Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WEP: BACK OF THE DRAWER




I haven't participated in Write..Edit..Publish (hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee) in a while. I've been busy off-line. Or, just busy with nothing important to anybody except me.

I had an idea in mind for WEP February post, love and mayhem of course, but then a song got stuck in my head, which probably went well with love and mayhem (You Don't Own Me) and oddly enough a feel-good song (Life In A Northern Town) uploaded on the u-Tube play list and I changed my mind about the WEP concept.  I should be writing a Valentines Day theme, but I'm a cynic, especially when it comes to romantic love.

Anyway, Here's my contribution to WEP; BACK OF THE DRAWER prompt; a 1000 word flash fiction titled TOWNIE. Click here for blogfest details and other participants.

TOWNIE

The whole town turned out to help pack up. Not literally the whole town; but everyone that anyone would know.

Jackie Downs who owned Towne Cafe, and her wife and two adopted children. Cindy Foster, head nurse at the ER; Jacob Mears, Cruz Santos and Jeremy Hollister from the volunteer fire department. And the Hostler sisters, Maris and Berdine, head of every social or charitable organization in Oxford County, or so it seemed.

There were so many people crowding the halls, rooms, garage and lawns that plain old Susan Gumms didn't know where in her parent’s house she could catch her breath. Or how to ask for two minutes with all the objects being boxed and carted to a 24 foot moving van.

"No, no," she commanded breathlessly, racing into the kitchen as she spotted Cindy Foster tugging noisily at the top drawer of a cabinet next to the sink. "That drawer contains things that aren't related to the kitchen. I'd like to go through it myself if you don't mind."

Cindy looked up and frowned, wisps of her brown hair artfully framing her perfectly painted face. "Its just a junk drawer Suz. Every house has one."

“Yes, I know. But I want to go through this one myself. Please."

Susan put two hands on the drawer as Cindy gave it another yank.

"But -"

"Ease up Cindy," said a deep male voice from behind Susan. "Let the girl have a say over one thing in her childhood home."

Susan turned to see a tall, muscular man in orange shirt and blue jeans leaning against the door frame between the kitchen and dining room.

"Peter Jennings, are you implying that -"

"Yes I am," Peter said, peeling himself off the door frame and legging his way to Susan's side. "Whatever it is you are implying, I'm saying."

"Well, I never."

"Sure you have." Peter cocked his head and gave a sly wink to Susan as Cindy tugged on her silk blouse and stalked out the back door.

To have a cigarette, Susan imagined. One of those secrets that the whole town knew about but pretended not to notice.

"Thank you," Susan said as she leaned over the half open drawer.

"For what?"

Susan tried to close it, but the drawer wouldn't budge. Tugging it open more didn't work either.

"Well, he-"

"Let me try," Peter said, laying his hands on hers. "I have experience with immovable objects."

Susan quickly moved away, but not before the warmth of his light touch ignited years of forgotten passion. She was a nerdy girl of fifteen, running from the taunts of the popular girls. Strands of her brown hair escaped the pigtails she'd bound her hair in. Rain obscured the well used path through the woods behind her home, and although not in danger of getting permanently lost in the copse of trees, she'd made the attempt to hide out in places even her twin brother hadn't discovered yet.

Peter knew the woods better than anyone except his father, a Forest Ranger and head of the local search and rescue. She had fallen, was covered in mud and shivering from cold and embarrassment. Peter had smiled, brushed the moss from her hair and wrapped her in his coat.

An annoyance before, she’d fallen instantly in love with the boy who rescued her. Her brother’s best friend, who always treated her like a sister. Even through college, where she never seemed to lose her geeky awkwardness, he’d come to her rescue t unexpected moments when her brother’s football teammates would get too fresh, or the sorority girls’ teasing became too cruel.

“Townies gotta stick together,” he say, usually with a soft kiss to her cheek or forehead.

Children’s screams from outside nearly drowned out his soft curse. “What the heck is in here Suz? Its stuck pretty tight.”

She bent over the drawer, nearly bumping heads with him as she reached a slender hand into the half open drawer.

