May 31 2014

sometimes life leaves a
bad taste in your mouth
{story a day}

Myrna Bellweather sank her teeth into the slice of watermelon the aide, that one named Corinne, had set before her. It tasted just the way she thought it was going to: day-old and mushy, and something like biting into water. She pushed the plate away and struggled up out of her chair to head back to her room, muttering to herself as she went.

“Can’t even get a decent slice of watermelon around here.”

Corinne placed her hand on the rail of Myrna’s walker. “What’d you say, Myrna? Where you headed, anyway?”

“I’m going back to my room. The food here sucks.”

Corinne let go of the walker and snorted at the same time. “Fine, go on then, I’ll come fetch you for dinner.”

“My dad grew the best watermelon in Munion County. My mom’s pickled rinds won the blue ribbon at the fair five years in a row. That plateful of air you just set before me is an insult.”

And she headed down the hall, quick, before Corinne could see that she’d worked herself up into a crying jag. The thing was, she knew it wasn’t just this place. Fred had been bringing melon home from the grocery store for years, always thinking he was bringing her a gift, and they all tasted the same way. Empty. Nobody had gardens anymore, and the stuff from the store had been grown a thousand miles away with all the flavor bred out of it in exchange for portability.

Fred had been gone four years now, and that was the last time anyone had brought her a melon, even if it was a tasteless one. Then just last week, Joey had brought her here, to this place. He’d told her it had to be done after she fell getting out of the bathtub, and then he’d sold the house and set her up in this situation he called perfect, and went right on back to Michigan.

Myrna struggled to open the door to her room, which was way too heavy, and shuffled her way over to the big chair by the window. She had a nice view of the parking lot, and she was still surprised by how seldom anyone new pulled up for a visit. She also had a view of the sign out front. Greener Pastures. That still made her laugh every time she sat down, though not in a good way. What kind of a jackass comes up with a name like that for an old folks home?

She sat there for the rest of the afternoon, waiting, though she couldn’t have said for what.

All she could think about was her and Fred out on the boat that one afternoon when they were just teenagers. He kept spitting watermelon seeds in her direction, and she just kept right on pretending to ignore him, turning her face up to the sun like he wasn’t even there.

She wished he was here just now, she’d let him spit all the seeds he wanted, even if they were inside.

Hell, she might even spit some back.


Story A Day: One last story at the end of a month that got away from me. But I enjoyed the process when I could carve out the time for stories.
Today’s prompt was Endings and Beginnings. Which seemed like a fine way to end the month. Thanks so much for reading.





May 22 2014

{story a day}

Dear Liza,

There’s a hole in the bucket. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a problem, but the water’s been off for two weeks now because the pipe that burst still isn’t fixed. I’ve been walking down to the spigot at the end of the lane several times a day, just to get the basics taken care of. Trust me when I tell you that nobody wants to be the person who bumps into me on my morning trip, before I’ve had my coffee. Also, I haven’t had a proper bath in 15 days. (Yes, I’m counting.)

Now I have nothing to carry water in. I’ve tried several times, but by the time I get back to the house, most of the water has leaked out, even if I walk as fast as I can. This is ridiculous. You promised you’d have someone here to fix it by last Tuesday. Please advise.



Dear Henry,

I can’t believe you wrote me a letter to tell me there’s a hole in the bucket. Walk your lazy butt down to the store and get yourself a new one. I’ll reimburse you when you pay next month’s rent. Then again, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for that to happen, because you still haven’t paid last month’s. Or the month before that. Maybe instead of spending all your time carrying water, you should think about looking for a job.

By the way, I haven’t sent anyone to fix the pipe yet because Darren broke his collarbone, and Fred’s had the flu. I’m sorry you’re being so inconvenienced, but I’ve got my hands full just now. You should see how much laundry I have to do every day, just to keep up with the twins’ diapers. And that’s not to mention Jordy’s play clothes. Life isn’t easy, that’s a fact. If you want to take a bath you can come over here. I’ve got a stack of ironing piled up to the ceiling, the garden hasn’t been weeded in weeks, and I’m almost out of firewood. A pair of extra hands would come in handy.



