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What Have We Here: Poems and Short Stories (December 2012)

Trees (December 2012)

The First (and last) Hug (December 2012)

Ruth dabbed the sweat on her forehead with the tattered apron as she hurried to set the table. Her stepfather, Eugene walked into the kitchen and rummaged through the cupboard. Ruth turned and pretended to busy herself with something in the sink. That morning she had been late getting breakfast on the table, and Eugene had been in one of his moods. As usual the penalty was harsh and swiftly meted out. Still, it wasn’t the punishment that alarmed her as much as Eugene’s forgiveness.

Ruth was a diminutive child of thirteen. Her brown hair was poorly cropped and a torturous overbite had gone uncorrected for years. Fully clothed she weighed seventy-five pounds. Her green dress exposed a pair of knobby knees that barely supported her frail frame. Tiny brown eyes peered from behind thick glasses and dark shadows contoured hollow cheekbones. Ruth was not a fair sight to look upon, and this did not go unnoticed by other children.

And then there was Eugene. Ruth’s mom had married Eugene Morgan a year after Ruth’s dad died. Ruth and Eugene never developed an attachment. She avoided him as much as possible for the first year. Unfortunately, her mom became ill and was confined to bed. She lingered in a sickly state, drifting in and out of consciousness. Shortly after her death, Ruth became aware of Eugene’s peculiar behavior.

Did you learn anything from your mistakes today, girl?” Eugene asked. He glared at her as he poured himself a glass of water.

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