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OCSFC: The Atwood Luck
by valkrys (valkrys)
at September 16th, 2007 (07:54 am)

current location: Home
current mood: apathetic
current song: The Fray - How to save a life

I participated in the OCSFC because I loved it the last time and I hoped to bring Ryan back to my head. I'm wary whether it really worked.

Title: The Atwood Luck
Author: valkrys
Beta: none, not enough time, sorry for that
Word count: 1,399
Rating: PG13, mild language
Summary: I wrote for philippa_ and the sentence was:The door banged shut, Ryan winced, he was more alone than he'd ever been in his life. I did change the tenses though.
Discl.: I don't own anything.

The Atwood luck

It's the time again, when the days are turning cooler, the morning air is slightly crisp and the children start bringing a jacket along to school more often than not. Ryan is ten, and he doesn't wear a jacket to school. Instead, he sports Trey's worn hoodies and sweaters and hugs himself while walking home to shield himself from the stiff breeze.

But not today. Today, Ryan doesn't even notice that he's cold.

Instead, he bounces from energy, his legs in constant movement under the desk and his eyes darting back and forth from the teacher to the grayish clock with the broken glass on the wall. The seconds seem to creep by as slow as a snail on valium and it takes Ryan a great deal of self-control not to groan every time the needle passes the black 12.

"Ryan, what about you?"

Caught, Ryan sheepishly glances at the teacher, eyes dark with embarrassment and guilt. The deep baritone of Mr. Meyer when he laughs understandingly breaks the tension in the room and Ryan's shoulders relax.

"Why don't you tell us about your family Christmas traditions, Ryan?"

Still hesitant, the usually quiet boy seems to lose himself in his excitement for the holiday, his voice, which started out low, grows louder and his eyes light up.

“Today, when I get home, me and mum and my brother Trey will decorate the tree. On Christmas morning we will all get up really early and open the presents we get from Santa Claus. Dad will make breakfast and we will all sit down together, eating pancakes and other very cool food we never have. In the afternoon, we will all go to the park and play together, even though Trey always complains that he’s too old.”

Here, Ryan stops for a second to chuckle softly.

“In the evening we will light the tree and watch TV together until it’s late and we have to go to bed.”

Now Ryan’s eyes sparkle with excitement and absolute happiness is rippling off him in tiny waves.

“Thank you Ryan, for sharing your traditions. Well, I guess I can not keep you any longer. Have wonderful holidays and I will all see you again next year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, class!”

Half of the sentence drowns in the noise of the children jumping off their chairs, their bags packed faster than Mr. Meyer can say “eggnog” and off they are, sprinting into the long awaited holidays.

Standing outside the hall, Ryan dutifully waits for Trey to collect him, even when his feet burn and he would rather storm home instantly, to start the holiday preparations. Things have been bumpy lately, with mum losing her job and dad bringing home all those shady thugs, so this year’s Christmas is all Ryan has been looking forward to for the past couple of weeks. Finally an occasion to see the entire family together, to be a family, the way Ryan remembered it used to be.

Trey shows up a few minutes late, as usual, a scratch and a purple bruise blooming on his chin, but he’s smiling when he reads the excitement in his brother’s eyes.

“Ready for the Christmas tree decoration, Ry?”

Ryan just nodds frantically, anticipation momentarily disabling his vocal cords.

“Ok, let’s go,” Trey grins and shoves Ryan towards the exit, not allowing his little brother to see the dark shadow settling on his face for a split second.

They walk quietly, both too absorbed in their respective thoughts to talk or bicker as they do most of the time.

Finally home, Ryan bursts through the door like he expects to find gold in the living room, but freezes instantly at the scene in front of him. Trey’s deep sigh behind him feels like a stab to his heart and Ryan swallows. With disbelief he stares at Dawn, sprawled on the couch, snoring loudly, a broken Scotch bottle scattered over the floor beside her, drowning in vomit.

There’s no tree sitting on the blanket Ryan had spread out this morning and no decoration waits to be hung onto the green branches.

Ryan fights hard to keep the tears from filling his eyes and he takes a step back, bumping into Trey.

“Ry, we better go to our room.”

Putting his hand on Ryan’s shoulder, Trey quietly guides them through the living room, their steps carefully avoiding the area around the sleeping woman. Ryan’s breathe hitches when the stink of vomit and alcohol invades his nose and he casts his eyes away.

Collapsing onto his bed once they reach their room, Ryan takes deep breathes to keep the tears at bay.

“Come on, Ryan. Dad will set up the tree when he gets home, you’ll see. We will still celebrate Christmas morning as we used to do.”

Trey’s voice is hopeful and optimistic, but Ryan is old enough to read the desperation hidden beneath his big brother’s words.

“It’s time for a Christmas miracle, bro, and we certainly deserve it. Let’s go out and have a good time, mum won’t even know it.”

Ryan’s head comes up slowly from the bed, eyes dark and swimming with emotions.

“I need to clean up so dad can put up the tree.”