Dear Liza,

I’m really sorry to hear about Darren and Fred. I didn’t know you were having so many troubles of your own, sometimes I get to thinking it’s just me that’s miserable, up here on this hill all alone, and everybody else is just peachy. I’ve been thinking of looking for a job, but right now’s not a good time, especially since all my clothes are dirty.

I’ll figure something out about the water, there’s a couple a bowls in the cupboard that might work. Thanks for your kind invitation, but I wouldn’t want to impose on your household and keep you from your work.

And I know just what you mean, I find myself wishing for an extra hand or two often, just think how much easier life would be! Heck, if I had more hands and a couple more buckets, I’d be able to make fewer trips down to that spigot.

Listen to us, just a couple of dreamers.

Anyway, please send someone to fix the pipes when you can, as things are getting a little ripe around here, if you get my meaning.

Dirty Henry


Dear Henry,

You’re not so good at taking a hint are you?

I’ve got two extra buckets here if you want to come and get them. Maybe while you’re at it, you could chop some wood for me and we could deduct some money off your back rent. I gotta tell you though, Fred’s just about had it. Yesterday he told me he thinks you’re a freeloader. And even though I told him not to talk that way about my brother, I didn’t have much to back up my argument, especially after I’d mentioned that you said no when I asked you for some help.

So now I’m just gonna come right out and say it: I’ll be expecting you by Wednesday at the latest. I need help and you need the work. Fred’s still real sick and I’m exhausted. Ain’t nobody going to get to those pipes for a long time. In fact, Fred’s thinking it might be best to just put the old place up for sale, it being more work than it’s worth and all.

Make sure you clear out all the food and close the place up nice and tight before you come, okay? Clean everything up, too, I hate finding a mess when I walk into a place.

Oh, and can you bring granny’s old silver along with you? I think I’m going to take it down to Old Bart’s and sell it off, we sure could use the extra cash right now.

‘Til Wednesday,


Dear Liza,

It pains me to tell you that I took Granny’s silver into town a few months ago. I polished it up real nice before I took it down, and Bart gave me a real good price. I bought myself that nice pair of boots I’d had my eye on for a while, which is a good thing now that I’m doing all this walking back and forth to carry water.

I found a few more bowls, and even an old milk jug, so I’m getting along just fine. I even rigged myself up a little shower with the garden hose and the rain barrel, so you don’t need to worry about me. Tell Fred I said hello, and I hope he’s feeling good again soon. I’ll mention your troubles to old Jakes when he brings me the mail, maybe he’ll know of a girl who could come and help you out for awhile.

But don’t you worry about me, none, I’ll be fine.

Things are good,


Dear Henry,

Well, if that doesn’t just take the cake! Momma always said you were too lazy for your own good, and now I can see she was right.

Just so’s you know, Fred’s feeling better, and tomorrow he’s going to see Mr. Witherspoon about putting Granny’s house up for sale. He’ll be sending you a letter telling you how soon you need to be out. Please make sure the place isn’t a mess, I don’t want to be embarrassed on top of being mad as a hornet.

Oh, and be sure to leave your rent money, plus whatever you made when you sold off Granny’s silver. It says right in her will that the house and everything in it belongs to me.

Just because you already squandered everything Momma left you doesn’t mean you’re gonna live off me and Fred. Don’t write me anymore of your stupid letters, neither. You live less than a mile away. If you got something to say to me, quit being a coward and walk down here and say it to my face.

By the way, George Garrett is coming by tomorrow to fix the pipe. Please throw away that useless bucket.

Have a nice life,


I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
The prompt for this was “Write An Epistolary Story.” I have no idea why Liza and Henry popped into my head, except that I used to love that song when I was a little girl. I thought I’d have a little fun with it.










May 17 2014

{story a day}

You find yourself sitting in a chair at midnight, the tail end of a fire glowing in the woodstove, and you can’t remember how you got there. There was beer and a shot of tequila, toasted to an imaginary clink, and music: Neil Young and the Indigo Girls and then Cowboy Junkies. And tears, there were lots of tears, your head still feels like a lazy balloon, one whose skin has grown too thick for popping.

