The Contractor's Daughter

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Lexi lifts up on the handles of the wheelbarrow filled with sand she was sent to fetch and move it over to the concrete mixer. The brick guys were busy making mortar for the bricks they were doing. She dumps the load where they wanted her to. She goes back and picks up a few more loads and dumps them. She stands and watches them for a few minutes.

She pulls her bandana out of her back pocket and wipes the sweat from her forehead. It was eighty degrees out and she has been busy since arriving with her uncle. She loved her uncle and aunt very much. She owed them a lot and hopes one day she can repay them for what they have done for her.

“Taking a break, Lexi?” Shawn spotted Lexi standing over near the bricklayers watching them work.

Lexi turns towards Shawn’s voice “just observing is all. I’ve completed all the tasks you assigned me this morning.”

“Good, I have some more tasks for you to work on.” Shawn didn’t like his boss’s niece very much.

“Okay, just tell me what you want me to do.” Lexi knew Shawn didn’t like her very much, but she didn’t care. This was her uncle’s Job site and she won’t let him down.

Shawn escorts her over to several new homes being built “you’re to help these guys with whatever they need you to do. If they need lumber, nails, screws, or whatever. You’re to get it for them. If they don’t have anything for you to do, I want you to pick up any debris laying around and depose of it.”

“No problem, Shawn.” Lexi didn’t mind hard work, not after what has been done to her.

She heads inside the first house being built and talks to the men inside. One of them has her go and fetch a couple of boxes of nail strips for
their air guns. She checks with the other guys to see what they need before heading off.

Lexi heads towards the construction trailer to grab the key to the supply trailer to grab everything. She also grabbed the key to the golf cart her uncle used on the site. The site was huge and there were a lot of new houses going up.

She gathers everything the guys need and load it in the back of the golf cart. She still didn’t understand what Shawn’s problem was with her. She knew he didn’t approve of her working on the site. She knew he didn’t like some of the women who worked on the site.

Once the gear was loaded, she grabs a few cold drinks to take back with her to the guys. It was supposed to reach a hundred degrees today. She drives back over to the houses and delivers everything the guys needed, including the cold drinks.

When she hands a cold drink to a guy named Eddie.

“What? No cold beer, Lexi?” Eddie accepts the cold drink Lexi was handing him.

“You know my uncle doesn’t keep any cold beer in the supply trailer.” Lexi knew her uncle had a thing about alcohol.

She can’t say she blamed him for it. Her stepfather was an alcoholic and use to take his anger out on her. She never did like him or his boys at all. What her mother saw in him, was beyond her reasoning.

“Well, maybe one day we’ll change his mind.” Eddie knew his boss didn’t drink.

“I seriously doubt it, Eddie.” Lexi knew her mother’s side of the family had serious problems with alcohol.

Her mother was an alcoholic as well, but she liked hard liquor. When her mother drunk hard liquor, her personality changed completely. That
was how she ended up pregnant with her. She had sex with six guys the night she was conceived and blacked out. When her mother woke-up, she couldn’t recall the six guys she had sex with.

She figures that is why her mother and stepfather got along so well. When her mother was drunk, she was a total slut. She even had sex with her stepbrothers. Which lead to problems she had with them.

Once she passes out all the cold drinks and supplies. She goes about picking up all the debris around the new houses. The guys knock off at one in the afternoon for lunch. She brought her lunch from home and sat outside on a five-gallon bucket she turned upside down. Her uncle had to go check on another construction site he had and was coming back later to pick her up.

As she is eating the sub her aunt made for her, one of the guys comes over to talk with her. She knew right away who it was. His name was Ricky and has been working for her uncle for the past five years. He was an ex-felon and had a hard time finding a job when he got out of prison. Her uncle took a chance with him, and he has been a model employee.

“Watch you eating, Lexi?” Ricky stops a few feet from Lexi.

“A ham and swiss sub my aunt made for me.” Lexi loved the food her aunt made for her.

“That’s better than what I brought with me. Do you mind if I join you?” Ricky didn’t like eating alone.

“Pull up a bucket.”

Ricky spots an empty bucket and turns it upside down. He sits next to Lexi and starts eating his lunch.

“So, what hobbies do you have?” He wanted to know more about Lexi.

“I do some painting and go horseback riding with my cousins when I can.” Lexi normally spent her weekend when she wasn’t helping her uncle, with her aunt.

Her aunt was trying to help her overcome what was done to her. Her stepbrothers and their friends abused her and did things to her body. She was still trying to learn about herself.

“What are your hobbies?” Lexi looks at Ricky.

“Well, I’m rebuilding a Chevy Nova. Remodeling my main bathroom and the master bathroom.” Ricky had bought a HUD home and was planning on flipping it.

“Sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you.” Lexi takes a bite out of her sub.

“I do, but I also have some help as well. So, do you like working for your uncle?”

“Yes, it was either this or working at the McDonald's located downtown. The manager there was willing to let me work there, but he could only
give me three days a week at minimum wage. I get paid more here and I like my uncle a lot.” Lexi wouldn’t trade it for anything.

