“Deviation From” by Cameron Young
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.) This week, Timothy Gager brings us on a long trip back home.
This week, Cameron Young’s Jerry helps his little brother find a moment of peace.
A typical Thursday. A typical night.
Jerry stretched his feet under the dining table, yawning. His eleventh grade math homework seemed to glare at him from the fluorescent white of the overhead light. They were covering probability in class, something Jerry knew plenty about.
There was a thump above him.
Typical Thursday night.
Shouting ensued and whisked down the curving stairs like a gale through the valley. Snippets of hate brushed into his mind, and Jerry felt the same peace he tried resurrecting last week die again. He grabbed his earphones.
“Get the hell out! Just go!”
“This is my goddamn house Ellen, and I will not stand to be talked to that way!”
His brother, Daniel, stood scared at the foot of the stairs, wearing mismatched Spongebob and Power Rangers slippers. His thumb plugged up his mouth so he wouldn’t cry. So they wouldn’t hear.
Only five. Only five and already he’s lost his childhood.
Jerry motioned for his brother to come to him. He walked slowly, hesitating. They both knew there was a loose floorboard that squeaked.
There was a loud slapping noise. Then silence. “You motherfuck—”
A loud crash shook the house. Jerry looked up. “Get your hands off of me, you asshole!”
A flurry of bumps mixed with an occasional crash resonated around the house.
Daniel popped his thumb out and began to cry. Jerry quickly covered his mouth, muffling the sound as Daniel thrashed about.
“What the hell is that sound? Are those damn kids still awake?”
“Jerry is still doing homework. He has school tomorrow. Can’t you just stop for one night?”
“What, are you saying there is a problem with me? Huh?”
“Look at yourself, you’re slobbering everywhere! You can’t even keep your mouth closed.”
Jerry grabbed his earphones with his free hand as Daniel cried louder. He plopped them into his ears and turned on the music. Daniel quieted down as Jerry played Daniel’s Mix on his iPod. “That’s it, I’ve had it with you!”
“Yeah? Gonna leave again, huh? Leave the kids all alone?”
Jerry looked through his backpack for a small clear pouch with two mushrooms in it and brought it out.
What are these again? Alpha something? Crimini?
Daniel began to whimper again, and Jerry looked at his iPod.
Damnit. Out of juice.
He turned Daniel around again and put his finger up to his lips. Daniel blubbered but he nodded. They both knew what would happen if their father heard them making noise. Probably.
“You like mushrooms, right?”Jerry asked, showing Daniel a mushroom with a fairly large, lightly toasted top.
Daniel nodded slowly, licking his lips.
“These are special mushrooms.” Jerry explained, twirling it in his fingers. “They make you sleepy and dream and all sorts of good stuff.”
Daniel’s eyes widened.
“I only have two because they are very special, okay? I have one for you and one for me. Okay?” Jerry smiled.
Daniel reached out for the mushroom and Jerry pulled back suddenly.
“But you have to eat all of it, right?” Jerry whispered. “You can’t just take a bite. You have to eat all of it; that is very important.”
“You’re nothing but a whore!”
“You wish you could.”
Jerry hesitated, looking at the mushroom, but with the last thump against the ceiling he thrust it into Daniel’s hands, and Daniel followed it to his mouth. Jerry popped the other into his own mouth and started chewing rapidly. The faint tang of mushroom hit him just as it hit Daniel.
“Now go lie down, okay? I’ll be in to say goodnight soon.” Jerry whispered. Daniel smiled, the kind of smile that would stay with you for days. Jerry watched him slip past the stairs.
Jerry finally put his pencil down after he solved the last stat problem. He packed his things and went to his room, stopping by Daniel’s door and putting his hand on the knob. He could hear a faint thrashing and a moan; he imagined Daniel having a strange dream.
He’ll be okay. I’ve done shrooms of all kinds, and I’m perfectly fine.
Jerry lay in bed, unusually tired and with his stomach cramping. He turned over and curled up. He told himself he’d be fine in the morning.
CAMERON YOUNG is a recent graduate of California State University, Fullerton, having obtained his M.A. in English with a focus in creative writing. His current work centers on a novel in progress entitled Leather and Suede, inspired by representations of the people he loves and their past associations with each other. Additionally, his work includes various short stories and poems that have been shared among colleagues with the hope of future publication. His aim is to secure a professorship at a college to teach composition writing and instill in his students his passion for crafting works of the soul.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Jun 26, 2014
Featured: Music/Popular Culture/Art
- HNIC (limited edition signed package)
- Of Mule and Man
- Censorship Now!! (LIMITED SIGNED HARDCOVER EDITION)
- The Worst Breakfast
- Sale Drug Chronicles (Complete Set)
- Sale GTFTS/YHTFE Bundle
- Hello Sunshine
- The Immune System
- The Accidental Hunter
- You Have to Fucking Eat
- What Else Is in the Teaches of Peaches – STANDARD EDITION
- Simon’s Cat vs. the World