgess

Ah yeah, I've been getting a lot of that. I was experimenting, but I guess it was a bit too vague. Thanks for pointing that out :)

iDogrocker said...
on Jul. 24 2010 at 2:37 pm
iDogrocker, Lebanon, Oregon
0 articles 0 photos 78 comments
You really have a way with language. It enhances your stories and makes them interesting. Keep up the good work :)

on Jul. 23 2010 at 5:06 pm
CloudWanderer BRONZE, Wheelersburg, Ohio
2 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We don't stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing."

"Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of your true love. If you must steal, steal from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. If you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away."

Ahhh your style is very refreshing. I like the vagueness, although I'm pretty descriptive in my own writing. Your writing is so deep--right on, man  ;)

Whylime said...
on Jul. 23 2010 at 4:57 pm
Whylime, Brentwood, Tennessee
0 articles 0 photos 157 comments

Favorite Quote:
Grief is the price we pay for love -- Queen Elizabeth ll
Don't go there, I'll only follow -- ???
Why is a raven like a writing desk? -- The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland
Chewing gum is really gross, chewing gum I hate the most -- Willy W.

i liked it. but i had to read it twice to understand. the writing style suited you but was a little too vague which caused me to be confused.. but i also read way too fast so that may be the reason why.. (: oops.. keep writing in italics on accident.. oh well.

lusis BRONZE said...
on Jul. 21 2010 at 6:31 pm
lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
3 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself." Anthony Burgess

I guess it does have potential to go further... but when I wrote it I didn't intend it to. It's an interesting thought though. I might try something longer in the future. Thanks! 

AidanR. said...
on Jul. 20 2010 at 7:30 am
AidanR., Buffalo, New York
0 articles 0 photos 52 comments
Ok, cool, I like that it's left open like that, but I was jus curious what you were thinking when you wrote it

lusis BRONZE said...
on Jul. 19 2010 at 10:42 pm
lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
3 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself." Anthony Burgess

He's calling because the car is broken.

His reason for leaving I never stated explicitly because I wanted it to be open for interpretation. It could be any or all. If you want to know what I had in mind though, it was because of a job out of state.


AidanR. said...
on Jul. 19 2010 at 9:33 pm
AidanR., Buffalo, New York
0 articles 0 photos 52 comments
why is he calling?  why did he leave?  is this a job, the military, a divorce?

AidanR. said...
on Jul. 19 2010 at 9:32 pm
AidanR., Buffalo, New York
0 articles 0 photos 52 comments

This was fantastic. I can't find anything wrong with it.  Like a lot of stories on TeenInk, however, it feels like it really should go on.  This should be exposition, but this couple of paragraphs is like the tip of an iceberg - an actual short story.

I would like to see where this goes, at least.


lusis BRONZE said...
on Jul. 17 2010 at 10:00 pm
lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
3 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself." Anthony Burgess

Oh I'm so glad to hear that. I guess it's just a matter of opinion then :I

I really like stories like that too. I used to think I put in too much detail, so I wanted to change it up a little. I'm still experimenting though, haha.


on Jul. 17 2010 at 8:49 pm
sleeplessdreamer PLATINUM, Raleigh, North Carolina
30 articles 0 photos 332 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I have always wanted to write in such a way that people say, 'I have always thought that but never found the words for it.'" -anonymous

Disagree with others that there could have been more description. Maybe it's just me, but I like when the stories are vague and unclear because you can feel your own personal stories within them without all the forced background facts in the way of your imagination. I love the focal point of the purse, kind of the anchor to the story. Really captured the emotions. I love your writing. It's so refreshing.

lusis BRONZE said...
on Jul. 17 2010 at 7:31 pm
lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
3 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself." Anthony Burgess

Okay, more description. I'll keep that in mind :)

_Mags_ SILVER said...
on Jul. 16 2010 at 9:26 am
_Mags_ SILVER, Somewhere, North Carolina
9 articles 7 photos 436 comments

Favorite Quote:
- I stare danger in the face and giggle
- Never argue with an idiot, people might not know the difference
-R.A.P (Retards Attempting Poetry)
-Tip Cologne ryhmes with alone

that is amazing, can't believe the father left though. My only suggestion is to add more description about what is happening around charlie and his mother.

lusis BRONZE said...
on Jul. 15 2010 at 10:49 pm
lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
3 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself." Anthony Burgess

Thanks for taking the time to comment :)

Yeah, things can be tough. This story was somewhat based on true occurences so I'm glad I could convey the feeling properly.


lusis BRONZE said...
on Jul. 15 2010 at 10:47 pm
lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
3 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself." Anthony Burgess

Three years ago, the father left the family. I guess I didn't explain that clearly enough, so thanks for pointing it out :)

lusis BRONZE said...
on Jul. 15 2010 at 10:46 pm
lusis BRONZE, San Jose, California
3 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself." Anthony Burgess

I've been trying to experiment with different writing styles, more vague and runny sentences, but I guess I left things a little too vague aha. Three years ago, the father left. The mother is running the family by herself and has to balance everything, hence the American Express cards with BUSINESS in capital letters. She just can't take it anymore.

Hugs and smiles I threw in on a whim. I was trying to go for an abstract sort of feel since hugs and smiles and laughter don't have colors. :D

But yeah thanks so much for pointing all these things out! I'll keep them in mind next time I try something like this again. 


KK2013 GOLD said...
on Jul. 15 2010 at 9:43 pm
KK2013 GOLD, Solon, Ohio
10 articles 2 photos 163 comments

Favorite Quote:
Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.-J. K. Rowling

Very interesting. I still have a lot of questions though, like what did father guess? what happened 3 years ago? why is everything falling apart?

But besides that, good job! beautiful writing. Question: how does red resemble hugs and smiles? and silver laughter? I understand the symbolism and all, but I don't get how they resemble that. 

I think it MIGHT have worked better if you said the purse was from a happy time three years ago or something around those lines? Idk, but I get it this way too!

Nice one!


on Jul. 15 2010 at 8:41 pm
PorcelainShadow BRONZE, Lizton, Indiana
4 articles 6 photos 39 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't hold your tongue, instead, hold your breath, and jump in"

Left me breathless. honestly. i remember this happening to my mother... six hundred and seventy one miles can be heartbreaking. in this case, it is truly.. ..astonishing.

on Jul. 15 2010 at 7:32 pm
Just.A.Dream SILVER, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
7 articles 0 photos 431 comments

Favorite Quote:
Part of the J7X team. :)

I liked it, but I don't really get why she's moody at the moment. The mother says everything going wrong in her life, but what happened three years ago? Good job though, I loved the mom's personality. :)


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