#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

#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

 

#amwriting – It was Him? [part 2]

This is my fourth post of the month. Each month, this post will be allotted to the Twitter hashtag, #amwriting. In this post, I’m continuing my story, ‘It was Him?’. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Did you miss part 1 on this story?

[part 1]

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It was Him? [part 2]
Image provided by Josu Mendicute
https://www.flickr.com/photos/supermendikute/
Officer Tanner was a big burly man with clear blue eyes and coppery wavy hair. Sitting at a desk with its side next to the window, he gave the impression of being gargantuan. The steno chair seemed tiny in comparison to his large frame in dark blue. The pen in his paw-like hand looked like it could belong to a child.

Caitlin nervously walked up to his desk. “Officer Tanner?”

He averted his eyes from his work and gave her a grin. “Can I help you?” Before she could answer, he gestured for her to sit in the straight chair next to his desk.

“Sir, something kind of frightening happened to me this morning.” She squirmed in her seat folding and unfolding her hands several times.

He pulled a piece of paper from the side drawer. “Okay, your name, address, and telephone number. I’ll also need some identification.”

She gave him her stats and then, retold the story she had told the first cop. He let her say all of it before he prompted her for more information.

“You didn’t see anyone next to your car earlier or as you were walking out to it?”

“I looked outside when I got up this morning. All I saw was snow and my car along with a few other cars parked against the curb. No one was out there.”

“And when you walked out the door…?

“I wasn’t looking really. I was watching where I was stepping. The stairs were covered with snow and I didn’t know if ice was underneath; there was.” Her eyes rolled upward as if she was in disbelief. “But once I got past the stairs, I didn’t see anyone. I wasn’t very observant, though.” Her cheeks turned a soft pink as she continued to twiddle her fingers in her lap.

“Do you know if anyone is angry with you?”

She furrowed her eyebrows. “I don’t think so. At least, not angry like this. What did this person mean be ‘You’re next?’”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out here. Did you take someone’s parking spot?” She shook her head so he went on. “Did you get something someone else wanted–for instance, at work?”

She shook her head again but stopped. “This is probably nothing but I did get moved to another line in the factory. The woman who worked across the belt from me at that first line gave me a dirty look. The thing is, I thought the look was directed the supervisor who was standing behind me.”

“I’ll check it out but your assumption was probably what it was. Is there anyone in your apartment building I should check on?”

“No, I think I get along with everyone in the building.”

Tanner indicated that he didn’t have any more questions for her and assured her he’d be driving by her apartment on a regular basis for a while.

Driving into work, she reviewed the questions Tanner had asked. Did she know someone who was enough off his or her rocker to threaten her like this? Did she do something unintentionally to set off a lunatic?

She was caught up in her own world of problems as she walked down the narrow hall to the women’s locker room at the leather factory. So much so, she almost ran into her boss head-on.

“Why are you late, Caitlin?” Her supervisor, Mr. Adams crinkled his eyebrows and gave her a black look.

“Oops! Sorry, Mr. Adams. I’m late because I was at the police station. Some idiot left a threatening message on my windshield this morning.” She looked straight into his eyes, sizing up the possibility of the culprit being him.

“And why didn’t you call?”

She diverted her eyes to her purse to find her locker key. “I should have called. I’m sorry. Are you firing me?”

“No, but you have to be more responsible. You aren’t a kid, you know.” He walked up the hall not giving her a chance to respond.

Once at her locker, she resumed her deliberations concerning Tanner’s questions. The threat didn’t come from her boss; that she was certain of. Did she know her neighbors in her building all that well?

This continues on next month…

Inspired Prompt:

S/he walked out to find a message scraped into the frost on the windshield. —Today’s Author

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Don’t be afraid to give me feedback on this story.

“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.” —Steve Almond, WD

Short note: With another month just around the corner, I’ll be changing my header image and my colors again. Yes, I know it’s crazy but I’m bored out of my skull with what I have now.

