Hello Friday Fiction Fans,
I hope you all had a good week. Mine has been good. Most of it was usual. I spent quite a bit of time creating felt flowers and turning them into corsages for a widows' luncheon that takes place tomorrow. My sister and I are a part of a widows' ministry at church and it's time for the special luncheon.
You wanted to know about my writing? As in how is "The Graham Quartet and the Day Maid" coming along? Well, I've already written over 6,000 words this week. But . . . I'm stuck. On the ending. I'm so close to finishing this story, but I can't seem to end it. This has been one of the hardest books I've ever written. At one point this week I spent over 30 minutes just trying to figure a few things out so I could write the next part of the story. There were so many possibilities but I knew only one would work. But which one? So, right now I'm praying for inspiration so I can finish this story.
Last night I was thinking about today and what was going on. We babysit my nieces and nephews over lunch time and then this evening S and I go help decorate for tomorrow's luncheon. Suddenly it dawned on me. Tomorrow. Friday. I have to post! What am I posting? Then, just before I panicked, I realized that I already had a story ready to go. I hope you enjoy this one. It was written in the fall, but I didn't have time to post it then. If you want to see the picture that inspired the start of it, here it is.
A Change of Visitors
The sun filtering down through the leaves of the tall trees seemed to make their autumn garb of red, gold and brown to glow. There was a crisp chill to the air, and when the wind whispered through the treetops, it often sent a few scarlet leaves fluttering down to decorate the drab grasses of the trail. Everything was hushed save for the steady plodding of the horses’ hooves, the muted creak of saddles and the crunch of leaves.
Autumn glanced over at her husband and smiled. He held out a hand and quickly she put hers into it. “I love this time of year,” she remarked quietly. “But I didn’t know my name would fit so well.” Her laugh was bright and seemed to sparkle with life.
“Sorry you married me?” Scott teased.
With a toss of her chestnut curls, Autumn grinned. “Nope. I’d have married you even if your last name was something strange like Pain or Ditty. I rather like the name Autumn Wood. It sounds . . .”
“Poetic?” Scott ventured to guess when she didn’t continue.
“Something like that.” She smiled again and then clicked to her horse and gave her a nudge with her knees. “No, Ginger, we’re not taking a detour through the woods today.”
“Talking to your horse.” Scott’s face was perfectly serious, but his twinkling eyes gave him away.
Autumn laughed. “Of course. I always talk to my horse. Don’t you talk to yours?”
“Huh uh. It’s not a ‘guy thing,’ you know.”
“Oh.” Autumn’s head was turned away a minute before she said softly, “I’m so glad I married you.” Her eyes were half shy as she looked over at her husband.
Leaning over, Scott was preparing to kiss her, but Autumn slyly nudged his horse away causing him to exclaim, “Nutmeg, what’s gotten into you?”
The merry peal of laughter which met his words brought a rueful grin to Scott’s face. “Okay, okay,” he admitted. “So I talk to my horse too. Just don’t tell my brother when he comes.”
A shower of leaves fell about the young couple as they paused a few moments to enjoy each other. At last Autumn straightened up in the saddle and said, “If we don’t keep going, we’ll be out after dark.”
“Scared of the bears?”
“No, I’m just hungry. Can we ride tomorrow?”
Scott shrugged. “I don’t know about tomorrow, but probably the next day. Have some place in mind?”
“I wanted to ride down the road past the old house. Wouldn’t it be fun to buy that place and put in electricity and running water? I mean real running water, not just a pump in the kitchen.”
“That would be fun, but I don’t know who owns it.”
Still talking, they continued on their ride, their hands clasped as they rode side by side though the dappled sunlight filtering through the arched roof of russet and gold.
“Mom!” The shout came from a rustic log cabin set back on the edge of a clearing. “Mom!”
There was no answer. Quickly the door of the cabin was flung open and a ten-year-old boy looked outside, gazing all around. “Mom?” He pushed the door open all the way and stepped out.
Only stillness greeted him, the crunch of leaves beneath his feet and the rustle of leaves as a brisk breeze danced through the trees, but no answer. There was no red sweater to be seen anywhere. Where was she?
“Dylan, where’s Mom?”
The boy glanced back toward the cabin. “I don’t know, Fern. Maybe she went to get more firewood or to see if she could get the car to start.”
“But the car’s hours and hours away,” Fern protested, her large, dark eyes growing worried. “I don’t want to be here alone.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Dylan reassured, casting one more quick glance about the clearing before returning to the door where his younger sister stood. No one would have guessed they were brother and sister, for Dylan’s hair and eyes were light brown while eight-year-old Fern had black hair over dark, expressive eyes. Now those eyes showed the fright she felt.
“What are we going to do?”
“Go back inside and wait, I guess.” Dylan shrugged and gave Fern a nudge so he could step through the door. “At least we have a fire going.”
Fern didn’t reply but shadowed Dylan’s every move as he crossed the room and picked up his backpack. After rummaging through it, he remarked, “I’ve got some granola bars still and my extra water bottle. What do you have?”
“I don’t know.”
Seeing that his sister wasn’t going to go look in her pink backpack, Dylan moved around the table. Another quick look showed about the same thing he had. “Come on, let’s go look around the cabin.”
“I already did.”
“Well, I haven’t.” Dylan knew it wouldn’t take long to see the entire building, but it would at least give them something to do. The rooms downstairs were small and had no furniture save one dusty rocking chair near the fireplace and the old table where their backpacks sat. A narrow set of steps let to the tiny upper rooms. Everything was dusty and dirty. Cobwebs and dead bugs littered the window sills and corners. Turning from the last room, Dylan nearly tripped over his sister. “Fern,” he muttered, “you don’t have to stick to me like glue.”
Fern didn’t say anything but glared at her brother.
“Sorry. Come on, let’s go look at the barn.” Dylan held out his hand as a peace offering. He knew if Fern got mad at him, there was no telling what she’d do. She might even try running off. She’d done that before back home.
The barn, flecks of red paint curling on the sides, stood fairly close to the house. All was quiet as the children approached it. To Dylan, the silent structure before them was both exciting and frightening. What was inside? Had their mom gone in there and was she hurt? The thought brought a cold shiver racing up his spine.
Fern pulled on his hand. “I don’t want to go in there,” she whispered.
Dylan wasn’t sure he did either, but the thought of their mother needing them overcame his fear. “Maybe Mom is in there.”
“Then why didn’t she answer when you called?”
“You know she sometimes doesn’t hear us.” He didn’t want to voice the thought that she might be hurt. “Let’s go look. You can even hold my hand, and see,” he pulled something from his pocket, “I even have my flashlight.”
Would you want to explore a strange barn?
Do you think anything/anyone is in there?
Will you be back next week for Part 2?