Don’t Let the Sun Go Down


This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for January 9. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from Jean L. Hays.  My piece this week weighs in at exactly 100 words.

2015 01 09

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down

The Chicago college that June’s senior class visited was located near an infamous section of the L. June, daughter of a parole officer, recognized gang symbols along the route as they rode the Red Line to Wrigley Field. Her classmates remained oblivious.

The group began their return trip after sundown, and June’s apprehension grew.

An argument started between classmates concerning their next stop. “Don’t get off here,” June snapped. They couldn’t read the writing on the wall. They did recognize the sound of a 45 discharging on the platform. Only June knew that the incident wouldn’t make the evening news.

Advertisements

43 thoughts on “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down

  1. Sigh. Chicago can be a violent city, that’s for sure.

    • storydivamg says:

      Too true, Helena. This particular story is loosely based on an experience I had during one of my first trips to Chicago. Actually, work of community organizers like our current POTUS has done much to improve the area mentioned in this story since the mid 1990s. I was privileged to attend university at a different Chicagoland school with a few individuals who are actively working to make even more differences today. Hope springs eternal.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  2. I like ‘they couldn’t read the writing on the wall’. Literal and metaphoric. Nice.

  3. Delighted to read things have improved there. You make an interesting comment about “literacy” – it’s not just the reading of conventional books that’s important; you’ve got to read your street.

    • storydivamg says:

      Dear Patrick,
      That notion of literacy was oh-so evident to me during the actual event. Fortunately for us all there was no 45 involved in the real story. Of more distress to me is the fact that one of the idiots in the group did get off at the wrong stop. I followed him and got the others to join us because I knew he didn’t have a fighting chance to get back alive by himself. We all arrived back at the college only about 20 minutes later than had we gotten off at the correct stop.

      People find it strange that I continue to unconditionally adore the POTUS, but part of the reason is because I remember the Chicago of 1990. He and Oprah both had much to do with the improvements now evident in the Windy City.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  4. Such a sad story and one not confined to the Windy City. Unfortunately, Chicago has the highest murder rate of any US city, despite some of the most stringent gun laws. Gang-related shootings are always a large part of such a figure, but there’s always too much collateral damage.

    janet

    • storydivamg says:

      I had forgotten that you are a Chicagoland dweller, Janet. One of the biggest problems relating to gun violence there, in my opinion, is the lax laws across the state line in Indiana. There isn’t much that Chicago law enforcement can do about it. So sad.

      Thanks for weighing in today.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  5. Dear Marie Gail,

    At first read, my cliche alert antennae waved at “writing on the wall.” Then I realized it served as a metaphor and referred back to the gang symbols. “Cliche” morphed to “clever.”

    I’m glad no actual 45 was involved and you lived to write a well-told tale.

    Since Christian lives in Chicago these kinds of things are always on my mind. Well done

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • storydivamg says:

      For the past two decades I have driven about 50% of my fellow writers crazy with my proclivity for putting new spins on cliches and idioms just because I can. At first I hesitated to continue this pursuit when half my colleagues continued to pound their how-to tomes and insist that I should never, in any way or by any means use worn phrases. Then I began to take pleasure in polling the crowd to discover which half understood my point and appreciated the new meanings and double entrendre in this type of usage. Now it’s just a game to see who will “get it” and who tries to insist that I am wrong or lazy. You, my dear friend, have passed the test. 😉

      Peace,
      Marie Gail

  6. So true to life it is sad. Excellent story. 🙂

  7. Oh yes there are those places where you shouldn’t go.. And the worst places are such routine so the don’t even make the news.

    • storydivamg says:

      Precisely, Bjorn. The truth is that this part of Chicago isn’t nearly as dangerous today, thanks in part to our president (years before he was elected president) and Oprah. In 2003, I visited again, and the area is mostly owned by Oprah’s Harpo Studios.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  8. Margaret says:

    You’ve given a revealing insight into a dangerous underworld, and I like how you use June’s local knowledge to make the situation clearer for readers (like me) who don’t have it. Very atmospheric and tense. Gripping.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thank you, Margaret. Interestingly, it is more an understanding of the U.S. crime world as a whole that helped our heroine (and her real-life counterpart).

