By Christian Sopkowiak

Using the prompt for this week: “Our writing prompt for this week is to write a story using the following five words: bottle, balcony, strawberry, conversation, values.”

Inspired by the biblical story of Cain and Abel

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His mind drifted away from the fields, the stalks, and the sun. He thought of his brother standing in the pasture, the pepper-grey sheep surrounding him. His brother would always herd those sheep. They would always listen to his brother but the one time Carl tried it, the sheep scattered. He thought of the balcony on which he stood, a wooden thing high above the ground. He had his arms on the rails and his eyes on his fields. He thought of his brother once again, this time Abe was standing with him on this balcony, with a bottle in his left hand. It was always his left; he said it helped the alcohol flow down his throat when he drank with his left.

Carl and Abe were brothers by blood but not in truth. For when the two brothers ventured to visit their grandfather’s, Grandpa Gabe never once asked Carl about his fields. Only Abe’s sheep piqued his interest. The conversation droned on with the talk of the sharp, soft wool and tender meat. Carl left that day, knowing he seemed lost to his only other family besides his brother. The balcony began to creak a bit as Carl again tried to spot a flaw in his fields. He had corn, beanstalks, potatoes, apples, and so much more. Yet, Gabe chose Abe’s sheep. Carl saw his brother before him, a smaller man with dark hair and a clean face. There was never any hardness there. He had tried his best to forget that.

The day after their visit with Gabe, Carl approached his brother. He blamed Abe for Gabe’s neglect. Gabe had told Carl that if he kept trying, he may be able to change. But Carl knew Gabe was trying to soften the hurt. The brothers screamed at each other, neither stopping to hear the other. Carl and Abe fought about food, family, culture, values, and finally, life. Carl had brought a knife, no longer than his index finger. It was curved and smeared in oil and dirt. He had used it in his fields. That day, he used it to kill his brother. During their talk, Abe turned to look at his pasture and heavily sighed. Carl drove the blade through him. It went through his heart in one swift motion and Abe began bleeding. The blood reminded Carl of a strawberry: foolishly crimson but eloquently beautiful. So much, like the sun.

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