After the Whipping

Photo of a house and meadow on fire with the silhouette of a tree in front.A boy stands knee-deep on heron-thin legs, stung skin numbing now, as stars prick creek water sliding slow, slow beneath him. Across the meadow, his house is burning.

When he finally looks up — having almost outrun the sound of the front porch door banging like a rifle shot behind—flames illuminate the rope swing he’s just flown past and thick smoke billows into a harvest moon, a great big zero, now, just clearing the ridge.

But what echoes still, are the last words his father, belt in hand, would ever utter: “Stop crying like a baby, son, and take it.”

Bill King’s first chapbook is The Letting Go (Finishing Line Press, 2018). He teaches creative writing at Davis & Elkins College, in Elkins, WV.

Photo Credit: Megan Skelly

4 Responses to “After the Whipping”

  1. Lynn says:

    Stunning and resonant. The heron legs, the zero moon…such vivid imagery. And one helluva ending. Superbly done!

  2. This is a powerful piece of writing and it brings the moment alive.

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