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  9. draliman says:

    It sounds like violence is/was very commonplace there if it wouldn’t even make the news. At least June recognised the danger, even without the shots fired.

    • storydivamg says:

      As with many large cities, the high-crime areas in Chicago shift occasionally. Sadly, in many U.S. cities murders don’t always make the 10 o’clock news.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  10. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Marie,

    If you tell us that her classmates remained oblivious it implies that somewhere earlier you told us that they were oblivious. I think your sentence (and story) would be stronger if you just said that her classmates were oblivious.

    No comma necessary in your second paragraph.

    The story itself has the ring of authenticity and I’m glad that no 45 was heard in the original incident. Very nicely rendered portrait of the badlands of the inner city.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks for the careful read and feedback.

      As to “oblivious,” in my experience, most high school students start out that way. 😉

      I shall review the comma situation. Actually, I struggled a little bit with crafting this particular story, so I’ll continue working on it.

      Thanks again!

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  11. I grew up in Denver. Places I used to go to at night, alone, are now places I wouldn’t frequent in the daylight. Sad, but true. Well told story, my dear.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Alicia. Looking back on my early years in Chicago, I can’t believe where I went completely oblivious to the potential danger. Ignorance, in some ways, truly is bliss.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  12. My two oldest children were born in Chicago– it will always feel like home to me, on several levels. So true, the writing is often on the walls. Nice job, Marie Gail.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks so much for weighing in on this story, Dawn. After the trip that inspired this story, I spent about 5 years going to school and working in the Chicagoland. I get homesick for the Windy City most Octobers and am looking forward to returning for a week or so next fall for my 20-year college reunion.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  13. Sandra says:

    That ‘writing on the wall’ aspect is very powerful. Very powerful indeed. Makes me wonder how many signals I might miss as I go about my day. Well done, strong one.

  14. rgayer55 says:

    Great post, Marie Gail. I’ve been to Chicago several times myself an rode the El from out near O’Hare to down near Wrigley Field. If you’re an out-of-towner it’s wise to talk to the locals and educate yourself on where and when to exit the train.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks for reading and weighing in, Russell. Truthfully, so long as you get on the train and don’t get off until you reach the correct spot, any visitor is likely to be just fine traveling Chicago by way of mass transit.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  15. Great depiction of the darker side of city life, Marie Gail. I too loved the ‘writing on the wall’ metaphor.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks so much, Siobhan. Glad to see you reading and commenting. I’ve been a bit busy of late and slacking a little. Hope to get back into the swing of reading and commenting this week.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  16. Great story, Marie Gail. This reminds me of a hunter in the woods, recognizing small sights and sounds to know that predators are around. I guess it is similar. Lucky for the others that June was there. Really enjoyed this.
    -David

  17. What an illuminating story with a powerful final sentence. Great job, MG!

  18. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Marie Gail, That’s because there are too many incidents each night. Not enough time for the 30 minute segment to list it all! Good story and I can feel the click-clack of the track. Great job! Nan 🙂

  19. Michael B. Fishman says:

    There’s a strong sense of realism with this story so hopefully it’s not something you experienced first-hand. As a Minnesota Twins fan I’m glad they went to a Cubs game and not a White Sox game!

    • storydivamg says:

      As a Royals fan, I have a deep hatred of the White Sox, and as a five-year resident of the Chicagoland, I will always love my Cubbies–whether or not they ever win another pennant race.

      Thanks for the kind comments. As mentioned previously, this story is based in fact, but the end is contrived. In reality, one of the idiots in my group did get off the train one stop too early. Fortunately, however, we were already out of Cabrini by then and we did get back to the college safely.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

      • Michael B. Fishman says:

        Signing Jon Lester is a big step in the right direction for the Cubs. I don’t know if it’s enough but I sure do hope it’s enough to be better than the Brewers, a team I hate as much as the White Sox!

  20. elmowrites says:

    Great sense of place in this, MG – and of June’s character even in just a few words. I liked the “writing on the wall” line, as others have said, and I agree that the 2nd paragraph doesn’t need the comma. Very real; it doesn’t surprise me when you say it’s partly written from experience.

Comments, compliments and constructive criticism are always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s