A throb in your left heel reminds you of the broken teapot, the one that belonged to your grandmother, the tiny shard you’d stepped on despite sweeping the floor three times, the blood, the cursing of a loss you hadn’t known you’d feel, the lack of band-aids in a medicine cabinet that never seemed to hold anything but regret.

The window is open to one of those nights with just the right amount of breeze sliding in through your dirty lace curtains at exactly the perfect temperature, and the only sound is the triple-layered cacophony of frogs having a party down at the swamp. The word raucous keeps pinging through your mind.

You don’t move. Because you know that as soon as you move, something else will go wrong, and then your heart will slide too far to the right and the weeping will begin again. So you sit there, rigid, silent, and let the night air feather your skin. You think about nothing and everything, and after awhile, you can’t tell which is which. The darkness gets darker and you wrap yourself in folds of ink. Words tattoo your skin, news of floods and murder, corruption and deceit, who wore what dress to a party no one’s ever invited to.

And then, you dream. There’s a forest and a radio playing softly, somewhere in the distance of the room you’re still in. The trees disappear, or rather, dissolve into bars. The window shrinks, and moves up the wall before you have time to grab on, and then you can no longer reach the ledge, or see anything but a tiny square of sky.

There’s one star there, peeking in at you, but without companions, you can’t name it. This makes you laugh to yourself. A giggle bubbles up from your belly and you know that if you open your mouth, you will roar.

And then there you are, back in your living room and it’s late enough that the sky is beginning to lighten. You know you should go to bed, but somehow, this night was meant for chair sleeping. Window dreaming. Sob releasing. You shift, slightly, to give the foot you’ve crossed beneath your hips some blood. That tingle, the one that lets you know you’re still alive, rises up through your ankle.

Somewhere far off you hear a robin, pecking at the edges of the sun, trying hard to hurry dawn into dressing. Another day. There’s always one more.

The floor is clean this morning. You think maybe you should scrub it with your tears more often. You love the way it feels beneath your feet.


I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
The prompt for this was “second person, awkward.”






May 15 2014

an excerpt
{story a day}

I had lunch with Lettie last week. She called to say she had some news for me, and of course, all kinds of crazy things ran through my head: marriage, pregnancy, illness, moving away. Turns out, she’s writing a book. I never told her how much I always wanted to be a writer. Then again, she never told me she was one.

She and I have always had a rough time of it, right from the start. She was a colicky baby, she didn’t sleep for longer than two hours at a time for the first three months of her life. And she was Jase’s girl right from the start, which I have to admit, I encouraged. Part of me knew that I would never be able to give her, or Rob, what I gave to Sarah. Oh, I love them both just as much as I loved Sarah, but there has always been an empty place in my heart that couldn’t be filled, always a tiny piece I held back, a piece that just wasn’t strong enough to be broken again. Sarah’s place.

But I did my best with Lettie, I did all the things a mother is supposed to do. I read books to her from the day she was born, quit work for awhile to watch her grow, taught her how to plant seeds in spring and make snow angels in winter and what it means to be a woman. I taught her how to stand up for herself. Truth be told, she didn’t really need much help in that department, and I’m glad about that now. That’s how I know she’ll be okay.

From the outside looking in, I was a pretty good mom. From the inside looking out, I was terrified every step of the way, holding my breath in fear and fighting, every day, to keep myself from locking them both in their rooms, just to keep them safe. I did my best to hide my fear, but kids have a way of sensing things, you know? Lettie really took advantage of this when she was a teenager, always mocking me for being over-protective and trying to smother her. She fought hard to get loose from my grip, and she was right. Letting her go out with her friends, to parties, watching her learn to drive, the day she went off to college, these were all times I had to fight myself just as hard as she was fighting me.

I’m sure I drove Jase crazy when the kids were little with my constant checking and double-checking and safety this and safety that and never wanting to let them out of my sight. I didn’t leave them with anyone but my mom until Lettie started school. And I was a complete wreck that first day, waiting for her to get off that bus, I couldn’t wait for her to be back home where I could see her. I’m glad Jase wasn’t around to watch what a mess I was, so paralyzed with fear I sat in a chair the whole time, staring out the window, just waiting for it to be 2:30.

