Survivor XV, Challenge 7: Chicken Dance

This week we had to write a story about someone who has become isolated because they stubbornly stick to tradition (like someone at a wedding begging to do the chicken dance…apparently).

The brittle crack of each walnut brought brief respite to the cold silence of Roland’s study. Sitting forward in his Windsor chair, he gazed out the window at the rusted swing set. Forty-five years had passed since this room was a nursery.


“Daddy!” Hans was tugging on Roland’s trousers, no doubt in disproportion to the significance of his concerns. “Can we play on the swings? Please?”

He peered over his Heinrich Böll novel. “After your devotions, son. And no rushing!” Hans swiftly walked to the desk, then opened his prayer book. Even from this angle, Roland could see him pouting.

He shook his head at his son’s recalcitrance, though he understood it. He was once the same until his father had beat it out of him. And his father before him, he supposed. Roland believed in discipline, not violence.

A sharp creak startled him out of his book. The chair by the window was falling and Hans with it. As they met the floor, a loud crack shook his bones. A leg had splintered off the Windsor, lying pathetically by Hans’s head. His son’s face was frozen in fear.

“What did you do?” Roland yelled, ripping off his belt.


A stubborn walnut sent pressure reverberating back through the nutcracker. Roland winced, favoring his frail and battered hand. A broken swing blew lazily in the wind.

K: This is almost, there, I think. It technically falls under telling instead of showing, but the flashback was used to try to evade that trope. Sometimes a story that leaves out some details can be an annoying pain in the ass, and times like this it can be used as an effective disquieting tool. BRONZE

DK: Geez, is this darker than the first one? Hard to say. I had trouble responding to it at all in some ways.

MG: Something about the time-jumping structure of this one feels like a tricky way to seem more literary than your typical tell-don’t-show short story. But there were a few very juicy details that were waved under our noses and not driven home with giant arrows, especially favoring one hand over another. I think if the author had one or two more passes at this story, it’d be one of the better ones of the evening. BRONZE

I really like this story, though not too disappointed in my scores since our team finished in second once again and avoid any eliminations. Freshly Ruptured Hymen had to eliminate someone, and now the other three teams each have four members to our seven. Go Walrus! For the next challenge we either have to write a contentious eulogy or a contentious wedding speech.

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