Also, if you’d like to read my posts just once per month, sign up for my newsletter.

 

#amwriting – It was Him?

My favorite social media site is Twitter. I have yet to heard of any “backstabbing” there, let alone witness anything like that at this site. I can’t make the same claim to other social media sites. I’ve seen the tag, #amwriting, several times, yet, for reasons I can’t begin to fathom, I’ve never posted using it before. Ludicrous, isn’t it?

Today is my first post using the hashtag, #amwriting.

#amwriting - It was Him?
Image provided by Eric
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ejpphoto/

When Caitlin watched the news the night before, the weatherperson had predicted snow, wet heavy snow. She went to bed grumbling about the cold and wet the morning would probably bring.

Just as the weatherperson had said, large sloppy snowflakes were falling from the dove-colored sky when she woke up. She peered down from her apartment window at her car sitting innocently against the curb. Most of it was just snow that would easily brush off, but it didn’t escape her attention that ice crystals were forming on the front and back windows. There was something else she noticed in the dim dawn light. Something that looked like a piece of paper was stuck to the window.

After a couple of pieces of toast and a mug of coffee, she got dressed and was ready to face the cold dreary world that sat out there past her apartment building. Gingerly, she maneuvered the icy steps to the street’s sidewalk. The wind gusted, almost pulling her knit hat off. As she approached her car, she realized that what she had thought was a piece of paper was, in reality, just a place on the windshield where the ice was thicker.

She retrieved the scraper from the backseat of her car and placed the hard plastic edge on the front window. It was then that she noticed there was scratched lettering in the place where the ice was so thick. You’re next!

What was that suppose to mean? Obviously, it meant trouble, but she couldn’t fathom who would do this. Her life was so drab. There wasn’t any reason for anyone at all to want to hurt her. Or maybe that was the exact reason why.

As soon as she got her windows scraped, she slid into the driver’s seat and started the engine. While she waited for the car to warm up, she pulled her cell phone from her purse and pushed in the numbers for her sister.

Mona’s voice was sleepy. “Hello.” She lived a few states west of Caitlin making the hour much earlier. Caitlin was positive she’d understand.

The car was taking forever to warm up. She could see her breath as she spoke. “Mona, there was a message on my car this morning. Kind of threatening.”

“Cat, do you know what time it is? Is there someone standing over you with a knife or a gun pointed at you?”

“Mona, I’m not kidding around. The message said, ‘You’re next!’”

“Cat, go to the police precinct nearest you and report it. Do not call me back. Cat, I’ll call you tonight.” And with that, Mona hung up on her.

Caitlin sat there watching the snow slide off the front hood. She should have taken a picture of the message. She looked behind her and pulled out onto the street.

The police station was a mere five blocks from her building. When she pulled into the small parking lot, she was sure she’d have to circle a few times before finding a place to park. However, as she rounded one aisle and was headed down the closer aisle, a car pulled out. The car behind her tried to squeeze past her to grab the slot but his vehicle was too wide. “Serves you right,” she said looking in her rearview mirror. She turned in and shut off the motor.

Surprisingly, no one was waiting to talk to the officer at the front desk. “Hi, cold morning, isn’t it?”

The officer peered up from looking at his papers. “They said it was coming. How can I help you.”

“I got a threatening message.”

“Let me see it.”

Crimson crept up her neck and covered her cheeks. “It was written in ice on my car. I forgot to take a picture of it. But it was there. Honest!”

“Okay. What did it say?”

“You’re next!”

The officer picked up the receiver of his desk phone and punched in four numbers. When he laid the receiver down, he said, “Officer Tanner will interview you.” He gestured to the swing gate on his right. “Just go through there and take a seat.

This continues on next month…

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Inspired Prompt:

S/he walked out to find a message scraped into the frost on the windshield. —Today’s Author

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“That’s what fiction is for. It’s for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.” ― Tim O’Brien

Happy Holidays!