I was a little bit crazy and a lot overprotective, I know this. I knew it even when it was happening, but I just couldn’t help myself. Because I’ve lived the alternative, and I’m pretty sure that no one ever died from being over-protected.

So anyway, Lettie and I went to lunch, and over our big salads and glasses of wine, she tells me she’s writing this book, and she wants to know if I would read what she’s written so far. I thought my heart would burst right then and there, both with pride and honor and also with the secret knowledge that I won’t be around to see how it ends. I almost broke down right then and told her the truth. But I stopped myself just in time, I had to excuse myself and run to the ladies room so I could stuff the words back down my throat, quick. She looked at me funny when I came back to the table, but I told her it was the pills I’m taking, they give me stomach issues sometimes and I never know when it’s coming on.

A little white lie to cover over the black hole of truth. Sometimes, you just have to, and that was one of those times.

She gave me the first few chapters, and I took them home and read them right away. And they were good. Really, really good. So good I had to put them down and walk away a few times because I couldn’t see through my proud mama tears. I was amazed and appalled all at the same time, just knowing I was seeing a side of my tough little girl that I’d never seen before, and that I would never find out what happens to the girl, Jenny, in the story. I have a feeling there’s a lot of Lettie in her, and I wish I could stick around to see more of what’s inside her head and her heart.

But I’m so glad she’s writing. It will give her a distraction. She’s so strong and so smart and I just know that she’ll be the one to help Jase and Rob get through this. Rob’s the one who worries me the most. He’s always been just a tiny bit lost in the world, and I’m not yet sure where he’ll end up. He was the kind of little boy who could break your heart several times a day, just by smiling up at you and reaching for a hug. I saw a lot of Sarah in him from the moment he was born, and at first I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to love him because of it.

But as time went on, I came to adore the little glimpses of her I sometimes caught in a gesture or a smile. And I have to admit, that’s one of the reasons he has always been a little extra-special to me. I tried to never play favorites, but Rob got all the benefits, and I suppose all the drawbacks, of being one step closer to that hidden place in my heart. I didn’t have anything else to hold onto when it came to Sarah, so anything that even vaguely reminded me of her was a gift, one worth clinging to, for dear life.

And that’s exactly what I’ve done all these years. I held on tight to my two babies and my husband and the tiny resurrection their love offered. Somehow, they managed to keep me afloat. And not one of them ever knew how often I cried into my pillow at night.



I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
Today’s prompt was “first person.” so I took this as an opportunity to work on my novel in progress, which is written in first person. Above is an excerpt.





May 12 2014

any other name

Janie ran to the phone to call her husband. “Fred, a baby robin fell out of its nest, and I don’t know what to do.”

She’d blurted this out before he’d even had time to say hello, and Fred knew this meant she was all worked up, and what he should do was try and talk her down before things got out of hand. But his boss was standing right behind him, her breathless call had interrupted a heated discussion about a screw-up on a big order for an already impossible to please customer, and he just didn’t have time for one of her episodes this morning.

“Janie, I don’t know the first thing about baby robins and I can’t talk right now. Why don’t you just go back inside, and I’ll see if I can rescue it when I come home for lunch.”

“But Mutt and Geoff are both outside, and I just know they’re going to get it as soon as I shut the door.”

Fred still couldn’t believe he’d let Janie talk him into naming that cat Mutt, and every time she said it, he felt himself wince. Except for when he was in a really good mood, then it made him chuckle a little. But today was definitely a wincing kind of day, and he could see his boss’s reflection in the window separating his office from the warehouse floor, his head cocked his head in Fred’s direction, listening.

“I have to go, honey, I’ll call you back when I get a chance.” And he shut his phone off, quick, before she had a chance to say another word.

“Sorry, Steve, I’m heading down to the floor right now to double-check the status of Paltmeyer’s order. I’ll make sure it’s right this time.”


