Far From The Tree

I sprawled on my bed, exhausted.  I stayed awake all day at school and then spent four hours cooking at Denny’s.  In our speck of a town, it passed for fine dining.  It was Friday night.  All my friends were at Dylan’s party.  Anybody who’s anybody was there.  Even the nobodies were there…except me.  I have no life because my parents are losers.

Dad left before I turned three.  I never kept track of him, but Grams told me “his worthless butt’s in jail now.”  Of course I can’t imitate the self-righteous tone she used to stitch her words.  Then, Ma lost her mind last year, soon after my thirteenth birthday.  Grams said it wasn’t my fault, but Ma always told me I drove her crazy.  I have no doubt I did.

Two knocks tapped the door and then it cracked open.  Grams frowned when she saw me.  “Child, you best be doing homework.  Idle hands lead to stagnant minds.  And stagnant minds…well, ask your daddy where that leads.”

I sighed and sat up.  “Yes, Grams.”

She closed the door and her heavy footsteps clomped down the ceramic tiled hallway.  Grams meant well.  She was just scared I’d take after my parents and end up lazy or crazy.  She also feared she’d lose the house.  She never said as much, but I’d seen the notices in the mail and heard her cry late at night from the weight of her worries.

I think Grams forgot what she used to tell me during her visits when I was a young child:  God will provide.  She didn’t need to fret over me.  She didn’t know I had the fire; ambition my parents never possessed.

She also didn’t know that I was the anonymous donor who’d started paying the utilities three months ago.

I didn't have an apple tree picture, so peaches will have to do!
I didn’t have an apple tree picture, so peaches will have to do!


TrifectaPicture11-1This is my response to the Trifecta weekly writing challenge.  This week, we were asked to write a 33 to 333 word response using the following word/definition:

Idle: (a ): shiftless, lazy; (b): having no evident lawful means of support

This week is a community-voted challenge.  If you want to check out the other entries (or write your own) click the tricycle picture to visit Trifecta’s site.  Voting opens at 7PM Eastern on Thursday.


71 thoughts on “Far From The Tree

  1. Tessa January 15, 2013 / 5:16 AM

    This was a great story Janna! Good to see someone (even family) pay it forward!

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:16 PM

      Thanks, Tessa. I honestly didn’t know where this story was going when I started writing it.

  2. J. P. Cabit January 15, 2013 / 5:36 AM

    I like this story.

    And I don’t throw that around loosely. 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:17 PM

      Thanks, Seph. I appreciate your compliment – I’m glad you enjoyed the story 🙂

  3. Scriptor Obscura January 15, 2013 / 6:05 AM

    The first comment is a spammer. Please mark their comment as spam and then delete their comment. I have had to delete many comments from this same spammer myself. I hate to see you fall victim to a disgusting unscrupulous spammer like this bozo, who has been running unchecked here on wordpress for a long time. I have had many encounters with this particular spammer, and I have tried to get wordpress to do something about it, but they never do. I hate to see this kind of thing get through on wordpress. I have this same guy subscribed to my blog about three to four different times under different aliases, he always changes his moniker just slightly every time and continues to get through in unsuspecting people’s comments, despite being a disgusting, unscrupulous spammer. And people are still falling victim to his tactics and allowing his comments through. I wish everyone would mark his comments as SPAM, which is what they ARE, instead of allowing them through, and report him to wordpress. Don’t fall victim to this guy’s flattery and be tricked into allowing his scammy comments through, and don’t click on any of the links in his comments, he is a spammer trying to trick you and scam you through flattery and fake comments. See my previous comments to wordpress about this spammer here:


    I just thought I would warn you about this spammer. It just makes me so angry to see this kind of thing here on wordpress. Sorry if my comments came across strongly, spammers just infuriate me.

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 7:30 AM

      Thanks for the info, Scriptor. I agree that users should be able to remove subscribers as well- as you stated in your WP forum comments.

  4. JasmineKyleSings January 15, 2013 / 6:20 AM

    IT’s always hard to open up to your self AND strangers!! thanks for sharing!

