This piece was written from a writing prompt for one of the Facebook writing groups that I am in, Writer’s Unite–Short Stories . The challenge was to write a short 500 word piece around this picture. I have a surprise for you–I’ve included another take for this picture, one by James Blevins. Enjoy.
He loved her, that was the problem. Too much.
He could see her and her mother, June, laughing and dancing, spinning in circles with their arms around each other, giggling like two schoolgirls and it made his heart ache. Didn’t they see how much it hurt him?
At least Grandma Leigh stood off to the side, her lips pursed. She understood.
The boy was a troublemaker, anyone could see that. Anyone but his granddaughter Theodora. His little TeddyBear who was so in love she wouldn’t see a tornado tearing through the yard.
Damn that girl.
She was supposed to be the first one to go to college. Instead she would be popping a kid out of her come Autumn and what good would that do?
Theodora had been the smartest of the bunch. Straight A’s in science all the way through high school. She’d asked her old Grandpappy to pay for summer class and he’d done it, willingly, knowing she’d use it well. Knowing it was an investment in her future. Knowing his TeddyBear would make him proud.
They were turning towards him now, hope in both their faces. “She can stay in the ranchette, can’t she Paps? After she’s married, of course.” Her mother said. Her eyes brimmed.
He couldn’t help it. He raised a hand, closed his eyes briefly and walked away.
by James Blevins
“Six weeks, can you believe that?” Lem said to the petite girl sitting in his well worn F-150. She didn’t look up from whatever had her attention. “Doc says its Plasmo… plasma…,” Lem said taking off his hat and wiping the sweat from his brow, “Don’t much matter what he calls it, all means the same thing to me. Cancer.”
Red swollen eyes peeked over the door frame, and looked away. “Six weeks ain’t nearly enough time,” Lem said. A pain flared in Lem’s gut, he leaned against the hay bale feeder, and squinted into the sunset. Just five more. The old rusted trailer sat some distance from the well rutted road. Weeds, brambles, and shrubs hugged the rusted wheels and landing gear. Sitting squat on the back of the trailer was his torment, five giant Christmas tree bulbs. In truth they were red fiberglass shelters. The sign on the side read Oubliette. Lem had looked it up once but he no longer remembered what it meant.
“Well, no point in standing around,” Lem said to the mute young woman. Her pleading red eyes were his only response. Lem knew what she would ask if she could. ‘Why?’ Who knew though, why did death choose this one over that one? Lem shook off the morbid train of thought as he marched past the buried shelters.
It was something to be proud of. Row after row of hatch wheels sprouted from the ground. It was an iron crop. The girl mumbled something and kicked dust as she stumbled. Ninety five, and each one a labor of love. He came to the last row and turned to make his way to where the ground was freshly disturbed. His old bobcat sat to one side of the hatch. Lem leaned against its rust and oil stained backhoe bucket. He took off his hat and wiped the sweat from his forehead again. The girl struggled to wipe her face. Lem smiled at her name tag. ‘My name is Kayla, How can I help you?’
“Here child, let me help you,” Lem plucked a kerchief from his pocket and dabbed it at the sweat beading on her forehead. She looked up at him again. It was the same look that he had seen nigh a hundred times. He knew the questions forming in her head, the words that she would be saying if it were not for the gag. Lem pushed her aside and cranked on the hatch. The door opened with a hiss. Kayla skirted around the side of the hatch and Lem let out an exasperated sigh. “Come on now, don’t make this harder than it has to be,”
Lem stepped across the gap and pain gripped him. He collapsed over the hole clinging to the open hatch. Kayla seized the opportunity and gave Lem a solid kick to the head. He landed with a crack. The hatch slammed shut. There, in the dark, unable to move, Lem remembered the meaning of Oubliette.
If you like his Sci Fi style, check out another story of his that is in a writing contest here. It is the best one of the bunch and I’m not saying that because I’m biased–it’s true! Show him your appreciation by clicking that Vote button!