Janie stared at the phone in her hand, still not believing that Fred had hung up on her like that. But she knew he wouldn’t answer if she called back, he had yelled at her enough times about bugging him at work, and she could tell when he left this morning that it was a grouchy kind of day. Fred had those a lot, and most of the time she just pretended not to notice. It never did any good to mention it anyway, every time she brought it up, he just got grouchier.

She’d left the back door wide open, and could hear the mother robin growing more and more agitated from her perch at the tip of the old white pine, and she looked out to see Geoff belly crawling through the grass, almost close enough to pounce.

“Geoff, no!!” She screamed and ran straight for him, hoping she could put herself between him and the little fledgling, who sat in the grass with his shoulders hunkered down, trying hard to hide himself, and failing.

Geoff turned his big orange head in her direction, and she wagged her finger at him. “Don’t you dare,” she hissed in her meanest kitten mama voice, and he stopped slinking just long enough for her to reach the baby bird, keeping one eye on the cat the whole time.

“Come here, you little monster.” She knew as soon as stepped towards Geoff he would take off running, that was the game he liked to play every night when it was time for the two brothers to come inside.

And she was right, the cat bolted as soon as she made her move, but before her foot even hit the ground, she heard an awful rustling, peeping, screeching sound behind her and turned to see Mutt looking up at her with the baby in his jaws. The mother robin started dive bombing both of them in a frantic attempt to save her baby, and Janie ducked and lunged for the tiger cat all in one motion.

“You little shit, put it down!” But Mutt took off like a shot, down the side yard and across the street into Old Man Waverly’s garden. Still in her slightly see-through nightgown, barefoot, and without even stopping to think, Janie ran right after him, screaming like a banshee and tearing up her legs on the carefully-tended rose bushes circling his house.

Mutt scooted underneath and behind them, and by the time she caught up to him, he was already devouring the tiny bird. She sank down onto the grass, red rose petals strewn all around her, sticking to her legs in the places where blood had started oozing from the scratches.

Dew from the grass soaked right through her nightgown, and she shivered as she sat there whispering, “I’m sorry, Mama, I’m sorry,” again and again and again.

She was still there an hour later when Old Man Waverly came around the corner of the house, pruners in hand.

He reached out and touched Janie’s shoulder, asked if she was alright.


“Fred, you have a call on line three.”

“Christ, Sheila, tell her I can’t come to the phone right now, would you?”

“It’s not Janie, it’s your neighbor, Mrs. Whitcomb. She says you need to get home right away, Mr. Waverly just called the cops on your wife for tearing out three of his rose bushes.”

He sat down at his desk and stared out the window.

“Fred? You still there?”

“Thanks, Sheila. Tell her I’m on my way, okay?”


I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
This was a combo of a couple of prompts from the last few days, theme and dialogue.












May 8 2014

let’s get lost
{story a day – desire}

Lou drove the old green pickup into the car wash bay for the six thousandth time. Every time he headed over for a wash and wax, Betty told him he better watch out, that truck was only held together with a prayer and song, and if he washed either one off, he was done for.

But Lou liked things clean. He hated those people that just let their cars stay dirty all winter long, dirty enough that some wise guy could write WASH ME on the back window. That was just pure laziness if you asked Lou. And lack of pride. Even though his truck was 13 years old, it was always clean, even the rusty spots.

He still remembered the day he’d paid The Green Queen off, some nine years ago now. That night, he’d taken Betty out for a nice steak dinner, and then they’d headed down to the lake to sit at the pier and feed the ducks while they made plans for what they could do with that extra $389 a month. Course, then they’d ended up getting in a fight, because Betty had her eye on a blue Subaru down at Al’s lot, and Lou wanted to sock that money away for a rainy day.

It took about a year before Betty wore him down, and eventually she got her Outback and they both forgot the argument and just remembered the bald eagle they’d seen at sunset that night, flying out over the water. It was the first time either one of them had seen one in real life, and man, what a sight. Better yet, it had put a quick end to their bickering—for once even Betty was speechless.

