#amwriting: Scene Sketch

#amwriting: Starting Anew

Starting Anew

The horses plodded along on the asphalt of the highway leading southward to the high prairies of eastern Colorado with the wagon of the family’s belongings trailing after them. The bodies sat in a row on the seat: father, child, and mother; each with a hat on to ward off the blazing sun.

It would have been wonderful if Mr. Marshall could have afforded one of those new Model T Fords to make this trip but, as it was, he was lucky his father would part with the two horses and the wagon. His father did not want him leaving in the first place and let him know it, warning about severe consequences. Yet his wife would not stay in Nebraska to see through another winter. She wanted to get out from under the influence of her in-laws.

The bickering had gotten to the point where it was a daily occurrence. Mrs. Marshall had tried to be amicable but the aunt and the sister of her husband wanted her to change in such ways she could not avow. It was not that the aunt and sister were so wrong. It was their general attitude towards her that sent the young mother into a tizzy.

Sure, she was half Sioux but the other half was English and Scottish just like they were. She did not have a say about who her mother was. Besides, being Sioux does not mean the person is bad. At least, that was the way she perceived it.

The child, a small girl of maybe three years old, began to fuss. The mother took the youngling in her arms, cradled her, and prepared to give the toddler some of her sweet milk. The father watched in reverence as he loosely held the reins in front of him.

A Model A rolled by, carrying two men with brimmed hats. They honked and waved at the family, upsetting the child to the point where she was screaming and flinging her arms and legs. The mother yelled at the men but it did not do any good. The sound of the engine drowned out most of what she said. The father waved back as they drove on, knowing they did not mean any harm.

As the sun began its journey in the western sky of blue, the horses were trotting up a gentle incline on a well-worn dirt road. The highway had vanished at the state line. The chunks of prairie grass fluttered softly in the stiff breeze. They could see patches of purple thistle roughly circled by clusters of weeds and peat as if these other plants were trying to protect their beauty.

It was not until the daylight commenced to fading that they, at long last, came to Sterling, Colorado. The family found lodging just off Main Street, on Third Avenue. The toddler was beside herself with protests as she was handled back and forth between the couple while they tried to secure their load for the night.

Looking out of the window in the room they had obtained, they strained to see far to the west. The Rockies could not be viewed yet. Mrs. Marshall pulled down the shade.

Maybe tomorrow would be a better day.

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I purposely wrote this without any dialogue, trying to strengthen my skill with a narrative description. I would appreciate any feedback.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

Just a Note for a Monday

I am still writing blog posts once a week to be published on Thursdays. However, I am ecstatic about a small accomplishment I have made that I want to share with my readers here at my blog.

The blog, Word Bank, Writing & Editing is owned by Jeri Walker, who I have known for several years now. She accepted an article I wrote that has been published on her blog today. Yes, today!

I hope you can find the time to read it.

#WriteTip: The Paradox of Perfectionism in Writing

Word Bank
Writing & Editing

#amwriting – It was Him? [part 3]

As my fourth post of the month, this post is attributed the Twitter hashtag, #amwriting. It is the third post of my story, “It was Him?”.

Did you miss part 1 or part 2 of this story?

[part 1] [part 2]

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It was Him? [part 3]

All during her shift as she bagged and sealed the ingredients and folded the ends of the boxes for the next person in line, Caitlin tried to figure out who would give her a message like that. You’re next. Next for what? Is the person going to blow my head off? Or is he going to beat me up? What? Maybe it isn’t a he, but a she.

By the time she got home, she was exhausted from the dread and suspense rolling around in her head all day. Unexpectedly, her landline rang. She tripped over the corner of her overstuffed chair landing face first onto the hardwood floor. “Augh!”

From there she crawled to the in-table where the phone continued to jangle. “Uhmm… Hello.”

“This is Officer Tanner. Just calling to make sure you made it home safe.”

I was safe until you called. “Thanks. Yes, I’m safe.”

“We haven’t found the culprit but we’re looking. Be sure to lock up. Have a good night.”

“You too. Goodbye.” She hung up the phone and, pulling herself up, sat haphazardly on the smaller chair. Abruptly, she jumped up and retrieved paper and pen from the first kitchen counter drawer and sat at her beat-up kitchen table.

She wrote down everyone she knew in her building, including the superintendent, Mr. Hall. Looking at the list, she tried to determine who she might have pissed off unintentionally.

She had raised her voice at Candy because of her stupid dog. The dog had gotten away from her and gone bouncing down the stairs tripping Caitlin up as she was climbing to her floor. Candy hadn’t seemed bothered at all. She said, “Sorry,” and grabbed the leash yanking the pooch to her side.

When the Mr. Hall knocked on her door the other night, he informed her she’d need to find another place to park next week because of road repair. Caitlin’s response was, “You got to be kidding! Where am I going to find a parking place that isn’t five miles away?”

As he sauntered down the stairs, he said, “Not my problem.”

She had countered, “Thanks a lot, lazy butt.”

Could he be angry enough to threaten a tenant?

She dutifully locked her door to the outside hall and trudged to the bedroom hoping to sleep.

The next morning Caitlin walked out of her apartment and locked her door a smidgen earlier, and trotted down the stairs. She knocked on Mr. Hall’s door and stood so he could see her clearly through the peephole. He threw open his door.

“What do you need, Cat?” His robe was cinched at just below his waist. Tuffs of hair decorated his chest in the middle. She could see the top of his white underwear.

“Are you mad at me?”

“You knock at this hour to ask me that?” He gave her a perplexing stare.

“Someone wrote a message in ice on my windshield yesterday morning. It was kind of threatening. At least, to me it was.”

Mr. Hall began to chuckle. Before long it was an all-out belly laugh. She stood in the hall utterly baffled. “What’s so darn funny?”

He leaned his arm against the door frame to get the laughter under control. “Cat, you’re next.”

A horrified look crossed her face. She slowly backed away from Mr. Hall’s door.

“Don’t go, Cat. I wrote that the night before. You’re next to get your walls painted. Remember the note I gave to you a month ago? You need to find someplace to be for three days while I get your apartment painted. I’ll have your windows open for ventilation.”

At first, she could tell she was losing her balance. She shifted from one foot to the other until her head cleared. “So I’m next to get my walls done, right?”

“Right. In two weeks, the painters will be in your place stinking it up. You need to find someplace to stay.” She frowned. I’m being thrown out twice! “When you come back from your job this afternoon, stop by so you can decide the color.”

“Oh! I have a choice?” Her index finger moved up to her mouth as she thought.

Mr. Hall grinned. He said goodbye and closed his door.

THE END

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Please don’t feel shy about giving me feedback.

“…What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little, only stories of events affect us.” ― Rabih Alameddine, The Hakawati