“Careful,” he cautioned as she jerked her fingers out of the drawer.

“Uhm,” she mumbled, putting her bleeding index finger into her mouth.

She looked around guiltily, not wanting every medic in the house to come offer a band aid. She was grateful for all the help and concern, but it was becoming overwhelming. She worried they would all want to follow the moving van to her apartment in the city and try to unload it all. Maybe hang out and hear her father’s talk about the good old days on the force. And then they’d again offer condolences on her mother’s death, share hospital stories of their own.

Which naturally would lead to pity and further speculation regarding her brother’s tragic death in the fire two years ago. She didn’t have the heart for reminiscing and all that smothering concern.

“Let me see.”

She hesitated, and Peter gently tugged her finger out of her mouth.

“Pretty deep. Come here, lets rinse it off for a better look.” He led her to the sink, an arm around her waist as he held her hand in the air.

She winced when the cold water hit the cut. “Just a scratch.” She swooned a little, remembering how often she’d wished he would hold her close like this, like the first time she’d fallen for him. He looked up from her finger as a series of exaggerated grunts and groans mingled with a woman’s shouts to be careful.

“That sounds like my wife,” he said, a smile lighting his face. “In here Judith. Wait, go see if the bathroom medicine cabinet has been packed up yet. Should be some gauze and antiseptic in there.”

“Is it bad,” the blond woman said with a frown. She looked to be about seven months pregnant, the weight not slowing down her long strides at all.

“Hardly worth a band aid,” Susan assured the woman.

She pulled her hand out of Peter's and stepped out of his embrace. The magic of Peter’s touch had worn off with his wife’s appearance. He had never looked at Susan with such warmth, and in truth, she’d stopped chasing him during their sophomore year in college. She had let the tequila convince her to kiss him at an after game party, and it had felt like kissing her brother.

“I think there’s a first aid kit in that drawer.”

Judith went to the drawer, shook it when it wouldn’t budge, then gently pushed it closed. It slid out smoothly with her next try.

“This must be what cut you,” Judith said, removing a large, broken, plastic heart from the back of the drawer.

26 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Think that broken heart cut her long before she put her finger in the drawer. Hopefully she finds a young man soon, and preferably one that doesn't remind her of kissing her brother.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Oh Donna - I didn't see that coming ... what a sad tale with lots of interweaving stories ... beautiful writing ... plastic heart ... I feel for her ... let's hope her future will be easier ... cheers Hilary

Pat Hatt said...

Hopefully the future will be brighter for her, once that brother or sister feeling arises, one's heart kinda gets stuck there.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Nice little twist at the end. Didn't see that coming at all. :)

farawayeyes said...

Awe, ou ARE a romantic. That was beautiful.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

WILD THING ~
That Peter Jennings fella is a pretty smooth talker. Maybe he ought to go into television broadcasting or something.
[;o)

Hey, that was very good writing. I didn't know you wuz a writer; I thought you were strictly a drinker, like me.

Glad to find you've still got a roof over your head and a computer keyboard at your fingertips. I was concerned there about that flooding in your area.

Yak Later...

~ D-FensDogG
'Loyal American Underground'

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Loved the opening lines and the sad twist at the end.

I hope she finds happiness and learns to accept the love and support of the people around her. She doesn't seem to know just how valued she is.

D.G. Hudson said...

Ah, wouldn't it be nice to have a knight like that rescue us from the nosy neighbours? Crushes from childhood seem so tender when we are young, but then stinkin' reality bumbles in and pops the fantasy. (Sorry had a Eli Wallach moment there) I liked this Donna, and in a couple of my houses, I for sure had a Junk drawer. . .and the broken heart is a little symbolic to my mind for all the dreams of our youth that are broken. . .the touch of romance here is very nicely done.

Yolanda Renée said...

I think you and Denise, at least so far went for a Valentine slant. :) Never even crossed my mind! :)

Well done, so well crafted and the twists and turns, magnificent! I thought for sure she'd get a kiss, but, that's already happened and he's not the one. Damn, sure sounded like he could be! Had me fooled!