The next day she looked up what an eagle sighting meant on that internet site with all that animal totem spirit stuff, and when Lou got home from work and sat down in the foyer to unlace his steel-toed boots, she told him it was a sign of courage and freedom, peace and fertility. And then she laughed real hard and went off to the kitchen to finish stuffing the pork chops. He wasn’t sure what she was laughing about exactly, but he had a feeling it was aimed at him. And he knew better than to ask. That laugh was just one step away from a brawl, and he was just too tired after another 12-hour shift.

So he’d done what he did most nights, pretended not to notice and cracked open the beer she handed him when he walked in, and during dinner he kept his head down and his voice quiet, and then cleared everything up and washed the dishes while Betty watched her shows. Life wasn’t perfect, but it worked okay for them most of the time, and if anyone had walked up to Lou on the street and asked if he was happy, he wouldn’t have stopped to think too long before he said yes.

Course that didn’t mean he never got mad, or sad, or sick and tired of things. Especially dirty vehicles. And so here he was again, scrubbing salt and road spray off the sides of a truck he never thought he’d still be driving, after another long day humping molds at a job he never thought he’d still be working.

Lou kinda snorted to himself then, shaking out the rag he kept behind the seat for wiping the tires. You just never know where life is gonna take you. But he’d been getting there for a real long time in this old truck, and The Queen was damn well gonna be nice and clean and shiny when he arrived.



I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
The prompt for this piece was “Write A Story Where Everything Hinges on Your Character’s Most Desperate Desires.”
I’d call this a beginning, perhaps a first chapter.




May 3 2014

five bites, five sips,
five days a week
{story a day – 100 words}

Mabel sat in the cafe and watched the blond woman three tables over chew her salad with the kind of concentration that made her compulsion obvious. Five bites, 20 chews each, fork down on the table in between. The cup of tea on a squarely-placed napkin lifted, sipped, returned precisely back to center. Five bites, five sips, and the grey-suited lady stood, gathered her things and walked out the door. Mabel always made her move before the waitress came to clear the table. She survived on this leftover lunch, but somehow, she felt better off than the woman who paid.



I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
The prompt for this piece was “100 Words.”




May 1 2014

getting home
{story a day}

“Ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred.”

She counted out the last five steps she had in her. The gash on her arm was still oozing blood, despite the five layers of t-shirt she’d tied around the bone-deep wound. Just getting that done had taken forever, with only one hand and her teeth for assistance.

She’d been exhausted before she even started walking again, and who knows how much blood she had lost along the way.

Haley thought she was being smart when she drove up to the cabin the night before the storm. They were calling for serious flooding, and while it might be rusty, run down, and ramshackle, the tiny shack sat at the top of the hills ringing the lake of the town she lived in. She figured her chances were pretty good up there, not as good as the people’s who got in their cars and drove far away, but she couldn’t do that, she couldn’t bring herself to leave Billy lying in that hospital bed, even if he never did open his eyes again. They had a contingency plan for the patients in place for emergencies, so he would be safe until she could get back to see him.

The doctors told her two weeks ago that it was hopeless, all they could do was keep him breathing, day in and day out. Inhale, exhale, again and again, until the end of time. Or electricity, whichever came first. But she couldn’t just walk away. So she’d packed a backpack with a week’s worth of tuna and chocolate, and headed up the hills on her bike. It had taken her most of the day, given how out of shape she was, and how many times she had to stop and walk all the steep ones. But she got there before the storm hit, built herself a nice fire with the wood Billy had always kept stacked in the shed, filled every container she could find with fresh well water (calling that stuff fresh was a stretch if you asked her), and settled herself in for the long haul.

It started raining right around midnight, thunder crashing, lightning flashing, tree limbs dropping like matchsticks. And it kept going for two full days and two full nights that weren’t much good for sleeping. It was creepy being up there in the woods all alone, creepy wondering what was happening down in the valley. She had her cell phone with her, but in order to get reception she had to walk half a mile down the hill, and she wasn’t about to do that in this weather. So she read four books from the raggedy collection they kept on the shelf for overnight guests, even though she’d read all but one before. The distraction was better than nothing.

She also ended up wishing she hadn’t been so worried about extra weight in her backpack and packed herself a couple bottles of wine. But she survived, both the storm and the fear and the boredom, all of which were both worse than she’d expected and better than being dead. Or like Billy. So she tried not to complain, not that she had anyone to complain to, she tried to just wait things out until she could get back into town.

The rain began to let up in fits and starts on the second afternoon, but the sky stayed dark and the wind kept whipping, so she didn’t even bother going outside until the next morning.

What struck her first was the silence. No birds, no traffic, no wind. Just the occasional drip of water, and as she walked down the driveway, the sound of water rushing through what used to be ditch. When she got to the road, she saw how bad it was. Trees were down everywhere, blocking the road in both directions, and she knew that when she got closer to town, wires would be down along with them. She also knew that riding her bike would be next to impossible.

So she closed up the cabin, packed her bag with more water than tuna this time (and more chocolate than both), and headed down the road into town. Already, the road was steaming from the heat of the sun, worms and tiny frogs littering the surface, and she started sweating before she hit the first bend in the road, the exact place where Billy’s motorcycle had slid out from under him. What she saw there brought her up short. A huge old willow tree was down, blocking the road, right where the shoulder broke off into gully. She was going to have to climb her way through it.


She’d been carrying her cell phone, waiting to get to the spot that had reception, but she shoved it back in her bag for dryness sake, and started threading her way though the branches. She had to hoist herself up and over the slippery moss covered trunk, and by the time she came out of the tangle she was both soaked down to her underwear, and filthy. Of course, a change of clothes hadn’t been part of the essentials she’d tossed in her pack, it hadn’t even occurred to her that she’d need them.

“Some survivalist you are,” slipped out from under her breath, but at least the road looked clear for a ways now, and she figured it wouldn’t be too long before the sun dried her halfway back to comfortable. That’s when she saw the dog.

The Beast, which is how she would later think of him, had come from the woods to her right, silently, with that menacing kind of walk she knew signaled danger. He was big, part Rottweiler and who knows what else, filthy, and looking at her like she was food. At first she just kept walking, calling out friendly Good Doggy’s and inching her way slowly around the turf he’d claimed, hoping she could slide past his territory and therefore, his anger. It was when she decided to reach into her backpack for a candy bar to offer as toll that he lunged, clamping down on her forearm as she dangled the bag in mid-air, trying desperately to find what he wanted. Too late, her hand landed on the slick wrapper of a Hershey bar, but before she could pull it out, the dog grabbed the whole bag and went running.

“My phone!” she screamed, and almost took off after him, but then she looked down at her arm. It had all happened so fast, she hadn’t realized how good the damn dog got her, she could see white bone glistening up through a five-inch gash, pulsing blood as fast as she was breathing. At least the dog never came back while she patched herself up, he must have been too busy trying to break into those three cans of tuna. “I hope all that chocolate kills you!” she yelled into the woods as she finally stood up to start walking, scared now of every movement, of the blood seeping through her makeshift bandage, of all the unknowns ahead on the road still before her.

After about a mile, she started feeling dizzy. That’s when she started counting her steps, in sets of one hundred, to give her mind something to do besides thinking about pain and the possibility that she might not make it into town. She was thirsty, her feet hurt, her arm throbbed and she thought, several times, about lying down, right there in the middle of the road and giving up.

But, Billy.

So she forced herself to keep moving, counting the same set of numbers again and again, until finally, she knew she was close to that spot two miles from town where you got that great view of the valley. It was right on the crest of a hill, and she thought she was going to collapse before she made it to the top.

“Ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, nine-nine, one hundred.”

And then she was there and she stopped in her tracks, destroyed by what she saw. Water, everywhere, a lake five times the size of the one that usually nestled so pretty between the hills. From this spot you could see the whole town. She could see her house down on Johnson Ave., three-quarters of the way under water. One yellow peak and the old tired chimney sticking up through a rug made of liquid.

She sank to her knees.

And she howled to a sun that still burned in the sky, blind to the depths of destruction.

In the distance she heard a dog, howling back in her direction. She had no idea which way she should run.



A little something different today, I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
Today’s prompt was “Getting Home.”  A rough draft to get things started, I’d love to know what you think.