Waterproof (for Trifecta)

Dear Reader, I’m reposting this short piece in the hopes of reminding myself that it needs finishing. I’ve actually already begun working on continuing the story and have high hopes of seeing it to fruition in the “not-so-distant” future. I would love your feedback. Thanks.

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Following is my entry for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge. As is usually the case, I went with the first idea that popped into my threadbare brain. RULES: All entries must be between 33 and 333 words and need to include the following word using its third definition:

cheap adj \ˈchēp\

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Waterproof

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I live in a town called Waterproof. Yes, I know it’s a strange name. It’s supposed to mean we’re protected from floodwaters and, around these parts, that’s a good thing. So nobody ever dared to change it.

Waterproof is right on the Louisiana-Mississippi border so it’s no surprise that we’re one of the poorest cities in the state. The last time anybody checked, the average income for a family around here was about $15,000, and that’s usually supposed to take care of three or four people. More than half of us live below the poverty line. And I say “us” because Daddy and I are probably scraping the bottom of that bowl.

We’re also one of the smallest cities in the state. The sign on the highway says we have 693 people living here, but it’s wrong. At least, I know it’s wrong by three. My best friend, Josie, her mother and her little brother, Dewey, moved away last year when Miss Eileen got that job offer in Tuscaloosa. She said she just couldn’t pass up a chance to move her family to a big city with good schools and restaurants and more than one supermarket.

All I know is that it’s 300 miles away, according to Daddy. And that means no visits, just letters. But I have to sneak the stamps. Daddy says stamp prices are so high that you can only mail two letters for a dollar these days. He says when he was my age he could mail six letters for that same dollar and still have a dime in his pocket for bubble gum.

That’s Daddy.

He’s always looking for ways to stretch his pay. I remember eating potatoes for dinner a whole week once because it’s how he got paid that time. He says the only things you shouldn’t scrimp on are shoes and tires. Daddy says you don’t want anything too cheap coming between you and the road. He says every man deserves at least that.

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My first real job after college was in Louisiana Tourism. I got to see a lot of small towns in the state with which I would not otherwise even be familiar. Fun fact – my salary for that job was below the one quoted in this story.

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40 responses to “Waterproof (for Trifecta)

  1. Wow! What a story. Love the quote “you don’t want anything too cheap coming between you and the road.” That’s for sure! I think we all made around that back in the day.

    • Thanks, Gina. The story is based on a few dads I know. The quote itself is mine but the idea about not scrimping on those two things specifically belongs to my father-in-law.

  2. Great story and skilled writing! You taught me something and you made me really like the characters a lot. The dad sounds like a smart guy and you can feel the daughter’s admiration she has for him through your words. Excellent job…as usual!

  3. Big thumbs up for this one :-) Good luck!

    PS sounds like a good beginning to a young adult coming of age story, hint, hint…

  4. Scriptor Obscura

    Great story here. I really enjoyed this one. Wonderful writing! :D

  5. Just loved that quote!!!

    • Thanks, James. It was fun writing it. At first, I used the word ‘ground’ instead of ‘road.’ Then, one of the times I was proofing it aloud to myself, I accidentally said ‘road’ and realized how much better it sounded. Grittier.

  6. You know what? This is really well written. Really. You are talented.

  7. What a believable voice. I actually couldn’t tell at first if you were writing fiction or memoir. What I *really* loved was how “waterproof” was a great symbol for the narrator’s positive outlook – how some people shed life’s troubles the way a slicker sheds the rain.

    • Thanks, chrstnj. I’m fortunate that there really is a town here named Waterproof. I thought it was perfect for so many reasons, among them protection from the road of life.

  8. What I like about this telling is that you, the writer, are not heard. The comfortable voice of the teller could let drop that her/his daddy is a serial killer and the information would just gloss over in this matter-of-fact voice. Great writing ! :)

  9. I like that attitude, that there’s one thing worth splurging on. And by making it shoes and tires, Daddy gives the kid something of value to own even on a limited income. Very cool.

  10. Another great piece. I think I love everything about it. I like the background you give us about Waterproof (great name – so glad it’s real) and I like how you develop the father’s character. Great response to the prompt.

  11. This was fantastic as always. Congratulations!

  12. I absolutely love this. I know so much about these two from what’s on the page in so short a space. And I want to know them more. This story feels whole and it cries out to be longer. Wonderful.

  13. How did I miss this? This is fantastic! I understand completely where you’re coming from.

    Congratulations! It’s a wonderful melancholy story.

  14. Thanks. That’s good to hear.

  15. Congratulations on your win, ODNT! You are so good at writing from the voice of another character. I enjoyed this piece as much as I did your HG prequels!

  16. Great job. I hope you do finish this. I’m intrigued. :)

  17. I love the voice in this — the narrator is so clearly not concerned with the details of life, instead letting them just come along. Love it!

  18. Bittersweet, I like it :)

  19. I’d love to see the rest of this so please do get it done! Great start!

  20. love it. more please.

  21. Pingback: winner of the speakeasy at yeah write #90 | the speakeasy at yeah write

  22. This was fun, so much cool imagery.

  23. Pingback: My Hopes for 2014 … in 3 Words | OldDogNewTits

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