Waterfall: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Waterfall

Waterfall

Cora ran from the house, her father’s drunken rage following her with the sounds of furniture and crockery smashing. As she ran through the forest, her father’s curses faded until, gasping for breath, the only sounds were the wind in the trees and the birds and insects. She dropped to the leaf-littered forest floor and rested, arms on her knees and her forehead on her arms. Why does he do it? Raging when he comes home from the village pub only to apologize the next morning and set to work repairing whatever he’d broken. It made no sense to her.

She flopped back to stare up through the leaves of the oak providing her a dappled shade. It was a beautiful day out here in the forest. Why couldn’t she stay out here? Away from her father. Away from the drudgery. That reminded her she’d left the washtub full of Anna Reed’s washing in the back yard. Cora sighed. Anna was the new priest’s wife, dainty and of ill-health. It was easy washing, the priest and his wife didn’t do hard work so their clothing was practically clean already and the coins the wash brought in helped keep Cora and her father in food and supplies for the winter. That is when papa didn’t give it to the pub-keeper.

Another sigh escaped. By the time she got back, papa would be collapsed across his pallet, sound asleep. She could finish the wash then clean up the mess in the house. But she didn’t move. Cora stared up at the clouds, drifting across the blue sky. She could feel herself relaxing, her mind drifting as her body felt as though it were becoming one with the earth.

“Miss, don’t do that.”

Cora jerked, her mind snapping back. She sat up. A small girl stood a few feet away, staring at her. But no, not a girl, a very small woman, dressed in shades of green, her staff hardly a foot high. “Why not?”

The woman shrugged. “Well, I suppose you can if you want to, but you’d get pulled into the earth spirit realm.”

“Is that bad?”

“You wouldn’t be able to come back.”

Cora nodded. “It seemed peaceful.”

The woman took a few steps toward Cora. “It is, for humans. At least at first. Then unless you really are looking for peace, it is too slow, confining. A human spirit doesn’t usually have the temperament for being an earth spirit.”

“Oh. No, I expect not. We do like to move around. I’m Cora.”

“Nice to meet you, Cora. I’m Lavendar. Fairy.”

A fairy! “I’ve heard stories about fairies.”

“Good ones I hope.”

“Yes, though mischievous, too. But mostly nice.”

“You were feeling sad. Angry, too. I could sense you from a long distance. Is that why you were moving into the earth?”

“I was angry, and sad. But I wasn’t thinking about sinking into the ground. That was just happening. I just didn’t want to go home.”

“Why not?” Lavendar sat down beside Cora.

Cora told the fairy about her father. “So you see, I don’t know what to do about it.”

“That would be a problem.” The fairy tapped her fingers on one of the fallen oak leaves, then jumped up. “Follow me. I have an idea.”

Cora nodded and followed the fairy for several miles until they entered a small glade. A pool was at the center, the water’s surface still and reflecting the woods around it. On the north edge a small waterfall, only about three feet high, poured water into the pool. A stream on the southwest side let the water out with hardly a sound. She looked into the pool. The water was so clear she could see the sandy bottom and tiny fish swimming. “It’s lovely.”

“One of my favorite spots. But it’s the waterfall that I brought you to see.” She led Cora to the falls where a flat stone stuck up out of the water at the edge of the pool. The fairy stepped onto the rock and she motioned for Cora to do the same.

“The water as it falls is magic. Once a year you may come and cup your hands and drink from the falls. As you drink, make a wish or visualize a dream, and it will come true.”

“Oh, my.” Cora stared at the water flowing from the ledge to the pool. It was mesmerizing as the water caught the sunlight and sparkled. “What should I wish for?”

“Whatever you want. But take care. Think about the consequences of your wish.”

Cora thought about her father, reeking of ale, face distorted into something horrific, smashing the bowls and chairs. Her stomach knotted with the remembered fear. “I can make a wish now?”

Lavendar nodded. “It will be this year’s wish. You’ll get no other until next year.”

“Fair enough.” Cora held out her cupped hands and in a moment, they were full of water. She drank, her eyes closed.

“What did you wish for?”

Cora stepped back onto the bank. “For my father not to be a drunkard.”

Lavendar nodded and led Cora back to her hut marking the way so Cora could return. “Farewell, Cora,” the fairy said at the hut. “Take care.”

“I will.” Cora went into the hut.

A year later, Lavendar met Cora at the pool. “How did your wish turn out.”

Cora burst into tears. “Papa died over the winter.”

“What happened?”

“Without the drink, Papa just got sadder and sadder. One night he went out and didn’t come back. The woodcutter found him in the forest, frozen to death.”

“I am so sorry, Cora.” The fairy hugged the girl.

“The priest told me papa came to him. Papa drank to forget. Without it, the guilt of losing Mama was too much. It’s all my fault Papa is dead. Now I have no parents. You were right. I didn’t know the consequences.”

“We never do.”

 

 

Thank You!

993 Words

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Happy Anniversary: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Green Velvet Gift Box 1 by http://fantasystock.deviantart.com/

Green Velvet Gift Box 1 by http://fantasystock.deviantart.com/

He was in his usual spot. I had dropped the bag of groceries on the kitchen table and went into the living room. I don’t know why I expected something else. Hope? I sighed. “You’re home early.”

He popped the top on another beer. Three empties littered the side table next to his recliner. “I was let go.”

My heart sank. Things were already tight. I walked around to stand between him and the history channel documentary on the black plague, arms crossed against my chest. “What happened?”

“Told me things were tough and they had to let someone go.” He took a sip and belched. “It happens.”

I nodded. It happened a lot to him. “You were drinking on the job.”

“I had a couple of beers at lunch. No big deal.”

I closed my eyes. I knew better. “And the whiskey shots at break?”

“A pick-me-up is all.”

I could feel the tears beginning to form so I went back to the kitchen to put the groceries away. A fast inventory of the fridge and cupboards made my stomach churn. There wasn’t much on hand. I’d been planning a big shopping expedition this weekend. Now that wouldn’t happen. I made tea and sat down at the table with a legal pad.

He came in, tossed his empties in the recycling bin and got four more beers from the fridge. For some reason, there was always money for beer. He didn’t even look at me before he went back to the living room. I started the list, mortgage, car payment, electricity, water, those were the most important. Then TV, phone, and internet, a combined payment that was lower than doing them separately. The phone and internet were important, that’s how he’d look for work. Groceries, ’cause we had to eat, but I knew how to pinch that particular penny. I knew to the last cent how much each of those bills cost; I was the one that paid the bills every month. The only bill with any give was the grocery bill. I drank the last of my tea, gone cold. My pay wouldn’t cover the bottom line.

He’d been so sweet back in college. Not scary aggressive like the rest of the boys. He played me soft love songs on the quad in the shade of a giant, ancient oak on his guitar. He read my tarot cards, each of us on opposite sides of his dorm room bed, the cards spread out in front of us. Sure, other guys vied for my attention. But I always came back to him. We married right out of college.

I didn’t notice the drinking at first. We all drank in college. After, it was get-togethers with people from work—kegs, now that we all had jobs and money to spare. Those friends dropped out after the babies started coming. Soon, it was just the two of us, uncomfortable with our friends since we didn’t have children. My heart constricted as I sat at the table, turning my tea mug around and around in front of me.

His drinking became a nightly thing. I didn’t realize there was a problem until he came home, fired, five years ago. One of his co-workers told me why when I saw him and his wife in the grocery one day. Drinking on the job. They were so sorry, they said. I nodded, the blush making my face hot. We had a three-hour screaming match when I got home. He promised he’d change. It worked, for awhile.

Now, this was the fifth job in as many years. I turned the kettle on for another cup of tea. Should I go in and confront him? Would it make any more difference than it had the last four times? I put a fresh tea bag in my cup and poured the boiling water over it and sat back down. The pad in front of me sat accusing, the bottom-line figure taunting me. Could I get a second job? My current job was nine-to-five and not very stressful. Maybe I could do something from home.

I was so tired of this fight. I went into the living room and pulled a footstool in front of him. “Do you want to change?”

He blinked at me; already a six-pack into the night’s drinking.

“Do you care at all?”

“Yes.”

“Do something.”

He muted the TV. “I tried.”

“Not hard enough.” He looked tired. No, beaten. My words made his face fall even more. “I can’t pay all of the bills on my salary. You have to get another job.”

“No one will hire me. Word is out.”

Rage washed through me. “Then DO something! Go into rehab! Quit cold turkey. I cannot do this anymore.”

He sat forward in the recliner and took my hand. “I can’t help it.”

I could feel something inside of me snap. He was pathetic. A loser. Why was I struggling with this man? I stood up. “You can move into the spare room.”

He blinked at me again. “What?”

“I’ve had enough. You can move into the spare room. I can’t afford to leave. I’m still responsible for the house and the bills. You get yourself together or get the hell out.”

I stood up and went into the kitchen. My hand shook as I picked up my tea mug. Did I just do that?

He shuffled into the kitchen, shoulders slumped. He handed me a small box of my favorite chocolate truffles. “Happy anniversary.”

I automatically took them, staring at him. An icy wave washed over me. Was he for real? I took the two steps to the trash can and dropped the box in.  I took my tea, went to my bedroom, and locked the door. There was no going back.

 

Thank You!

970 Words

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Letters Home: Flash Fiction Friday

“Time to eat, Marie.”

“Be right there.” I hit the record button. “I just want to tell you how much I love you and miss you, Vera. I know your Aunt Lucy is taking good care of you. Your mom, out.” I hit the stop button and lightly stroked the data cube with the picture of my daughter. With a sigh, I got up and went into the ship’s small dining space.

“Sorry,” I slid into the chair. I was the last one at the table.

“You know she’s grown, dead and gone, right?”

I stared at Burt Aston, navigator for our research vessel, The Albatross. “I know, Burt. Telling me every meal isn’t helpful.” The man was on my last nerve. What was it to him if I wanted to send messages to my long dead daughter? To me, it had only been two years. I saw her as a smiling ten-year-old, hair in pigtails and knees skinned. I clenched my teeth together and turned to the Captain, John Marsh. The ship’s pilot, John was the picture of the laconic, southern pilot from the twentieth century.

John raised an eyebrow at Burt but gave me a tiny nod of understanding. I was good. I wouldn’t try to kill Burt today, at any rate. Arabella brought the food to the table. As our biologist, Arabella had set up a hydroponics garden in half of a storage bay. The casserole smelled wonderful and my mouth began to water as my stomach growled.

Wendy Fernald, astrophysicist and her husband Roy, leaned forward to enjoy the aroma. “I think you’ve outdone yourself again, Ary.” Roy grinned at her as she sat down. Plates and spoons were already on the table. John nodded to Ary and picked up the serving spoon. With the precision of an engineer, John scooped the casserole in six identically sized servings onto the six plates. Burt eyed everyone else’s food.

I had to bite my tongue. We were all hungry. His overt checking of portion sizes ticked me off. “Wendy, have you found anything today?” John sipped some water then took a tiny bite of food.

That was the way to do it. Eat slowly, give your stomach a chance to feel full. Not the way Burt shoveled it in. Then he sat, watching every bite each of us took. I took a breath and sipped some water. I needed to calm down and enjoy my only meal of the day. Stressing over Burt Aston wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

“Burt and I have been studying the debris field. We can see the eddies where some debris is sucked into our black hole neighbor faster than in other spots. The Albatross seems to be in a dead spot. We’re not drifting into the hole but we still can’t seem to get out, either. If I had to guess, I’d say a tiny bit of anti-matter is holding us.”

The Captain nodded. How about you, Roy, any good samples today?” He took another tiny bite of food.

Roy wiped his mouth with his napkin and nodded. “Sucked in some manganese, phosphorous and the usual amount of iron. I gave the first two to Arabella for the hydroponics. I’m storing the iron for future use.”

“What future use?” Burt snarled. He threw his napkin on his plate. Arabella can keep on stretching our rations with the Swiss Chard and tomatoes, you can keep on storing iron but we’re stuck here and never getting out. We should face facts. All of this studying and planting is getting us nowhere. We’ve been here a year and food is running out. We’re going to die here.”

Arabella cocked an eyebrow. “Well. Aren’t you Mister Rainbows and Unicorns today?” She stared over the rim of her water glass at him.

The two of them had been sniping at each other for the last month. They’d been lovers up until then but my personal opinion was that she was as sick of his attitude as I was.

“Let’s keep it civil, everyone,” John said in a low voice. “We keep looking for a way out.” He looked around the table, catching each person’s eye. “We stay busy. We use what we find, find new uses for old stuff and keep doing our best to save ourselves.” He looked at Arabella. “Nice dinner. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Ary picked up her fork and stared at Burt as she deliberately ate a tiny bit of food.

“Marie? Anything?”

I brought my attention back to John. “I’ve been giving a lot of thought to Wendy’s eddies. If we think of those eddies like currents in the ocean, maybe we can push the ship into one that’s heading away from the black hole.”

“We’ve tried moving the ship before, Marie.” Burt slapped his hand on the table. “All we did was stir up the debris field.”

“Maybe. That was a year ago before we knew about the eddies.”

“We don’t know what’s holding us in place.” The Captain leaned forward. “You have a plan?”

“I think we can deploy one of the shuttles on an arm, look around and see what’s actually around the ship. Then develop a plan to release ourselves.”

John nodded. “I like it. First thing in the morning.”

The Captain insisted on sitting in the shuttle’s pilot seat while Wendy and I were glued to the window and the monitors. Wendy pointed to the shuttle’s right. “That’s a black hole, right there.” I pointed at the monitors. “See the waves? Electro-magnetic.” I grinned.

“What?” John said.

“We make the ship the opposite magnetic charge. We’ll get shoved out of here so fast we won’t know what happened.”

John and Wendy started laughing. Tears ran down our faces. We were going home.

 

Thank You!

966 Words

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The Mighty Five: Friday Flash Story

Sparks

Sparks

The old woman stirred her fire and dropped another piece of wood on top. The sparks danced up the chimney like demented fireflies.

“Granny, tell the story.”

Elsa wiped her rheumy eyes; of course the grandchildren would want to hear about her adventures. She nodded and hobbled back to her rocker. Shifting the chair so she could face both them and the fire, Elsa’s heart filled with love for the sweet girls cuddled together under a blanket on the bench, ready for a bedtime story.

“It was long ago,” she began, “when my eyes were clear and I moved like a gazelle across the land.”

“You were Elsa the Archer, one of the Mighty Five,” Corrine piped in.

“I was, though you’d never think so to see me today.” Elsa smiled at her oldest grand-daughter. It’s not the children’s fault I’ve grown so old. “It was before your mother was borne when Ragnar the Bold and I took on the evil marshal who was running roughshod over the shire.”

“Then Steven the Red, Dale Strongarm and Jamie the Bull joined you,” Denise, the younger girl added.

“Indeed they did. And we fought Marshal Eggleston with everything we had.” Elsa’s mind flashed to their first fight against the marshal’s men. “The first fight was later called the battle of the ford. The marshal had put a gate on either side of the ford.”

“To collect a tax!” Corrine called out.

“He did. Coming or going, it made no difference to the marshal. While he filled his coffers with our coppers and silvers the people of the Shire grew poorer and poorer. Something had to be done.”

“So Ragnar the Bold devised a plan,” Denise shouted.

Elsa chuckled. “He did. The five of us marched up to the ford, the marshal’s men lounged in their place, calling out that the fee to cross was two coppers. They stood up as we approached, the foul men calling out lewd invitations to me.

“Grandpa Ragnar didn’t like it,” Corrine noted.

“He did not but he kept his temper.” Elsa smiled as she remembered how much she admired her new husband for his control. “Ragnar stepped up to the man in charge as I stood back and the others spread out across the road. Ragnar told the man that we wanted to cross. The soldiers laughed. The head soldier said, ‘When we get the coppers, clod. Two for each of you to cross, though, for the woman, we’ll allow you to pass for free.’ I could see Ragnar grip his stave until his knuckles turned white. I pulled set my arrow and pulled my bow. Ragnar told them he would not pay.”

The girls stared at their grandmother with rapt attention.

“You will pay or turn around, peasant. The soldiers from the other side of the ford were listening to their comrade. Ragnar raised his stave. I’ll give you this if you don’t let us pass. The marshal’s men pulled their swords as the others on the other side began to cross. Ragnar swung back and hit the lead man with his stave. Then it was chaos. I pulled my bow but the men were too close together for me to shoot.”

“You were very brave, Grandma,” little Denise’s eyes shone. Elsa thought about how terrified she’d been. “Perhaps, little one. So your grandfather was in the fight of his life, his stave against swords. Steven, Jamie and Dale were also fighting hard. The five soldiers from the other side of the ford were nearly at the fight. I had to stop them or my friends would be outnumbered two to one and them with swords and armor.”

“You shot them!” Corrine said.

“I did.” Elsa’s stomach churned at the memory of the sound of her arrows slamming into the soldier’s chests but she didn’t stop firing until all five of them were down, screaming and writhing on the ground. She swallowed. “That gave Ragnar and our friends the time they needed to overcome the soldiers.”

“You saved the day, Grandma.” Denise grinned.

“I suppose so. That’s what the people cheered later as we went from town to town.”

“You were a hero,” Corrine nodded.

Elsa never felt like a hero. She had only wanted to raise children and work the farm. “Perhaps. As any man or woman is who fights for what they believe.” She shook off the memories of long ago. Ragnar had been dead these last ten years. “Time for bed, little ones. Enough of ancient stories.”

The girls unwrapped from their blanket, Corrine bringing it with her to their bed in the loft. Elsa tucked them in. “Sleep well.” She kissed each of them on the forehead.

“I’m going to be a hero someday,” Corrine said.

“Me, too,” Denise chimed in.

Elsa shuddered with the memories of all of the battles she’d fought in. “Dream of peace, girls. Being a hero is over-rated.”

Back in her chair she stared into the fire. All of that blood and death and for what? The King sent a new marshal and order was restored but it didn’t last. The old King died and the prince became king. Things became worse than ever.

She tossed another stick on the fire and picked up her knitting. The girls grew so fast new socks were needed every three months. Rumor had it that a new band was fighting back. The Protectors people were calling them. Elsa wished them well. If they lived through it they’d need help to bury the bad memories and live their lives in peace. She hoped they’d find it.

 

 

The End

937 Words

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Friday Flash Fiction Story: Desperate Quiet

Tears, Rain, BlackJack 0919, DeviantArt.com

Tears and Rain by BlackJack 0919 via DeviantArt.com

Eleanor Marks drove home from her job as a mid-level secretary in a mid-level accounting firm. Her ten year old car was a sedan, as plain as she was. Once home she made grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes and green beans for supper. It was the same thing they had every Wednesday night. Her husband, Arnold, arrived home promptly at six and wanted dinner on the table by six-fifteen.

“Good supper, El.” He wiped his mouth on his napkin and went into the living room to watch the seven o’clock game show.

El. Eleanor sighed and began clearing the table. Her family called her El, too. All of the people in college and now at work called her El. Why couldn’t she be Ellie? Ellie was bright, happy, and popular. El was plain, ugly even. She hated her short name. Once, in high school she’d tried to get people to call her Ellie. It was a waste of time. No one noticed the plain girl nor cared enough to follow her request. She stopped trying years ago.

After she did the dishes she came into the living room. Arnold was turning the channel to catch his favorite eight o’clock TV show. She picked up her embroidery hoop and began where she left off last night. Tonight’s program was another shoot ’em up cop show. She wondered why her husband liked them. No one on the series was happy. It was depressing.

At a commercial break she turned to Albert. “I think there’s a leak in the roof. There’s a water spot on the upstairs bathroom ceiling.

“Always something.” Albert got up and went to the kitchen. He came back, beer in hand, just in time for the show to restart.

Eleanor took a deep breath. She’d remind him on Friday and he would take care of it over the weekend. The show droned on and she occupied herself with the tiny stitches. The thread colors pleased her, reds and oranges, violets and blues, greens of grass and moss and new shoots. She loved them all.

At nine o’clock Albert turned off the TV and began his nightly routine of checking that the doors and windows were all locked. Eleanor followed along behind him, turning off lights. She wondered how this routine began. They never even spoke. They just started the house rounds, every night the same.

He readied for bed and vacated the bathroom. After her hand washing and face creaming, she stood in the adjoining bathroom door and looked at her husband, already asleep in their queen sized bed. She rubbed the lotion into her hands.

She’d never dated in high school. No boy wanted to date such a plain girl. So it was in college that she dated. Not the cool popular boys. College was just high school on steroids. But George worked in the student cafeteria when he wasn’t in class studying programming. Certainly not handsome, they had begun talking as he bussed nearby tables. One date, then two, and before she knew it they were going together. He graduated the year before her and at their quiet graduation ceremony, just the two of them at the local pizza place, he proposed.

Eleanor wondered at her immediate acceptance. Did she think there were no other men out there who would be interested in her? She drew a deep breath, a lump forming in her throat. That must have been it. She was so pleased to be asked that she just took the first offer. Finished rubbing in the hand lotion she went back into the bathroom and closed the door behind her. She studied her face in the mirror. There was nothing to see. Eyes were gray, not blue, her hair was graying, and she didn’t have the energy to even consider dying it. What was the point? It was a mousey brown to start with, hardly worth trying to keep. Wrinkles were forming at the corners of her eyes and mouth, as were jowls at her jaw line. The lump in her throat grew and she sat down on the toilet lid.

How did she get here to a boring marriage in a boring life in a boring house? Perhaps children would have made the difference but Albert wasn’t able.  She considered how children might have changed their lives. PTA meetings, taking the children to sporting events and talking with the other parents as the kids played on the fields or courts. They might have become more social. Instead they became insulated. Neither of them made friends at work so there were no get-togethers for drinks or dinner after work. It was just the two of them, moving silently though a quiet house every evening and weekend.

Tears flowed down her face and she unrolled three squares of toilet paper to wipe her eyes. She was only forty-five. She was smart. She liked good food and music and plays. Eleanor felt trapped by a life she’d built one small decision at a time. Crying herself out, she blew her nose and rewashed her face. In the mirror she could see that her eyes were red and puffy. It didn’t matter. Albert was sound asleep. He’d never know that she had been crying.

She turned out the light and crawled into bed. Eleanor stared at the ceiling. He never knew that she cried every night.

 

 

The End

897 Words

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Flash Fiction Friday Post: Of Autumn Leaves

Stream, Black and White, Randy Cockrell

Stream in B&W by Randy Cockrell

Stephanie Heller sat on the stream bank, her eyes staring at the way the water slid and gurgled around the rocks trying to block its way. She’d been there, mind lost in the ripple and swirl, for an hour as she watched orange, yellow and bronze leaves pass. The warm afternoon sun was setting and the air began to chill when she pulled herself from her reverie. She rose with a sigh, the water was so soothing, constant yet ever changing.

As she walked home the rustle of fallen leaves drowned out the muted sounds of the forest. Like the water, it soothed her as she focused on the way the sound of the leaves varied as her feet moved through them. It was a mile to the house and she was sorry when she emerged into the dusk past the forest edge and stepped onto the lawn of her farm house.

The windows were dark. There was no one there any longer but her to turn on the lights. She studied the house, how empty and cold it looked. Stephanie took one step, then another, following the path across the lawn to the back kitchen door.

The house didn’t used to be dark and cold. She opened the door and flipped the light switch. The kitchen was bathed in the cold blue light of the energy efficient bulbs. The room, where at this time of day should have been filled with the warm smell of dinner cooking, seemed sterile. She filled the water kettle and put it on the stove to heat. She was chilled and a cup of tea sounded good to her.

There were those small things, like a hot cup of tea that kept her going. That, and sitting by the stream, watching the water flow by. It had been there all summer, getting her to acknowledge her life. She went upstairs and changed into her pajamas, throwing on a red and black flannel quilted shirt over it all. Stephanie stroked the front of the shirt then wrapped her arms around herself as she watched her reflection in the dresser mirror. It was a poor replacement for her husband’s hugs but it was all she had left.

On her way back to the kitchen her step hesitated outside a closed bedroom door. It wasn’t time to face what was in there she decided and hurried down to the kitchen where the kettle was just about to whistle its readiness. She poured the water over the teabag in the cup. The scent of orange and cinnamon filled the kitchen as the heat from the kettle warmed her hands.

She took the tea to the living room and built a fire in the fireplace. Watching the flames consume the firewood was nearly as good as watching the water. Fire roaring, she cuddled into the sofa cushions and covered herself with an afghan. It was one she had made, a simple ripple pattern in gold and orange and chocolate brown, back when she was pregnant. That thought led to pain, so she shoved it away and picked up her tea.

Her friends had cared for her after the accident, helping her take care of the house and grounds as her broken arm and leg healed. The brought her frozen casseroles, kept the yard mowed, took her to her doctor appointments. They cleaned the house for her, too, but when they weren’t watching, she went behind them and laid all of the pictures face down. Looking at them was too hard to handle. After she was healed physically, they hugged her and reluctantly left.

Stephanie understood they knew she wasn’t healed yet but there was no reason for them to stay. She thanked them for their help and closed the door softly behind them. Since then she’d spent the days at the stream or if it was raining, watching the fire. The casseroles had been put to good use since she had gone to the store for only the most basic supplies. Aside from tea and toast, she hadn’t cooked a meal since the accident. It created too many memories of better times.

Autumn wound to a close and the colder days made it harder to sit at the stream side. Phone calls came in, inviting her to coffee, to Sunday Brunch, to dinner. It was on a gray day that she answered the phone. She watched a lone, brown maple leaf thrash on the tree branch outside the living room window as the caller asked her to come to a movie with her. Stephanie saw the wind rip the leaf from the tree and watched as the leaf sailed with crazed abandon around the tree and up into the sky out of sight.

Stephanie nodded. “Sure. I’ll meet you in town.” When she hung up the phone she felt better than she had in months, lighter, somehow. She went to her bedroom, showered, changed into jeans and a sweater, and brushed out her hair. As she passed the closed bedroom she stopped and lay her hand on the door. It was still too soon to go inside but she entertained a brief thought of the baby who used to be in there, chubby arms and legs and a dimpled smile. Her throat tightened and tears sprang to her eyes but she could bear it a little.

She passed the door and went to the garage. It occurred to her as she drove to town, that she could get a few groceries after the movie.

The End

925 Words

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