“Oh Jesus Christ, Ry! Let her do it herself, it’s not our duty to clean up after her!” Trey spits, anger and disgust radiating from his body. “Fuck, when she can’t even stay sober on Christmas, she doesn’t deserve our help.”

Ryan just stares, resignation and acceptance spreading over his face.

“Fuck this, I’m leaving, I don’t need this crazy shit,” Trey growls while jumping off the bed and rushing over to the window. He hesitates a second and turns to look at his little brother.

“Keep praying for that Christmas miracle, bro, it’s all we got,” and off he goes through the window.

Sighing, Ryan gets up and returns to the living room. It takes him a few minutes to carefully pick the shards out of Dawn’s lunch remains. Afterwards, he calmly discards the broken glass and cleans the carpet as good as he can, before gently shaking his mum awake.

He is used to the swearing and cursing by now, but her hurtful words still slice through his heart and he focuses on taking one step after another, slightly swaying under her weight but tuning out her voice entirely.

There is no tree to decorate, so Ryan puts up the decoration on the windowsill and thinks about the possibility of a Christmas miracle. Anything that would save what seemed to turn into the worst Christmas he had ever had.

Trey has not returned by the time he finally falls into bed. Ryan has never learned how to pray, but tonight he casts a wish to the universe to – just for once – help his screwed up family celebrate a normal Christmas.


The next morning starts in a haze. Ryan wakes up when the bedroom door is kicked in with a bang and an armed police officers enters, screaming and gesturing at him to get out of bed.

Startled and scared to the bone, Ryan obeys and climbs out of bed. Blinking at the blinding light he moves away as far away from the intruder as possible. Casting a glance to Trey’s bed, hoping for help, he notices that his brother’s bed is unused. His heart is beating crazy fast as he watches how the officer rifles through the drawers, ripping out his clothes and tossing them carelessly onto the floor. Ryan swallows when the cop’s eyes level on his, a dirty smile playing on his lips and Ryan backs into the wall, arms pressed at his body, hands trembling.

“We’re taking your mum down to the station for interrogation, find out if she was involved your dad’s heist. Tell your brother to stay the fuck here when he shows up, child service will pick you two up later. Merry Christmas, kid.”

The door bangs shut, Ryan winces, he’s more alone than he'd ever been in his life.

Sliding to the ground, he erupts in silent sobs and buries his head in his hand. Hot tears burn in his eyes when acceptance dawns that in this lifetime, the Atwood luck would never give him or his family a break.

And Ryan silently swears to never celebrate Christmas again.

The End.

I have no idea why I wrote this in this tense, I've never done so before but it felt... right *shrug* I don't know much these days, Muse is a bitch. I had a really hard time writing this and I probably will stay away from future o.c. fic entirely. It doesn't work for me anymore.


Posted by: malinr (malinr)
Posted at: September 16th, 2007 08:04 am (UTC)

Poor, poor Ryan. I think it was really good. Hugs

Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 07:32 am (UTC)
Ben Alps just sleep

Thanks, glad you enjoyed, the long night was worth it, then :-)

Posted by: fredsmith518 (fredsmith518)
Posted at: September 16th, 2007 08:58 am (UTC)

“Ok, let’s go,” Trey grins and shoves Ryan towards the exit, not allowing his little brother to see the dark shadow settling on his face for a split second.
I thought you had a very good handle on the enigma that is Trey, complete with him giving up and bailing.
Don't sell yourself short! As so often, the writer feels the writing has been hard, but nothing of that shows for the reader, like here!

Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 07:34 am (UTC)
Ben scratching head

I'm pretty sure I took Dean, made him into Ryan and wrote the story from there. Except, not. I don't know anymore, I'm confused :-) Glad you think I handled Trey right, he's the only character I kinda still know how to write, a total confusion between good and bad ;)

Posted by: M (monnie44)
Posted at: September 16th, 2007 08:59 am (UTC)
OC // Ryan // Green

Augh, that was so terribly sad. :( Trust Dawn to manage to even ruin wibble Ryan's christmas by being so pathetic he has to extract her out of pools of her own vomit.

And dude, I don't know what you're talking about, it's fantastic!

Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 07:37 am (UTC)
Ben Alps just sleep

I know, I'm a bitch. I thought about a lighter ending but apparently the news about Ylenia gutted me so hard that I had to make this darker than planned.

I personally don't think it's good, never as good as the one I wrote last year or the one I wrote a few months back, but hey, if you like it I'm happy.

Posted by: loracj (loracj)
Posted at: September 16th, 2007 09:43 am (UTC)

I'm sorry you thought this didn't work. It worked for me. So sad.

Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 07:42 am (UTC)
Ben Alps just sleep

Sorry for the darkness of it, but at least it worked :-)

Posted by: phil (philippa_)
Posted at: September 16th, 2007 12:22 pm (UTC)

Aww poor Ryan.

Thanks so much for this. You managed to tie in the sentence really well. I would never have guessed that you found this hard to write.

Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 07:43 am (UTC)
Ben Atwood's don't cry

You're very much welcome. You were the reason I didn't give up, I wanted to give you a story for the sentence you made up and I'm glad it worked for you.

Posted by: helen_c (helen_c)
Posted at: September 16th, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC)


Yup, worked for me, too.

Trey’s voice is hopeful and optimistic, but Ryan is old enough to read the desperation hidden beneath his big brother’s words.
Love this; Trey still trying to help his little brother (but for how much longer) and Ryan facing most of their homelife alone because he still wants to help Dawn.

The last line was downright heartbreaking.

Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 07:47 am (UTC)
Ben Atwood's don't cry

Trey's the only one I can still write, his desperation to be the big brother but deep disgust for his parents and their constant screw ups come easy to me. I had more trouble with Ryan, kept messing him up with Dean and Sam ;)

Sorry that it turned out this dark, wasn't actually planned...

Posted by: Kat (katwoman76)
Posted at: September 16th, 2007 01:38 pm (UTC)
Little Ben

I know you were worried, but IMHO you did just fine.
Heartbreaking and such a typical day with the Atwoods. *hugs poor Ryan*

Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 07:51 am (UTC)
Ben Atwood's don't cry

Thanks. Glad it worked for you.

Posted by: elzed (elzed)
Posted at: September 16th, 2007 05:02 pm (UTC)

Ah, the poor little boy...


Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 07:51 am (UTC)
Ben Alps just sleep

I know, I'm a bitch. Or rather Dawn is.

Posted by: oc_gambit2 (oc_gambit2)
Posted at: September 16th, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)

I think the present tense really works here. It gives it an immediacy that matches Ryan's emotions.

Overall? Beautiful- gutwrenching- seems an unfortunately true-to-life picture of Ryan trapped in all his family's problems. Cleaning up and helping Dawn to bed even as her words wound him to the core- the sadistic cop - child service will pick you two up later. Merry Christmas, kid -and- Ryan silently swears to never celebrate Christmas again-


I too think of Ryan as far from being a 'pray-er' by upbringing or inclination, but generally too hopeful by nature not to throw an occasional appeal to whatever good forces in the Universe.

Whatever difficulties the muse gave you, the result is nonetheless a touching tale that rings true to the Atwood family. I'm sorry to hear it's not working for you, because it certainly is for this reader [pure selfishness that I'd miss seeing oc fic from you]. Thanks for struggling through to get this one out-

Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 07:55 am (UTC)
Ben Alps just sleep

Thanks, I've never used present tense before, so it was a first.

Glad you enjoyed it, it turned out darker than I had originally planned, I wasn't in a very happy place when I forced myself to finish it, that's why I was worried that it wouldn't be satisfying, it definitely is not to me.

Well, writing must be fun for me, it comes from my heart and I'm happy when the words come to me. To force myself is unsatisfying and frustrating and it's no fun, so I stop it, it's not worth squeezing out words that I think do not belong in a story. If that makes sense. Who knows, maybe one day I'll return, but at the moment it certainly does not work for me anymore.

Posted by: oc_gambit2 (oc_gambit2)
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)

it turned out darker than I had originally planned, I wasn't in a very happy place when I forced myself to finish it

Yes, well, the Atwood family isn't a very happy place [gross understatement]....so perhaps a change of topic/ focus is just the thing. I think you've been doing this quite a while, yes? For me this need to tell the stories is still fresh, and I don't think I've been in the kind of frustration you describe. I can imagine it's quite painful when what seems to be this natural 'flow' stops. Apparently it's part of the process anyone who tries to write must endure at times.

This is the first thing I've done with a deadline, only the third I've posted, so that's quite different than just writing for oneself. If one story isn't moving, you can let it rest and come back later, sometimes much later. So I salute you for doing the challenges; pat yourself on the back. Deadlines can be a bitch.

Meanwhile, peace and blessings, hopefully we'll hear from you again sometime.

Posted by: 60schic (60schic)
Posted at: September 26th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)

Yikes! No Chrismukkah miracles here. I'm glad we're not in this season yet or I'd really be depressed.

Sorry to hear that your muse is among the missing...seems to be alot of that going on around here.

Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: January 23rd, 2008 07:51 am (UTC)
Ben cute

Sorry for the late reply, stupid hospital kinda sucked me out of LJ.

Hee. Good thing I didn't wait with posting until Christmas. I seriously don't know where this one came from, but I'm glad I got it finished for the challenge.

Yep, stupid Muse concentrates on other things at the moment. But I'm a patient person, maybe one day she'll find back to me.

Posted by: sheelock (sheelock)
Posted at: September 27th, 2007 11:53 am (UTC)

Don't beat yourself up - this was great - it explains why Ryan was so reluctant to celebrate Chrismukkah with the Cohens.

Posted by: valkrys (valkrys)
Posted at: January 23rd, 2008 07:52 am (UTC)
Ben cute

Thank you! Exactly. I did have this first Christmukkah in the back of my mind when I wrote it.

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