A Story: "When Things Get Really Bad"
During the Great Depression in the 1930's people lost their jobs.
Banks closed, and long lines formed in the streets called "bread lines".
People got up early and had to stand in line all day to get a free loaf of bread to feed their family!
Caution: Do NOT read this story if you have empathy or compassion
"When Things Get Really Bad"
In a cabin in the Appalachian mountains, there was a family of four: two children (a boy and a girl), a mom and a dad (who had lost his job at the local sawmill).
Things looked really bleak. The children were afraid they'd starve to death.
"Mommy," said the little boy, "are we going to die?"
"No, no, no" the mother reassured him, "let me show you something."
Their mother forced a smile and took her son's hand and walked the boy and his small sister over to the pantry. . . and opened the door.
She found a step stool and stepped up . . . stretching to reach a colorful box on the top shelf of the pantry . . .
She took it down and turned around with wide-eyes and a large smile--as though she were holding a Christmas present.
The little children saw this and began to feel cheerful and excited.
They followed her back into the kitchen where she placed it on the table and slowly opened it.
Inside: all sorts of brightly colored fruit! Oranges, bananas, grapes, cherries and a huge pineapple!!
"You see that my little Darlings?"
The children nodded silently with wonder brimming over in their eyes.
"As long as we have this to fall back on we are never going to starve to death!"
The brother and his little sister relaxed and smiled ecstatically.
"Can we have a cherry right now?" Her son enthused.
"No, sweetheart, this is for later. Much later--only for emergency. You know, in case things get really really bad."
As the weeks crawled by and the Daddy hunted the woods for squirrel, rabbit or even less appetizing possibilities; the children began to lose weight.
They became listless . . . played very little . . . gradually turned hollow of eye and pale. Their parents listened with hearts breaking, whimpering in their beds at night with their little bellies growling like distant thunder.
Sometimes it was unbearable.
Mother would light a candle and fetch the box from the pantry shelf and place it on the bed in front of the starving children for them to see.
"It looks so delicious, Mommy! Please, please....can't we have just a taste of.....one....just one grape?"
But, the mother would sternly shake her head from side to side with great sadness and tell them it was for later.
"When things get really bad."
The little ones knew their Mommy and Dadd really loved them and once again, reassured-- they'd drift off to a peaceful sleep.
The winter was hard and snow drift prevented much hunting. All the game animals seemed to vanish. The nights were freezing and overcast with frequent high winds and flashing bolts of hostile lightning snarling like beasts outside.
Spring came. At last!
The thaw brought a new season and the forest came alive. Hunters arrived at the cabin. The men knocked on the door. Louder. Louder. Knowing the people who lived inside, they grew worried.
They opened the door and called out, "Anybody home?"
It was dark inside and there was a bad smell that chilled the hearts of those men.
Gradually, their eyes adjusted to the darkness.
They found them. All dead in their beds.
Holding each other-- the little brother and sister; the Mom and Dad.
Gaunt and wispy they were-- like the limbs of a leafless tree.
On the dinner table a few feet away... stood a box.
The hunters opened it not knowing what to expect.
Inside that box was a cheery and colorful display like you sometimes see in the large department stores back East.
The words: "It looks just like the real thing!"
At the bottom of the card in small letters, it read:
Caution: DO NOT ingest
Again another well-written piece. Thank you, Terry, you sucked me right in.
Wow was not expecting that kind of ending.
You still got the gift of the gab
Excellent analogy of how the "mother organization" keeps dangling the 'wax fruit' of a new world in front of her "children"! Like the end of your story, I see many of my contemporaries (I'm 71) dying off. They were waiting for things to get "really bad" so that jehober would jump in and give them some 'real' relief, still hoping for the new world, we found them dead with their bibles and literature on full display.
You get a 'G' for use of illustrations, and we'll move on to the next point of counsel.
Powerful, just powerful.
I have been told by several people how cruel and awful it is to write such a story. I can't completely disagree--except--isn't this what writers are supposed to do? Make it real?
Sometimes an idea comes to me and I can't get it out of my head until I write it.
That's why I placed the warning at the outset.
I think the other story I wrote with a similar dark theme was:
LITTLE MOLLY IN THE DYING LIGHT
I loved writing it :)
I guess I've read too many short stories because I knew it was wax fruit. How much sadder it would have been if it was real and never eaten.
But I enjoyed your story.
For those who are interested in the writing process here's something to glance at: the link above the other story was written first several years ago. It isn't much of a "story" but contains the core of what was urging me to write at the time. So, as such, it is merely a sketch.
Yesterday, I took that idea and polished it just a little--rounding it off. A beginning, a middle and--at last, a kind of open-ended conclusion.
The difference between those two versions is a pretty good example of the process...at least for me.