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:18 PM

      Thanks for reading the story, Jasmine 🙂

  5. Kir Piccini January 15, 2013 / 11:17 AM

    that last line, so telling, so POWERFUL.
    it’s hard to grow beyond your roots isn’t it? To branch out (omg, the tree references, I’m sorry!!)
    But when you do, when you are not the apple, when you become the peach instead, well that is where the real power lies.

    it’s interesting to me, either we spend our days trying to be like the people who raised us or trying desperately NOT to be, no happy medium. Interesting and fascinating to write. 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:20 PM

      Your comment cracked me up, Kir! It’s hard not to do tree reference with this…geez, I even put a picture of one with the post 🙂

      The last thought of your comment is spot on – it seems our energy is often focused on one or the other. And it’s disappointing when we find out all the effort was for nothing!

  6. C.S. Severe January 15, 2013 / 11:57 AM

    I enjoyed this story immensely because it says so much with so little words. It can be frustrating sometimes when people assume things about you due to your background, parents, cultures, class, etc. Although a part of us, they are not us and like the MC we make a new path for ourselves separate from our history. I must say I really love coming by here. Thank you!

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:31 PM

      Thanks so much, C.S. Your comment made me smile (inside and out :)) I’m glad you liked this story (and my blog). It is so important that we not judge people based on where they come from, and by the same token, we should never use our past as an excuse for not having a future.

  7. jwilliams057 January 15, 2013 / 12:38 PM

    I love that 13 he/she is already paying some of the bills. That is very industrious. And the exact opposite of idle. 😉

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:32 PM

      Oh, her hands are definitely not idle, Jwilliams! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the story.

  8. diannegray January 15, 2013 / 2:08 PM

    This is a great story, Janna. I love the ‘young voice’ (you do ‘voices’ so well)!

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:33 PM

      It’s funny you commented on that, Dianne because I wasn’t sure if it ‘worked’ but decided to post it anyway. (Mainly because I had no other ideas for the prompt :))

  9. Debbie January 15, 2013 / 2:41 PM

    You had me from the first word to the last, Janna — well written!

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:36 PM

      I’m glad it held your interest, Debbie. I appreciate your comment 🙂

  10. nrhatch January 15, 2013 / 2:52 PM

    Terrific tell, Janna. I especially enjoyed:

    She was just scared I’d take after my parents and end up lazy or crazy. 😀

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:38 PM

      I don’t know which is worse – lazy or crazy…good thing she’s neither 🙂 Thanks so much for reading, Nancy!

  11. humanTriumphant January 15, 2013 / 3:43 PM

    wonderful story that reaches the heart. I, too, was caught by the “lazy or crazy” reference – it was a good reader catch phrase.

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:39 PM

      Thanks, HumanTriumphant! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the story.

  12. Diane Turner January 15, 2013 / 3:55 PM

    Wrenching piece that tells so much with so few words. Excellent. Thanks for sharing.

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:40 PM

      I appreciate your comment, Diane. Thanks for reading!

  13. deanabo January 15, 2013 / 5:03 PM

    This is a terrific story. The fact that she cares enough to help out like that proves that Grams is doing a great job.

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:41 PM

      Yes, Grams is doing the best she can. I like to think they’re going to be okay. Thanks for reading, Deanabo!

  14. Patti January 15, 2013 / 6:18 PM

    This a lovely story, Well done.

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:41 PM

      Thanks, Patti. I appreciate you stopping by to read it!

  15. Sandra January 15, 2013 / 10:02 PM

    Janna, you have such a gift to tell such short and poignant stories! I do love the heroic gesture this little girl is capable of. Wonderfully written! 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2013 / 11:45 PM

      Thanks for your kind words, Sandra! A part of me fears that I’ve been writing the shorts for so long I may not be able to write a novel-length story anymore. The other part of me wants to write the novel to prove the doubts wrong 🙂 I’m glad you liked the story.

  16. Widdershins January 16, 2013 / 12:38 AM

    My heart caught in my throat as I wondered where a 14 year old could get enough money to pay the bills … nicely done.

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:22 PM

      Oh, it can be scary the ways to get money…but she was earning honestly as a cook in this story. Thanks for your comment, Widdershins!

  17. muZer January 16, 2013 / 1:27 AM

    Such an awesome story! So wonderfully written and feel for the 13 yr old. So much has happened but still to have a positive outlook is incredible!

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:25 PM

      Thanks, MuZer! I like to think it’s possible to keep up our spirits when we’d have reason not to.

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:28 PM

      Grams doesn’t like not being able to fend for herself. I think this teen will ‘make it’ 🙂

  18. Annabelle January 16, 2013 / 9:33 AM

    I like your narrator; the last line makes things so interesting. It makes me particularly curious as to why she’s choosing to do it anonymously when presumably letting her grandmother know might relieve her fears of idleness.