So thrilled to see you posting again for the WEP and with such a great piece!

Happy February!

Denise Covey said...

Loved this Donna. I've missed your unique style. Always makes me grin. Loved how much you weaved through this and it was so fresh, no boring backstory at all. Now I want her to move on into her own happy-ever-after. Maybe by next Valentine's Day?

Thanks Donna. Hope you're well and safe with that dam thing happening. Put Oraville on the world map!

Denise :-)

Olga Godim said...

Great, multifaceted story. There is the hectic disorder of moving, overlapping with her longing for love, and then - boom - the broken heart. So sad.

Arlee Bird said...

Very nice. What an appropriate story for this Valentine's season.

I used to like to clean the junk drawer in my family's house when I was a kid. My mother always let me keep any loose change I would find and it was usually a small bounty for a kid.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Debbie D. said...

I love the symbolism of the broken plastic heart at the end. These characters were totally endearing and I was captivated by the story. So many interesting subplots as well.

dolorah said...

Alex: Yeah, that could leave an awkward taste in your mouth.

Thanks Hilary

Pat: I think I was there for a time myself.

Stacy: cool, a surprise :)

Thanks FAE: you're sweet.

St Mac: yeps, for a few days more. Rain starting again tomorrow and they say maybe another evacuation. But, I'll be in Utah, leaving the Hubs to pack up the cats. Not a fun chore . . .

Elizabeth: some people (introverts) need a special someone to help them shine.

DG: lol, I'd love a Knight! I could fall in love myself. I wish I only had ONE junk drawer in my house!

Yolanda: Thank you for the high praise. Being Valentines day, I had to get that kiss in somehow, lol. I really enjoyed writing to this prompt.

Dx: Thanks. Backstory is hard to keep out. That's where I spend the most editing time. Keeping an eye on the word count helps :) I'm happy my little Burg is on the world map, but sure wish it happened some other way.

Olga: love can suck that way :)

Lee: I still find little treasures in my junk drawer(s)



Kalpanaa M said...

That was a pretty impressive piece of writing. So many characters, such a lot of emotions. Nice twist at the end and Sue is a well rounded character full of fractured feelings. Lovely.

Nilanjana Bose said...

That was a neatly satisfying twist in the tail valentine story. Very unique and very you, Donna. Always love your trenchant style!

Hope the mc finds a man sharpish, someone who doesn't remind her of her brother.

Great to see you back at WEP, and great being here!

Best,
Nila.

Sally said...

I feel so sorry for her - maybe the move will give her more confidence. I can relate to everybody knowing your business in a small place, originally being a village girl myself.

Jen Chandler said...

This was beautifully written. Heartbreaking but I enjoyed it. I loved the nice twist at the end and I have to wonder if the broken heart is more for the death of her mother than for the man who she lost to another.

Great story,
Jen

dolorah said...

Debbie: Thank you.

Kalpana:I worked hard on her.

Nila: I was hoping the ending was satisfying, even without that HEA.

Sally: Yeah, small towns can be so claustrophobic. I like it though.

Jen: broken more from all her losses, not just the loss first crush.

Toinette Thomas said...

What a sad, and yet still, sweet story. It seems her heart was broken years ago, but maybe the one in the drawer was plastic for a reason. He never was the one for her. Perhaps she'll meet Mr. Right after her move.

N. R. Williams said...

So sad. I think we all know someone who spent their teens in an awkward state. I'm holding up my hand. I do hope she finds someone to love.
Nancy

Arpan Ghosh said...

I love stories about small towns and the various people that inhabit them. It's like a play that writes itself. Honestly speaking, this wasn't quite my cup of tea because of the romance angle, but I like the way you sketched out the characters and their personalities.

A Beer For The Shower said...

Yeah, I really love that little twist at the end. Great writing all through out, and some really enjoyable characters. This story is definitely worth more than a band aid. ;)

farawayeyes said...

Congratulations on winning the encouragement Award in thismonth's WEP Challenge. This was an excellent entry. I liked the romantic bit with a bittersweet ending. Well done, my friend.

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