For the rest of lunch, Lexi and Ricky make small talk, and afterward, they go back to work. The rest of the afternoon, Lexi cleans up other areas of the job site and stack some lumber that had fallen. When Lexi is done, she heads back to the contractor's office and plugs the golf cart in. She noticed her uncle’s truck was there.

She walks into the office and heard her uncle and Shawn speaking. She just shakes her head as she puts the keys away. She couldn’t believe Shawn was complaining about her. She just ignores him and heads back out to her uncle’s truck to wait for him.

After fifteen minutes, Shawn and her uncle come walking out. She watches as Shawn walks towards his pick-up truck.

“So, what was his complaint now?” As Lexi gets into the cab of the truck.

“You don’t want to know, Lexi.” Howard knew how his niece was and what Shawn was saying was BS about her.

“So, what do you think Aunt Rose made for dinner tonight?” Lexi liked her aunt's cooking.

“Pork chops.”

“Yummy!” Lexi loved pork chops.

A smirk appears on Howard's face as he drives home.

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Much as I love your stories

Much as I love your stories (and I do!), this comes across more as a character study rather than a story. Is there more coming?


More coming?

WillowD's picture

I have occasionally seen Lady Dragon publish what looks like a short story like this. Then she will change the title to say "Part 1" when she publishes part 2.

She's sneaky that way. And oh so lovable too. :)

sounds like Shawn needs to be

sounds like Shawn needs to be fired before he tries to do something to Lexi. It sounds like he's up to something.


Maddy Bell's picture

can't read it - you really don't get the past, present, future tense stuff do you? You have some interesting story ideas but try as i might i just cannot get around the incorrect tense stuff.

for example: 'Lexi picks up the handles of the wheelbarrow and starts moving a load of sand' should be 'Lexi picked up the handles of the wheelbarrow and started moving a load of sand' - see what i did? it really is very simple.

You aren't the only writer on BC who does this by the way, not naming names, but it really is infuriating, the whole thing reads like stage direction rather than a story/tale.


Madeline Anafrid Bell

How did I miss that?

WillowD's picture

I'd guess I was too involved with the story. Except this is the first sentence.

I know. I'll say I was looking for clues to how this story is inter-related to her other stories. Which as the added benefit of actually being true. I love it when an excuse comes together.

In order to live in the present, you must let go of the past

Present tense is perfectly acceptable so long as it's consistent. It's difficult to stay consistent if you're more used to the conventional past tense, but there's nothing wrong with it. Chuck Palahniuk writes in present tense for example. Michael Cunningham won a Pulitzer in 2002 for The Hours, a novel written in present tense. A lot of contemporary authors choose it for the more immediate feel of the language while earlier authors (I'm thinking of Virginia Woolf and Herman Melville and the like here) tend to use it when speaking to the reader directly, (what I like to call "dear reader" passages).

The _tense_ of the first line is fine. However there is a problem with subject verb agreement. "Lexi lifts up ...fetch and move it over to the concrete mixer." Should be "Lexi lifts up...fetch and *moves* it over to the concrete mixer."

Also, while it's technically correct to say something like "Lexi does what she was ordered to do," that sort of construction _feels_ wrong when you're reading it. This is one of the challenges of present tense. The best way out of this trap I've found is to be more descriptive and try as much as possible to stay in the moment. For example "Lexi lifts up on the handles of the wheelbarrow. The load is heavy and for a moment she struggles to balance it. Is the sand too heavy? She has to make do, she decides. She has to get this load to the concrete mixer otherwise the brick guys will get huffy."

Unfortunately Miss Bell does have a point, because by the second paragraph in this story we're already slipping hard into past tense with "...wipes the sweat from her forehead. It was eighty degrees out ..." You can go present tense _or_ past tense, but you can't have it both ways. If you really need to shift tenses, you can do a scene change or make some other transition. Douglas Adams, for instance, does many of his introductions in present tense, but then shifts into a more conventional past tense once action is taking place. But you definitely can't shift tenses mid paragraph, and really there should be at least a page of a given tense, then some noticeable break, and then at least a page of the new tense. Maybe if you're writing some kind of avant garde artsy thing you might continually shift tenses to create a feeling of disjointed, dreamlike confusion...but that would actually more difficult, because you would have to do that while keeping the reader convinced that you're doing it on purpose, and you aren't just a beginning author in need of an editor.

Writing is difficult. Even if you're vigilant and clever about how you put sentences together you can run into snags. The past tense is easier in a lot of ways and it's also what most writers still use; so it's probably best to do that if you want to be safe. Too much safety can kill you though and as a fan of many works of fiction written in present tense, I don't like it when anyone, even someone as esteemed as Miss Maddy Bell doth suggest the past tense as the only way to go :-) That probably wasn't her intent, but I felt called to defend the present tensers anyway.

Feel free to ignore me, I am but a passing shadow.