Two For One

(Author’s Note: Here’s a 250 word story I recently entered into a contest. The theme was historical fiction, and I had to use the word flame and have someone sign a document. Enjoy!)

P.S. This was inspired by this famous photo…

Two for One

My big brother, Jimbo, fetched me before the sun rose. I crawled from our photo-covered tent and heard Momma say, “Good morning, sleepyhead,” as my feet found the mud outside. Maybe those words were for baby Milton. He was stirring on her arm.

“Even in a Hooverville, folks has got chores,” said Jimbo, grabbing at my arm and pulling me along.

Never knew why he always said that. Most folks here laid around reading the paper. Those who could read. Bunch of men fighting at the soup kitchen again. Our kitchen had a reputation.

Worst Hoover stew in Chicago.

My stomach growled all the same as we passed the early risers in line. But Jimbo had me go and fetch the water. Took me twelve trips, but I done what he asked. He set the fire. I watched as the flame below our washbasin grew higher. The water started boiling. Then came the washing.

Momma would’ve been proud. No fussing. We did all the washing. Even the dress on my back.

We walked back sometime later; my clothes still wet on me. A man was at our tent. Signing a paper as Momma covered her face. He handed her wrinkled money. Then the paper. Then he grabbed Jimbo and I by the arms and yelled, “Come on, now!”

I looked back at Momma, as she held Milton to her breast. They were both crying. Beside her was a sign she’d drawn up:

For Sale: One Strong Boy. Girl Included.

2 thoughts on “Two For One

  1. This is really well done. As someone who had to pare down their word count in college substantially, it’s really impressive what you did in 250 words. I saw the picture up top, and yet by the time I had reached the end I was slightly shocked at what had happened.

    My favorite part is that the narration doesn’t betray much about the narrator, and I wasn’t aware it was a girl until the mention of the dress. Then the ending stung more, when she was just “included”. I came into this post not expecting much, but left impressed. Nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

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