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Suburbia

by rl320


The five A.M. sun breaks apathetically over Elm hill drive. The only resident of the tiny, upper middle class neighborhood awake is Dorothy Greitzer. Dorothy is a seventy-eight year old woman from a radical, Pentacostal upbringing who married into the Jewish family of the late Mr. Ezekiel Greitzer or, simply, Zeke.

Just last night the Derglings next-door were discussing her dead husband's ethnicity very heatedly over their leftover macaroni casserole with their friends, the Barbers.

“You know,” Helen Dergling said, cutting herself another small square, “the Jews killed Jesus. Pastor Ryan told me that.”

tsk tsk tsk,” Beth barber agreed, “and to think, people these days want to go around painting Jesus brown?”

“Oh, you heard what Megyn Kelly said about it, right?”

“Oh, I just love her,” Beth gushed, placing her thick hand over her heart. “Love her hair.”

One the other end of the new-but-rustic-looking-table Ed Dergling grunted, “how’re the fish in Bubba Tom’s lake looking, Bob?”

“Pretty good,” he nodded, chewing the cheese and noodle concoction thoughtfully, “caught a bass just the other day. Eleven pounder.”

Just the other day for Bob was thirty years ago, his junior year of high school. He was fishing with a pretty girl named Eileen, who he was trying to impress. As it turned out, Eileen was scared to death of fish and learned it that day. Bob would forever remember her as “the one that got away” and sometimes when he hugs Beth he pretends that she’s Eileen and he never took her fishing—on the rare occasion that he does actually hug his menopausal wife.

But at five in the morning, Ed and Helen are sleeping with their backs to each other. Ed is dreaming of motorcycles, and Helen is dreaming of getting massaged by Matthew Mcconaughey.

Only Dorothy is not dreaming. She is in her back yard, digging holes for her flower garden. Beside her feet are two black bags of fertilizer and a tray of daisies. She knows she could've asked Timothy, a sweet young boy two houses down, to dig these holes for her, but she wants to do this alone.

Timothy, anyway, is sleeping off what he believes is a hangover from all the oregano he unknowingly smoked with half the basketball team. They will later get together to talk about all the crazy, borderline homoerotic stuff they did, and how high they got.

Dorothy stabs the shovel in the soft dirt again, feeling a splinter puncture her palm. She ignores this, continuing her increasingly frantic digging. One the first hole is deep enough, she moves on the next. And the next, and the next, and the next until two hours pass and she has dug seven holes. She opens the first black bag with shaking hands, revealing the long white hood. She lifts the disembodied head of Pastor Ryan and drops it into the first hole.

“Finally,” she says quietly to the masked face, her voice quaking, “you will do some good.” The dead eyes stare at her from the two, nicely cut holes.

Next is the upper half of his torso, it is crammed into the second hole along with the entire robe, the nazi-inspired red and white insignia glaring.

Then the arms go into the third and fourth.

She opens the second black bag and carefully takes out the naked, lower half of his torso. It is stuffed angrily into the fifth hole.

The legs are bent, and much easier than the torso. They fill the sixth and seventh.

Dorothy carefully wipes the sweat from her forehead and turns towards the flowers.

While gently patting the dirt around the the last daisy, Deborah Jenkins passes the low fence, her overweight labradoodle trailing behind her.

“Miss Dorothy!” She exclaims, “out here planting daisies all by yourself? You know Timothy would’ve loved to help!”

Dorothy cringes slightly at her shrieking voice but smiles. “That’s all right dear. It’s good for my old bones to get out and work.”

Deborah sighs, “well if you ever need help or a casserole, you know where to find me.”

Dorothy smiles again, standing on old knees. She nods at Deborah, who proceeds with her walk. The old woman stumbles slowly back into the house, feeling a sharp pain in her left shoulder. Closing the door behind her, the pain creeps into her jaw.

She ignores it, bracing her hand on the wall to guide her to the bedroom. As she sinks into the soft orthopedic mattress, she remembers how she helped Zeke build it out of real pine. How the smell still lingers if she thinks about it hard enough. She can still smell it now, lying here.

Dorothy smiles thinking of pine forests and Zeke, and slowly, painlessly succumbs to a fatal heart attack.


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8 Reviews


Points: 681
Reviews: 8

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Fri Aug 05, 2016 4:10 pm
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Merkava120 wrote a review...



This is a really interesting story. Probably the most characters I've seen in a short story in a while. Like susanne said, you've really got the short story form down.

I really liked how you drifted from character to character, talking about what they were thinking about and such. It made me kind of settle in to the story, thinking the plot was going to slowly build up like a realistic fiction story. And then BLAM, the sweet old lady is a murderer, and hiding the body, and also dead. Whew. I like stories that keep me on my toes like that.

My favorite thing about this story is the ambiguity - you aren't shoving morals into people's faces; instead you're leaving it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions from the story. I think that's a really important part of a story that a lot of writers miss.

Some of it was a bit confusing because of how rapid-fire and packed full of info it was, but I don't think that's a bad thing. It forces your reader to actually...read.

The only part that was a little weird was the bit about Bob. I don't really know what was happening there. Is he crazy or something?

The switching between times of day was confusing, but again, that's not necessarily bad - it adds to the whole feel of the story, which is tense and mysterious in general.

Last of all, I think you could've used a bit more satire, especially when you talk about the old lady burying the body. The way it is right now, the burying of the body is a little dark, and it seems a bit out of place with the earlier part of the story - but that might be what you were going for.

All in all, this is a really good short story! Loved reading it.




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Points: 82
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Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:18 pm
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susanne6 says...



I think that this piece was well written. I loved how you truly captured the essence of a short story. You went into detail about little things and developed the characters well in a short amount of time. Although you went into detail about little things, like about Timothy's hangover, but left details out about other things, like the murder. I feel like you left just enough out to allow the readers to ponder what you actually meant.
I feel like more detail should have been given about Pastor Ryan because I found it a little difficult to understand why he specifically was killed. But over all I found this to be a very interesting piece to read and I really enjoyed reading it. Great job!




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Points: 82
Reviews: 1

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Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:18 pm
susanne6 says...






Random avatar

Points: 82
Reviews: 1

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Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:17 pm
susanne6 wrote a review...







"There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts."
— Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart