Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Autumn Changes Things Again


   The water was boiling. 

   She had been standing there in a daze, halfway waiting like a timid little girl for the universe to intervene on her behalf, halfway simmering in anger as hot as the water now steaming and hissing in the tea kettle.  None of this should be happening, she thought bitterly and helplessly.  Tears welled up in her throat but choked her, refusing to bloom in her eyes.

   Still mostly numb, she poured the steaming water into a pitcher with dry tea bags waiting at the bottom.  She turned the burner off, returned the empty kettle to a cool corner of the glass cook top, and wiped her hands dry on the red towel with yellow and gold owls on it.  These few motions seemed to cost her all the energy remaining in her limbs, so without a choice she leaned backward against the counter top and slowly crumpled to the floor.

   She sat on the shiny tiles reviewing the words in her mind, letting every syllable repeat again and again, hoping to gain some understanding that had so far escaped her.  Nothing would take hold.  The facts were cold and stubborn and two-dimensional, unyielding to pain and deaf to reason. 

   They are not coming home, and according to the phone call it was their free and final choice.

  She spent the next few hours just going through the motions of her routine, mechanically and with a hollowness that made her mind way too vulnerable to dark thinking.  Every task had happy memories attached to it; every square foot of the property was still vibrating with the colors and fragrances of family life.

   While in the barn raking hay, she heard a few tentative drops of rain ping against the tin roof, startling the cats and causing her to gasp and shake her vision loose for a moment.  Maybe this is temporary.  Maybe if I handle this wisely and with enough love they will feel the solidarity they need, the peace they deserve, and everything will right itself soon.

   She finished making the rounds outside, taking note of the quietness and mournfulness of the early autumn weather.  How was it possible that every animal seemed to know what was happening?  They all looked at her cautiously, as though a breeze might shatter everything.  
   By the time she reached the edge of the pond, the rain had advanced from a gentle sprinkle to a heavy, slanted downpour.  The midday sky was dark now and the air had turned cold.  Thunder boomed and echoed in the valley.  The horses had retreated to their loafing shed, perhaps to escape the rain, perhaps to grieve.  The rain slashed into the surface of the pond with increasing ferocity, finally drawing out of her the wild, primal tears she needed to cry.  She screamed and sobbed and the surface of the pond jumped and kicked against the news.

   The water was boiling.

Mama’s Losin’ It

This post inspired suddenly and unflinchingly by Mama Kat's prompt:
"Write a story that begins and ends with the same sentence."


  1. I ache with you. What a powerfully written piece!!

  2. Excruciatingly powerful. I was in that storm with her.

  3. Wonderfully written, and with such feeling!

  4. Exhaling. Thank you for directing me here. The crumpling to the floor, the disbelief, the release of the primal cry. All of it.

    I'm so sorry you understand it. ♥


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