Traditions Are Meant to Be Broken




“Alright, dad. I’ll go out and shoot the fucking bird. Just shut up.”

Ethan finished lacing his boots and walked out into the snow. The bite in the air made his foul mood even worse and the fact that he had to spend the afternoon with his father…

There wasn’t enough game in the woods to satisfy his rage.

“Do you even re-remember how to shoot that fuckin’ thing?” said his old man.


The bastard was drunk already.

It wasn’t even noon.

Ethan clenched his jaw and nodded.

 “Good, because that pheasant isn’t going to just walk over and off itself in front of you.”

No, but I wish someone else would.

The gun shook in his hands.

Would mom care? Would she even notice? Ethan touched the bruises on his face and held the gun a little tighter. He was sick of the charades. Tired of the bullshit. This whole act like a family thing…it was a joke. And everyone was laughing at it but him.

The bird stood a couple yards in front of him.

His heart pounded.

“Don’t be a pussy,” said his dad. “Kill the fuckin’ thing so we can get out of here.”

Ethan took a deep breath.

Dad was right.

He needed to stop being afraid.

So Ethan took the shot.

And then he walked out of the woods alone.

Words: 230   Noun: pheasant   Verb: nag

Stephanie M. Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, a book reviewer for Nameless Magazine, and a well-known coffee addict. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and a graduate student in Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her poetry collection, HYSTERIA, can be found at Follow Wytovich at and on twitter @JustAfterSunset.


  1. Family abuse, tough topic, I appreciate the awareness your story brings. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I think this is by far one of our shortest pieces, and yet, I think it's one of the best. Thanks, Stephanie, for guest posting for us! ;)


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