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:41 PM

      She is anonymously contributing because she knows her grandma would be embarrassed for not being able to care for them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions on the character, Annabelle!

  19. Paula J January 16, 2013 / 10:04 AM

    Another good one, Janna.

  20. atrm61 January 16, 2013 / 10:43 AM

    Aww,that’s such a heart warming story,Janna-loved the sweet surprise at the end:-)

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:42 PM

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story, Atreyee! I appreciate you stopping by to read the story.

      • atrm61 January 18, 2013 / 2:45 AM

        :-)I look forward to your submissions Janna

        • jannatwrites January 18, 2013 / 10:33 PM

          Thank you, Atreyee!

        • atrm61 January 20, 2013 / 5:51 AM


  21. philosophermouseofthehedge January 16, 2013 / 11:48 AM

    You caught that kid perfectly. Stuck between realism/ reality and hope/dreams. It sounds like a kid’s thoughts.
    Well done!

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:45 PM

      Thanks, Phil. I’m glad it felt realistic!

  22. K January 16, 2013 / 1:41 PM

    What a magnificent tale of human spirit and zest. I was just speaking with a friend of the capabilities of thirteen-year-olds…amazing. 🙂 Adore your voice!

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:47 PM

      Thirteen-year-olds really can contribute, whether the adults believe in them or not 🙂 How funny that you were just talking about that! I’m glad you stopped by and enjoyed the story, K.

  23. Draug419 January 16, 2013 / 9:16 PM

    So inspirational! (:

  24. barbara January 16, 2013 / 9:37 PM

    well done, Janna. I really like the voice of this.

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:49 PM

      Thanks, Barbara! I’m glad the voice worked on this one 🙂

  25. Sam Edge (@Edgeyy66) January 17, 2013 / 2:03 PM

    I really liked this you made me root for the main character immediately and then she turns out to be the hero … nice work 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:50 PM

      🙂 I like stories of hope and happy endings. I’m glad you enjoyed the story, Sam!

  26. stephanie January 17, 2013 / 4:02 PM

    I like the ‘stitch her words’ phrase – and how Gram told her it wasn’t her fault that her mother went crazy but she doesn’t believe it because her mother told her she drove her crazy. That is how a kid would see it. Great story!

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:53 PM

      Thanks for taking time to read it and share your thoughts, Stephanie! I appreciate it 🙂

  27. yerpirate January 17, 2013 / 5:42 PM

    Nice story, yes, but above all what superb,well-crafted writing…

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2013 / 8:56 PM

      Thanks for reading, and for your kind words, Yerpirate.

  28. Morgan Kellum January 17, 2013 / 10:04 PM

    A lovely and powerful piece. I loved the strength and frailty of Gram. The burden of caring for you grand-babies is a heavy one. You captured both of these characters and their personalities well.

    • jannatwrites January 18, 2013 / 10:31 PM

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts on the story, Morgan. I’m glad you enjoyed the story!

  29. GodGirl January 18, 2013 / 2:21 AM

    I love this teenager! Such wisdom, faith and determination to be different… to make life better for the only family she has. Great writing once again, and such well-drawn characters!

    • jannatwrites January 18, 2013 / 10:32 PM

      Thanks, GodGirl! I think sometimes we write off young people and don’t give them an opportunity to shine. (And all this happens without us even realizing it.)

    • jannatwrites January 18, 2013 / 10:33 PM

      Sometimes it happens that way, Kymm 🙂

  30. DeeDee January 18, 2013 / 9:25 AM

    I enjoyed reading this! The granddaughter/grandson really grew into a fine person! I love grandmothers like your character; most spoil their grandchildren too much.

    • jannatwrites January 18, 2013 / 10:34 PM

      Grandparents should have some spoiling rights (they survived raising children :)) BUT, I do think sometimes it goes a little too far. Thanks for reading, DeeDee.

  31. Imelda January 20, 2013 / 6:40 PM

    How beautifully you wove tragedy and hope in one piece. Really Janna, where is your novel now. I want to see your longer pieces. 🙂 No pressure. 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 20, 2013 / 8:22 PM

      Your comment made me smile, Imelda. I do need to get writing so I have something while anyone still cares 🙂

  32. pattisj January 22, 2013 / 10:13 PM

    I like your stories, Janna.

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2013 / 8:54 PM

      Thanks, Patti – I appreciate you taking time to read them 🙂

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